Furniture News #407

Page 38

CHOICE AWARDS ROLLED MATTRESSES | IFHS BEDROOM | TRADE SERVICES
LEAGUE Readers’ favourite suppliers revealed Women’s networking group gets to work Is physical retail primed to retake the market? #407 August 2023 www.furniturenews.net
mattresses
READERS’
CHAMPIONS
ROLLED AND GOLD Award-winning Simba goes beyond

Editor's Comment

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business right now? Perhaps your customer base is dwindling, your top employee is leaving, you’re having to up your prices, or your rivals are gaining ground?

In business, we generally face similar problems – what sets us apart is how we deal with them. I’d hazard a guess that, whatever your own approach, your preferred business partners are amiable, reliable, responsive, and able to handle the odd curve ball. They may not be the cheapest, the fastest, or the most prolific, but thanks to a combination of qualities, they’re right for you.

In this month’s issue, we’re celebrating the suppliers selected by our readers (you included, I hope!) as the best in their fields. Some categories were close-run affairs, while others were dominated by undisputed champions. Whatever the margin, we’ve gone cross-eyed tallying the results, and I’m champing at the bit to reveal them – you’ll find the start of our bumper Readers’ Choice Awards feature on p30.

My sincere thanks to everyone who voted, and a huge congratulations to this year’s winners for getting our readers’ seal of approval!

In other news, it’s been another busy month for the Furniture News team. I was invited to Gallery Direct’s showroom to see for myself the outdoor furniture offer that stole a lead in this year’s awards (p10), while my colleague Sam attended the successful launch of Clarion’s Women in Furniture Network in London (see p24), before jetting off to Dublin’s IFHS (p20). We also welcomed Caroline Littler back to our sales team, and she’s really looking forward to getting back in touch with the industry.

Trade show season returns in earnest in September, and it looks like returning favourites (and some new fixtures) have plenty to offer – take a look at what’s on from p16. Elsewhere in this month’s issue, you’ll discover how the NBF keeps the creative juices flowing (p113), why Andy Stockwell thinks people should stop living in the past (p14), how bricks-and-mortar stores are set to steal market share from the online pureplays (p104), and why it seems nearly every household in Ireland shops at DFI Beds (p12).

You’ll also find the second part of Richard Naylor’s series on business and the environment (p108), the latest additions to the rolled mattress scene (p94), and a shout-out to the industry’s heroes (some of them are closer to home than you might imagine – turn to p114 to find out!).

See you next month,

Paul Farley

01424 776101
@FurnitureNewsED
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“In business, we generally face similar problems – what sets us apart is how we deal with them
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7 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Gallery Direct 12 DFI Beds 14 Getting personal 16 EVENTS 16 Autumn Fair 17 HawaExpo 17 Autumn Furniture Show 20 IFHS 24 Women in Furniture Network 28 FIRA Spring Reception 30 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 92 PRODUCTS 94 Rolled mattresses 98 Bedroom 100 Trade services 104 OPINION 104 The store strikes back 108 What is ‘purpose’? 110 Six tips for doubling sales 113 Partner comment 114 Feedback Contents EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Farley 01424 776101 paul@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsED SALES SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR (FURNITURE NEWS PORTFOLIO) Sam Horscroft 07764 650655 sam@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsAD SALES EXECUTIVE Caroline Littler 07861 231461 caroline@gearingmediagroup.com OVERSEAS AGENT Casey Loo (Asia) +65 973 00123 (WhatsApp) casey@apsmediagroup.com
MANAGER James Ash james@gearingmediagroup.com
MANAGER Nyall McCurrach nyall@gearingmediagroup.com
ADMINISTRATOR Steve Merrick 01424 776108 production@gearingmediagroup.com
ACCOUNTS/GM Wendy Williams 01424 817433
PRODUCTION PRODUCTION
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READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS ROLLED MATTRESSES IFHS BEDROOM TRADE SERVICES CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Readers’ favourite suppliers revealed Women’s networking group gets to work Is physical retail primed to retake the market? #407 August 2023 www.furniturenews.net ROLLED AND GOLD Award-winning Simba goes beyond mattresses FN407_Pages.indd GENERAL INFORMATION No part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific prior written agreement of the Publisher and may not be stored on any type of retrieval system. Furniture News/ Gearing Media Group Ltd accepts no responsibility for variations in colour reproduction. Special colours (Pantone etc) can be catered for with prior arrangement. Some elements of the editorial content in this publication are submitted by the trade, however, all efforts are made to ensure that the editorial remains true to fact and unbiased. Monies may have been accepted to offset the costs of colour reproduction. Gearing Media Group Ltd reserves the right to alter without prior notice any content other than customers’ advertisements. No correspondence will be entered into regarding altered or adjusted editorial content. The editor’s decision is final. All material submitted for inclusion in Furniture News is done so entirely at the owner’s risk and no responsibility is accepted for the safekeeping or return thereof. Advertiser information is reproduced in good faith and Gearing Media Group accepts no responsibility in respect of adverts appearing in the magazine, and the magazines expressed do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s views. The Publisher accepts no liability for any loss arising from an advertisement’s late or non-appearance. Carole Nolan Gallery Direct 10 12 14 113 Brian McCann DFI Beds Andy Stockwell
Haskins Simon Williams National Bed Federation 5 COVER FEATURE 36/98 SIMBA SLEEP
Gardiner

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Leekes is to refurbish its Cross Hands store as its approaches its 40th year at the Carmarthenshire location

JYSK plans to establish a 50,000m2 distribution centre in the Dublin area of Ireland. It says the new DC will provide better service and shorter delivery lead times, as well as more efficient stock management

John Doe of Diss charity event, the East Anglian Golf Day, raised £5000 for The Furniture Makers’ Company

New brand and CFO at ScS

ScS has partnered with singer and actor-turnedcreative director of her own interiors brand, Paloma Faith, to bring Paloma Home online and to selected physical stores.

Paloma Home was established in 2021, and will launch a new collection exclusively with ScS with the aim of “making high-quality, maximal styles more accessible for wider audiences”. The collection is made up of sofas, accent chairs, footstools and scatter cushions inspired by the singer’s love of opulent glamour and 70s retro bohemia.

Ashleigh Ellis, head of buying and merchandising at ScS, comments: “Consumers have become more daring over the years with interior choices and with maximalism and retro revivals being so popular right now it’s a perfect collection for the market.”

Paloma adds: “I have loved developing this collection – from the silhouettes and fabrics to the prints on the scatter cushions influenced by fashion, culture and travel experiences that have inspired me over the years, this really is a true reflection of what I

B&M enjoyed “strong, profitable trading momentum” in its Q1 to 24th June, with total group revenue up +13.5% YoY

TCM Living Group, the parent company of upholstery brands

Alstons, Ashley Manor, AMXDesign and Alexander and James, has joined The Furniture Makers’ Company as a corporate member

The Government has revealed that more than 200 companies, including Marks & Spencer and Argos, failed to pay their lowestpaid staff the minimum wage some years ago

South West Upholstery, based in Bristol, has expanded its operations by +70% and its manufacturing capacity by 40%, thanks to a funding package from Lloyds Bank

Scatter Box is hosting an athome show at its newly renovated showroom in Navan, Co Meath, from 31st July to 11th August

have in my home, and what I love to have around me.”

ScS has also appointed Mark Fleetwood as CFO. He will join the group’s board and take up his role on 4th September. Mark boasts significant retail and plc experience. He most recently served a five-year term as CFO of fashion retailer END. (endclothing. com), and prior to that was corporate FD at residential landlord, Grainger.

Chris Muir, the group’s incumbent CFO, who notified the board of his intention to step down in December 2022, will remain involved with the business until late 2023.

Bensons posts third quarter of LFL growth

Bensons for Beds continued its FY23 sales momentum in Q3, posting an +8% LFL sales increase for the three months to the end of June. This consistent LFL sales growth maintains the +8% growth posted for the first half of Bensons’ current financial year (+7% in Q1 and +9% in Q2).

Bensons continued to see strength in its digital offer, which grew by +21% over the quarter – which also saw the retailer refurbish its Croydon store and open a new location in Speke. Bensons says it expects to open and relocate “a significant number” of stores during the current quarter.

Bensons continued to drive new product innovation, launching Duo by Slumberland, a mattress that has been designed to keep customers cool in summer and warm in winter. Meanwhile, it confirmed that eveSleep saw seen significant sales growth, nine months after its acquisition. Bensons says the eveSleep website continues to trade profitably, and that the brand has been strengthened by the introduction of exclusive hybrid mattresses to stores.

In-store sales of hybrid mattresses have grown by around +60% since they were launched at the end of March.

Nick Collard, Bensons’ CEO, says: “The steady nature of our growth across the quarter and year to date, is a reflection of the significant work behind the scenes at Bensons to transform our business.

“I’m especially pleased at the successful introduction of eveSleep to stores. We knew when we acquired the business last year, we could offer it significant opportunity to grow under our ownership. The impact eveSleep is clearly making with our customers gives us confidence that, alongside other investments we’re making in product innovation, we’re building a unique portfolio of sleep solutions that can cater to every individual need.”

Bensons has also appointed Lindsay Haselhurst as a non-executive director. Lindsay is currently COO at Currys, and has worked at Kingfisher, Screwfix and Wincanton. She is a recognised leader in operations and supply chain, says Bensons.

CMA calls on sleep brand to change selling practices

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called on mattress brand Emma Sleep to change its selling practices, which it says could be putting unfair pressure on customers to make quick purchases.

Last November, the CMA launched an investigation following concerns about Emma Sleep’s selling practices – including whether its ‘urgency claims’ such as countdown timers and ‘discounts’ were misleading. As a result of its investigation, the CMA says it has found evidence that discount claims made by Emma did not match the actual savings made by customers. The CMA also has concerns that the firm’s

use of countdown timers and claims of high demand for certain products could mislead consumers, and therefore breach consumer protection law.

The CMA has written to Emma Sleep detailing its concerns and outlining the ways in which the brand can address them. Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, says: “Companies that use fake countdown clocks or misleading ‘discounts’ risk pressuring people into making quick purchases and often spending more money than they otherwise would for fear of missing out. This is especially concerning given the current pressure on people’s pockets.”

NEWS 7 READ MORE ONLINE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET

DFS celebrates market share gains

DFS has reported achieving a record market share of 38% during its financial year ended 25th June 2023, with underlying profit before tax and brand amortisation “in line with previous guidance”, at slightly above £30m, despite the market being “significantly worse than expected”.

