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The call to back British made furniture is becoming louder. During the January Furniture Show earlier this year, the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) exhibited with an important message for the UK furnishing industry, to ‘Support Homegrown’. It is far from clear what the future holds for the industry and businesses in terms of certainty in regards to Brexit, but what these turbulent times have highlighted is the pride that comes with being British and part of the United Kingdom. The BFM want the furniture industry to take advantage of the idea that Britons want to support Britain. With the phrase ‘Support Homegrown’ now widely used after a great campaign on supporting British Farmers and local produce, there is no reason why this phrase can’t be used to cover UK manufacturing. The UK is the eighth largest industrial nation, employing 2.6 million people — according to a report by The Manufacturer — and for such a small island, it is something to be shouting about. One furniture manufacturer that is echoing this call is Iain James Furniture. The business spoke exclusively to Cabinet Maker this week on the battle against imported furniture within the UK market, whilst encouraging the industry to stand up against imports and back British. And with consumer confidence said to be wavering in the midst of all the uncertainty Brexit has created, displaying a BFM label on products to proudly identify homegrown produce can only be beneficial towards a patriotic-thinking customer. The BFM was quick to highlight the many pros to buying British-made furniture, including environmental benefits, stricter safety
regulations and the current weakness of sterling making imported furniture more expensive. This presents the furniture industry with an opportunity to come together and educate the consumer. With education in mind, in this week’s editorial features the latest Statistics Digest from the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), which highlights a number of key figures from sales trends for consumers and manufacturing, as well as a look at the recent import and export data. Havelock International also feature as the business talks about its recent launch of a Sustainable Manufacturing initiative as part of its transformation strategy to help support future growth. To round off this week’s issue, Ralph La Fontaine, head of careers and learning at British Retail Consortium, has the Last Word and shares his insight into how to make apprenticeships work for retailers. Ralph addresses the issue of how the retail sector can be supported in this field and, with the major transformation the retail industry is undergoing at present, investing in apprenticeships could be a good way forward in supporting a longer-term business model. Throughout the year ahead Cabinet Maker intends to play a pivotal role in shining the light on the importance of apprenticeships in the furniture industry — starting as soon as next week. We want to know what your business is doing to help bridge that allimportant skills gap. Get in touch and share your story. Dan Squires Editor RETAIL MANUFACTURE
the speaks about Iain James Furniture whilst imported furniture, battle against to back British. the industry encouraging
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15th march 2019
first issue: 1
plans for the Rossini discusses a successful year ahead following outing in Germany.
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INSIDE THIS WEEKâ€™S ISSUE
FEATURES BACKING BRITISH
Iain James Furniture speaks about the battle against imported furniture, whilst encouraging the industry to back British.
FIRA shares its latest Statistics Digest, highlighting a number of key figures from sales, manufacturing, imports and exports.
FROM COLOGNE TO MILAN
Rossini discusses plans for the year ahead following a successful outing in Germany.
Ralph La Fontaine, head of careers and learning, BRC Learning, has the Last Word.
Havelock International reveals the launch of its Sustainable Manufacturing initiative to support future growth.
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NEWS IN BRIEF STORE FIRE An independent furniture store has been hit by a fire that broke out in its showroom in Lochee, Dundee. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended The Furniture Factory store on 3rd March after a fire was reported just after midnight. An investigation into the cause is now under way.
From left, Richard Newman (HSBC), Mark Jones (Jasmin Advisory LLP), Mark Hammonds (Hammonds), Richard Hammonds (Hammonds), and Graham Mold (Frontier Development Capital).
Fitted furniture firm completes MBO
Timber business James Latham plc has announced the acquisition of Irish timber merchant Abbey Wood Agencies Limited. The company has taken over Abbey Woods for an initial payment of €1.8m with a further payment of €300k to €400k. In addition, an earn out of up to €400k is payable to the vendors over the next two years, subject to turnover targets being met.
Fitted furniture manufacturer and retailer Hammonds has announced the completion of a Management Buyout (MBO).
US-based motion furniture technology group Raffel Systems has appointed John Dudash as its new chief executive. In his new role, John will be responsible for broadening the company’s technological platform, introducing existing bespoke and patented technologies into other markets and channels, and building on the brand.
Homewares retailer Homesense has announced plans to open in its sister TK Maxx store at Festival Place Shopping Centre on 28 March 2019 in Basingstoke. The move follows a string of other openings, which has seen Homesense share store space with TK Maxx over the past few months. Homesense will occupy 26,000sq ft space.
“The MBO provides us, as third-generation owners, with the ability to protect our well-established brand and values, as well as offering continued opportunities for growth. We are currently introducing new and exciting fitted bedroom and kitchen ranges, and I look forward to developing the business further.”
British designer and manufacturer of fitted furniture Daval has been shortlisted for two award nominations for Best Overall Kitchen Brand and Best Furniture Brand by virtue of The BKU Awards 2019. The BKU Awards 2019 will take place on 20th June.
TIG (Technological Innovations Group), an audiovisual sales agency in Europe, will be delivering its Crestron CPD at the forthcoming British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) CPD Providers Showcase event. Taking place on 21st March at The Chesterfield Hotel, London, this brand new course is for the interior design industry.
The MBO brings 100% share ownership to third-generation family members — Richard Hammonds, group chief executive, and Mark Hammonds, group director. The business was supported from investment by HSBC UK (HSBC) and Frontier development Capital (FDC). In a press statement, Hammonds said: “I am personally delighted to have led this MBO process that will now enable us to continue to build upon the long-standing success of the company. Over the last two years we have introduced a successful succession and management team to provide the continuity and strength to enable the group to carry on developing our range and product portfolio in the future.”
The business operates from 89 UK showrooms and employs 837 staff with a turnover of more than £85m.
NEW FURNITURE MANUFACTURER LAUNCHES A new furniture manufacturing business has launched. Balmoral Living has been established for around six months and specialises in the manufacture of bespoke upholstered beds, mattresses, footstools and fabrics. Situated in Dewsbury, the family business has launched a company website, www.balmoralliving.co.uk, and is looking to expand its network of retail partnerships across the UK. Commenting on their launch, Saghir Bashir, founder of the business, said: “Balmoral Living is a family run business which employs some of the finest carpenters and upholsterers to build high-quality beds and furniture for retailers within the UK. “We specialise in finest bespoke production and we are happy to tailor any product to a customer’s individual requirements. We are a young business with great ideals to provide premium quality furniture to public and business sectors.”
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LONDON FABRIC SHOW A SUCCESS Organisers of the London Fabric Show 2019 have confirmed another successful event from both exhibitors and visitors. Taking place over two days in March in The West Stand at Chelsea FC, the well-attended and sociable event, organised by the British Furniture Manufacturers (BMF), saw consistent visitor numbers with the previous year. Visitors included the biggest names in UK upholstery and many large-scale UK retailers. In total 38 high-end exhibitors from six countries, including the prestigious Flemish producers from Belgium and highly-regarded companies from the UK, showed their new designs. Exhibitors left the event singing its praises, with Julian Smith from Abraham Moon stating: “It would take two months of solid driving around to see all of the companies that we can see here in two days. Plus we can show more here and present it better. This show is a winner and we’ll definitely be back next year.” New exhibitors Bill Beaumont and Ragolle Fabrics were among the exhibitors who expressed their delight at the number and quality of the visitors. Outgoing managing director of the BFM, Jackie Bazeley, said: “It is great to go out on a high. We are extremely pleased with how well the show was received by both visitors and exhibitors. The unusual venue works for everyone and we thank all of those who attended.” The West Stand at Chelsea FC’s ground will once again provide the backdrop to the event in 2020 with the dates to be announced shortly.
Debut furniture range Iconic Irish print designer Orla Kiely has confirmed an exclusive partnership with furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse for the launch of her first upholstered furniture collection. Showcasing her signature style and playful patterns, the upholstered furniture range is a retro-inspired take on contemporary design, which was officially launched during this year’s January Furniture Show. Commenting on the launch, Orla said: “When I was planning the new furniture range, I knew that I wanted to work exclusively with a retail partner that shares my values. As an independent family-owned business, Barker and Stonehouse has a distinctive approach to retail and has made for a great collaborator on this launch. “It’s a company that cares about the details and provenance of design, and a place that offers visual excitement to its customers through the layering together of colour, texture and styles within its stores. All of this chimes well with me.” The debut Orla Kiely furniture range for the bedroom and living room areas explores Orla’s extensive pattern archive, handselecting an array of prints that form the base of the collection.
Furniture category to be relaunched
BED MANUFACTURER SECURES NEW FLEET DEAL
Weaker Home sales impacted performance at John Lewis & Partners as the category prepares to be relaunched.
Ryder, an independent provider of commercial vehicle rental, contract hire, and maintenance services in the UK, has supplied 12 new Mercedes-Benz Actros 1843 4x2 tractor units to bed manufacturer Relyon under a five-year contract hire deal.
