Guest lecture: Graham & Brown


Recently we had Graham & Brown come to talk to us about their company, and tell us a little more detail about their brand.   Graham & Brown have many previous links and connections with Blackburn College, therefore we have opportunities like this.

The lecture was given by the current Director of Graham & Brown, Ian brown, given corporate responsibility of delivering the brand name.   His grandfather Henry Brown and his good friend Harold Graham set up the business at an early age in 1946, therefore established for 70 years.   Now a global business.

Ian spoke about many things but was mostly passionate about what we need in order to succeed.   We need ideas, if we never have new ideas then whats the point? We always need to keep over achieving and upper cutting our rival business.   Passion, it drives the brand and it keeps the brand alive…new and exciting.   Desire, if you really want this then you can achieve it, just like Henry and Harold.

In the beginning Henry and Harold decided to start this business not only selling wallpaper but selling a service with it.   Making sure every time wallpaper was bought, there was a decorating service with it.   They were manufacturers of wallpaper design, however wanted to be different.

They had many struggles along the way, in 1946 after the war became a ration on paper.   Being a wallpaper business paper was obviously a necessity to stay alive.   However Barbara Castle campaigned in Parliament to ensure that Graham & Brown got all the paper they needed.   Also electricity became rationed, also not good when factories have to be in order.

They were the first to print wallpaper on foils, and also reprint popular patterns on foils.   They were also the first wallpaper manufacturing company to screen print on wallpaper, which naturally changed the industry forever.

Plus points are they are a British made design lead products, and to look at gaps in the market.

They do not only sell wallpaper nowadays but

  • wallpaper
  • wall art
  • kids decor
  • paint

The wall designs bring in a revenue of 10% overall.

Being a global and well known brand, Graham & Brown have over 250 of their stores in China today, excluding their factories there.   They conquered the Chinese market due to suiting them, bringing back the service with the wallpaper when bought. (a service that is still not carried out in the UK again as of yet.)   Their rival company B & Q tried to succeed in China however failed massively.

Knowing your target market is very important to Graham & Brown.   They know that no matter what country, they are mostly and often selling to females rather than males.   This means making the shop/website more female friendly, making the shelves lower etc.

Wallpaper they supply and created…

  • Superfresco
  • Superfresco easy – paste the wall not the paper
  • Contour – Kitchen/Bathroom suitable, built with bacteria inside so that damp doesn’t ruin it
  • Graham & Brown – original

Recognised as a “cool” brand for the 5th year running, along with designer companies such as; Levis etc.

Selling to over 75 countries worldwide, therefore working never stops.

Sales are halved with 50% revenue coming from the UK and the other 50% coming from over seas.   Total group turnover last year exceeded 90 million GBP.

Constantly looking at innovative new products on the market.

Graham & Brown also sell wallpapers designed by famous artists and designers including…

  • Marcel Wanders
  • Wayne Hemmingway
  • Kelly Hoppen
  • Barbara Hulaniki
  • Lawrence Lawelan Bowen
  • Matthew Williamson

Selling design and colour.

Maintaining brand and market.   Lose your branding = lose your business.

16,000 tonnes of paper used per year.

Social media, a powerful way to portray your brand and its free…get the message out there quickly, in a modern way.

Graham & Brown’s future challenges include…

  • new start ups
  • less brick more click
  • speed to market
  • technology = the only thing that changes is the pace of change
  • less DIY = customers buy decorated walls
  • meeting consumer aspirations in a world of constant change




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s