Gross margin rate continued to improve, supported by freight costs returning to pre-pandemic levels. Gross sales increased by +15% compared to the comparative pre-pandemic period (FY19, which excludes the group’s international performance, and Sofa Workshop, given the subsequent closure of these operations), but were down -4% YoY. DFS says consumer demand continues to be impacted by the macroeconomic environment, with market volumes down by c.15-20% across FY23.

The retailer expects to continue to outperform “a declining market” in FY24, and grow market share, delivering low single-digit £m profit growth. Trading at the start of the FY has been consistent with expectations, yet the uncertain outlook has prompted DFS to be prudent.

DFS expects underlying profit in FY24 to be slightly above FY23 levels – and, when the market recovers, given its increased market share, the operating leverage within the business and its negative working capital cycle, believes it is well positioned to deliver its long-term targets of £1.4b of revenue, an 8% PBT margin and 75% post-tax free cash conversion.

Group CEO Tim Stacey says: “We are in the strongest position we have ever been as a group in terms of market share, and when the market recovers, we will be well placed to deliver our strategy and grow our earnings and cash flows towards our longer-term plan.”

Manchester Furniture Show to return in 2024

Clarion Retail, organiser of The Furniture Shows series of trade exhibitions, has announced the return of the Manchester Furniture Show to Manchester Central from 10-11th July, 2024.

The relaunch of the show – which last took place in 2019 – promises to bring together a wide range of furniture manufacturers, brands, industry professionals and furniture enthusiasts for “an exceptional showcase of design, innovation, and networking opportunities”, says Clarion.

“The Manchester Furniture Show has always been a platform for the northern furniture industry to connect and showcase the very best in furniture,” says Zoë Bonser, portfolio director of The Furniture Shows. “We listened to the industry, and are incredibly excited to bring back the North’s favourite summer sourcing event, providing an unrivalled experience for exhibitors and buyers.”

Already confirmed to exhibit are Bluebone Imports,

Taylors of Scotland, Baker Furniture, AWS Trading, Kettle Home, New Trend Concepts, Incanto Italia and Digio’ Leather by Sofitalia, RS Furniture and Alpha Designs. Their presence, alongside an anticipated 100+ other furniture and interior brands, will be visited by an expected 2000+ industry buyers, designers and interior specialists, says Clarion.

Exhibitors will benefit from enhanced support, including streamlined logistics and dedicated assistance from the experienced show team. With new sustainable stand options available, exhibitors will be able to save both money and time while making a positive impact on the environment, says Clarion, adding that extensive marketing and promotional campaigns will also be implemented.

In addition to the new products on display, the show promises to offer a relaxed summer sourcing experience, and an enhanced VIP programme to ensure a memorable experience for key buyers.

Strong Q4 reflects Dunelm’s commitment to value

In a trading update covering its Q4 (ended 1st July 2023) and its full year, Dunelm has reported continued robust sales, with profit expected to be slightly ahead of current market expectations.

In Q4, sales of £381m reflected full year sales growth of +6%, with FY23 PBT estimated to sit around £188m. Digital sales made up 39% of total sales. Cooler weather drove sales of bedding and rugs, while Dunelm’s Summer Living collections – in particular garden furniture and decorations –performed well in the warmer weather towards the end of the period.

Across the year, total sales were up +6% YoY, at £1639m. Compared to FY19, total sales were

nearly +50% higher. Dunelm adds that it sees “very significant headroom to deliver further profitable growth, seizing the opportunity to raise the bar further on our customer offer, especially in terms of value” – and that it therefore means to continue to invest in digitalising and developing the business.

CEO Nick Wilkinson comments: “The breadth and relevance of our product offer has continued to resonate with our home-loving customers over the last quarter of the year.

“This has been reflected in our strong financial performance despite the challenging broader consumer backdrop. Against this backdrop, our commitment to value is stronger than ever.”

MattressTek, known for bedmaking machinery and components, has created a subbrand, AutomateTek, to promote its expertise in the provision of manufacturer solutions

Acclaim Upholstery Company Ltd entered administration last month following “a difficult trading period” reports administrator Begbies Traynor. All 128 employees were made redundant

Artisan Furniture, which describes itself as “a sustainable tech marketplace empowering underprivileged artisans globally”, has achieved B Corp Certification

Bed Kingdom, a retailer specialising in children’s beds, ranked 51st in the Sunday Times Top 100 Fast-Growing Businesses in the UK league table

RH has opened its first standalone retail destination outside of North America – The Gallery at Aynho Park, Banbury, a 400-year-old landmark estate

Get Laid Beds, maker of wooden beds, has appointed Scott Shields (ex-TransUnion, Equiniti, Williams Lea and Hobs 4DM) as its CEO

The Furniture Makers’ Company’s annual five-a-side football tournament, the Tim Bloyce Memorial Cup, has raised £5800 in aid of the charity, with HFD crowned the winners of this year’s competition

Home & Gift Harrogate enjoyed a footfall boost of +14% YoY. Over 500 exhibitors took part, more than 150 of them new to the show

READ MORE ONLINE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET

8 NEWS

Outside the box

The winner of the Best Garden/ Outdoor Furniture Supplier accolade in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards (see p58), Gallery Direct has come a long way in this category in just three years.

This summer, Paul Farley visited Gallery’s HQ to explore its newest outdoor lines and discover what’s next for the one-stop wonder …

All the world’s a stage – and in the retail theatre, few actors are more captivating than Gallery Direct. One of the few UK suppliers that can truly lay claim to the ‘one-stop shop’ moniker, Gallery seemingly adds SKUs by the minute, bringing new products, ranges and, regularly, entire product areas, on board with elan.

And Gallery’s customers benefit from this trove, which contains the furniture centrepieces, their occasional counterparts, plus enough furnishings and accessories to create eye-catching, aspirational in-store displays to match the changing seasons or current trends.

A trip to Gallery’s Sittingbourne HQ is always a pleasure. On this occasion, mine is made halfway through an at-home event dedicated to the supplier’s new outdoor collection. For three weeks this summer, VIP buyers and the general trade had the opportunity to peruse the newest outdoor loungers, dining sets and accoutrements, while taking advantage of cutprice deals on existing stock.

Gallery’s outdoor furniture category manager Carole Nolan – now three years into the role, in tandem with the supplier’s foray into the great outdoors – has outdone herself, delivering a cornucopia of fresh designs, refreshing materials and clever engineering to the lovingly dressed showroom.

Last year, Gallery trialled the at-home show format on the nearby Elmley nature reserve, welcoming guests while making the most of the stunning location’s photography potential. This summer, the showroom’s the star, offering visitors a winding journey through various (outdoor) room settings, replete with artificial foliage, welcoming throws and trendy cushions.

Carole has travelled far and wide to source new lines for next year’s launch. The outdoor furniture boom may have quietened since the pandemic, but Gallery is still seeing high demand.

10 INSIGHT
Peter Delaney Carole Nolan

“Although the wet Easter didn’t help, there’s still a hunger for outdoor furniture, and sales are up on last year,” says Carole. “There’s still a good deal of hosting going on in people’s gardens, and many recognise that simply having the right furniture and furnishings in their outdoor spaces is a great way to raise a home’s value.”

However, the remaining demand comes with even greater pressure to deliver keen pricing and good value. “Addressing the needs of the mid-to-high end is easy,” says Carole. “Chasing value is far harder.”

Gallery’s development team tries to hit every market – from China, Indonesia and India, to Vietnam, and Carole has just returned from the latter. “It’s great to get back to face-to-face business,” she enthuses. “You can negotiate much harder, and we have our own QC team on the ground there to help out.”

While the drive to lower prices can often result in a de-spec, Carole has instead explored the novel use of new materials, measurements and forms to hit the mark. Rope and rattan weave play a large part in the new seating, yet their application is a mile away from the tired conservatory look established decades ago. FSC-certified acacia provides a cost-effective solid wood component, while clever compact pieces have been created to suit even the smallest of outdoor areas.

The ranges are also unafraid to play with colour, with pops of green dominating the accent opportunities. “Green will be big in 2024,” says Carole. “At last, people are moving away from grey – even Mrs Hinch has gone natural!”

Wherever possible, added functionality and storage have been built in. Curved sun loungers fold down for effective storage, and boast handy carry handles. A drinks table folds neatly away, making it perfect for small balconies, while armchairs house discreet recliner mechanisms. Gallery has strived to consider every niche.

For any independent retailer tempted to introduce an outdoor offer, Gallery’s is certainly a good place to start, and Carole hopes that the broader price bracket will make the range even more accessible to new stockists, as well as creating potential in existing ones.

As well as giving key customers a first look at next year’s outdoor lines – and gleaning some valuable pre-production feedback along the way – the at-home event was convened to help Gallery clear existing stock, while the bulk of its indoor portfolio is relocated to the company’s mammoth new storage facility in Chesterfield.

The move from Gallery’s Kent HQ to the more centralised location promises to enable it to offer customers faster, more effective deliveries, and its transport fleet is more than up to the task, says Gallery’s sales and product director, Peter Delaney: “The planned final phase is finally upon us! We’ve been playing Tetris with our stock for what feels like three years. The site’s been operational since 2022, but we’re still moving lots of goods up there.

“In this marketplace, success so often comes down to speed, and we offer an amazing service. Our own

fleet is handling more and more of our deliveries – I think that, apart from one or two of the nationals, we’re the only supplier to offer white-glove home deliveries on such a scale – and our move to the purpose-built facility will help reinforce our customerfirst focus. We have solutions to so many of the challenges facing retailers right now!”

Peter adds that order placement is set to benefit from improvements to Gallery’s website, with greater transparency of live stock levels, improved communications, and handy features enabling buyers to curate their own selections.

The outdoor lines previewed this summer are now available for pre-order, and set to land in February. The upcoming January Furniture Show will see Gallery focus on developments within its indoor portfolio.

“Just look around our showroom, and you can see how much garden furniture has moved on since before Covid,” Peter concludes, “and our indoor range is no different. At Gallery, we’re stretching the boundaries of design by a country mile – and there’s lots more to look forward to.”

www.gallerydirect.com

11
“Although the wet Easter didn’t help, there’s still a hunger for outdoor furniture, and sales are up on last year

From website to white label

Describing itself as the purveyor of “Ireland’s most popular bed”, DFI Beds is based in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, where it makes and sells beds, mattresses and headboards throught its website and two stores. MD Brian McCann tells us more …

In just one sentence, tell us what your company does …

Manufacture divan beds, headboards and mattresses, and retail to end-users and hotels, student accommodation, etc.