According to John Lewis Partnership’s unaudited results for the year ending 26th January 2019, total John Lewis & Partners sales increased by a modest 0.7% to £4.88bn from £4.85bn in 2018, whilst like-for-like sales declined 1.4%. John Lewis & Partners recorded an operating profit of £114.7m, down by 55.5% compared to £143.1m last year. The Partnership cited a number of increased costs that impact this figure, as well as stating that weaker Home sales due to subdued consumer confidence continued to depress demand for big ticket and bespoke items. The group added that in the year ahead its furniture assortment would be completely relaunched. Overall, Partnership sales, including both John Lewis and Waitrose divisions, rose 1% to £11.7bn from £11.6bn, whilst profit before PB, tax and exceptional items was substantially lower than last year at £160m, down by 45.4% from £132.8m. This was principally due to the significant operating profit decline in John Lewis & Partners as stated above. Commenting on the results, John Lewis Partnership said: “Near-term uncertainty, politically and in the economy, is having a major impact on consumer confidence, but we do not believe the market conditions are cyclical. The disruption we have seen on the High Street, including business failures and renewed interest in mergers and acquisitions, are instead signs of an inevitable market adjustment, which will require greater clarity on whether brands are competing on scale or difference. “The answer for the Partnership is clear and, despite tough conditions and lower profits, this has been a year when we have developed our brands and invested in Partners. Our difference comes from our people, and the energy, commitment and personality they bring to delivering excellent customer service and high quality products to our customers. This is signalled in our rebranding and is why we have stepped up investment so significantly in training and capability building.”
UPHOLSTERY MAKER DOUBLES LEEDS STORE SPACE Natuzzi has expanded its presence in Leeds with a second unit at Junction 27 Retail Park in Birstall. The acquisition comes after a successful first six months at the scheme, which is owned by Standard Life Investments.
The new units — specified with 2.5m-wide StreamSpace sleeper cabs — are fleet replacements, and will be used to deliver Relyon’s mattresses, divans, and headboards across the UK. Laurie Farley, logistics manager at Relyon, said: “We ran some trials and the Actros performed better on fuel consumption than the other two manufacturers we tested — by almost two more miles to the gallon.” The bed manufacturer has been a contract hire customer of Ryder since 1971. Relyon has kitted out the new sleeper cabs with bespoke Relyon-made mattresses to provide its drivers with a more comfortable night’s sleep. “Usually truck cabs come with about two inches of foam, but we like to look after our drivers and provide our top-end mattresses made from hand-teased lambs wool,” says Farley. “We just make them a little smaller so that they fit the sleeper cabs.”
Increased costs to impact profit Flooring and beds retailer United Carpets Group plc has continued to invest in marketing to maintain sales in a ‘challenging’ marketplace. According to its latest trading update for the year ended 31st March 2019, the group said that it had worked hard to successfully maintain like-for-like sales against an increasingly difficult backdrop in the run up to Brexit, which had weakened consumer confidence, created a softer housing market and led to an environment in which all retailers are competing aggressively for every sale. United Carpets has continued marketing investment and support for its franchisee network, which has also continued to impact Group profitability, as has aggressive pricing to match competitor discounting. The Group added that it continues to develop online activities and new opportunities, which, while increasing total revenue, are not yet making a positive contribution to pre-tax profit. Consequently, United Carpets now expects pre-tax profit to be between £550,000 and £650,000.
The new unit will trade as Natuzzi Editions, alongside the existing Natuzzi Italia store.
Looking ahead, Ian Bowness, finance director, commented: “The Board is confident that the fundamentals of the business remain sound, as the Group continues to operate from a stable store network, under a well-known and trusted brand with substantial cash balances and virtually no debt. The business is therefore well placed to take advantage of any improvement in market conditions.”
Natuzzi has agreed a new 10-year lease for a second unit of 5,010sq ft next to its existing 4,973sq ft store, allowing the business to double its space at the park.
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Homewares brand launches first bedding range
Sofa retailer appoints PR agency
British homewares and lifestyle brand Sophie Allport has announced the launch of its debut bedding collection. Inspired by nature and the quintessential British countryside, Sophie Allport has launched into bedding with a collection from her best-selling ranges, including Flamingos, Bees, Hare, Woof and Safari designs Sophie Allport explained: ‘“We are best known for our kitchen homewares so it’s very exciting to see some of our popular designs moving into the bedroom on to duvet covers, throws and cushions.” Officially launched on 4th March, the range includes single, double, king and super king duvet sets as well as cushions and throws. The collections are now available from sophieallport.com and selected retailers, including John Lewis, House of Fraser and Next.
National sofa retailer DFS has confirmed the appointment of integrated agency Finn as its new regional PR agency. Following a competitive pitch, Finn emerged as the chosen agency for DFS’s retained regional PR activity. The agency will be responsible for managing the furniture specialists’ regional press office including; new store openings, CSR and brand purpose initiatives, and the regional activation of wider strategic campaigns. Richard Rawlins, Finn’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to manage DFS’ regional media relations, a fellow Yorkshire-based business we have long admired. We are looking forward to working with the team to bring to life its campaigns and activate a true sense of human connections in communities across the UK.” Emma Liasides, PR manager for DFS, added: “We loved the strategic and creative ideas that Finn brought to the table. The team showed a genuine enthusiasm and passion for our business and we look forward to taking the relationship forward.”
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Debenhams ‘disappointed’ with Sports Direct action
Design infringement case settled
The owner of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, has made a bid to take full control of department store chain Debenhams. Sports Direct issued a statement on 7th March confirming its intention to hold an emergency general meeting of the Debenhams shareholders to try to install Ashley, who already owns around 30% of Debenhams, as its new owner. A statement said: “Sports Direct has requisitioned a general meeting of Debenhams plc to appoint Mr Mike Ashley to the board of directors of Debenhams and to remove all of the current members of the Debenhams board (other than Rachel Osborne who became a director in September 2018). “If Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of directors of Debenhams during this business critical period for Debenhams, Mr Ashley would carry out an executive role, and would focus on the Debenhams business, including building a strong board and management team. If appointed, Mr Ashley would step down from his current roles as a director and chief executive of Sports Direct. He would be replaced as acting chief executive by Chris Wootton, currently Sports Direct’s deputy chief financial officer. “Sports Direct wishes to reassure its shareholders that, if Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of Debenhams and step down from his roles at Sports Direct, Sports Direct and Mr Ashley have every confidence that acting chief executive Mr Wootton and the other members of Sports Direct’s board and management team have the necessary expertise to continue to successfully run the Sports Direct business.”
Furniture business Baa Stool Ltd has recently secured a copycat settlement after a design was infringed. When Anti Copying in Design (ACID) member Baa Stool Ltd (above) discovered its intellectual property had been infringed by The Swedish Wooden Horse (below), it took immediate action and instructed ACID legal affiliates McDaniel & Co to write a letter before action setting out the claim. Shortly afterwards, Baa Stool received a signed undertaking from the infringing company, which has undertaken not to make, import, sell or offer for sale the infringing article.
Debenhams responded with its own statement, saying: “Any shareholder holding more than 5% of the issued share capital has the right to call a shareholder meeting. The board has been engaging with Sports Direct and our other stakeholders regarding options to restructure our balance sheet and is disappointed that Sports Direct has taken this action. In the meantime, discussions to address our future funding requirements are well advanced.”
w www.debenhams.com This outcome was reached without the need for a hearing or long drawn out and time-consuming legal correspondence.
FURNISHINGS GROUP NAMES NEW CEO Interior furnishings group Walker Greenbank has announced the appointment of Lisa Montague as its new chief executive officer. Lisa joined the company as executive director on 11th March and will become chief executive on 10th April. Following the appointment, Dame Dianne Thompson, currently a non-executive director of the company, will become nonexecutive chairman and Christopher Rogers, currently in the role, will return to his role as non-executive director. On the same date Terry Stannard will step down from his role as a non-executive director of the company. The Board thanked Terry for his contribution to the development of the company and his dedication as chairman for nine years.
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Kelly Hudson, a director of McDaniel & Co, acting for Baa Stool, said, “Knowing the sector and from a perspective of many years dealing with design-led IP infringement, it was clear that this was an infringement and, armed with all the facts and evidence, I created an effective letter before action, which resulted in an early settlement for Baa Stool. Job done!” Baa Stool owner Michelle Bartleet-Greavey said: “Discovering a copied design can not only be deeply upsetting but can have such a negative financial impact on a company like ours. I pursued this not only to get a result but to demonstrate that our message is crystal clear, do not copy us because we will take the necessary legal action to defend our IP rights.” ACID chief executive Dids Macdonald, OBE, added: “Acting promptly and obtaining the correct legal advice can be crucial to turning the situation around and getting a positive result. Publishing a successful settlement actively promotes a company’s proactive IP strategy.”
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FURNITURE BUSINESS TO OPEN NEW SHOWROOM Manufacturer and retailer of modern furniture SCP has confirmed the opening date of its new London showroom. Situated on Pimlico Road at number 57 in the heart of Grosvenor Estate Belgravia, SCP revealed the showroom officially opens on 15th March. Commenting ahead of the launch, SCP said: “The showroom intends to provide professional advice for interior designers, architects and private clients, and a new type of product previously unavailable to them in their local area. “Visitors can expect to find high-quality upholstery pieces, bespoke decorative lighting, and examples of wonderful craftsmanship, all in an environment that expresses a sensitive understanding of material, texture and colour.” Alongside SCP own brand products, SCP Pimlico Road is showcasing a selection of key brands, including furniture from Piet Hein Eek, De La Espada and statement lighting from American brands David Weeks Studio and Roll & Hill. Working with selected partners, SCP Pimlico Road will also host a series of openings, talks and happenings throughout the calendar year.
