Hillarys awards £18m media account to MediaCom – Is that why Hillarys are so expensive ?

By Maisie McCabecampaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 18 August 2014 12:14PM Be the first to comment

Hillarys, the blinds and shutter specialist, has awarded its £18 million media planning and buying account to MediaCom.

Hillarys: hires MediaCom for its media businessHillarys: hires MediaCom for its media business

MediaCom’s Manchester office is understood to have beat PHD North to pick up the business after a competitive pitch. The incumbent, Carat Manchester, resigned the business in April and was not involved.

The appointment marks a return to MediaCom for the Hillarys brand, as it worked with the WPP agency from 2006 before hiring Carat Manchester in 2011.

The business includes digital media including pay per click, search engine optimisation, affiliates and programmatic display as well as all offline planning and buying responsibilities.

Susan White, the head of online at Hillarys, said: “Throughout the pitch process, MediaCom was able to demonstrate an unparalleled understanding of the modern media landscape, combined with an ability to deliver true value and impact, all key requirements for our continuing growth ambitions.”

The account will be led by MediaCom UK’s recently expanded digital performance division i-Lab, which will handle the digital activity.

Paul Cooper, the joint managing director at MediaCom i-Lab UK, said: “This is a fantastic appointment for us to have secured here at MediaCom, giving us the opportunity to put into play the full power and potential of i-Lab’s ability to provide a digital specialist brand within the wrapper of connected comms planning.

“Hillarys is a true British manufacturing success story and we’re looking forward to working with them closely to spearhead the next period of growth for the business.”

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

Bloc Blinds custom designs make for good times

  By Scott Campbell  9:00PM BST 02 Aug 2014


While Bing Crosby may be dreaming of a white Christmas, Cormac Diamond’s list for Santa contains a somewhat different desire – to print mince pies on blinds.

“You never know what a customer might want,” he says, laughing. Despite having no background in the lucrative window industry, Diamond, 36, a former mechanical engineer, set up Bloc Blinds five years ago, and business appears to be booming.

After spotting a gap in the market during the credit crisis, he developed an interchangeable roller blind system – installable with just four screws – that lets customer easily change the fabric without having to remove the whole frame. It has proved so popular that when the Northern Irish company, based in Draperstown, County Londonderry, launched a Christmas-themed blind in December last year, customers were keen to buy.

“It gave us the courage to invest in a printing machine so we can really go to town with new designs this year,” says Diamond. The company, which has 42 employees, is now planning to launch a service that lets customers design their own fabric.

“If, for instance, you had green cushions, and wanted to match a blind to them, we can now easily replicate the exact colour rather than travelling the country to find a suitable fabric,” Diamond explains.

“It’s a quirky thing, but in the past people would have ruled it out as being complete nonsense, purely from the cost of the fixture.

“But now, with the advent of an interchangeable blind, you can cheaply print whatever you like, even ‘happy birthday’ blinds, and hang it up for a few hours then take it down again.”

After being spotted at a trade show in Germany four years ago, Bloc Blinds has been selected by John Lewis as a category brand, meaning it will have dedicated areas in stores.

But prospects have not always been so rosy. Bloc Blinds launched at the height of the credit crunch, when consumers were watching their spending. Amid the frequent redundancies of the financial crisis there was no shortage of workers available, but none of them had the right skills.

“One major challenge we had was finding staff – there were lots of workers, but none of them were blind makers,” says Diamond. “A lot of people thought I was mad for starting a business at that point.”

With training, the workers soon started production, but finding clients was an entirely different matter – Diamond hadn’t hired a sales team.

Despite his relatively limited business experience, he visited prospective buyers alone with a suitcase full of samples. He says he regularly used gut instinct to make business decisions, and it paid off; once retailers saw the product and its potential and its uniqueness, they started to buy into it. “It was a steep learning curve,” he admits.

Indeed, squeezed by the credit crunch, the company’s customers had been trying to improve their margins by buying cheaper products, but quickly realised that quality was more important to avoid complaints and returns.

Fortunately, Bloc Blinds wasn’t overly affected by the financial doom and gloom hurting many British industries. Rather than getting capital from banks, most of the company’s funding instead came from family members.

“It stood us in good stead. Every pound and every penny is still looked after,” explains Diamond. “When it’s from people you know and not a loan from a bank, you really have got a greater feel for the value of the money.”

The constraint on funding meant that the company’s expansion was cautious, and largely funded from profits, which is still the case.

“The ethos of the business is that it must be sustainable. We must take our growth seriously, and the expenditure involved in that must be well thought out,” he explains. “Those early years really taught us to know the value of money and investing our own money.”