Where are you based, and how long have you been around?

We’re based in County Tyrone, and deliver throughout Ireland. The company has been operating for almost 10 years, and last year we set up our own manufacturing operation, underwent a brand revamp, launched a new website, engaged in a highly successful brand ambassador product offering, and have just opened our second retail premises.

What do you do better than anyone else?

We’re in control of the full process for our customers, from start to finish, as we make our own product and deliver everything ourselves. This allows us to offer competitive pricing and extremely quick lead times.

Briefly outline your product offer …

We offer divan beds, mattresses and headboards. We’ve recently bolstered our product portfolio, adding ottoman beds, bedding accessories and a range of kids beds, and we have some new products launching this month, namely novelty beds and snug chairs.

What’s your star performer?

Our Grey Edition bed has stood the test of time. Priced very competitively, it still leads the way in sales. Nearly every house in Ireland must have one!

How would you describe your customer service offer?

Exceptional. We have thousands of five-star reviews, and take great pride in this. Our team of sales advisors and drivers take real pride in offering the best service.

Has the way you do business changed in recent years?

Yes, moving to manufacture our own product was a huge risk and took some time to balance out, but ultimately now we are benefitting.

Can you share any plans for the company’s directions?

Whilst keeping the core business the same, I have a number of avenues which I want to explore. At this point, something I’m really keen on is offering a white label/delivery solution to anyone in the industry who would be interested. It’s no secret in the business that we’re all seeking to grow – I have the ability to increase productivity and deliveries, and would love to offer this cost-saving solution to some of the retailers in Ireland, as we are within 10 minutes of any house in Ireland every week.

12 INSIGHT
www.dfibeds.com
“Nearly every house in Ireland must have one of our Grey Edition beds!
Brian in DFI’s new factory, with brand ambassador Erin McGregor (sister of UFC star Conor) DFI’s team takes pride in offering the best possible service

GETTING PERSONAL Andy Stockwell

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?

Long term, probably the internet. It’s a problem now, and will continue to be a problem going forwards for those who don’t embrace it and the potential it offers. As a traditional heritage retailer, we’re fortunate to have a loyal, local customer base, but we can’t be blind to the fact that it’s an ageing one. As time goes on, consumers generally are becoming more tech savvy. Furniture is still predominantly a tactile product, but consumers are much more likely to research online now. Without a meaningful online presence, your retail business won’t be first choice when that consumer decides where to part with their cash.

If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?

The customer experience, specifically staff and tech. Retail staff levels have been withered down to the bone across almost all sectors, especially during the pandemic. It’s difficult to offer the best service when staff are stretched so thin, and furniture is ultimately a product that needs selling.

Investment in tech would also be a priority. It can make processes more efficient, improve the customer experience and drive more customers to store –particularly the all-important younger demographic.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Don’t Tell The Wife! (Seriously, don’t tell the wife!).

What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?

Flexibility. To be able to do the things that are important to me as and when I’d like to do them, and be there for my family and friends as and when they need me. The issue with retail is that flexibility isn’t there. You can’t work on the basis of when it’s done you can go, because it’s never done. And you can’t work on the basis of ‘I’ve nothing else on today, I’ll go to work.’ Consumers expect stores to be open at certain times, and that’s when you work.

It’s also about what work you do. I have other professional interests I’d like to pursue in my ‘spare’ time, but it’s not currently possible.

Who’s been your most influential mentor?

I’ve never had a professional mentor. I’ve had many role models, some good, some not so good, and you

are constantly learning along the way, but I’ve never had anyone who took me under their wing, guided me along the right path and picked me up if I fell down. They aren’t mentors as such, but my parents have been massively influential. I got my work ethic, sense of right and wrong and principles from them. And my wife is the hardest-working person I ever met, always putting other people before herself. She’s the reason I do what I do, even if sometimes she wishes I didn’t!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep a positive mindset, always do your best as that’s all you can do, believe in yourself and don’t let other people drag you down – all of which are mantras I’ve lived by anyway, so no real new advice there. The one I probably wish I’d thought about when I was younger would be to not get tied down by your situation so that you can’t explore other opportunities.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

That retail is easy, that it’s the job you take when you aren’t good at anything else, and that it’s boring. The transferable skills are insane, and every day is different. I’ve (almost) never been bored, and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years. As for the furniture industry – that we sit around on furniture all day drinking tea and eating biscuits.

What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?

Stop living in the past. What we did 30 years ago doesn’t necessarily apply today. Start planning for the future. Technology, processes and sustainability all require a strategy to move forward and keep pace.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?

I’d like to think more production will move back to the UK from the Far East. Too much of world production of everything is focused there, and our reliance on it is a large part of the reason for the availability issues we’ve experienced over the last few years. And it’s inevitable that products and processes will become more driven by issues of sustainability. It hit 40°C here last summer, and that’s likely to become the norm.

www.gardinerhaskins.co.uk

14 INSIGHT
Andy Stockwell is the senior retail manager at Cirencester furniture and homewares retailer Gardiner Haskins, where he has worked since 2002. As well as a passion for retail, selling and local enterprise, Andy is a keen kayaker.
“In retail, the transferable skills are insane, and every day is different. I’ve (almost) never been bored, and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years

Sleep, shows and supplements

With products set to launch at autumn’s key events, September’s issue is ready to point the trade in the right direction!

Featuring:

• Our Bed Buyer supplement, which celebrates NBFapproved bedmakers, suppliers and stockists, and features the Bed Show preview

• Previews of Long Point and the Autumn Furniture Show

• The latest in Bedroom, Dining, Living and Trade Services

Alongside our usual channels, September’s issue will also be distributed at the featured events.

Book by Wednesday 16th August to be part of this unmissable opportunity!

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Join the Greenwood Retail team of in-store Sales Management Contractors and work with the UK’s leading independent retail sales promotion company.

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Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email sam@gearingmediagroup.com or Caroline Littler on 07861 231461 or email caroline@gearingmediagroup.com BOOK BY WEDNESDAY 16TH AUGUST TAKE YOUR SEAT Lebus set impress at JFS World Furniture’s clarity of vision SPOILT FOR CHOICE COMPROMISE JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW Illuminating approaches from Chilli Pepper Designs Negotiating the cost of living crisis 400th The voyage continues

Discover the next bestseller at Autumn Fair

Renowned for its eclectic mix of new and exclusive brands, as well as its support for up-and-coming start-ups and designers, Autumn Fair promises buyers a selection of the hottest home and gift products on the market this September …

Thousands of leading retailers including John Lewis, Coney’s, Robert Dyas, Walt Disney Co, Marks & Spencer, Fortnum & Mason, and Wilkies, have registered to attend this year’s show, which will take place from 3rd-6th September at the NEC Birmingham.

There, they will discover a raft of new brands and collections available only at Autumn Fair, including Moult England, Candles Bloom, CIMC Home, Harrow Trading, Burton Blake, Zoe Lan, Grupo Erik, and many more.

The Home, Living & Décor segment promises the latest on-trend home accessories, textiles, furniture, lighting, tableware, kitchenware and outdoor living, while The Summerhouse offers a curated selection of style-led interiors and lifestyle products.

Showing exclusively is CIMC Home, a go-to source for furniture, lighting and home accessories, while first-timer Harrow Trading promises an extensive collection of heritage-style mirrors, wall hangings and furniture. Besp-Oak Furniture will introduce its new Quirky Barn brand, and, offering complete home furnishings solutions, Gallery Direct and Art Marketing will showcase their new collections.

Meanwhile, Lows of Dundee, Present Time, Tigermoth, ABitQuackers, Nordic Style, Sompex, Hill Interiors, McGowan & Rutherford, London Ornaments, Walton & Co, Malini, Wild Java, Ancient Mariner Furniture, Blooms by Samuel Baker, Richard Cooper Bronze, Sompex, Deluxe HomeArt, Febland Group, Final Touches, Edge Company, Katrina Hampton by Ambassador Textiles, Teal International, Satchville Gift Company and Dutch Imports & Daughters will present their newest ranges.

At the same time, Autumn Fair’s Everyday segment will showcase affordable items from domestic appliances, housewares, tabletop to pet supplies, home improvement and household cleaning products from brands including Tefal, Salter, Beldray and Artisiana.

And, lighting up Autumn Fair with 10,000+ connections for the home, gift and fashion retail community, “transformative” new connections

programme Connect @ Autumn Fair will aim to help buyers find products and brands in the most efficient way possible, enabling exhibitors to create leads, orders and opportunities, maximising their ROI from the event.

Buyers registering (via www.autumnfair.com/ connect-autumn-fair-buyers) for their complimentary ticket by 9th August will receive a host of benefits including the ability to browse over 600 exhibitor profiles and filter them based on their specific criteria, from product categories to minimum orders and show offers. They will be able to pre-book meetings during the show, and receive exclusive perks including access to the new Connect VIP Buyers Lounge at the show. Connect @ Autumn Fair also gives buyers an opportunity to see special offers, discounts and announcements from exhibitors ahead of the show.

www.autumnfair.com

16 EVENTS
“Retailers will discover a raft of new brands and collections available only at Autumn Fair
From left –CIMC Home, Nordic Style, and Malini Hill Interiors

AUTUMN FURNITURE SHOW

www.theautumnfurnitureshow.co.uk

HAWAEXPO

www.hawaexpo.com

Taking place across two venues next March – Ho Chi Minh City’s SECC from 6-9th March, and Binh Duong New City’s WTC from 7-9th –HawaExpo 2024 promises to offer international buyers exclusive access to many of Vietnam’s top brands and manufacturers.

This year’s edition featured 210 exhibitors (80% of them Vietnamese) and attracted more than 16,000 visitors (2653 of them international), reported the show’s organisers.With the vast

Extending an open invitation to all furniture buyers, the Autumn Furniture Show will take place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th October.

Showcasing leading furniture brands from around the world, and featuring the latest upholstery, dining, bedroom, bed and accessory ranges, the show promises to be a valuable sourcing opportunity.

The show’s central provides easy access from around the UK, and visitors will enjoy free parking and entry. Complimentary lunch is also provided for all visitors at the on-site Strollers restaurant. Registration for the show is now open.

majority of the exhibitors electing to return next year, and double the capacity, HawaExpo 2024 is shaping up to be even stronger.