Logistics firm to close HoF warehouse Logistics specialist XPO Logistics has confirmed plans to close its warehouse in Northamptonshire. Union Usdaw will be entering into consultation talks with XPO Logistics over its proposal to close the Wellingborough-based online fulfilment facility for House of Fraser. The company plans to complete the closure by 10th April. It is understood that around 300 jobs will be affected. Commenting on the plans, Dave Thom – Usdaw area organiser said: “There were clearly doubts over the future of XPO’s involvement in House of Fraser, following its sale to Sports Direct. The announcement ends months of uncertainty for staff, who are understandably upset by the proposed closure. “Usdaw is now entering into consultation talks with the company to secure the best possible deal for our members. We are also speaking to local employers, who recognise Usdaw, to see if they have employment opportunities for any XPO staff who lose their jobs. “We are providing our members with the support, advice and representation they need at this difficult time.”
Findel rejects takeover approach
BED MAKER APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF MARKETING
Sports Direct International has lodged a bid to acquire Findel PLC, which was subsequently rebuffed after it was deemed to seriously undervalue the company. Sports Direct has been an investor in Findel, which operates brands including Studio and Findel Education, since 25th September, 2015, and currently holds a 29.9% interest in Findel and is Findel’s largest shareholder. If the acquisition is successful, Sports Direct would, in aggregate, hold 31,850,000 Findel Shares, representing 36.8% of the existing issued share capital, and voting rights, of Findel. As a result of the move, and pursuant to Rule 9 of the Takeover Code, Sports Direct is required to make an offer for all the Findel Shares not already owned by it or by persons acting in concert with it. The deal, at a price of 161 pence per Findel ordinary share, would value Findel at around £139.2m. In a statement, Sports Direct said: “Sports Direct continues to recognise the value and quality of the Findel business, and sees the offer as an opportunity to give increased support to Findel to maximise the value of its existing business. The offer is an effective way of expanding the commercial arrangements between Sports Direct and Findel, and giving Sports Direct increased exposure to the future growth of the Findel business. However, Findel released its own statement: “The Board believes that the mandatory offer significantly undervalues the group and its future prospects, and is unanimous in its rejection of the offer of 161 pence per share and recommends that shareholders should take no action at this time. “The Board will be writing to shareholders with its formal response to the offer once the offer document has been posted. Further announcements will be made as and when appropriate.”
CONTRACT FURNITURE FIRM RETURNS TO GROWTH Barnsley-based contract furniture manufacturer Metalliform has reported a return to growth in both turnover and profits. According to its latest filed accounts for the year ended 30th June 2018, total sales rose 7.9% to £10.9m from £10.1m in 2017. UK sales, its core market, rose 8% to £10.7m from £9.9m, as did sales outside the UK, which grew by 32.9% to £254,506 from £191,000. Gross profit also increased by 6.1% to £5.2m from £4.9m, whilst pre-tax profit resulted at £610,643, up by 86.5% from £327,033 recorded last year. Stated within its report, the company, which specialises in the education and office sectors, said that it was very pleased with its performance, particularly from its acquisition of Harold Fisher (Plastics) Limited.
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Bed manufacturer Breasley has announced the appointment of Clare Taylor (left) as its new head of marketing. Taking on the role with immediate effect, Clare brings experience from her previous role as marketing manager at Hypnos Contract Beds, where she was responsible for all areas of the marketing mix, spending the last three years focusing on applying her expertise in strategic marketing and product branding. Previous to that, Clare held the position of marketing manager at I Holland Ltd, a leading manufacturer of tablet compression tooling, where she headed up a marketing team and had full responsibility for the organisation’s global marketing strategy, spread across 95 countries. Darren Crowshaw, joint managing director at Breasley, said: “We are very excited to have Clare on board. Our accelerated growth over the past couple of years has created this very important role, and we will work closely together to create and implement a marketing strategy to support the ever-growing needs of our business.”
Furniture business closes again The boss of FDS Furniture has announced the closure of its three stores. Sources suggest that Brian Baker, a named director of Furniture Discount Stores (NE) Limited, trading as FDS Furniture, has closed its stores on Fowler Street in South Shields, Fawcett Street in Sunderland and in Blaydon, Gateshead. It is understood that the business, which was incorporated back in June 2017 following the insolvency of previous furniture business Brizel Limited that traded under a different brand as Beautiful Homes, was served with a £73,000 tax bill last month. The owner sought advice from an insolvency practitioner with the outcome to cease trading. As a result several customers are expected to be left out of pocket and without goods, although some will receive refunds. Brian’s previous businesses, Brizel Limited and Beautiful Homes (Newcastle) Limited, both collapsed in July 2017 and December 2016 respectively, owing creditors respective sums of £386,705 and £800,000. It is not yet known the total value of shortfall that creditors are expected to suffer following the latest closure, whilst no official insolvency appointment has been confirmed. Customers have been advised to contact South Tyneside’s Trading Standards as well as Citizens Advice with any concerns.
Long serving Scottish store closes Department store Hourstons Ltd has entered liquidation, ceasing to trade. Linda Barr and Eileen Blackburn, of accountants and business advisers French Duncan LLP, have been appointed joint liquidators of thr Ayr-based based retailer. Around 70 employees have been made redundant with immediate effect. Hourstons is a well-known high street retailer in Ayr, which was established 123 years ago and provided a broad offering of fashion, beauty, gifts and furniture. Linda Barr, restructuring and debt advisory director at accountants French Duncan LLP, said: “Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times and the very real changes that have occurred in the High Street. “The High Street has become a much more hostile place for many traditional businesses as consumers shift their spending online leaving the centres of our towns and cities with largescale businesses suddenly missing essential customers. It is extremely difficult to turn around long-established businesses once sales start to fall and difficulties emerge. “We shall be selling off the assets of the business but, unfortunately, not as a going concern. The main property is currently being marketed as a development opportunity by CBRE and DM Hall and is unlikely to remain a retail site in the future.” Eileen Blackburn, French Duncan’s head of restructuring and debt ddvisory, commented: “Hourstons battled against the changing retail environment, but this is a story being told on the High Streets of many of our town and city centres as a lot of traditional retailers close because of major consumer changes.”
NEW CEO NAMED AT INNOVATIVE FURNITURE FIRM Finnish furniture business Naava has announced the appointment of Arttu Salmenhaara as its new chief executive. Following the appointment, Naava, which has just launched into the UK market through a new partnership with office furniture firm Office Blueprint, said co-founder and long-time CEO Aki Soudunsaari had taken on the role of strategy director. Commenting on the new role, Arttu said: “On a personal level, I’ve seen first hand what unhealthy air and disconnection from nature due to urbanisation can do to people. The need for a functional and visual product like Naava is immense. As the modern human spends so much time indoors, the built environment should be designed to be as natural and wellnessenhancing as possible.”
Kyle Smith receives the apprenticeship award from Claire Perry MP.
FURNITURE BUSINESS CELEBRATES NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK SMWF has marked National Apprenticeship Week with an inaugural apprenticeship award. Claire Perry, Member of Parliament for Devizes, presented the award to Kyle Smith at a ceremony at the Smallbone workshop in Devizes. The award was established to nurture the next generation of furniture makers and is open to all apprentices undertaking the apprenticeship programme with SMWF. Kyle’s dressing table was chosen as the winner based on the function and aesthetics of Kyle’s design as well as the quality of the original CAD drawing, his written work and the ability to work to deadlines. Claire said: “It was a pleasure and honour to be part of the award ceremony. Local businesses like Smallbone are such a vital and vibrant part of our community, providing jobs and supporting the next generation of skilled workers, and I am very proud that SMWF craftsmanship from Devizes is so highly regarded across the world.” Ian Gray added: “Congratulations to Kyle Smith, he is a worthy winner. This award recognises those, like Kyle, who have excelled and sets a benchmark for those that follow. “We are extremely proud of the programme and our commitment to maintaining traditional craftsmanship and furniture-making skills. With three generations of furniture maker in the Devizes workshop, we hope this award will help us to maintain this tradition.” Kyle won a handcrafted award along with a cash prize of £1,000. Two runners-up awards were made to Josh Scott, for his shoe cupboard, and Harley Woodman, for his chest of drawers. They both received a highly commended certificate and gift voucher.
Aki added: “I’m very excited about this change. I’m proud of being able to lead Naava as CEO this far.”
The three finalists were selected from 13 entries, judged by senior SMWF designer Jai Godwin, SMWF special projects director Iain O’Mahony and SMWF senior R&D carpenter- Andy Saunders, along with John Gibson, managing director at national training provider, Didac.
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Online group acquires retailer
BEDMAKER CELEBRATES APPRENTICESHIP SUCCESS
Berlin-based online group Lumaland AG has announced the acquisition of Things I Like GmbH via a joint venture vehicle.
Bed manufacturer Hypnos marked National Apprenticeship Week by celebrating eight years of apprentices within the business and inviting more to join its successful apprenticeship initiative.
Lumaland AG partnered with entrepreneur Alexander Sailer to implement the takeover. In future, the joint venture will operate under the name MONOQI GmbH and will continue the operations of Things I Like. Lumaland AG, which currently holds 49% of the shares in the joint venture, has two call options to acquire the majority or the remaining 51% of the shares in the joint venture from moodssolutions GmbH, the holding company of Mr Sailer.
