Designed in Australia for Australian’s – Freedom Transforms
Freedom, the iconic Australian furniture and homewares retailer, has changed, ushered in a retail, brand and product renaissance with an emphasis on championing Australian design.
Freedom CEO Blaine Callard calls the transformation “a roadmap for change.”
“Much of the furniture sold in Australia is not designed here, and consequently doesn’t reflect the way we live. We use spaces very differently to Europeans or Americans. Our aesthetic is unique, we crave natural materials like timber, glass and stone. So, to resonate with Australians, we believe our furniture and homewares need to be designed and curated in Australia,” he asserts.
“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 Australians live – this is our foundation. Now we’ve updated the brand with a fresher, bolder and more youthful approach. We’re inspiring Australians with a contemporary, stylish, affordable range that suits Australian homes, proving that beautiful surroundings don’t have to be expensive. That’s democratisation of design.”
Freedom’s design team is Sydney-based. To spearhead the rebrand, over a year in the planning, Freedom appointed Kate Hopwood as Head of Design in November 2019. Her impressive set of design credentials includes a pivotal role at Kmart, where she headed the design team for eight years and oversaw the transformation of Kmart’s homewares offering.
Christie Maartensz, one of Australia’s leading soft furniture specialists, has been appointed Freedom’s new Head of Homewares. And the triumvirate is completed by Gary Pitchford, the former second in command to Lord Graham Kirkham, founder of UK’s billion-pound sofa juggernaut DFS Sofa, who joins as Freedom’s new Merchandise Director.
Freedom’s rebrand includes a streamlined take on its instantly recognisable logo and latest product catalogue. The new look and feel launched across October, followed by a new global best practice website in December. A comprehensive renewal of the assortment comprising 50% new products, including Australian made sofa and dining ranges, with a further 25% by early 2021. In addition, a refresh and rebrand of 12 key stores was completed in November with the remainder updated throughout 2021.
Chief Executive Blaine Callard explains that the turnaround was carefully mapped with an intense diagnostic phase that put every aspect of the business under the microscope. Product is king, but this transformation is also retail-led. Currently, 15% of freedom’s sales are online, with digital revenue already experiencing triple digit growth.
“Bricks and mortar stores are still at the heart of the 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.”
Having rejuvenated Harvey Norman’s European and Irish & UK operations, Callard, who joined Freedom as CEO just over one year ago, is passionate about the dominance of omni-channel retail.