“HawaExpo aims to showcase the diversity of Vietnam’s wood and furniture industry, and demonstrate its production and supply capacity to international visitors,” says HAWA’s chairman, Nguyen Quoc Khanh. “Moreover, the expo strives to reflect the pride of the industry – and that of the Vietnamese nation.”

17
iStock/Akirastock
Image courtesy

New show puts Vietnam in the spotlight

From 13-15th September this year, Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC) will host the inaugural Vietnam International Sourcing Expo.

This new exhibition promises to be a unique opportunity for suppliers and distributors to engage in face-to-face meetings.

“Vietnam is already recognised as having an important and growing role in the global furniture supply chain,” states the show’s organiser.

“Its strategic location, and fast and effective transportation links, mean Vietnam is rapidly becoming a sourcing destination that’s favoured by many businesses and enterprises seeking a more diverse, cost-effective and negotiable supply chain.”

Last year, the value of wood and wooden products exports from Vietnam reached over US$16b –compared to the year before, the value of exported wood and wooden products increased by roughly $1.2b. And the export value of these products had been growing steadily since, states the show’s organiser.

Aimed at buyers, suppliers and manufacturers wishing to discover the best in Vietnamese production and source new products for distribution across markets both local and international, the Vietnam International Sourcing Expo will offer a full three days of seminars and conferences alongside the business taking place across the 8000m2 show floor, offering those attending from overseas numerous benefits. Visitors will also be able to engage in business-matching opportunities and factory visits.

“As well as discussing business co-operation and discovering opportunities to broaden their supply chains in favourable directions, visitors will learn about Vietnam’s biggest players and consumer trends,” says the organiser, “and meet many qualified exporters and manufacturers. Visitors and exhibitors alike will discover myriad opportunities at Vietnam International Sourcing Expo 2023.”

Confirmed distributors in attandance will include Aeon, Amazon, Central Retail, Carrefour, Coppell, Costco, Decathlon, Mega Market and Walmart, who will be able to meet accredited Vietnamese producers and exporters, international machinery, equipment and materials suppliers, and supply chain service

Interested parties can register to visit directly at bit.ly/3Dt7RiM, visit the show’s website to find out more, or contact the Vietnam Embassy’s Trade Office in London for further information and logistical support, by emailing uk@moit.gov.vn.

www.en.vietnamsourcingexpo.vn

18 EVENTS
providers including logistics, banks, and insurance companies.
“Visitors and exhibitors alike will discover myriad opportunities
The event will showcase furniture made in Vietnam
in unparalleled comfort and sophistication with our luxury beds” PERFECTION IS A JOURNEY. At H Living, we’re always finding new ways to make better beds – so your customers can indulge in the finest possible luxury. 01484 531000 www.hyderliving.com enquiries@hyderint.com
“Indulge

Irish show hits new heights

Renowned for its eclectic mix of new and exclusive brands, as well as its support for up-and-coming start-ups and designers, Autumn Fair promises buyers a selection of the hottest home and gift products on the market this September …

This year’s show returned to the National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin. The modern venue proved a suitable setting in which to bring the trade together under one roof, and left many looking forward to 2024’s edition, says Mark: “The feedback we’ve been received so far from exhibitors has all been great, and businesses are already looking forward to next year – highlighting how important trade shows are for the industry.

“Exhibiting at the IFHS 2024 is already on people’s minds, with both established and new exhibitors looking forward to signing up for an even better event next year! That said, with our marketing campaign focused on buyers, it’s not surprising the vast majority of exhibitors at the IFHS reported strong sales at the close of this year’s show.”

The IFHS represents the wide variety of furniture and homewares available in Ireland and the UK, and is the only show of its kind in Ireland. This year’s edition showcased thousands of products, giving visitors the opportunity to get a first look at new ranges and the latest market trends, and avail of exclusive offers and discounts.

“The IFHS is a unique opportunity for Irish customers to see a wide range of products all in the one place,” says Mark, “and, reflecting on the feedback we received, they were all very happy customers.”

This year’s Furniture & Home Awards saw architect, educator and broadcaster Amanda Bone appointed head judge, and her keen eye for design and forthright nature proved key elements in selecting the winners, says Mark: “We recognise the importance of supporting the industry in which we operate, and believe these awards provide the perfect opportunity for UK and Irish furniture and homeware suppliers to showcase the best of their products.

“This year’s awards saw 12 worthy winners claim best-in-show accolades for their products, displays and overall approach to business. It was clear from the level of interest, and the number of entries received, just how much work and commitment goes into offering customers high-quality, on-trend products. Retailers in attendance also had the opportunity to vote in the Best Sales Rep and Best Supplier categories.

“This year, our focus was on representing Irishmade product, and on sustainability. Keeping this in mind, each award was handmade from oak, and featured branding from Custom Wood Designs.”

In preparation for next year’s event, IFHS’ organisers are committed to making the show even bigger and better. “Our focus is to continue to support the industry in which we operate, by bringing the right people together under one roof,” Mark concludes. “Even if it’s just meeting, collaborating or educating each other, attending the IFHS is a great opportunity to support the furniture industry.” www.ifhs-tradeshow.ie

20 EVENTS IFHS
“Exhibiting at the IFHS 2024 is already on people’s minds
21 To find out more visit www.ifhs-tradeshow.com
Best Supplier Durabeds Best Sales Rep Harry Sweeney Best Overall Product of the Show DIGIO’ Leather by SOFITALIA Best Bedroom Colleciton Wiemann - Denver Collection Best Cabinet Colleciton Annaghmore Agencies – Carrington Range Best Irish Manufactured Product Durabeds– Talbot Electric Bed Best Mattress Innovation Homelee - Organic Mattress Best New Decorative Product Think Rugs – Apollo Range Best New Furniture Product Global Home – Harvard Collection Best New Homeware Product Tara Lane – Ava table lamp Best Overall Product Display & Exhibition Stand Durabeds Best Upholstrey Product Glamour Sofa – Shira Sofa

Italian brands put service first

Sister brands Incanto Italia and

by Sofitalia made their IFHS debut this year, giving Mario Sforza another opportunity to reinforce the product and service proposition on offer …

What do you offer?

Digio’ Leather by Sofitalia and Incanto Italia offer products that are 100% made in Italy, with coverings in full leather and fabric. We offer more than 150 leather colours in various grades, and 200 fabric colours, to satisfy the needs of both retailer and end-customer.

How successful was IFHS?

IFHS was a first for us, but we opened new accounts there. We also showed at the January Furniture Show and June’s INDX Furniture – both of which proved very successful.

Since January, we’ve enjoyed great success, presenting our collection dedicated to the UK market. Across the board, the visitors really appreciated our collection – and I think IFHS was a good way to really open the doors to the Irish market.

How did it feel to win the Best Overall Product of the Show at IFHS?

It was a confirmation for us that both brands have a very bright future on the UK and Irish markets. Every day, new customers are coming to us, and those who’ve been working with us for years continue to grow their business with us.

What made Klee a winner?

What’s unique about this product is its simplicity and elegance. We’re very careful with the details, as we believe they make a huge difference – for Klee, these include the metal legs in the right colour, and the cover in the right leather and colour. The stitches are not simple, but special ones that emphasise the model’s style. Last, but not least, Klee is characterised by its incredible comfort.

Do your new models respond to any particular consumer demands/trends?

What’s important about our products is that our design

is timeless, and never goes out of fashion. At the same time, we always remember that the design needs to be accompanied by high backrests, great comfort, and the right proportions – this is the recipe for success.

How has your service offer/operation evolved to meet fresh demand?

We’ve emphasised to retailers that we do not only sell a product, but a service – and this has been key to our success. From our point of view, the UK and Irish markets have changed in the last few years, and are more based on service than product – which is why, just in case, we keep 80% of our spare parts in stock and ship them within 24 hours of the customer’s request. The most important recent development was putting no-sag springs in the seats of all our models. We’ve also upgraded the foam, from 30kg to 35kg. These changes ensure that there are no issues with sagging. Regarding the materials used in production, we’re continuously researching new solutions through our R&D lab.

What’s next in the company’s calendar?

Every day, we’re active within our markets in person, and each month customers are given an opportunity to visit our factory in the south of Italy.

Our next events will be January Furniture Show and INDX Furniture (also in January) – followed by next year’s Manchester Furniture Show in July. Outside the UK, we’ll be at High Point this autumn, next spring and the following autumn, and at Milan’s Salone del Mobile next year.

22 EVENTS IFHS
www.digioleathersofa.com
www.incantoitalia.com
Digio’ Leather The award-winning Klee Mario (left) and his brother Giovanni (right) receiving the Best Overall Product of the Show award, for Klee, from show organiser Mark Gannon Brindisi

WELCOME HOME EVENT

Join us for our first 20 - 23 23

Join us for the inaugural in-house event at the Kettle Home showroom for the opportunity to learn about our customer focussed business objectives and see our first product launches under the new brand.

You will get exclusive access to some fantastic package deals, discover our new product lines first hand and coupled with our recent price reductions and repaired stock position on all core ranges, we know you will find exactly what you need to refresh your in-store displays for the busy trading period.

We will have the eagerly awaited Fabric Bed Collection, EA Bedroom and Dining Collection and BG Dining Collection on display alongside new table set launches and an introduction to the stunning CL collection.

Plus discover the advantages of our new website with a discount on your first order.

Book your appointment at www.kettlehome.co.uk

Liam Wales South West Phil Gant North West Anthony Palmer South East Mike Marshall Scotland Sarah Burton National Accounts
AUG
Tom Baylis UK Sales Director Simon Ainge International Sales Director

Industry women laud group launch

The Women in Furniture Network (WIFN) came to life on 29th June, as the industry group’s inaugural event filled Furniture Makers’ Hall with attendees from across the sector – reports WIFN’s principal media partner, Furniture News …

The first Women in Furniture Network (WIFN) mixer – entitled Cocktails, Canapés and Connections –proved a resounding success, paving the way for more like it, says Zoë Bonser, portfolio director at the networking group’s founder, Clarion Retail (January Furniture Show, Manchester Furniture Show, Home & Gift, Top Drawer, Scotland Trade Fair and Reveal).

“At Clarion, we recognise the incredible talent and expertise that women bring to the industry, and we believe in providing an equal platform to network, collaborate and excel,” she explains. “We understand that networking is crucial for professional development – but we also recognise that women

sometimes face unique challenges and biases.

“By creating a dedicated space, free from judgment or bias, we look forward to empowering women to build their networks, expand their horizons, and take bold strides towards their career aspirations.”