COLLAPSED FURNITURE FIRM GUILTY OVER ASBESTOS EXPOSURE Furniture manufacturer Godfrey Syrett has been fined £1 for health and safety breaches due to being in administration. Godfrey Syrett was found guilty for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos at its factory in Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne. North Tyneside Magistrates heard how during a 14-year period, following an asbestos survey carried out in 2003, which identified the presence of asbestos containing materials, the company failed to introduce an adequate management plan or carry out remedial work to prevent potential exposure to asbestos fibres. In 2017 an employee raised a concern to the Health and Safety Executive. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to take measures necessary to protect employees from exposure to asbestos. It also failed to ensure that maintenance workers were made aware of the location of the asbestos to ensure they didn’t disturb it. Godfrey-Syrett Limited, which was placed in administration on 8th January, was found guilty in its absence of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The District Judge said the fine would have been £800,000 but this was reduced to £1 due to the company being in administration. Ashfaq Ali, HSE inspector, said: “Asbestos remains in many buildings where people work. If it is managed and in good condition, there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the company didn’t do what the law required and the asbestos in the building was not managed or maintained. “This is a real risk and a clear breach of the law, which required HSE to prosecute even though the company is in administration.”
The company, which launched its scheme in 2011, has gone from strength to strength, pledging to fill 40% of its projected 150 jobs Alex Raven through apprenticeships by 2022. With 16 apprentices having joined Hypnos since 2011, and two new apprentices having already joined the company in 2019, Hypnos is actively working with local schools and colleges, calling on all those interested in on-the-job training and the opportunity to move into further education, to get in touch. Stephen Ward, group managing director at Hypnos, comments: “At Hypnos, we are committed to supporting the manufacturing industry by providing young, talented people with apprenticeships and jobs that will help them to prepare for specialist roles, from production to world-class support functions, like marketing, IT and finance. A role such as this offers an incredibly diverse and exciting way for people to learn new skills and gain long-term employment, so we’d encourage anyone interested in enrolling and joining our team, to get in touch with us. “As a family-run business, we pride ourselves on being a company that really champions and nurtures our employees. We have some great success stories of people who joined us as apprentices at 16 and now, only a few years later, are in managerial or senior positions within the business. This is a result of the commitment and investment we make in upskilling our work force so that they can develop a rewarding career, and we can continue to deliver a superior experience for our customers.” Former apprentice, Alex Raven, has first-hand experience of this approach. Having joined as a 16 year-old school leaver in 2013, he worked his way through a level 2 manufacturing apprenticeship and a level 3 team leadership apprenticeship, which resulted in him recently being promoted to value stream manager at Hypnos, responsible for divan production and the management of 55 employees. Alex said: “Joining the Hypnos apprenticeship programme has been a challenging but massively rewarding journey for me. I have learnt so much in a short space of time and it goes to show the true value of on-the-job training. Working in different parts of the business has given me a platform to specialise in my area of interest and the support I have been given has been second to none. “I particularly loved getting to do a mix of training and work experience, which meant that each day was different and each day was rewarding in its own unique way.” Open to people aged from 16 upwards, Hypnos’ Apprenticeship Scheme combines on-the-job training, mentoring and coaching with further education. Crucially, there is a clear pathway for apprentices to progress into full time employees, and seven people have already made the transition in the last 12 months alone at Hypnos.
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Children’s furniture retailer unveils its new rebrand Online children’s furniture retailer Room to Grow has unveiled its new branding and launched a refreshed website. Since 2012, the business has seen a sales increase of more than 540%, contributing to its current seven-figure turnover. It is now expecting an increase in web traffic of an additional 30% following the latest refresh, which will also see the new logo appear for the first time. The new website — www.roomtogrow.co.uk — has been designed to make the user journey even more simple for parents, with features including a price, colour and material filter, making the search through the product range as slick as possible, and a clearer layout to assist the mobile experience of those shopping on the go. The blog has also been brought to a more prominent position on the homepage, featuring handy guides and insights into the world of children’s sleep. The updated logo and branding cements Room to Grow’s heritage and expertise as a children’s brand, featuring modern but playful building blocks and the brand’s strapline ‘where dreams begin.’ Room to Grow director Anne Davies explains: “Room to Grow was one of the very first online furniture retailers to put children first. We created an offering that was all about what children want and need for a good night’s sleep, and we’re experts in that field. Many other online retailers include children’s products as a subsection of their main offering, but we’ve stayed true to our heritage and we believe that’s the reason for our success.” The Room to Grow rebrand also coincides with an expansion of its exclusive Jubilee range of contemporary beds and furniture.
MACHINERY MANUFACTURER ENTERS ADMINISTRATION Huddersfield-based manufacturer of carpet finishing machinery, Sellers Global Engineers Limited, has been placed into administration following a period of challenging trading conditions. Paul Philmore, of Philmore & Co, has been appointed the administrator with the intention to continue trading the business whilst it looks for a buyer. Established in 1912, the company is one of the largest manufacturing businesses in Huddersfield and is one of only three large manufacturers of carpet finishing machinery in the world. The company recorded a turnover of almost £12m for the year ending August 2018 and employs 46 members of staff in Huddersfield. Although the administrator anticipates interest from prospective purchasers for a significant part of the business, unfortunately it has been necessary to make a number of staff redundant. Paul, of Philmore & Co, said: “Sellers Global Engineers is a leader in its field with virtually every major carpet manufacturer throughout the globe utilising a Sellers’ machine in one form or another. “It has suffered recently from a tough trading environment which has meant that the business has been put into administration and sadly, a number of people have been made redundant. “It does however have a very strong reputation and an excellent facility in Huddersfield and I’m hopeful that this will be attractive to a trade buyer looking to take the business forward.” Tom Paton and Hal Roberts, from Irwin Mitchell’s restructuring and insolvency team, are advising the administrator.
FURNITURE FIRM APPOINTS NEW MARKETING LEAD
UK business grows at US etailer
Natalie joins Häfele after four years running her own successful business consultancy firm and brings more than 20 years of building industry experience to the company.
Detailed in its latest trading update, ended 31st December, 2018, total sales increased $576.6m to $1.9bn, up 40.6% yearover-year.
In her new role, Natalie will be managing a team of 20 and be responsible for overseeing every element of the company’s marketing activity. Natalie said: “Marketing can impact a company’s bottom line by putting the customer at the heart of the business.”
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Furniture fitting and architectural hardware specialist Häfele UK has announced the appointment of Natalie Davenport (left) as its new head of marketing.
Online home furnishings retailer Wayfair has reported an increase in sales during its fourth quarter.
International sales, including the UK, rose 49.7% to $287.1m from $191.7m. US sales, its core market, increased from $1.2bn to $1.7bn. Net losses widened to $53.8m from $21.2m against the same period last year.
Retail park sold for almost £13m
PATENT APPROVED FOR NEW FIRE-PROOF FABRIC
A retail park containing bed retailer Dreams has been acquired by a local authority for nearly £13m through property consultancy Vail Williams LLP.
So4Bed Ltd, trading as Cottonsafe®, and John Spencer Textiles Ltd, has announced a patent for a completely natural fire-proof fabric has been granted.
Eastleigh Borough Council is the new owner of Chestnut Avenue Retail Park in Chandler’s Ford, which is fully occupied by Dreams, Aldi, American Golf, and Poundstretcher.
Working jointly on the venture with technical and regulations expertise, they have combined wool and cotton together to form a unique inherently fire-proof woven material.
Paloma Capital, a private equity real estate investor acting on behalf of Paloma Real Estate Fund I, was the seller, having bought the retail park as part of a portfolio in January 2016.
The patent covers all woven fabric made from cotton and wool. This makes the Cottonsafe® material suitable for mattress, upholstery and other applications up to and beyond CRIB 5.
The £12.85m acquisition was negotiated by Vail Williams on behalf of the council and followed comprehensive refurbishment of the 47,253sq ft property by Paloma Capital, at a cost of £1.8m.
David Collinge, managing director of John Spencer Textiles Ltd, explained: “When Mark Dowen approached us, he had been searching the world for more efficient fire-retardant fabrics which were bio-degradable and non-toxic. We used our specialist technical textile expertise to combine the natural fibres of wool with cotton, traditionally used in mattress ticking. Eventually we managed to create small woollen fire barriers in the cotton, which prevented fire from spreading across its surface. We didn’t realise how effective this would be and were delighted when Cottonsafe® surpassed CRIB 5.”
Russell Miller, a partner at the Southampton and Portsmouth offices of Vail Williams, acted for Eastleigh Borough Council; Avison Young in London represented Paloma Capital. Russell said: “This was a unique opportunity to secure a prime property investment for Eastleigh Borough Council. Currently there is 100% occupancy at the strategically located retail park. “A number of local authorities are drawn to similar property assets because regular income streams can help fund services challenged by cuts in public expenditure from central government.” Council leader Keith House said the move demonstrated the council’s commitment to invest in the borough.
FOAM MAKER TEAMS UP WITH CYCLING OUTFIT Manufacturers of latex foam components, PU foams and pocket spring units for the bedding industry, Latexco, have formed a new partnership with Australian WorldTour outfit MitcheltonSCOTT.
