Graham & Brown BV represents the Benelux branch of the larger Graham & Brown Ltd. company. In the beginning, the company opened its doors in the UK in 1946. Harold Graham and Henry Brown started the business right after World War II when there was a severe paper shortage.
The two men were able to get a hold of some surplus metallic paper, an eight-colour surface printer and a new embossing machine. People were so desperate for things to brighten up their homes after the war that the company could barely meet the demand for the product.
Graham & Brown had started a wallpaper revolution. The company continued to grow and expand. In the 1960s, more factories were purchased, and potential rival companies were bought out. The 1970s saw Graham & Brown producing millions of rolls of wallpaper per year, which established the company as one of the largest independent wallpaper manufacturers in Britain and a growing force in Europe.
“In the 1970s, the now famous Superfresco brand was first introduced,” adds Frank Heilig, Commercial Director Northern Europe. “The iconic ‘What goes up must come down’ advert was also established.”
By the 1980s, the company had quadrupled its market share, and Superfresco became the best-selling wallpaper brand in the world. In the 1990s, Graham & Brown continued to innovate and introduced its ‘paste the wall’ technology and the world’s first ‘batchless’ wallcoverings. “The 1990s is also when top designers started working with the company,” says Mr. Heilig.
In the 2000s, the business began focusing on international expansion. The company now has a presence in the United States, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Canada, China and most recently, Germany. The success of the company is largely due to its unquenchable thirst for innovation within the industry.
Graham & Brown, active in the Netherlands since 1995, saw a need for advancements in the do-it-yourself (DIY) sector. “By 2000, it was clear that consumers wanted more decorative products and that there was a need for more product groups,” explains Mr. Heilig. This is when the company began using the term ‘category management’ and started shifting from being only a supplier of wallpaper to being a supplier of interior decorations and designs.
This category management concept caught on and helped the company become even more wildly successful with consumers. In 2013, Graham & Brown revolutionized itself again via the online market.
“As a company, we really put a lot of effort into increasing our digital presence,” says Mr. Heilig. “Every department, from customer service to logistics, is focused on serving our clients in every way possible.”
The branch of Graham & Brown in the Netherlands, like the rest of the company, is very dedicated to serving its customers and provides its consumers with goods from many different product groups. These groups include wallpaper, window decals, wall art, digital printing applications, paint and much more.
The company exports 70% of its products to the Benelux region and 30% to other regions in Western Europe. “To reach our existing and potential clients, we work with a PR agency, attend expos, air TV adverts and have a presence in several DIY chains,” says Mr. Heilig.
The branch also employs about 47 people within the Northern European division. For the future, Graham & Brown BV wants to continue its expansion into Germany and Scandinavia. “Our aim is to remain an active player in the market while attracting younger generations to our products,” sums up Mr. Heilig.