Within a year, Bloc Blinds moved from producing five blinds per week to 100.

Now the company is planning to expand into the American market, where Diamond thinks that seasonal blinds – such as for Halloween, as well as Christmas – will be particularly popular.

“It’s going to fit their market well. Our ethos will chime with the Americans, as we have a strong success story behind our products,” he says.

Although the firm has meetings set up with two large US retailers, the stateside launch will primarily be on the internet so that it can target consumers directly – a strategy that is already working wonders in Europe.

“The medium of the internet is perfect for us to get the product out to new markets.”

In the UK, Bloc Blinds currently works with 500 independent retailers, a number that it plans to increase.

However, Diamond plans to expand the number of trade partners during the next year, so that Bloc Blinds becomes a household name “available in every town and city across the UK”.

He adds: “We would like to become the new Dyson.

“They’ve got something unique – people associate the bagless vacuum cleaner with Dyson and that is what we want to do with interchangeable blinds.”

Far from the days when finding skilled workers was the biggest challenge, now Diamond says that it’s managing the growth of the company.

Bloc Blinds is in the process of amalgamating multiple production facilities into a single site, which he hopes will further spur growth as it moves into new markets.

But Diamond has not lost touch with the company’s roots.

“If you start off with a hands-on approach, it’s very difficult to get away from it,” he explains.

Indeed, while the entrepreneur has had to reduce the time he spends on the factory – or house – floor, he says that sometimes “you just have to get your hands dirty”.

“There’s nothing like going out and fitting blinds yourself to get a true feeling of what customers think,” he concludes.



Duette window blinds brand launches new campaign

Duette TV Ad from The Market Creative on Vimeo.


Hunter Douglas’ Duette, the energy-saving window blinds brand, has launched a campaign to leverage its position as the inventor of honeycomb cell technology, which traps air inside the blinds to boost energy efficiency.

Fabienne Tyler, Business Development Manager at Hunter Douglas said: “We are looking to communicate our energy-saving proposition in conjunction with a stylish, quality product offering, as well as the fact that we’re the originators of honeycomb cell technology. The campaign directly addresses both of those ideas, in a way that we are sure will resonate with our audience.”

Devised by The Market Creative, a honeycomb shape runs throughout the brand campaign, while the text ‘The Original Energy Saving Blind’ is incorporated into the design along with a heritage stamp.

Account director, Caroline Finch-Denham, who led the project at The Market Creative, said: “Hunter Douglas is the patent-owner of the energy saving honeycomb cell structure. By leveraging this heritage we have created a point of difference in the market and the idea is brought to life through the honeycomb shape that works across all channels.”

The campaign will be trialled over the next three months with a 30-second TV advert, running nationally on satellite channels, and a consumer press campaign with ads across a range of home interest titles. The look and feel developed by The Market Creative also been applied to the brand websitewww.duette.co.uk

No Dust Here! How to Effortlessly Clean Blinds


No Dust Here! How to Effortlessly Clean Blinds

by Sarah Lipoff 0 Reactions 426 Shares Print
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Along with keeping out the sun and offering privacy, blinds are a big collector of dust. It’s smart to add wiping your blinds to your monthly to-do, which keeps them free of debris. Not sure how to tackle this task? It’s actually so easy. Here’s what to do.

Quick Dusting

Open the blinds so you can easily reach between the slats. Dust the area with your favorite duster or a microfiber cloth. You can also use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck up any cobwebs or dirt that has made the space its home since your last cleaning.

Get Clean

Mix together a solution of equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle to use as an eco-friendly blinds cleaner. For really dirty blinds, you can also add one-fourth teaspoon of dish soap to help bust through buildup. Give the container a shake to distribute. Turn an old athletic sock inside out, and place it on your hand. Spritz the sock with the cleaner, and then gently wipe the top and bottom of each slat of the blinds. If you don’t have an old sock, a microfiber cloth works just fine too.

Final Step

Pull up the blinds, and give the window a quick cleaning using the same solution you used for the blinds. Wipe around the frame of the window, removing any last bits of dust or dirt. Then return the blinds to their original position, and enjoy the clean.

10 Ways To Keep Your Home Cool.. Without Touching The Air Conditioner

1. Keep your blinds closed. As simple as it may seem, the Family Handyman notes that up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows, and utilizing shades, curtains and the like can save you up to 7 percent on your bills and lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees. In other words, it essentially prevents your home from becoming a miniature greenhouse, which is especially the case for south- and west-facing windows.