Unlike chemically treated fabric, Cottonsafe® keeps its fireretardant properties for the entire life of the fabric, without any health or environmental impact. It is also completely biodegradable. Mark Dowen, managing director of So4Bed Ltd T/A Cottonsafe® Natural Mattress, and an expert in UK Fire Regulations, said: “I have been committed to banishing all flame-retardant chemicals in furniture. In the past, UK furniture and bedding trade organisations have supported the use of these chemicals, but Cottonsafe® proves fire safety can be achieved without them.” So4Bed Ltd and John Spencer Textiles Ltd are now developing variations of this material for different markets. They will be actively protecting their patent through the UK Patent Office.
DESIGN Director of marketing and communication Christian Schulten, left, and Daniel Loddenkemper, senior marketing manager, with the awards.
Latexco will support Mitchelton-SCOTT riders throughout the 2019 season by supplying mattress toppers and pillows to transfer from hotel to hotel during their tour. Kevin Tabotta, Mitchelton-SCOTT performance manager, said: “The latex topper and pillows from Latexco will allow us to rectify this by transforming unpredictable hotel beds to a consistent feel to ensure adequate sleep for maximum performance.” Katrien Dendievel, Latexco PR and marketing coordinator, said: “Scientific tests have proven the positive impact of our latex topper. The athletes who slept on a latex topper during the tests slept on average 18 minutes longer per night and felt refreshed and energized when waking up. “We wish Mitchelton-SCOTT a fantastic 2019 cycling season.”
Machinery supplier wins awards German-based woodworking machinery supplier HOMAG and its agency, Keenly, received two prizes at the prestigious German Design Award 2019. The HOMAG Group won the corporate identity award with its new market presence Design Meets Digital. HOMAG developed a new digital machine generation with intuitive design, uniform product names and a new logo. Another award went to the cinematic implementation of the change in corporate and product design in the audiovisual category.
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Flooring show prepares for ‘best ever’ year Organisers of The Flooring Show have confirmed a number of new exhibitors for this year’s event. Taking place from 15th-17th September, 2019, at Harrogate Convention Centre, more than 20 new exhibitors have signed up for the event. The show is widely recognised as the UK’s National Flooring Event, and this year marks its 57th edition, a record performance for a b2b trade show. Commenting on this year’s developments, organisers said: “2019 is set to be The Flooring Shows best year with a resurgence in visitor numbers and interest in recent years.
SLEEP BRAND LAUNCHES DEBUT BED FRAME British sleep brand HÜGGE has launched its new bed frame. The ‘bed in a bag’ brand has launched its first bed frame into the UK and European market, which is designed and manufactured to echo the Scandinavian theme of its mattresses. The bed frame comes with a 10-year guarantee and includes home delivery and installation. Paul Francis, HÜGGE founder, said: “When HÜGGE first launched in 2016, the online rolled mattress companies were seen as disruptors. Now, in 2019, with a quarter of all sleep purchases being rolled mattresses and over 50% being made online, the disruption has become the ‘new normal’. So now is the right time to begin the rollout of our new products.
“All the big names are here plus more than 20 new exhibitors, including William Armes and its well-known Dandy brand, Oneflor-Europe. Bill Beaumont Textiles Ltd, Barrentine Product Ltd, The Sanctuary Group Ltd and Dri-Tac Flooring Products, LLC will all be attending The Flooring Show 2019.
“We have studied the development of both the online and in-store markets as they have evolved over the last couple of years and it is clear that HÜGGE’s continued success will be driven by our on-going commitment to a high quality product and exemplary customer service. This is why we have chosen to launch a bed frame.
“Lifestyle Floors also return to the show for an exciting few days of networking. Join the likes of Cormar Carpets’, Furlong Flooring, Cavalier Carpets, Westex, Abingdon Flooring, Gooch Oriental Carpets and Distinctive Flooring to name but a few. You can even catch up with companies from all across Europe including Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
“For HÜGGE, inhabiting the quality end of the market with our mattresses, pillows, protectors and now bed frame, continues to help us navigate a course around the high returns issues that some brands in our space are experiencing.”
“This is the perfect show for flooring retailers and contractors and plenty of interest across the board from fitters keen to spot new products and offers, and specifiers and designers for whom the show delivers a great overview of what’s new and who’s new as well as great networking opportunities.”
Profit warning issued Department store Debenhams has delivered a profit warning as sales declined.
TIMBER SUPPLIER ESTABLISHES IRISH IDENTITY
According to its latest trading update for the 26 weeks to 2nd March, total sales for the first 18 weeks fell 5.6% with like-forlike sales down by 5.7% — largely driven by a decline in UK sales of 6.2%.
Swedish sustainable timber supplier Södra has officially launched its Irish entity.
In the subsequent eight weeks, group sales have moderated its decline to 5%, with like-for-like sales of -4.6%. Overall, sales declined 5.4%, with the UK down by 6% and international sales also down 2.3%.
Södra Wood (Ireland) Ltd has been created to demonstrate the company’s investment in and commitment to the Northern and Southern Irish market.
Digital sales have grown by 2% across the period, whilst the annualised £80m cost-saving programme remains on track.
Kevin Peters, sales manager, Södra Wood (Ireland) Ltd, commented: “Crucially, whether we end up with a hard or soft Brexit, Södra Wood (Ireland) Ltd provides us with two options to supply to our Northern Irish customers. “They could continue to be supplied out of our distribution terminal in Wicklow, Republic of Ireland or, in the event of a hard border, supplying out of Dundee, Scotland, may be more convenient. Whatever the outcome, we’re well placed to cope with any potential Brexit challenges.”
Debenhams indicated that its previous forecast to deliver current year profits in line with market expectations is no longer valid. It will issue an update in due course. Sergio Bucher, chief executive, said: “We are making good progress with our stakeholder discussions to put the business on a firm footing for the future. We still expect that this process will lead to around 50 stores closing in the medium term. “Our priority is to secure the best outcome for the business and all our stakeholders, whilst minimising the number of store closures and job losses.”
w www.debenhams.com 15th March 2019 | 19
F E A T U R E |I A I N J A M E S F U R N I T U R E
Iain Mitchell, managing director at Iain James Furniture, speaks to Cabinet Maker on the battle against imported furniture within the UK market, whilst encouraging the industry to stand up against imports and back British.
Burr Walnut with Ebony inlays and solid Walnut legs and mouldings
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“I AM CONVINCED PEOPLE DO APPRECIATE QUALITY FURNITURE PARTICULARLY WHEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO VIEW IT.”
The debate of imported furniture goods within the UK market compared to British manufacture has long been in the minds of most businesses across each sector of the furnishing industry. What does seem quite alarming is the balance of imports in comparison to UK furniture exports of late. According to recent Government data compiled by Cabinet Maker, furniture imports represented £6.9bn throughout 2018 — consistent with 2017’s figure — and much greater than British exports, standing at a value of £2.2bn. In light of this statistic, there have been many initiatives launched to encourage UK consumers to back British furniture manufacture, even as recent as this January when the British Furniture Manufacturers Association (BFM) pushed its message to ‘Support Homegrown’ during the January Furniture Show. This message has been echoed up and down the country by businesses who pride themselves on being UK made, with one in particular being Iain James Furniture. Managing director, Iain Mitchell, shared his thoughts and reflection of imported furniture over the years. Standing up to Imported Furniture “There was barely a ripple when Iain James entered the reproduction furniture waters back in 1991. The market was incredibly well-stocked with famous, prestigious names such as Arthur Brett, GT Rackstraw, Titchmarsh & Goodwin and Bevan Funnell —
all probably at their peak; furthermore, there was a whole host of established cabinet makers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Brighton. Additionally, there were scores of companies making furniture in the old East End of London and in all sizes of factories; under railway arches, down side streets and even at the back of mews,” explained Iain. “The market was saturated with traditional cabinet and demand had generally been high for a considerable period. Retail stores had plentiful stocks and manufacturers were also sustained by buoyant export markets as UK reproduction furniture was being shipped in great quantities to Europe, Scandinavia, America and parts of Asia.” Reflecting on the emergence of a wellknown Swedish furniture company and the recession, Iain highlighted when the shift towards imports started to gain traction. “The success of Ikea started to hit the lower end of the reproduction market hard as the tired, overly dark mahogany-coloured furniture gave way to a much more modern, less oppressive and more affordable collections. The early 90s’ recession bit hard, and to make matters worse this was soon followed by a significant amount of imported cabinet furniture emerging into the marketplace from Indonesia and Vietnam, squeezing the industry further still. “The long-established export market was also feeling the strain. The prosperous »
Caption Biedermeier influenced dining table in segmented Rosewood with Ebony inlays 15th March 2019 | 21
F E A T U R E |I A I N J A M E S F U R N I T U R E American export business never really recovered after the 9/11 New York disaster in 2001 and the once strong English presence in High Point was also being replaced by Indonesian and Vietnamese products. “Scandinavia was another very important market for the UK cabinet industry that provided a great source of work, and for Germany and mainland Europe too. Both of these markets declined continuously through the late 90s and onwards, increasing the stress on UK production. “Slowly, but surely, a combination of these factors over the years started to decimate the UK cabinet manufacture. The East End became extinct and production on the south coast was severely affected too. Established prestigious cabinet names fell and closed, while some changed direction to survive. The flippant name ‘brown furniture’ became an undesirable label from which it often still conjures unmerited negativity whenever used.” As Iain points out, some businesses couldn’t survive the changing times, but others — like Iain James Furniture — did, and have continued to be a permanent fixture in UK furniture manufacture. So how has Iain James survived these difficulties? Iain revealed: “Primarily it was our finishing skills. Our initial conception was effectively giving an East End product a high-end finish. We bleached our mahogany, giving us a softer mellow colour, everything was hand polished, shaded and distressed. This gave our collection a more attractive look compared to most of our competition and made the furniture look more alive and distinguished. “Over time we became more established, developing niche ranges, and grew into the market place even though that market was constricting. We have also evolved though the introduction of Art Deco-inspired collections, and more recently have showcased new innovative ranges in cluster oak and rosewood. Additionally, we have continued to refine our product, maintaining quality whilst offering a bespoke service wherever possible. “Most importantly though, we offer an amenable, friendly approach to our trade partners.” Backing British Manufacture The knowledge, skillset and craftsmanship that comes with almost 30 years of experience has put Iain James Furniture at the forefront of its sector and with constant emphasis to back home-grown products, the company will continue to be a leader in British traditional cabinet design and manufacture. As briefly mentioned earlier, the BFM used JFS to promote its new Association Code of Practice as part of the ‘IT IS Great Britain 15th March 2019 | 22
Burr Walnut inlaid and cross bandied with solid Walnut mouldings and legs Campaign’, which endorses certification that, once signed up, means a business can credibly say that at least 50% of its products are made in the UK.