June’s networking event, which was co-hosted by The Furniture Makers’ Company, saw Zoë and other leading women from the sector speak about their experiences. Amanda Waring, the master of The Furniture Makers’ Company (and accomplished garden designer) opened with a rallying cry for the livery company’s 60–60 campaign, and talked about her family’s long-standing ties with the sector.

24 EVENTS
“By creating a dedicated space, free from judgment or bias, we look forward to empowering women
Amanda Waring Dids Macdonald

Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) then stepped up, calling for more representation and relevance: “Looking out to a roomful of women is a historic moment. Twenty years ago this would not have happened in livery companies, nor within our own industry – it would have been a sea of men. But in a sector where, at most, between 2025% are women, there is still a long way to go.

“Greater diversity leads to greater creativity. The greater the variety of perspectives and life experiences we have, the greater the ideas, thoughts, new and fresh thinking enters the mix, and appealing to the widest talent base possible is the key to this –more talent, wider creativity. If we, as a sector, focus on our biggest ‘minority’ first, it is clear we need more women engaged, helping to build better workplaces, where they can thrive and contribute on subjects that affect us all.”

other leading brands, then praised the women she had encountered in her career, and said she believed it was up to women to lead the way, by identifying the talent of the future, offering support and mentoring. At its close, attendees and speakers alike were full of praise for the event. Justine Haywood, Tokyo Fabrics International, commented: “What a fabulous afternoon! It was nice to speak to like-minded people from different backgrounds and environments and share our experiences in the furniture industry.”

Natasha Shillingford, La-Z-Boy UK, said: “It’s an overused word, but it really was inspiring to attend the inaugural WIFN event. It was lovely to meet so many new faces, reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years, and most importantly be a part of something that will be key to driving change within our industry.”

Amanda Waring stated: “It was so great to be part of this amazing event. The room was buzzing with enthusiasm and colour!”

25
Donna Bellingham, former CEO of Parker Knoll and
“Twenty years ago this would not have happened in livery companies, nor within our own industry
Donna Bellingham
››
Zoë Bonser

Dids Macdonald added: “It was a resounding success. I closed my eyes and the buzz was palpable. What a fab initiative. Networking together, in person –after the pandemic, and fighting the Zoom culture – it was inspiring to speak to so many amazing women. Many congratulations to Zoë Bonser for being the driving force behind this, and thanks to your wonderful Clarion team. You have brought a new and exciting dynamic into the mix!”

Zoë concludes: “I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the incredible women who joined us – your presence and energy truly made it an evening to remember.

“I invite all women in the UK furniture sector to join WIFN, and I look forward to seeing many of you at our events soon – more are planned, at various venues throughout the UK.”

Join WIFN’s LinkedIn showcase page (www.linkedin. com/showcase/women-in-furniture-network/) to stay up to date with the latest developments.

www.thefurnitureshows.com/women-in-furniture

26 EVENTS
“It was lovely to be part of something that will be key to driving change within our industry
GLOBALINDO FURNITURE Outdoor living, dining and occasional furniture and accessories DEPARTMENT In-house Powdercoating 40+ Sewing Machines Foam Cutting Machine Upholstered Outdoor PT. GLOBALINDOFURNITURE Jl. Kediri - Kertosono K m.13 Desa Minggiran, Kecamat an Papar, Kediri, Jawa Timur • Sustainably sourced timber • Precision machining • In-house production • Designed to deliver comfort and style Creating high-end outdoor furniture for export since 2004 07424 595757 ayaz@globalindo-furniture.com

Curated canapes

FIRA Spring Reception

Museum of the Home, Hoxton, London / Thursday 18th May

The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) hosted its 25th annual reception in May, returning to the Museum of the Home – a fitting setting for such a gathering, as it started its life as a museum of furniture and woodwork in 2014. As well as drinks, canapes and networking opportunities, guests enjoyed access to the museum collections, so were able to see how homes and gardens have evolved over the centuries.

Since 1997, the reception has given many hundreds from across the sector the opportunity to network and celebrate the contribution the industry makes to the economy. At this year’s event, association chair Brian Ahern revealed that it would be the final reception delivered by the association, which plans to focus on “wider events to better support members and the wider sector”.

28 EVENTS
29

This year’s winners

Best Bed Supplier Sleepeezee

Best Bed Component Supplier Leggett & Platt Springs UK

Best Bedroom Cabinet Supplier Devonshire

Best Boxed Mattress Brand Simba Sleep

Best Boxed Sofa Brand Swyft Home

Best Buying Group Associated Independent Stores (AIS)

Best CGI Visualisation Provider Chilli Pepper Designs

Best Children’s/Nursery Furniture Supplier Julian Bowen

Best Decorative Accessories Supplier Bluebone

Best Dining Furniture Supplier Coach House

Best Display Support Provider Reborn Marketing and Design

Best European Exhibition imm cologne

Best Fabric Supplier Warwick Fabrics

Best Fabric Upholstery Supplier Whitemeadow Furniture

Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier Core Products

Best for Innovation Orbital Vision

Best for Sustainable Thinking Hypnos Beds

Best Fulfilment Provider Rhenus Home Delivery (UK)

Best Furniture Care/Repair Provider Emmiera Group

Best Furniture Component Supplier Decorative Panels

Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier Gallery Direct

Best Home Office Furniture Supplier Jual Furnishings

Best Importer Wiemann

Best International Exhibition Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF)

Best Leather/Leather-Look Upholstery Supplier La-Z-Boy UK

Best Lighting Supplier där lighting group

Best Living Room Cabinet Supplier Ercol

Best Machinery Manufacturer MattressTek

Best Mattress Supplier Sealy UK

Best Newcomer Mattsons Beds (UK)

Best Occasional Chair/Recliner Supplier Hydeline Furniture

Best Product Protection Supplier Staingard

Best Rug Supplier Think Rugs

Best Sales/Marketing Services Provider Furniture Sales Solutions

Best Sofabed Supplier Kyoto

Best Soft Furnishings Supplier Scatter Box

Best Software/Technology Provider Iconography

Best Testing Services/Certification Provider FIRA International

Best Trade Association National Bed Federation (NBF)

Best UK Bed Manufacturer Silentnight Group

Best UK Exhibition January Furniture Show

Best UK Upholstery Manufacturer Tetrad

Best Upholstered Bed Supplier Furmanac Group

Best Vehicle Manufacturer Maxi Mover

The Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards will return next year!

READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 31

BEST BED SUPPLIER

Sleepeezee

Based in Rochester, Kent, bedmaker Sleepeezee is no stranger to Furniture News’ Readers’ Choice Awards, having scooped Best Bed/Mattress Supplier in 2021, and Best Mattress Supplier in 2022.

Getting a good night’s sleep has never been more important, says Sleepeezee – people’s physical and mental health relies on their bodies feeling rested and rejuvenated, so ensuring good sleep is a necessity.

Sleepeezee’s array of products and services, alongside its team of expert craftspeople, can help in this regard. A Royal Warrant holder since 1963, the business is dedicated to combining innovative practices with market-leading designs to provide the right bed and mattress solutions for customers.

Established in 1924, Sleepeezee is best known for its popular mattress ranges, which encompass everything from 100% natural luxury fillings to more technological materials such as graphite memory foam.

Sleepeezee’s mattresses come with a range of support technologies that provide firm to soft support, tailored to the customer’s sleep needs and targeting their pain points. Its Staycool Gel

foam provides pressure-sensitive support that immediately responds to the sleeper’s body shape and helps to regulate body temperature, while Sleepeeze’s ViroFresh technology is a “game-changing” anti-microbial technology that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on contract for a more hygienic night’s sleep.

The mattresses are supported by luxurious divan bases and headboards. Sleepeezee’s divan beds are built to last and include many storage

options, come in a variety of fabrics and colours, and can be tailored to the user’s mattress and sleep space.

Sleepeezee products are made and manufactured in the UK. With strong family values at the heart of the business, Sleepeezee aims to support national and local charities across the country. A recent donation saw the company contribute £57,000 to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, in partnership with the brand’s ambassador, athlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill. The donation was funded by sales of Sleepeezee’s Jessica range – the company donated £20 to the hospital with each sale.

Sleepeezee is also further committed to supporting sustainable efforts. Having been carbon neutral since 2017, it has continued to strive for sustainability in all it does. Last year alone, Sleepeezee’s 591 energy-saving solar panels, which were installed in 2021, generated a total of 249,160kWh of electricity, which avoided a total of 52.9tCO2e (greenhouse gasses emitted) and helped reduce electricity use by -23.78%.

www.sleepeezee.com

32 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
Ortho Jessica
“A Royal Warrant holder since
1963, Sleepeezee is dedicated to combining innovative practices with marketleading designs

Quality comfort, naturally

LEAVE THE REST TO US

BEST BED COMPONENT SUPPLIER

Leggett & Platt Springs UK

“At Leggett & Platt, we take pride in our ability to enhance comfort for millions around the world,” state L&P Springs UK’s sales manager Paul Hindle, and commercial manager Adam Ball. “Our dedication to this craft and commitment to innovation and sustainability have yielded tremendous results, and we are honoured to be named Furniture News readers’ Best Component Supplier for the third consecutive year.”

“Leggett & Platt would like to express our utmost appreciation to the readers of Furniture News, its staff, our customers, and everyone else involved in us receiving this tremendous recognition,” they continue.

“We maintain a continuous mission to enhance lives through high-quality components and advanced bedding technology, while also offering empowering and rewarding careers and working to bring about a better, more comfortable future. To not only win this award once, but three times in a row, validates the tireless dedication our employee-partners provide each day. On behalf of everyone at Leggett & Platt, thank you.”

Leggett & Platt is an established partner of choice for bedding companies seeking to source consistent, quality components manufactured by a secure, local supplier – while gaining the operational and lower working capital advantages of L&P’s value-add and supply chain solutions. Consequently, L&P benefits from close commercial partnerships with several key customers and suppliers.

The business is focused on selling spring and wire-related products. These often include technologically advanced features or utilise technologically advanced processes in their production. L&P also provides a host of generic, volume-based products that are not patentprotected. Products and processes are subject to continuous improvement as new technology is developed.

The company consistently invests in new products and improved production processes to be at the forefront of the market, and Leggett & Platt’s operational management continuously streamlines costs to remain competitive.

“A key aspect of our success in providing award-winning components throughout the European market is Leggett & Platt Springs UK – a leading manufacturing facility filled with the bedding industry’s most advanced production capabilities,” the pair continue.