Read the complete article here:


Sunderland blind firm joins safety campaign after death of Sophie Allen

homefair blinds

A COMPANY is joining calls to raise awareness of potentially deadly blind cords after a toddler was tragically killed.

Steve Ellithorn, whose Sunderland-based blinds company did not supply those which strangled little Sophie Allen, wants to raise awareness of how blinds can be made safe.

The firm’s showroom in Fawcett Street hands out information leaflets to potential customers and also provide safety devices for making older blinds more child-friendly.

But there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes across the country.

Sophie’s devastated parents, Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson, have joined the Echo with our campaign For Sophie’s Sake, to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.

They watched in agony as medics at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, battled to save Sophie in April.

Tragically, all efforts failed and Sophie’s life support was switched off in the early hours of April 26 after scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain.

Homefair Blinds refuses to fit blinds unless they comply with new safety regulations, which came into force in February, and is offering free advice to anyone with concerns.

Steve, a 44-year-old father of two, said: “When I read about Sophie, I felt sick. It’s just the normal human reaction. I have children aged seven and nine.”

He added that new measures had been welcomed by the industry, but some customers still object to their blinds being fitted with safety devices.

He said: “People say, ‘I haven’t got any kids’, but if you buy a car, you can’t say you don’t want seatbelts because I’m not going to hit anything.

“What happens when you sell the car to someone else? If you move, your blinds are still in the house.

“People think it isn’t going to happen to them. We thought people would be more resistent when the legislation came in, but thankfully they were in the minority.”

At the two-year-old’s inquest earlier this month, the city’s senior coroner Derek Winter heard that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999 – 15 in the last four years.

Sophie’s parents said: “Too many children die because of blind cords. They have been banned in America and other countries.

“The reason being, children still have accidents with blind cords when safety devices are fitted.

“Devices have failed in the past – cord breakers have not snapped and clips on the walls have been able to be pulled off.

“Basically, these safety devices still don’t prevent blind cord accidents.’’

They added: “Our campaign is to make people aware and make them safe for the millions of people that already have blinds fitted in their homes.’’



Safety campaign: Parents release heartbreaking final picture of daughter killed in blind cord accident

safety campaign

A GRIEVING family has teamed up with the Echo to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.


Toddler Sophie Allen died six days after her mother found her tangled in the looped blind cord in the bedroom of her Sunderland home.

At the two-year-old’s inquest last week, the city’s senior coroner Derek Winter heard that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999 – 15 in the last four years.

New safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February but there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes across the country.

Now Sophie’s devastated parents, Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson, have joined the Echo in trying to prevent future deaths with our campaign For Sophie’s Sake.

The couple watched in agony as medics at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, battled to save Sophie in April. Tragically, all efforts failed and Sophie’s life support was switched off in the early hours of April 26 after scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain.

They said: “Too many children die because of blind cords. They have been banned in America and other countries.

“The reason being, children still have accidents with blind cords when safety devices are fitted. Devices have failed in the past – cord breakers have not snapped and clips on the walls have been able to be pulled off.

“Basically, these safety devices still don’t prevent blind cord accidents.

“The design of the looped cord is wrong – there is no need to continuously pull a corded blind round and round on a loop.”

The parents, from Redhouse, also have a son and daughter, Jayden and Ameila.

They added: “Our campaign is to make people aware and make them safe for the millions of people that already have blinds fitted in their homes.

“However, our view is that eventually we need to get rid of them altogether.

“Cordless blinds are sold for next to nothing in some places, so why are manufacturers still producing corded blinds?

“We have heard that some blind companies are still fitting blinds without the devices, because the customer is refusing to have them in fear of compromising the warranty on fitted windows.”

Echo editor John Szymanski added: “Sophie’s death was a tragedy which could have been avoided.

“We are fully behind Sophie’s family in both raising awareness of this, and helping to stop it happening again, so no other parents have to go through this kind of grief and agony.”

On the morning Sophie died, her parents heard her playing with her brother in their bedroom at their home in Ramillies Road.

Her mum got up to go to the toilet and saw Sophie’s brother standing on his bed and that a storage unit in the bedroom had tipped over.

He told her Sophie was stuck and Ms Hudson assumed she was hiding.

But when she opened the child gate, she noticed a shadow behind the curtain and realised Sophie had the blind cord around her neck.

Her frantic parents tried to resuscitate the unconscious toddler before an ambulance was called.

An inquest in Sunderland heard that Sophie was “a very inquisitive child” and her death was a tragic accident.


New measures are welcomed


NEW safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February.

But safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) fears there are still millions of the potentially-deadly blinds in homes across the country.

