Published February 17, 2007

Out of the bedroom and into the concept store

10 Jalan Kilang
Tel: 6272 3749
Open till 5 pm today

Home life: Friven & Co has moved into lifestyle retailing, selling homeware along with its bed linen lines

FROM manufacturing linens and sheets for the bedroom, Friven & Co has also moved into lifestyle retailing with the opening of its first lifestyle concept store in Singapore in December.

Formerly Mayfran International, the company was rebranded under a new management team last year. With its renaming as Friven & Co, and a $4.125 million infusion of funds later, the company also launched its retail plans as a 'lifestyle' company, where it can showcase the full range of its bed linen lines as well as homeware.

'For bed linen, for example, this is a place where shoppers can view the different types of bed linen under our various labels,' says Desmond Soon, the company's communications manager. The higher-end labels include DS, for example, which carries cotton sheets with 400-600 threadcount. And then there are brands like Perrin de Rossi, Friven and relax at home. Friven & Co is also a licensed manufacturer for Elle and Karen Neuburger.

If you want to furnish your bedroom, Friven & Co - with its neatly laid-out modern interior space and a striking black and white facade - is a one-stop shop as besides bed linen, it also carries Sealy mattresses and bedding like quilts and pillows.

Most Singaporeans are familiar with the Friven range - as it has been in the market for 30 years, says Mr Soon. It is a household name, literally. Which is why the company adopted Friven when it was thinking of rebranding itself. 'But department stores can only do so much for your brand, hence the timeliness of this concept store,' he says.

Timely because Friven & Co has also expanded into lifestyle products - like the range of home accessories such as storage ware made by a Hong Kong company called Eagleton. Friven & Co acquired the company, which sells mainly household products, toys and gardening equipment.

Building on Eagleton's overseas network in the UK and Australia, there are also new opportunities to market its bed linen range to those markets, says Mr Soon.

The household section currently does not carry that much stock, but more products will be brought in in a few months' time.

The company has been slowly driving traffic to its concept store by tying up with different companies to hold special sales previews for their staff. There are also plans to open Friven & Co stores in malls, especially in those which do not have department stores that carry Friven products, says Mr Soon, because that is where the shopper traffic is. But for now, the concept store is a place where Friven & Co can test new products on the market - like a retail lab - and also a place where foreign buyers can visit; and it also serves as a prototype which other overseas outlets will be modelled on.