“Leggett & Platt Springs UK is constantly evolving – adapting, improving, and innovating to meet the ever-changing demands of the industry. As it evolves, so must our organisational leadership, to diversify thought processes and bring about fresh ideas. Many customers have dealt with the same sales representatives and managers throughout the years of our successful relationships. However, we understand that change is necessary, and moving forward, some interactions and processes may be different.

“In line with our commitment to continuous improvement, we would like to announce once more the following changes to our commercial department: David Nuttall will be retiring in June 2024 – and in terms of organisational strategy and to ensure a smooth transition, his responsibilities have been divided into two roles; Paul Hindle will assume the role of sales manager, L&P Springs UK, handling all sales and customer relationship activities and functions; and Adam Ball will assume the role of commercial manager, L&P Springs UK – being responsible for demand and revenue control, forecasting, and customer service functions (he will also lead the demand and revenue activities of our integrated business planning process).

“Until his retirement, David will mentor, support, and shadow his successors on a fulltime basis while also managing special sales projects.

“We would like to thank David for his 45 years with the business, managing sales and shaping our position in the UK market. His talent for developing and nurturing our key customer relationships will be missed.”

To learn more about L&P Springs UK’s products, capabilities, and recent organisational changes, contact the relevant sales representative or visit BeddingComponents-Intl. com/Contact.

www.beddingcomponents-intl.com

34 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
This is L&P Springs’ third consecutive category win
“Our dedication to this craft and commitment to innovation and sustainability have yielded tremendous results
Adam Ball Paul Hindle

Boundless Sleep Comfort

BeddingComponents-Intl.com
At Leggett & Platt, we are committed to identifying the latest opportunities and adapting to market changes as we deliver sustainable product solutions to our customers. Our continued investment in the bedding industry, our leading technologies, and our team strategically position us to react to customer requirements with flexibility and ensure we provide value-adding comfort innovation and support in line with their needs. © 2023 Leggett & Platt Incorporated JoinusatTheBedShow September26-27,2023|Telford

BEST BOXED MATTRESS BRAND

Simba Sleep

This month’s cover star, Simba Sleep, is “incredibly proud” to have scooped this award, says the brand’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Reid: “We strive to create the best sleep products, in the best possible way, and the whole team will celebrate this award. Furniture News and its readership are very important to Simba, so it is an honour to receive this accolade.”

The original Simba Hybrid Mattress range has earned Simba over 50 industry awards, and its products have received over 250,000 five-star reviews from satisfied customers, making it the world’s highest-rated five-star mattress brand.

The award–winning range consists of the Simba Hybrid mattress, Simba Hybrid Pro

mattress, and Simba Hybrid Luxe mattress, which offer intuitive full body support, “exceptional” comfort and a new standard in sustainability.

Simba’s products are designed for a better night’s sleep and a healthier tomorrow – in a way that creates as little impact on the planet as possible.

In March, Simba became the first UK sleep brand to secure global B Corporation status, achieving a major milestone for the company’s aim to be net zero by 2030. Successful submissions need to score 80 or higher to achieve B Corp status, and Simba scored highly, with a grade of 97.5.

“From the very beginning, we knew that being a boxed mattress would help reduce our transport emissions, but we had no plans to stop there,” says Steve. “The B Corp process took us from a deep dive into our supply chain, to reviewing our approach to ethical innovation in our new product development.

“This gold-standard award for ethical business involves a rigorous process which looked at our entire business model. We’ve worked hard to improve the footprint of our materials and textiles, and we use certified sustainable

materials, such as BCI Better Cotton, GOTScertified organic cotton, GOLS-certified organic latex, Oeko-Tex and Global Recycled Standard textiles across the range.

“We’ve also embraced innovations like Stratos cool-touch technology, along with a Simba Renew Bio filling in our pillows and duvets. Simba Renew Bio is made from 100% recycled PET bottles – it’s an advanced, hypoallergenic material that offers superb, down-like comfort and quality, and is fully biodegradable within two years.”

All Simba UK mattresses are made locally in ‘eco-factories’ powered by renewable energy, and the sleep tech innovator also recently unveiled a state-of-the-art, not-for-profit recycling facility that promises to take back any brand of mattress to be refurbished or recycled.

As B Corp status is reviewed every three years, Simba will strive to uphold its commitments to lowering its emissions and reducing waste. With over 50 industry awards and 250,000 five-star reviews, “our message is simple,” says Steve: “Simba is proof that customers don’t need to compromise on cloud-like comfort when they want to sleep on a more sustainable mattress.” www.simbasleep.com

36 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“Furniture News and its readership are very important to Simba, so it is an honour to receive this accolade
Simba Hybrid Luxe mattress
COVER FEATURE
“Customers don’t need to compromise on cloud-like comfort when they want to sleep on a more sustainable mattress

Engineered for sleep and a better tomorrow

Thanks to our sleep scientists, all our mattresses are now sustainably produced as well as uniquely comfortable.

LOWERING EMISSIONS

Our Hybrid mattresses, pillows and duvets are carbon neutral. And since they’re made in the UK, transport emissions are kept to a minimum.

RESPONSIBLE MATERIALS

From purer foam to responsibly sourced cotton and wood, we’re fully committed to sustainable components. No ifs, no buts.

RECYCLING, REUSING

If we can’t reuse, we recycle. Wasted materials are repurposed, returned mattresses refurbished or totally recycled. Right down to the last spring.

simbasleep.com

BEST BOXED SOFA BRAND

Swyft Home

“We’d like to extend a big thank you to the readers of Furniture News, our clients and the Swyft team,” says Swyft’s co-founder, Keiran Hewkin.

Launched in 2019 with a wealth of industry knowledge behind it, Swyft set out to change the furniture market for good. “We believe you shouldn’t have to wait weeks for delivery, that your furniture should fit, no matter how many flights of stairs or tight doorways you have to get through. And we believe in great design, that’s thoughtful, comfortable and will last a lifetime,” Keiran explains.

This ethos has taken Swyft a long way, seeing the furniture brand through an impressive timeline of product launches, supported by its purpose-built manufacturing site in Portugal. At the core of every Swyft sofa, Swyft-lok technology offers impressive tool-free assembly on all products – a far cry from traditional flatpack furniture.

Swyft continues to expand at an impressive pace, and has further established itself in the consumer market with a series of retail partnerships. “Joining forces with John Lewis has been undoubtedly our most impactful partnership to date,” says Keiran. “Currently, we’re situated in 26 stores, with more in the

pipeline – a great result from our trade and partnerships team.”

The trade arm of Swyft’s business continues to go from strength to strength. Now standing at over 2000 clients, Swyft’s innovative furniture designs and client management standards have rooted it as a trusted favourite within the interior design and property sectors, and, with this success, Swyft is now growing into the commercial and hospitality sectors.

www.swyfthome.com

38 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST DISPLAY SUPPORT PROVIDER

Reborn Marketing and Design

“I’d firstly like to dedicate this award to everyone who has collaborated with reborn (www.feelingreborn.com), their innovations, and their commitment to marketing,” says the service’s founder and creative director, Adam Ashborn. “We truly believe at reborn that when we collaborate with clients/individuals/teams, they become part of the collaboration process, allowing everyone to grow. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the trust and commitment shown by the collaborators who allowed us to be creative and create something truly remarkable!

“And a special thank you to Furniture News –keep up with the great work you’re doing for the furniture industry.”

Since the world started to reopen, trade shows have bounced back, says Adam, with positive exhibitor and visitor levels: “The eagerness of meeting people outside of Zoom/Teams and experiencing new innovations first-hand has driven the resurgence in events becoming a ‘must have’. Our last year has been outstanding, with overseas shows like interzum, imm cologne and ISPA playing a big part in our success –

and we’re now accepting new projects for the late 2023/early 2024 season. That means if you’re looking for stand builders, designers or trade show project managers, we’re here to accommodate your needs, for shows such as imm, January Furniture Show, Maison&Objet, I Saloni, Furniture China, ISPA, etc.”

Reborn is a one-stop-shop for stand build, showrooms and design services. With years of experience in the furniture industry, reborn, like global trade shows, is back in business, and more than ready to help furniture brands make their mark at any event.

From conceptualisation to completion, reborn boasts the expertise and creativity to bring its clients’ visions to life. Whether exhibitors are looking for a sleek, modern design or something more unique, reborn will work with them, every step of the way.

“Why did we win? By collaborating with clients and understanding their specific individual requirements throughout the process,” concludes Adam. “We pride ourselves on delivering the best results, on time and within

budget, and invite you to experience the ‘feeling of being reborn’ – not just with an exhibition stand, but a marketing plan that will exceed your expectations and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Let’s collaborate, and create something truly special!”

www.feelingreborn.com

Adam’s team designed this stand for Howen’s 39
appearance at the interzum trade show

BEST BUYING GROUP

Associated Independent Stores (AIS)

“As winners of Best Buying Group, AIS would like to thank our members and suppliers for their continued support,” begins the buying group’s director of furniture and home, Emma Rackley.

“We are a very passionate team, who remain dedicated to supporting the industry and championing the independent retail sector, and to receive this award makes our hard work and commitment even more worthwhile,” Emma continues.

“This year has continued to throw challenges our way, but the team here at AIS have strived to strengthen our relationships with our preferred suppliers, working with joint business plans to ensure we are focusing on ways to drive value and new product innovation for our members.

“As the retail environment continues to fluctuate, we must support our members with new products to excite and draw in customers, and we will be showcasing these products through our online membership hub, and at our INDX trade shows.

“We continue to work closely with our trend forecasting partner Scarlet Opus, to focus on

the key behavioural shifts customers are making regarding the products they are buying, and the retail experience they demand.”

AIS is currently planning its next INDX Furniture show, which will take place at Cranmore Park on 19th-22nd January 2024, with the first day open to AIS members, and the general trade welcome to attend on subsequent days.

“We’ll be bringing together a trend- and innovation-led product showcase across categories including upholstery, living room, dining room, garden, and accessories, and the show will be a fantastic opportunity to connect, network, and celebrate the industry,” says Emma.

“AIS is the UK and Ireland’s leading buying and services group for fashion, home and leisure,

and our members are at the heart of everything we do. Our principal objective is to increase profitability for our members by means of collective buying power, group leverage, access to leading brands, and in-house expertise. AIS membership also offers unique benefits, including Cenpac, a central payment facility which gives efficiency and resource savings for members and suppliers.

