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Freedom NZ to focus on local designers in major revamp of business

Freedom New Zealand plans to emphasise local design as it ushers in a major revamp of its branding and range, in line with Australian changes announced earlier this month

In addition, eight of the company’s larger stores will be refurbished by Christmas, with the remainder of the network to be upgraded next year. 

Freedom’s new look will begin with a streamlined version of its logo and latest product catalogue launching this month.

Between now and November, around 50 per cent of the chain’s product range will be replaced, including the introduction of New Zealand-made sofas and dining suites. Another 25 per cent of the range will be replaced by early next year. 

“Much of the furniture sold in New Zealand is not designed locally, and consequently doesn’t reflect the way we live,” explained Freedom NZ MD Debbie Ridling, describing the new direction as “a roadmap for change”.

“Our aesthetic is unique, we crave natural materials like timber, glass and stone. So to resonate with both Kiwis and Australians, we believe our furniture and homewares need to be designed and curated with locals in mind,” she said.

“We’re not reinventing Freedom but taking it back to its heritage. Freedom’s success has been built on ideas of design, quality and how we live – this is our foundation. We’re updating the brand with a fresher, bolder and more youthful approach. Working collaboratively across both New Zealand and Australia we want to inspire Australasians with a contemporary, stylish, affordable range that suits our homes, proving that beautiful surroundings don’t have to be expensive.”

The new range has been overseen by the head of product design Kate Hopwood appointed last November, who previously led a revamp of Kmart’s homewares products. 

Freedom Group’s Australian-based CEO Blaine Callard said Freedom’s turnaround has been carefully planned with every aspect of the business put under the microscope. 

“Product is king, but this transformation is also retail-led. Currently, 15 per cent of Freedom’s sales are online, with digital revenue already experiencing triple digit growth.”

However, brick-and-mortar stores will remain at the core of the company’s strategy. 

“They are the billboards for our brand. Our customers want to experience and feel products, which in interiors is all about texture, weight, balance, comfort – and you can’t experience that with a thumbnail photograph on a website. We believe people still love to shop for their home in store, and so our stores are being refitted with brighter, lighter, more sophisticated materials to complement the new product range and make the retail experience even more exciting.”

Callard believes Covid-19 has ushered in a new era for the homewares sector with more people working from home and people choosing to update or change their living environment. 

“The events of 2020 have forever changed our relationship with our homes, elevating to new levels our home as-an-expression and extension of who we are,” he said. “We are now all imbuing our personal spaces with creativity, energy, life, and more personality than ever as we craft a safe space to recharge, reflect, and live.

“Our new normal is a world where our homes have become the centre of our universe, where demand for travel may be years away, and there has been a structural shift in where and how we spend. We think 2021 is the year of the home.”

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