Charity spokeswoman Sheila Merrill said: “The arrival of the new blind cord standard is a welcome development, because it will help to strengthen the safety of all new blinds and save children’s lives.

“But it is important to stress that there are 200 million blinds already fitted in UK properties. This is why it is important to continue to raise awareness among parents and carers of making sure that looped blind cords are kept out of the reach of children. This can be done by fitting a safety device such as a chain/cord-break connector, chain/cord tidy or cleat.

“We urge people not to place a cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window and only install blinds that do not have a cord, especially in a child’s bedroom.”


Support for cause


DANIELLE and Peter are supporting another mum who lost her daughter in a blind cord accident.

The couple, who have set up a Facebook page called Blind Cord Safety in the UK, in memory of Sophie, are also in the process of creating a website for their cause, are in touch with Amanda O’Halloran, who lost her 17-month-old daughter Sophia a year ago.

Amanda, from Tirley in Gloucestershire, launched a campaign and petition called Sophia’s Cause, which calls for a ban on all corded blinds being sold.

So far, it has almost 8,000 signatures in support.



‘Inquisitive’ two-year-old girl strangled to death by blind cord after it wrapped around her neck as she looked out of the window.

  • Sophie Allen, 2, was found hanging from a cord in her bedroom

  • Inquest hears cord wrapped around her neck while she looked out of bedroom window

  • Coroner Derek Winter demands more to be done to prevent future deaths

  • Says millions of families could have deadly blind cords in their homes

A coroner has demanded the government do more to improve the safety of blind cords warning millions of homes could still have deadly blinds after a two-year-old girl was strangled to death.

Sophie Allen suffered brain damage after she was found hanging from the blind cord in her bedroom at her home in Sunderland.

At an inquest into her death, it was heard that the inquisitive toddler, who was playing with her brother, is thought to have climbed on to a storage box to look at her pet rabbits out of the window.

Two-year-old Sophie Allen from Sunderland, who died after she became entangled in a blind cord in her bedroom 


Sophie was found in this bedroom at the family’s home in Sunderland after looking out of the window to see her pet rabbits

But the box tipped over and Sophie got her head caught in the noose of the cord and when she slipped, it cut her air supply off.

She was rushed to hospital but despite doctors’ best efforts scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain and her life support machine was switched off.

Now coroner Derek Winter has urged the Government to do more to prevent future deaths.

New safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February.

But Mr Winter said this would mean there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes.

He added he plans to use his powers to write to the Government to see if more can be done to prevent future deaths.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, he explained: ‘I will ask that they reply within 56 days as to what additional measures can be taken to highlight public awareness, so those people who have existing blinds fitted can take immediate action to take away the risk of those blinds, and the regulations that are in place from February are brought to everyone’s attention and the number of deaths from blind cords can be eliminated or almost certainly reduced.


Sophie, pictured with her brother Jayden, right, who she shared a bedroom with, and her baby sister Amelia


At the inquest in Sunderland it was heard that Sophie lived with her parents Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson, along with her siblings Amelia and Jayden, with whom she shared a bedroom.

The hearing was told that Sophie, who would have been three in December, was ‘a very inquisitive child’, and enjoyed looking out of her bedroom window to keep an eye on her pet rabbits.



In February, new safety regulations came into effect covering cords on most types of blinds.

The new rules means that blinds must be ‘safe by design’ and supplied with an appropriate child safety device.

These devices break the cord or chain under pressure or provide the facility to store the cord out of reach.


Detective Inspector Shelly Hudson, from Northumbria Police, said at about 8.30am on April 20, Sophie’s parents heard the two children playing in their bedroom.

Her mother got up to go to the toilet and saw Sophie’s brother was standing on his bed and a storage unit in the bedroom had tipped over.


DI Hudson said: “Sophie’s sibling told his mam that Sophie was stuck, but because she was an inquisitive little girl, she assumed she was hiding.


‘She went quickly to the toilet and went back to the bedroom and as she opened the child gate, she noticed her brother was looking concerned and standing on his bed.

‘She asked him again where she was and he pointed at the storage unit next to the window.


‘She noticed a shadow behind the curtain, moved the curtain to one side and realised Sophie had the blind cord around her neck.’

The frantic mother freed the unconscious toddler and carried her downstairs where they parents tried to perform CPR.


When it did not work they went to a neighbour’s house to call an ambulance as Miss Hudson could not get through on her phone.


At an inquest, Sophie was described as an ‘inquisitive’ child who liked to look out of her bedroom window to keep an eye on her pet rabbits 


The two-year-old was treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, pictured, after being transferred from Sunderland Royal Hospital but doctors were unable to save her

Sophie was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital before being transferred to a specialist children’s unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.