“A collaborative partnership, AIS provides members with a bespoke service, which includes offering help, advice, and inclusive support, with a strong sense of mutual advantage for members and suppliers alike. We work with an unrivalled network of suppliers, and focus on negotiating special buying terms and discounts and delivering enhanced margins and exclusive merchandise to ensure our members continue to thrive and stand out in the market.”

For more information on the benefits of AIS membership, interested parties should visit the buying group’s website. www.aistores.co.uk

40 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“To receive this award makes our hard work and commitment even more worthwhile
Shots from June’s INDX Furniture Show
We’re proud to announce that we’ve won the Best Buying Group Award! As the UK and Ireland’s leading buying group for fashion, home, and leisure for independent retail we’re thrilled to have been recognised for our commitment to providing our members with the best possible buying experience. Our members have access to a wide range of benefits, including: • Buying Power • Impactful Retail • Access to all INDX Trade Shows • BIRA and Diversity in Retail Membership • Retail Buying and Merchandising • Bespoke Central Payment • Supplier Information
grateful to our members for their continued support. Learn more about our buying group and how we can help you save money and grow your business. Visit our website or contact us today. Aistores.co.uk @aistores Associated Independent Stores Ltd
We’re

BEST CGI VISUALISATION PROVIDER

Chilli Pepper Designs

“It’s truly an honour to be voted this year’s Best CGI Visualisation Provider in the Readers’ Choice Awards! We want to thank everyone who voted for us – we appreciate it more than you could imagine,” says Neil Buckley-Jensen, owner and founder of Chilli Pepper Designs.

Chilli Pepper Designs is a CGI specialist which is striving to transform marketing material for the furniture industry. The business offers 3D-rendered lifestyle images, carefully designed by dedicated interior stylists and crafted by renowned CGI artists, to enhance its customers’ marketing imagery.

Neil founded Chilli Pepper Designs in 2020, when Covid-19 halted the availability of traditional photography, to the potnetial detriment of his furniture business, Indesign Furniture. However, Neil had a plan.

“CGI enables photorealistic imagery to captivate the customer and envision the furniture in their own living space,” says Neil. “CGI is all done digitally, therefore it’s cost effective, time effective, and more eco-friendly than traditional photography. It eliminates the cost and pollution of transporting furniture to a location for a shoot, allows for amendments to be made at any time, and, best of all, the images can be created before the furniture is even manufactured! It’s the perfect marketing secret!”

Chilli Pepper Designs has won numerous Furniture News reader awards – Best Newcomer 2021, Best CGI Visualisation/Website Provider 2021, and Best for Innovation 2022 – which are all proudly displayed in its office.

“It’s a very proud moment when our customers come back with positive feedback from projects, and it means so much to the team and I when customers take the time to vote for us,” explains interior stylist, Lily Josephine Power.

“We strongly believe we have so many happy and returning customers firstly because of our imagery, and secondly, because of our customer service. At Chilli Pepper Designs we love building lasting relationships with our customers, and really enjoy getting to know them and their

companies. We believe this also helps us with creating their imagery, as we have a deeper understanding of their wants and needs.”

CGI created by Chilli Pepper Designs has helped double Indesign Furniture’s turnover, and is now utilised by some of the industry’s largest brands and manufacturers.

“Our imagery is so good that most people genuinely think it’s a photograph,” adds Neil. “We understand that not every brand wants its customers to know that they are looking at CGI (not a photograph of the real thing), which is why we also check before sharing our collaborations – it’s putting our customers first which has taken us this far in the industry.

“We have a lot of new and exciting things coming this year from Chilli Pepper Designs –watch this space!”

www.chillipepperdesigns.co.uk

42 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“It means so much to the team and I when customers take the time to vote for us
CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! This scene and everything in it is 100% CGI. Please note, no CGI chickens were harmed in the creation of this image DESIGNS WINNER BEST CGI VISUALISATION/WEBSITE PROVIDER - 2021 BEST NEWCOMER - 2021 BEST INNOVATIONPROVIDER - 2022 AND NOW! BEST CGI VISUALISATION PROVIDER - 2023 01424 734191 info@chillipepperdesigns.co.uk www.chillipepperdesigns.co.uk

Julian Bowen

East-Midlands-based furniture wholesaler

Julian Bowen has seen significant growth in children’s furniture, with the continued success of new developments in unique, innovative products further driving revenue –and so is exceptionally proud of receiving this accolade.

The company says it has gone from strength to strength, focusing on children’s furniture and pursuing product innovation, with modern, functional designs offering exceptional value for money.

Its commitment to this category has seen the business launch numerous new ranges this year, including the Hercules highsleeper, Atom lowsleeper, Vespa midsleeper, Impact gaming bunk, and many more – such as the Willow Treehouse bunk bed, which features a sleek,

modern bed with a durable lacquered finish, and promises to transform any children’s bedroom.

Julian Bowen’s focus on new product development throughout the business is supported by continuous investment in its sales and marketing team, customer service, supply chain management, and IT infrastructure, which has maximised business efficiency through automation – from stock feed management to ordering and distribution – in turn, enhancing the customer proposition.

The business has a rigorous quality check and inspection process in place for all products, to ensure, problem-free output, and customer peace of mind. This has been enhanced with tailored individual solutions through a new self-service customer portal, which enables customers to access live stock availability and product details.

The ongoing growth of both product pipeline and innovation has been key, as the advancement of technology has offered customers the strongest possible portfolio. With this, the business has constantly driven towards the use of sustainable raw materials and FSCcertified products.

With consistent new launches across dining, bedroom, mirrors and occasional furniture this year, Julian Bowen’s goal is to innovate in both design and functionality.

MD Emmett Lenaghan says: “As a team, we are exceptionally proud of achieving this award. We always aim to put customer satisfaction at the forefront of our business, and we are both

thankful and honoured that our customers continue to show their support for Julian Bowen.

“As a business, we’re constantly improving product fulfilment and working hard to improve all aspects of our offer. Across the business, the Julian Bowen team will keep challenging itself to improve, in everything we do.”

44 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
SUPPLIER
www.julian-bowen.co.uk BEST CHILDREN’S/NURSERY FURNITURE
“We always aim to put customer satisfaction at the forefront, and are honoured that our customers continue to show their support
Atom lowsleeper in white
Hercules
highsleeper in anthracite
Titan
Impact gaming bunk in black and red highsleeper
in
anthracite Vespa midsleeper
JULIAN BOWEN Bentinck House, Park Lane Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts NG17 9LE tel: (01623) 727374 email: sales@julian-bowen.co.uk web: www.julian-bowen.co.uk All Products are available for Direct Home Delivery
Treehouse
Willow
Bunk Bed

BEST DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES SUPPLIER Bluebone Imports

“It’s lovely to be recognised by the Furniture News readers once again, and particularly for the Decorative Accessories category,” says Bluebone Imports’ sales manager, Elaine Anderson.

“Homeware is the beating heart of Bluebone –it’s how we started, and we have always sought the unconventional, and sometimes eccentric designs,” she continues.

“Over the many years we’ve been trading, we’ve consciously developed our furniture collections, focusing on dining, living and garden furniture. However, like so many industries, the perfect storm of pandemic and war, resulting in escalating living costs, has affected the furniturebuying patterns directly.

“In the last 18 months we’ve found the market for larger-ticket furniture purchases to be increasingly fickle, yet the demand for smaller ‘feel-good’ homeware items has remained buoyant.

“We’ve approached our last few sourcing trips with this in mind, and have enjoyed finding some wonderful and talented craftspeople, whose individual skills include glass blowing, wood carving, metal work and painting – and, from this pool of unique talent, we’ve curated our new homeware collections for autumn/winter 2023.

“Fine art canvases feature subtle abstracts,

character portraits, bold New York graffiti and vintage botanicals, and come in variety of sizes, from small 50 x 50cm squares, right up to extralarge 180cm wall panels.

“Molten glass is hand blown directly onto pieces of recycled teak to create our Green Cuisine tableware range, while petrified wood and marble form beautifully tactile decorative links, slices, bowls and bookends.

“Everybody’s favourite wooden ‘drunken duck’ is joined by an equally appealing pair of wooden pigs, and you’ll also find oversize rustic water vessels, pebble tealight holders, beaded chandeliers and teak dome lampshades.

“Throughout the design and development process, we always champion small artisan businesses and craftspeople. We play to their strengths, and in doing so, our homewares retain an individuality and hand-made appeal that sets them apart from the mass market.

“Careful placement of our homewares in-store can draw the eye to an area, and help to create an aesthetic that will resonate with the endconsumer. A fantastic example of this was the collection of painted wooden birds we launched a few years ago. By grouping the collection together, we found there was a greater impact which increased sales from these displays, and generated repeat purchases as customers built their own collections of birds.

“Plans for 2024 include a host of new designs, plus new branding and packaging for our homeware collections. Garden games, outdoor tableware and textiles are all in the pipeline, and we’ll continue to hone our range and provide accessories that will charm and delight,” concludes Elaine.

Bluebone will next exhibit at Long Point in September and Minerva’s Autumn Furniture Show in October. The supplier’s full range of furniture and homewares is also available to view at its showroom in Manchester – contact Bluebone’s office on 0161 330 8959 to book a visit, or arrange it via the website’s booking form.

www.bluebone.co.uk

46 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“We’ve found the demand for smaller ‘feel-good’ homeware items has remained buoyant
0161 3308959 • sales@bluebone.co.uk • www.bluebone.co.uk BEST DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES SUPPLIER INDOOR | OUTDOOR | HOME

BEST FABRIC UPHOLSTERY SUPPLIER

Whitemeadow Furniture

Category winner Whitemeadow is rapidly cementing its hold on a new category with the roll-out of its farmhouse-style Retreat collection, says sales director Dan Oscroft.

“There’s something special about the countryside,” Dan begins. “Its simplicity brings a feeling of calm and reassuring comfort. A modern farmhouse interior pares back the noise, with layered neutrals, natural wood textures and white walls to recreate this feeling of natureinspired minimalism.”

At an in-house show in May, the manufacturer launched its latest farmhouse-inspired collection, Retreat, which consists of three sofa ranges – Burnham, Holme and Thornham.

“Farmhouse has a popular interior style for some time now, but in recent years we’ve seen stylists take a more sophisticated and less cliched approach to it,” Dan continues.

