Home Features FACE TO FACE | PEW chats with James Ireland, Sales Director at Forum Lighting Solutions

FACE TO FACE | PEW chats with James Ireland, Sales Director at Forum Lighting Solutions

For this month’s Face to Face, we caught up with James Ireland, Sales Director at Forum Lighting Solutions, to get his thoughts on a range of lighting related topics. 

What is your industry background and how did you get involved with Forum Lighting Solutions? 

I started working in the electrical wholesale supply chain at 18, which is now somehow over 20 years ago. I’m not sure where those years have gone. I moved from North Yorkshire down to North London and began my path into the lighting industry with a lamp company specialising in everything from incandescent, halogen, fluorescent and very early LED lamps. This gave me my first experience of supplying the UK’s electrical wholesalers.  

 After 5 years in the lamp market, I made a move to an up and coming commercial lighting supplier. This was an exciting time as I was part of a fast-growing business and learnt a lot of what was required for a supplier to make progress in our industry. Being part of a small team it also taught me many different roles from sales to marketing and being involved in product development.  

 After six years with the commercial lighting business, I received a call from a good friend in the industry who told me of plans to launch a new business, with the backing of a very well established lighting manufacturer and asked me if I’d be interested in joining the project. This was the beginning of Forum Lighting.    

 What were Forum’s most popular product lines across the last 12 months? 

I’m fortunate to be able to say that Forum have enjoyed a very positive last 12 months, which follows on from significant growth over the past few years. Our range has developed and expanded, where we’re not reliant on the success of any particular area, but have a healthy spread of sales throughout the catalogue. The value for money Forum offer in terms of quality items with a competitive pricing structure is really resonating with not only our customers, but theirs also.  

 The past year has seen continued success in the bathroom and kitchen lighting ranges, but also very strong sales in domestic exterior lighting and our range of kinetic switches.    

 What are ‘kinetic light switches’ and how do they work? 

Kinetic switches can wirelessly operate lighting circuits without the requirement of cable or batteries. I remember first seeing these switches in operation and being amazed at how a switch can illuminate a fitting up to 80m away with no cable. The push of the switch generates enough kinetic energy to send a radio signal to the receiver (which needs to be wired into the lighting circuit), which in turn operates the lighting. 

 As well as standard RF receivers, we also offer Wi-Fi models which can be paired with a free app to allow control of the lighting via your phone or voice activated device.  

This kinetic range helps solve issues in many applications, where it can be tough to get cabling to a switch. There’s no longer any need to channel down plastered walls, creating more expense in redecorating, etc. Also, there’s no need now to struggle for solutions in providing additional switch points in listed or older properties with stone walls. The IP65 rated switches are also ideal for outdoor applications and can control lighting from domestic patio or decking areas.      

 During recent years, there has been increased demand for outdoor power and lighting products – do you expect this buying pattern to continue in 2023? 

There’s no doubt that lockdown saw many households investing in their properties with the finances that would have normally been used for holidays, socialising and all the other activities we were unable to do. This saw a considerable growth in the spend on domestic lighting and especially outdoor fittings where people were improving external living spaces.  

As restrictions eased I expected to see a decrease in spend in this area as the nation began to spend their money on the activities we’d not been able to enjoy and had previously perhaps taken for granted. However, what we saw was a levelling off of spend where we saw the purchases on outdoor lighting hold their own against the lockdown boom.  

I’m not sure what 2023 will hold for external domestic lighting, but I expect the increased cost in living to see a decline in spend for residential property improvements. However, I also expect that the massive scale of domestic property development in The UK will balance out that decline and see a stable level of demand on the domestic lighting products produced by Forum Lighting and our counterparts. 

With energy costs at an all-time high, how can end users look to cut costs by implementing the latest lighting solutions? 

With the rapid development in LED technology, I believe that offers the easiest way for domestic end users to save costs on energy. I see LED lamps now offering in excess of 200 lumens per watt, which is very impressive to produce that amount of light from such little energy. I see so many households using the wrong lamps and  believe our industry needs to do a better job in communicating the benefits of LED ‘bulbs’ and making the choosing of the correct product an easier experience for the end user. Currently terms such as Lumens and Kelvins are still not understood by the vast majority of customers and we need to help improve that transition away from Wattage being the primary decision maker for them. 

I also feel that smart technology is becoming easier to use and there’s a strong demand from the end users to embrace this. I mentioned earlier about the free app used to control our Wi-Fi kinetic receivers. This app can also be used to set timers and allow lighting to only be used as and when required.    

 Find out more here 

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