complemented with opulent upholstered dining chairs.”
With more homemade furniture entering UK stores, Iain expressed his delight that their sector has seen a recent uplift. “It is genuinely refreshing to see quality traditional cabinet furniture in retail stores, particularly when there is so much of similar-looking imported ‘oak’ ranges dominating the floor space. Interestingly, end users frequently endorse this point when visiting our showroom.
Iain concluded by sharing his view of what the future may hold for traditional furniture.
“I am a great believer that one of the finest ‘looks’ of today is a mix of traditional timeless cabinet, complementing opulent, contemporary upholstery fabrics and designs, and I am convinced this is one of the elements that Iain James brings to these displays. “Emphasising the UK manufacture is especially important as a lot of the British people embrace the ethos of purchasing UK-made furniture, further helping to identify it as a premium product on the retail floor. Similarly, underlining the quality aspect is also an important factor to us as this helps justify the price point on more upmarket furniture. “For instance, our most popular collections all feature fully-dovetailed solid ash drawers sides with oak bases, all mouldings and legs are of solid walnut or mahogany. Drawers are inlaid and cross-banded and even the base shelves are cross-banded, accentuating the intricacy of the range. “Our newly-showcased collections include a stylish occasional range of tables with elegant tapered solid walnut legs, ebony inlays and solid walnut mouldings, and a Biedermeier influenced dining table also featuring ebony inlays to a sweeping pedestal underframe,
Outlook for Traditional Furniture
“The road ahead continues to be challenging when competing for floor space, but there is encouragement in that imported competition has struggled recently within the UK, and several significant importers of classical ranges have currently stopped importing their supply as result,” he said. “The retail sales staff I meet with when visiting stores are genuinely enthusiastic about traditional cabinet furniture, which greatly enthuses me, and the positive reaction we get from visitors coming to see our products in our showroom gives me great confidence too. I am convinced people do appreciate quality furniture, particularly when given the opportunity to view it, and often it’s not easy for the end user to see a comprehensive collection in many retail stores. “It is particularly rewarding being able to be creative in our designs with the end goal being aspirational as opposed to something with little or no emotional attachment, and I hope that comes across in our furniture.”
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F E A T U R E |F U R N I T U R E I N D U S T R Y R E S E A R C H A S S O C I A T I O N
Digesting Data The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) shares its latest Statistics Digest, which highlights a number of key figures from sales, manufacturing, imports and exports. The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) has recently published its annual Statistics Digest for the UK Furniture Industry, which acts as a barometer for the furniture sector. The latest Digest reveals continued growth in demand for furniture and furnishings, with consumer expenditure in this group being almost £17.5 billion in 2017 — exceeding all other spend in the household goods sector. The Digest comprises in-depth analysis of the latest available data sourced from Government bodies including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Communities and Local Government, and the Bank of England. It covers furniture manufacturing, furniture and furnishings retail and international trade.
Imports and exports Imports of furniture into the UK in 2017 increased to £6.01 billion, an increase of 11.48% compared with the previous year’s 15th March 2019 | 24
figure of £5.4 billion. Indications for 2018 are that this figure could decrease slightly to around £5.9 billion, which could be due to continuing uncertainty surrounding the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU.
23.8% (£0.52 billion) over the period from 2015 to 2017. Initial estimates for 2018 based on data extrapolation indicate a potential decrease of around -1.8% in furniture imports from the EU itself.
The majority of imports originated from China (£1.98 billion), with its share of imports into the UK dipping slightly to 33% when compared to 35% the previous year. In purely financial terms, Italy regained its position of second in the hierarchy of furniture exporters to the UK, following year-on-year growth of 14.6%, and represented 10%. Poland moved to third (9%) position with Germany dropping to fourth (9%). These countries represented around half a billion pounds each. Other changes in the hierarchy over the year saw the USA move from tenth to sixth, with yearon-year growth of 123.1% equating to an additional £0.1 billion.
Speaking on total furniture imports into the UK, Suzie Radcliffe-Hart, technical manager at FIRA International and author of the Statistics Digest, said: “Despite uncertainty over the UK’s departure, imports from the EU increased year-on-year, with the provisional figure for 2017 being £6.01 billion. I do, however, expect this figure to decrease slightly when full 2018 figures are available. This was the trend starting to emerge when import data published up to November 2018 was made available. I would put the estimate figure at approximately £5.9 billion.”
The value of 2017 imports from the European Community was £2.73 billion, an increase of 10.6% on the previous year (£2.46 billion) and
UK furniture exports have continued to grow in recent years from £0.89 billion in 2015 to £1.14 billion in 2017. Prior to this there had been a slight dip from 2014-2015 of -4%, from £0.93 billion. Exports in 2017 were £1.14
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More recent data revealed that furniture and furnishings sales continued to rise into 2018, with first and second quarter consumer expenditures being respectively 8.5% and 8.3% higher than for the equivalent periods in 2017.
Consumer spending The £17.5 billion consumer expenditure on furniture and furnishings in 2017 represented a 21% increase from 2014. Year-on-year growth from 2014 to 2016 was 6.9% and 4.8% respectively. However, growth from 2016 to 2017 was higher at 7.9%.
Meanwhile, the average weekly retail internet sales for all products included within this analysis grew to £1.2 billion in September 2018 (non-seasonally adjusted), which reflected a 16% increase since September 2017. This equated to 17% of all retail sales compared with 16.1% at the same time the previous year.
Expenditure for the wider furnishings, household goods and routine maintenance sector rose by 25.5%, from 2014 to 2017, with year-on-year growth of 7% over 20162017. This expenditure increase exceeded that seen in all other competitor sectors examined. The most significant growth over the whole period (2014–2017) was in carpets and other floor coverings at 112.6%, following yearon-year growth of 22.6%, 55.5% and 11.5% respectively.
consumer spend is still down in this area (-£34 million in 2014/15) a 2.1% rise in the period from 2015 to 2016 saw consumer spending reach £6.4 billion.
The greatest percentage reductions in expenditure from 2014 to 2017 was in household textiles, which was impacted by a 12% reduction from 2015 to 2016. Although
Suzie Radcliffe-Hart, technical manager at FIRA International and author of the Statistics Digest, commented on the findings: “This growth trend continues from where the Statistics Digest closes. Latest data shows furniture and furnishings sales continuing to rise into early 2018 with first and second quarter consumer expenditure being respectively 8.5% and 8.3% higher than for the equivalent periods in 2017, although we acknowledge that this has been a particularly challenging year.”
to 1.60% by 2017. Within one sub-sector, the manufacture of mattresses in 2017 stood at £851m, up by 3.7%.
billion, equating to a 12% increase from 2016 to 2017, which is a greater percentage increase than the 11.48% figure for imports over the same period. In pounds sterling, this increase of £122.7 million in exports was significantly smaller than the £619 million increase in imports. The prediction for 2018 is that exports will continue to increase and could reach £1.21 billion, which would represent a 6.3% improvement on 2017, although it is important to recognise that the latest editions of these data are provisional and the calculation based on extrapolation. Exports to the Irish Republic continue to grow year-on-year and reached £0.24 billion in 2017, an increase of 16.2% from 2016. Although in 2017 it received 21% of all UK furniture exports, a slight increase when compared to the previous year (20.4%), this has remained reasonably stable over the last four years. There was an increase in UK furniture exports to the USA in 2017 (£20.1 million), which accounted for 12.6% of the total. Germany and France, next in the hierarchy, respectively each received 9% of UK furniture exports.
extrapolated data, indicate a potential decrease in exports of up to 25%.