But despite efforts of medics, her life support machine was switched off in the early hours of April 26.


DI Hudson said that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999, with 15 of the deaths in the last four years.


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident (RoSPA) estimates there are more than 200 hundred million unsafe blind cords in the UK.


The charity has handed out more than 50,000 free ‘cleats’, which tie up blind cords, as part of an ongoing safety campaign.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2651357/Coroner-demands-action-inquisitive-two-year-old-girl-strangled-death-blind-cord.html#ixzz342LpkzHo
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More comfortable summers

Sky light blinds


Q: Will solar blinds really keep my home cooler in summer? We have two large bay windows and I was looking at installing some Krumpers solar blinds or perhaps some awnings. I’m skeptical about the blinds since they still let heat inside the glass.

A: Your plan is a great way to reduce heat buildup during summer. And though I don’t have any personal experience with the blinds you’re thinking of, I expect they’ll help quite a bit. The research I’ve looked at with the Krumpers product impresses me.

Your concern about heat still getting between the glass and the blinds probably won’t turn out to be an issue. The light colour of solar blinds will reflect energy back out again through the glass, but you don’t necessarily need to go ahead on mere “blind” faith. Before you commit to buying, try simulating blinds by putting a sheet over your window temporarily during sunny weather. I think you’ll find it makes quite a difference, and proper blinds will make even more of a difference.

Although most people don’t realise it, openable skylights with blinds offer another option for keeping houses cooler during the summer. Even homes with central air conditioning often still have upper rooms that are way too hot in the summer. A few operable skylights left open even an inch or two allow hot air to escape outside, enabling the air conditioner to do its job upstairs. The best solar skylights don’t require wiring and they can open and close electrically, either on schedule or manually. They also close automatically when the first drops of rain hit.


Published May 24, 2014 – 12:00am
Last Updated May 24, 2014 – 12:10am


Shuddering at California shutters

Q: My girlfriend and I recently bought a condo. It’s a two bedroom in an older building, with fairly large rooms and windows. We don’t consider it our forever address, but we will be here for at least five years. That said, we need advice on our window coverings. Neither of us are really drapery type girls, but we do require privacy from neighbouring buildings. My girlfriend has an attachment to California shutters, but I find them dated and heavy looking. I prefer roller blinds, but she thinks they’re too utilitarian. Any ideas?

A: I’m not expecting to score points with your girlfriend when I say I side with you when it comes to California (plantation) shutters. I think they have a place (a beach house or in a bathroom) but I’m personally not a fan of these shutters from a decorative perspective. I realize you and I are in the minority; plantation shutters are loved by many because they’re an easy way to cover every window of a house without the effort or expense of draperies.

I like the simplicity of roller blinds, but, at the same time, I understand your girlfriend’s concern regarding the utilitarian look. If they are intended to be the primary window covering (as I assume they are in your condo), then I think they look best with simple, uncluttered furnishings.

They can be the perfect fix for lofts or condos, but if your tastes lean toward traditional decor, they’re probably not going to be decorative enough on the windows.

For a more layered look, I’ve used roller blinds in addition to linen sheers and decorative side panels. I like them mounted on the inside frame of the window behind a four-inch (10.16 cm) wooden valance (valance height will vary depending on the size of the window and blind) that is painted the same colour as the window trim.

You wouldn’t even realize they’re there until they’re rolled down at night for privacy.

Depending on how close your windows are to the windows of the neighbouring building, you may need to have the blinds down during the day and in this case, I like the roller shades pictured here by Delia Shades (deliashades.com).

Ten years ago, industrial designer Delia Heilig felt the same way as your girlfriend about roller shades, so she set out to change that. After perfecting the screen-printing process, Delia started designing and producing roller shades patterned after traditional window coverings from around the world.

When you view her website, you see Moroccan arches, French wrought iron work and Indian jali patterns, to name but a few. Delia stocks three weights of roller shade mesh and can line them with blackout lining if total light blocking or privacy is required. Every shade is made to order with window measurements you provide. Pricing is about $25 a square foot (0.1 square metre).

You may not want to use these in every room, but I think they’re perfect for principal rooms in which you’re looking to make a statement. And for the other rooms, investigate options at such stores as Blinds to Go or Home Depot.

Check the rules of your condo board when it comes to window coverings, because with any luck, your building doesn’t allow plantation shutters and you and I won’t have to take the blame for poohpoohing them in the first place.

Send your design question to [email protected]

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