View Full Version : How come we pay for our sample books but contract accounts dont? Retailers pls read!!

05-03-2012, 11:45 PM
Hello all

I run a busy shop that sells lots of curtains through the major fabric companies - Sanderson, Harlequin, Villa Nova, Blendworth, PT etc

The books cost an awful lot to keep up with - the books probably average around 80 each for patterns, 35 or so for plain books. I've probably spent about 15000 on books in 5 years which makes a lot of difference to the P/L account

I've recently been talking to a couple of contract operations who's output is far less than mine (our sales around 30k a month, not all curtains though). I was quite staggered to hear as they work from home with no shop premises, they are sent lots of books FREE OF CHARGE! Ok, they might be on loan but with the books only having an average life of about 3 years that is no grreat loss if they take them back. Am i alone in paying for the books? I'll be taking a much tougher line with the reps now - to be honest i've always felt i've talked them into a deal anyway by knocking them down on price - but is anyone else getting freebooks?

I belong to one book club - i won't say who it is as i could poss be recognised by it - but refuse the rest as don't really want to be paying 80 a month if i dont happen to sell any from that supplier.

Would really appreciate any comments back



05-03-2012, 11:57 PM
when the patterns have lived their life expectancy through seasonal change and are no longer available, what happens then? you buy newer up to date books? what happens to the old ones, do you still hang onto them?

I'm not a curtain maker by the way, just interested in business :/

06-03-2012, 12:15 AM
We tend to get rid of them Julesie as we need the space and nothing worse than a customer choosing one of the discontinued fabrics, placing an order and then we have to let them down! Tend to chop them up and put into fabric bundles which sell for a couple of quid per bundle, or give them to schools who are always grateful

Some books have a really long life span (if they are nationally successful) though some come and go quite quickly. It's gutting if you've spent a lot on a book and haven't sold anything from it! I did that once with a brand at a fabric show - bought four books for 200 and only took one order from them in total (Alhambra i think). Not a good decision!!

06-03-2012, 12:28 AM
When my dad has his own upholstery business I believe he had to pay for his sample books, although I do not know how much they cost. When the fabrics in them became discontinued, the fabric were given to my grandma, who either used them in her sewing projects or made them into shorts for my dad to wear during the summer school holidays. He seemed quite proud to wear shorts made from 4 different designs of fabric, or he could have enjoyed embarrassing his kids.

06-03-2012, 02:50 PM
I would take stock of what you sell the most of, look at the most popular makes/designs/colours etc and see who falls short of the mark. Will you find that Sanderson and Harlequin are the front runners? Maybe it is these designers who make your company the most profit? If it is then you know that future book budgets should include these from the outset.

Don't get pushed into books that you know aren't going to appeal, you will already have your company trend information to hand and use it accordingly. Maybe stick to a certain number of designers, you could spe******e in certain areas that other companies don't.

You can use the information to clear out stock that has been there for months/years, anything that is slow to move can be sold at discount, thus making room for the things that do sell.

Couture Design
18-03-2012, 01:43 PM
Morning, would just like to say that those contractors you spoke to must be very lucky. I have been making and supplying curtains and soft furnishings (from home) for a number of years now and NEVER come across companies who supply their books foc. Think you also find the same would be true of other curtains makers. Wish it was true, would saved me a fortune:)

Sam x

18-03-2012, 02:06 PM
I never had any sample books FOC either when I was doing soft furnishings professionally! They cost a fortune!
I can only think that some shops give the fabric suppliers so much business that they are happy to supply a few FOC.

09-07-2012, 02:41 PM
We have to pay for the sample books as well. Like you say they don't come cheap, especially when you sell a huge range! Its something I will be asking about when I next order some sample books.

09-07-2012, 03:04 PM
This is all dependant on orders but lets say the book is 80 I'd be asking for 80 off my order with that company.

I've done this a lot with suppliers of fabric but not dealt with curtain companies.

Not sure if that helps but you should be able to get some refund if ordering from them..

Incognito 2
09-07-2012, 04:34 PM
You will know which companies are making the most money through you. Tell the reps when they come calling that last year you put x their way. Unless you get the books free in future you will not be dealing with them any more.
If the rep turns you down, speak to the sales manager. tell him how happy you are his company is doing so well that they can afford to pass up on x of business for the sake of a bit of goodwill and whatever the book costs. Once one folds use that as a lever for the others.
You will find out who values your custom in the process. I would suspect that there are plenty of other firms which would be delighted to loan you a book of samples Iit is their sales for goodness sake. It seems outrageous that they charge you. You are doing them the favour.

12-02-2013, 01:25 AM
Well it sounds like you are busy enough to cope with the book prices. But agreed the books are needed and with out them theres no work. But I am sure they are right when they say their is no profit in the books when they ( have them ) made up.

DON'T mention the Alhambra name I lost 550 +vat on that collection. I ordered fabric for a customer only to have the fabric discontinued and then to boot the book was only 4 months old.. I dumped the collection after more issue with them.. Never again will I deal with them. Their rep even dumped them in my area and I don't think they have a good name in the trade because of it. Bugger off back to Spain I say.

As for free books I have had a few and that's prob because they were not popular. I do work from home but I have around 50+ books and all but a few I have had to buy.

12-02-2013, 12:31 PM
I am wondering whether the cost of the books is the reps commission. Which is why you are able to negotiate with them for a lower price. I wonder whether you would be able to get them free or at least cheaper by going to the company direct.


12-02-2013, 01:29 PM
No, no free books for me either. After buying 10 from one company when most became discontinued after a year, I rarely buy them any more. The web is a great place to see different collections and then order sample pieces for customers.

I think they should be free anyway. There is no doubt that if you have books you will sell the fabric but for a very small business working from home it just isn't worth the expense.