Of the top 10 export markets, Italy itself saw the most significant year-on-year growth for UK goods of 33.8%, equating to £7.57 million, whereas exports to the United Arab Emirates, at the bottom of this section of the table, decreased by £4.66 million or -16.3%. Exports to China appear to have slowed following significant growth over 2014/15 and 2015/16 of 60.9% (£7 million) and 110% (£20.6 million) respectively. In 2017 the market received £43.4 million of goods, an increase of 10.7% on the previous year, whilst early estimates for 2018, based on
With a focus on employment, in 2017, 6,254 UK furniture manufacturers employed an average of 89,000 individuals. This was an increase of 1.14% on 2016 and 25.4% over the period from 2014 to 2017. Despite its turnover being 1.60% of the total for UK manufacturing, the furniture sector employed 3.46% of all UK manufacturing personnel, which is estimated to have equated to 2.4% of the UK manufacturing wage bill. Provisional data for 2017 suggests that employment costs for UK furniture manufacturing increased by 8.25% on the previous year.
Estimates for 2018, based on extrapolations from November 2018 data, are that this figure could be as high as £1.208 billion, equating to a year-on-year increase of 6.3%.
Total 2017 turnover for the combined furniture and furnishings manufacturing sectors was £11.83 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 4.8%. This turnover emanated from 6,260 companies employing 120,000 individuals. Furniture manufacturing led the way with a turnover of £8.49 billion.
For more information on the Digest, contact FIRA.
The Digest indicates growth in furnishing manufacturing over the period from 2015 to 2017 for the furniture sector as a whole, equating to 1.6% for manufacturer sales and other income or 7.9% for all income associated with the sector. However, year-on-year figures for 2016/17 present a slightly different picture, with a decrease in manufacturer sales and other income of -7.1% but growth in total income for the sector of 1.3%. With furniture manufacturing in 2014 equating to 1.46% of the UK’s total manufacturing turnover, this had increased
15th March 2019 | 25
F E A T U R E |H A V E L O C K I N T E R N A T I O N A L
Havelock’s factory in Fife
Running a business in today’s economic climate is not without its challenges, which ever sector you are in. There’s the long shadow that the Brexit crisis is casting on many UK businesses, as well as stiff competition from overseas markets with firms offering lower-cost goods and services. However, the truth is that for many businesses, and particularly those in the manufacturing sector, the need to adapt and evolve is a continuous process — not a just knee-jerk response to external factors. For a business like Havelock International, it is 15th March 2019 | 26
George McAdam, (right), chief executive of design and fit-out specialist, Havelock International, talks about the recent launch of its Sustainable Manufacturing initiative to support future growth. constantly looking at ways of improving, whether it is concept and technical design, manufacture and logistics, or installation and complete project management. George McAdam, chief executive, explained: “We recognised that we needed to make some fundamental changes to the business
to ensure that it is operating as efficiently as possible, and that we can grow and enter new markets. Our most valuable resource is our people and, with just under 300 employees, this is an area we identified where challenges needed to be tackled, such as the seasonality of the business pipeline, workforce deployment and skills development.
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“After a comprehensive review, we developed our new Sustainable Manufacturing’ initiative which was launched on 1st January. The programme comprises three key areas — flexible working, training and the introduction of skills ‘passports’.” There are three key initiatives that underpin the programme, as George continued: “The first is the introduction of flexible working, which reflects the seasonality of the business. During quieter periods, our employees work shorter hours and four days a week, and revert to five days a week through peak periods such as the summer months. This approach ensures that customer projects can be fully resourced and it provides the workforce with greater stability. “The second is the commitment to employee training and broadening of skill sets. We have partnered with Scottish Enterprise and Fife Council, which has provided grant funding to deliver a training programme that ensures our employees are multi-skilled and can be deployed across the business more effectively, delivering the highest quality products and services for clients. “The third element is the introduction of Construction Skills Certification Scheme cards. Thanks to the enhanced training, Havelock’s employees now qualify for the card, which effectively provides them with a passport to customer premises and construction sites where they can work directly on projects, bringing their skills and expertise to deliver an even better product.” This move has been welcomed by its customers, such as Dickie and Moore, the contractors for Premier Inn Inverness. The ability of Havelock’s team to go on site and complete the fit-out project efficiently, and to a very high standard, was a vital part of the complex project.
“Our commitment to skills development is also underpinned by our successful apprenticeships scheme. Apprenticeships are a crucial feature of our business in terms of ensuring that we continue to attract talent and provide customers with the right skills and expertise — now and in the future,” George said. “We currently employ 15 apprentices in roles across the business, from joinery and woodwork, metalwork and welding, to IT and surveying. A further four will join us this year and, as a firm, we invest £200k in the scheme annually. At the end of their tenure, all of our apprentices are offered permanent positions in the business.” Despite its infancy, the business is already starting to see the benefits of Sustainable Manufacturing, with a “healthy order book” and some “interesting new projects” under way. Havelock is also closely monitoring the environment in which it is operating and how its customer base is performing. “We are fortunate to work across both the private and public sectors, in the UK and internationally, and have leading brands, including M&S, Lloyds Banking Group, Boots, Primark, Premier Inn and the Post Office, so we do not have to contend with the risks associated of being over exposed to a particular market or sector,” George said. “However, we are actively pursuing further diversification and focusing on developing sectors, such as education and student accommodation where we already have strong credentials, but are keen to grow our market share. “For example, we recently delivered the complete fit-out of the £44m Levenmouth Academy campus.
“WE RECOGNISED THAT WE NEEDED TO MAKE SOME FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES TO THE BUSINESS TO ENSURE THAT IT IS OPERATING AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE AND THAT WE CAN GROW AND ENTER NEW MARKETS.” “The brief was to create an interior that represented a plain canvas, with pupils’ work bringing the space to life. Our expertise was vital in specifying and delivering the correct furniture to realise the client’s aspirations. Havelock supplied and installed all conventional and specialist fixtures and fittings, with fixed cabinetry, lab tables and benching manufactured in-house. AV technology is seamlessly integrated into learning walls throughout the campus. “Havelock is also working on the major refurbishment and extension of UCL’s Astor College in central London, which is part of the university’s commitment to improving the student experience, bringing its halls of residence up to a modern standard for the benefit of those attending university for the first time from late 2019. “Accommodation is being increased with space for 292 people, with en-suite accommodation and fully accessible rooms for disabled students. Within the bedrooms there will be a better use of space, an increase in floor to ceiling height, as well as larger windows. All bedroom sets are being produced at our Fife manufacturing plant.” For Havelock and its management team, Sustainable Manufacturing is not just a short-term initiative but a long-term business strategy, as George concluded: “It is a programme of continuous improvement, designed to develop the expertise and skills of our employees, deliver outstanding customer projects and ensure the financial health of the business.”
Astor College Room
w www.havelock-intl.com 15th March 2019 | 27
F E A T U R E |R O S S I N I
Luigi Segreto, export manager at Italian upholstery manufacturer Rossini, highlights plans for the year ahead following a successful outing in Germany. It has been a busy start to the year for Italian upholstery manufacturer Rossini and the company aims to continue this momentum throughout the remainder of 2019.
compared to 2018 — especially into new country accounts. “The overall attendance, based on the information I received, was a lot less compared to 2018,” he said.
Last month, Rossini kicked off its show season with an appearance at German trade event IMM Cologne. For the business, this show is pivotal for setting the benchmark for the year ahead.
“However, visitors, new and old, came to us and we still achieved our goal to get new accounts worldwide. We secured new business from the UK, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium and as far as Egypt,” Luigi revealed, adding: “In terms of products, the Monicelli, Liberty and Fellini were a major success for us and are the ones that got the most praise. We were delighted with the response.”
Fortunately, it was another successful show and one that Luigi Segreto, Rossini’s export manager, holds in very high regard. “We see the Cologne Fair as a strategic appointment to launch new products and leathers, but as well to develop our network of sales worldwide, by presenting new models that are relevant and commercial,” Luigi said.
Ahead of the show, Rossini cited the UK as a potential market for growth. With new orders secured from the UK at the German trade show, Luigi said that they ‘continue to explore the possibilities’ in the UK.
Reflecting on its performance, Luigi added that overall footfall throughout the show had fallen on last year, but didn’t have an impact on its own stand as orders increased
“As previously stated, we are continuing to maintain our momentum of growth and rise to any potential challenge that comes our way, as the various markets are changing
15th March 2019 | 28
Milan very quickly and we need to be ready and prepared to meet their requirements. “We’re not afraid of Brexit at all; trade will still continue as it was. We are excited for what the future holds. Our business has no restrictions in terms of geographical areas, so all countries are open to order and import Rossini products.” Recapping on its product success, as Luigi revealed earlier the launch of new models Monicelli and Liberty proved to be a popular choice during the show, whilst its customers recognised the Rossini’s pride in display and ethos. He said: “We also launched new leathers and colours to give our customers a wider choice for selection. We are always driven by our motto — ‘service, quality and reliability’. We will always follow this route and our customers know this. We are continuing our expansion by attending the most important and key fairs all over the
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world. We are already planning the Milan exhibition, where again new ideas will be launched.” With Milan in mind, Luigi remained tightlipped on what they will be unveiling at the show, but did give a slight insight by stating that they are currently ‘under discussion’ on what the Milan exhibition, from 9-14 April, will feature — and it will include ‘new models and leather’. The other main event that the business has already begun planning for is the China International Furniture Fair in Shanghai, which takes place during September. Luigi said that this is an important show for business, especially with the challenges it faces from Chinese products. “The challenge is how can we get customers to have a real perceived value of what we manufacture and propose, as the main obstacle is the comparison with the Chinese products. Although the difference is pretty evident, the challenge to continue to display how our products are on another level,” he said. Following the early success into 2019, Luigi indicated that the hard work never
“THE MONICELLI AND LIBERTY WERE A MAJOR SUCCESS FOR US AND ARE THE ONES THAT GOT THE MOST PRAISE. WE WERE DELIGHTED WITH THE RESPONSE.” ends when trying to grow the business and expand its appeal across the globe. “We have approached 2019 with a lot of new ideas and enthusiasm. We are delighted with how our very first event of the year in Cologne went and this has set the bar for the rest of the year. We aim to expand into new markets further, as well as gaining new customers worldwide.
We still keep in mind our key pillars of the Rossini philosophy, which are products and customer relationship, along with offering a high standard of service,” he concluded.
“All our new styles and leathers aim to satisfy the various demands from international markets. We are always focusing on developing new ideas and bringing in new concepts.
As Rossini cements final plans ahead of its next big outing, the business will be looking to maintain its momentum in Milan.
15th March 2019 | 29
TO ADVERTISE A JOB
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MODERN WOODWORKING MACHINERY
Biesse Rover B4 6.5 Four Axis CNC Centre Biesse Rover A3.40 Three Axis CNC Centre •Biesse Rover B4 6.5 Four Axis CNC Centre Butfering Optimat STO-213RL Drum Sander •Biesse Columbus Combimat Membrane FoilingRover Press A3.40 Three Axis CNC Centre •Butfering Altendorf F45 CZ Sliding Table Panel Saw Optimat STO-213RL Drum Sander •Columbus Combimat Membrane Foiling Press Griggio T270 Spindle Moulder •Altendorf F45 CZ Sliding Table Panel Saw Panhams 445-BRover Combination Planer Thicknesser • Biesse B4 6.5 Four Axis CNC Centre •Griggio T270 Spindle Moulder Italpresse & Interwood Single Daylight Presses • Biesse Rover A3.40 Three Axis CNC Centre •Panhams 445-B Combination Planer Thicknesser Gibbs Wall Clamp / Dust Extraction •Italpresse & Interwood Single Daylight Presses Gantry Crane / Fezer & VLC Vacuum Lifters • Butfering Optimat STO-213RL Drum Sander •Gibbs Wall Clamp / Dust Extraction Fini Rotar Air Compressors
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• Columbus Combimat Membrane PressLifters •Gantry Crane / FezerFoiling & VLC Vacuum •Fini Rotar Air Compressors • Altendorf F45 CZ Sliding Table Panel Saw Tender Closing Date: Friday 5 April 2019 by 12.00 Noon • Drogheda, Griggio Moulder Located: Co T270 Louth Spindle Tender Closing Date: Friday 5th April 2019 by 12noon Co Louth Viewing: Thurs 4 from 10.00 – 16.00 & Fri 5 Located: from 9.00 Drogheda, 12.00 • Panhams 445-B Combination –Planer Thicknesser Viewing: Thurs 4th April from 10.00 – 16.00 & Fri 5th April from 9.00 – 12.00 • Italpresse & Interwood Single Daylight Presses PSRA Licence No 001064 www.mckay.ie • Gibbs Wall Clamp / Dust www.mckay.ie PSRAExtraction Licence No 001064 • Gantry Crane / Fezer & VLC Vacuum Lifters • Fini Rotar Air Compressors Tender Closing Date: Friday 5 April 2019 by 12.00 Noon Located: Drogheda, Co Louth Viewing: Thurs 4 from 10.00 – 16.00 & Fri 5 from 9.00 – 12.00
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Bradbeers Furniture Store – Hedge End, Hampshire, SO30 2QY Established in 1837, we are a family-owned successful independent retail business with four stores in Hampshire. We have an opportunity for an accomplished Manager to head our Hedge End Furniture Store, with its 45,000 ft² of retail space on our own Retail Park. Reporting directly to the Managing Director, the successful applicant will be responsible for all aspects of Store Management and Business Development. We shall be seeking an individual from a furniture store background with experience in senior positions and varying job roles. With a hands-on, dynamic and energetic style, the individual will demonstrate a wide skills proﬁle. We would expect a proven track record and the ability to be able to demonstrate excellence in the following competencies: Leading and Developing Customer Service Team Work Communication Delivering Results Marketing Commercial Awareness Vision and Creativity Buying Project Management Managing Budgets Send your CV with covering letter by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
15th March 2019 | 30
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» 15th March 2019 | 31
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Dorset, DT1 1HN www.woods-furniture.co.uk
Woods Furniture 01733 371727
Stellenbosch, (South Africa) www.steinhoffinternational.co.uk 27218080700
0333 241 3209
The Good Sleep Company
Willis and Gambier
Peterborough, PE2 6WQ www.swaffer.co.uk
0116 284 9063
Preston, PR1 5PQ www.tetrad.co.uk
Sofa by Saxon
Bolton, BL3 2NZ www.sofasbysaxon.com
Birmingham, B11 2NR www.slumberdream.co.uk
353 42 935 1351
Lexington (USA) www.tempursealy.com
Skovby Mobelfabrik A/S Denmark www.skovby.com
Highbridge, TA9 3AE www.sopha.co.uk
Orpington, BR6 0PH www.tapi.co.uk
Simmons Bedding Group
T Tapi Carpets
Loughborough, LE11 3HB www.pickworthfurnishing.co.uk
Clayton, BD14 6LT www.sherborneupholstery.co.uk 01274 882633
Park Lane Bedding
Huthwaite, NG17 2HW www.perfecthome.co.uk
Birmingham, B8 1AG www.parklanebeds.co.uk
London, NW10 6UD www.savoirbeds.com
P Nottingham, NG8 6PX www.paragonplc.com
0161 767 8244
Oldrids and Downtown Scunthorpe, DN15 6SU www.oldrids.co.uk
Rothwell, NN16 8SD www.satra.com
West Bromwich, B70 0TX www.serene.co.uk
Satra Technology Centre
Aspatria, CA7 2AS www.sealy.co.uk
Burnley, BB10 1SH www.sweetdreamsuk.com
Louth, BT35 8PX www.tcsimports.com
Somercotes, DE55 4RD www.recticel.com
+32 87 59 59 59
0161 873 8333
RJ Binnie Leicester, LE8 6LH www.rjbinnie.co.uk
02393 873 170
Cwmtillery, Abertillery, NP13 1LZ www.sassyhome.co.uk 0115 943 8980
Skipton, BD23 1NL www.bedfed.org.uk
London, NW2 1LJ www.protectabed.co.uk
Hampshire, PO7 7XY www.swanretail.co.uk
National Bed Federation
Wisbech, PE13 2RS www.pike-textiles.com
Wellington, TA21 8NN https://relyon.co.uk
N Brown Group
15th March 2019 | 33
LAST WORD RALPH LA FONTAINE, HEAD OF CAREERS AND LEARNING, BRC LEARNING Making apprenticeships work for retailers
“TO MAKE APPRENTICESHIPS WORK, GOVERNMENT, INDUSTRY AND TRAINING PROVIDERS ALL NEED TO PLAY THEIR PART.“
When the apprenticeship levy was announced at the 2015 Budget it received a cautious welcome from the retail industry. Everyone recognised the critical importance of attracting, developing and retaining the future retail workforce, and it was clear that employers needed to invest more and play a bigger role in ensuring the training opportunities on offer met their business needs. And three years on, with unspent levy funds due to expire in April, there is little sign that the apprenticeship levy system is about to create the transformative changes to vocational learning in retail. Retail employees place a very high value on flexibility with 54 per cent employed on a part-time basis, and yet apprenticeship programmes are very hard to operate for part-time employees. And whilst retailers have found workarounds for the 20 per cent off-the-job requirement, it adds a real cost to the business over and above the levy, and creates major operational headaches with frontline roles where shift working is common. In addition, many retailers also have operations across the devolved nations where different rules on apprenticeships apply. And, of course, the need for the commercial training at point-of-need still exists, and needs to be funded on top of the levy. It’s hardly surprising that take up has been slow, with apprenticeship starts falling and just 27 per cent of retailers having more than one per cent of their workforce made up of apprentices (BRC, Workforce Survey, August 2018).
predicts the industry will have 900,000 fewer employees by 2025, but with the remaining jobs required to be more highly skilled and productive. This major transformation of the workforce is a big challenge, but also presents an opportunity to tell a story that is often unheard about the new emerging job roles and the exciting career opportunities available within the retail industry. To help try and address this, Rethink Retail is an industry-led initiative being launched in April to showcase the changing face of retail jobs and careers. To make apprenticeships work, government, industry and training providers all need to play their part. The government needs to allow greater flexibility to employers, particularly to order to open up apprenticeship opportunities to parttime employees or those working in front line commercial roles. Training providers need to design innovative apprenticeship programmes that address the real needs of retailers rather than plug and play existing courses. And retailers themselves need to be willing to invest the time and effort needed to structure their learning and development offers to support apprenticeships and offer the career progression opportunities needed for the future retail workforce.
TO HAVE YOUR LAST WORD OR OPINION PLEASE CONTACT DAN@CABINET-MAKER.CO.UK
This is not to say that retailers don’t recognise the need to offer more development and career progression opportunities. The BRC Better Jobs report
MILAN PREVIEW LFS REVIEW APPRENTICESHIPS 15th March 2019 | 34
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