Online resource Houzz reported that appetite for modern farmhouse was rising rapidly, with searches for the phrase up by +135% in 2023, he adds: “We wanted to take our own spin on this by creating a collection that embodies all

the characteristics which customers love about farmhouse – being simple, rustic and natural –but adding some modern elements to it through both product design details and fabric. We’re constantly on the lookout for new sources of inspiration and trends to tap into. We think this is something our customers really look to us for.”

Taking colour palette inspiration from nature, the new Retreat collection features a fabric swatch offering of soft naturals and chalky colours in a variety of qualities, including soft cottons and linens, as well as a wipeable chenille which features Aquaclean anti-stain technology.

Whitemeadow’s design director Paul Ainley comments: “We’ve been hugely successful and built a strong reputation for our designs in the contemporary category in recent years, which features lots of bold pops of colour and high legs, so with Retreat we wanted to launch a much softer colour palette and shapes which customers just want to sink into. We’ve used really high-quality fillings to create a super-soft sit that’s fitting of the relaxed handwriting of this look.”

The Retreat collection is the fifth category in Whitemeadow’s product catalogue, adding to its existing Contemporary, Lounge, Statement and Everyday lines.

Dan concludes: “As a white-label manufacturer, we’re always looking at ways to package up our offer to add more value to our customers. By dividing up our product offering into categories, we hope to make buying decisions easier for our retailers, with clear definition on the style void and target customer that the product is aimed at. We’re really excited to see how the Retreat collection lands.”

www.whitemeadow.com

48 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“We’re constantly on the lookout for new sources of inspiration and trends to tap into
Burnham range, featuring stain-resistant Aquaclean fabric Holme sofa range, featuring layered naturals and soft textures Thornham
Explore our farmhouse-inspired collection... www.whitemeadow.com INTRODUCING RETREAT

BEST FLATPACK FURNITURE SUPPLIER Core Products

“Following on from our success in last year’s awards, it’s great to be recognised again by Furniture News readers, and everyone at Core really appreciates the recognition,” comments director Stuart Wallace.

Since it was formed in 1986, Core has become one of the country’s leading suppliers of furniture designed for easy assembly – either in-store or home. Most of the supplier’s products are designed and developed by the business, which concentrates on the local market, ensuring the products’ styles, materials, finishes and, importantly, sizes, are uniquely tailored to the UK consumer.

Core Products’ portfolio is synonymous with pine furniture, which still forms a big part of the business’ sales – even more so with today’s greater emphasis on the use of natural and sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.

Corona remains a customer favourite, with ever-evolving styles and finishes keeping the design fresh and appealing. Core’s Corona features real dovetail drawers, a selling feature which puts it a cut above the rest – and as openplan living has gained popularity, the addition of more casual dining pieces to the collection has further boosted its popularity.

The on-trend, modern-industrial styling of the Augusta and Texas pine ranges, meanwhile, are ideal for small-space living, while the country pine look of Cotswold promises to appeal to more traditional tastes.

Painted furniture remains a popular consumer choice, says Core, as it so effortlessly blends with most decors. Contemporary furniture is also well

catered for – Core’s Lido collection features a high-gloss white finish, and includes a collection of products which are ideal for modern starter homes where space is at such a premium.

Those seeking interesting pieces ideal for open-plan room styling and made from hardwearing, easy-to-clean finishes to withstand everyday family use, may also find Core’s contemporary and modern living collections appealing. Aspen offers a selection of compact dining pieces with tapered-edge dining tables and a selection of easy-to-clean plastic – or upholstered – dining chairs.

More traditional furniture designs are also well catered for in Core’s Highland Home collection, which features a variety of wood and painted finishes, all designed to be easy to build. Boston, finished in a dark lacquer with antique-effect metal drop handles, is a firm favourite.

Core Products’ dedicated trade website allows 24/7 access to the full portfolio of product information, pricing, stock availability and ordering, with delivery to the store or express delivery direct to the customer’s home. With such a wide variety of styles and finishes catered for, it is little surprise that Core Products is again the winner of this award.

50 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
www.coreproducts.co.uk
“Everyone at Core really appreciates the recognition
Aspen dining table and chair collection
Corona white bedroom collection Texas casual living collection
Boston dark wood collection
WINNERS BEST FLATPACK FURNITURE SUPPLIER 2022 & 2023 Think outside the box. 01738 630 555 sales@coreproducts.co.uk www.coreproducts.co.uk You sell it, we deliver it, direct to your customers’ door.

BEST FOR SUSTAINABLE THINKING Hypnos Beds

Offering comfort with integrity is a fundamental part of the Hypnos business – the brand consistently delivers luxurious mattresses, utilising responsibly sourced materials which have been handmade to suit individual requirements.

Soon to be celebrating its 120th year, this proud British mattress manufacturer has a pioneering approach to sustainable bedmaking, with the use of natural fibres being an integral part. This is highlighted through Hypnos’ recent industry award wins, including this Furniture News Readers’ Choice Award, as well as recognition at the recent Best of the Organic Market (BOOM) Awards, organised by organic certifier, the Soil Association, where Hypnos’ Organic collection won the Best of Organic Market Award within the awards’ Home category.

This year, Hypnos was the first UK brand – in any industry – to introduce British wool certified to the globally recognised Responsible Wool Standard from British assured farms. This further highlights the brand’s long-standing commitment to ethical supply chains, with a traceable wool scheme that prioritises land management, animal welfare and fair trade in the UK.

Hypnos is also developing new innovations through research projects which focus on plantbased solutions. Last year it was recognised by the National Bed Federation (NBF) and given a Bed Component of the Year award for its new nettle fibre comfort layer, which is sourced from

a social initiative in the Nepalese Himalayas and boasts impressive environmental and ethical credentials.

Of course, there are many different aspects that need to be considered to find the true cost of a good night’s sleep, says Hypnos – including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution, inequality, and circularity when it comes to recycling: “The key to any sustainability strategy, especially for a bed and mattress company, should be wellness for people and the planet – providing durability,

together with the best possible sleep quality. Investing in a high-quality mattress or bed which lasts is key for smart consumers, as well as the environment.”

Hypnos offers a range of specifications within its mattress range – after all, says the bedmaker, no two people are the same, so a one-size-fits-all sleep solution is not possible.

As a fifth-generation, family-owned business, Hypnos’ mission is to inspire everyone to sleep more sustainably, making comfortable, stylish beds responsibly, while making a positive environmental and social impact.

From continually reducing its carbon footprint to establishing ethical partnerships, sustainability and CSR is embedded within the business. Hypnos’ ongoing partnership with the Eden Project unifies the entities’ like-minded approach to community support, sustainable living education and sustainable product design, and, with its dedicated sustainability team, Hypnos is committed to being at the forefront of responsible bedmaking.

www.hypnosbeds.com

52 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“The key to any sustainability strategy should be wellness for people and the planet
Hypnos scored at the recent Best of the Organic Market (BOOM) Awards
hypnosbeds.com Carbon Neutral | Inspired by Nature | 100% Recyclable In partnership with
™ Handcrafting the ultimate in luxury mattresses and bed collections since 1904. Sustainably made with uniquely traceable, award-winning fibres because great sleep shouldn’t cost the Earth.
Comfort with Integrity

BEST FULFILMENT PROVIDER

Rhenus Home Delivery (UK)

“Having been voted Best Fulfilment Provider by the readers of Furniture News for the third year in a row is such an honour for us,” says sales director, Gavin Boden. “To be voted for by the readers means so much, because they are the people our service impacts every day.”

The UK arm of global logistics giant Rhenus Home Delivery has enjoyed another year of growth and rapid development, and achieving its third consecutive category win is a particularly proud moment for Gavin.

“From being in the furniture industry since I left school and dealing with consumers every day for the last 35 years, I know how critical it is to provide an excellent experience for them,” he explains.

“Most of the products we deliver are highticket products, with an emotional level higher than most other purchases. Therefore, we take great care to ensure each experience is a positive one, and that every customer is satisfied with their delivery. We go the extra mile to make sure that our customers’ needs are met, and that they know we are always happy to help. For me, receiving this award again signifies we have achieved a certain level of excellence, and that makes me very proud.”

Rhenus Home Delivery UK specialises in furniture delivery, and strives to ensure its customers enjoy a positive experience. “We have over 20 years of experience in the home delivery market, and have specialised in furniture for most of this time,” says Gavin. “We work with many big-name clients who have their own unique requirements and demands, and we pride ourselves on our ability to exceed those expectations.

“By refining our communication methods over the years, we’ve minimised wait times and ‘not home’ deliveries, while at the same time transitioning from dedicated delivery slots to choice-of-day delivery – to now offer nextday delivery – all contributing to an exemplary customer experience.”

Since opening its 260,000ft2 facility in Magna Park, Lutterworth – “contact us for a tour”, Gavin interjects – Rhenus is now able to offer next-day delivery on 95% of all UK deliveries, and provide tailored storage solutions for furniture retailers and manufacturers. It has also introduced its purpose-built training academy, The Academy of Excellence, which includes a mock-house with realistic staircase, lounge, bedroom and assembly zone. And there is much more in pipeline, says Gavin.

“Retailers have historically looked at the two-person home delivery market with the aim

of finding the ‘best of a bad bunch’. The Rhenus Home Delivery UK team strives to be the best delivery partner within the UK, by providing the best service levels and fastest deliveries, as well as growing alongside our valued clients. As we expand our final-mile delivery hubs over the next three years, we’ll expand our delivery network, grow our own Rhenus fleet and continue to focus on training and development.”

www.rhenus.group/uk/en/supply-chainsolutions/home-delivery/

54 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“Receiving this award again signifies we have achieved a certain level of excellence
Rhenus’ new 260,000ft 2 facility in Magna Park Rhenus now boasts its own purpose-built training academy The win is Rhenus’ third in this category

BEST FURNITURE CARE/REPAIR PROVIDER Emmiera Group

“The whole team at Emmiera are delighted to have won this award,” says James Lane, CEO of Emmiera Group (previously Homeserve Furniture Repairs), “as we continue to provide the best care and repair service in the UK.”

Scoring its third consecutive win in this category, Emmiera Group has again affirmed its position as the industry’s repair partner of choice.

Having started out in 2004 as a ‘man-in-a-van’ operation, James Lane’s business has come a long way. Today, the repair specialist employs over 250 members of staff, and visits over 300,000 customers each year.

The name ‘Emmiera’ is a tribute to James daughters, and he says it signifies “the importance we place on family values and the relationships we’ve cultivated with our partners, clients, and our remarkable team of staff”.

It also reflects the group’s increasingly diverse remit. Emmiera Group offers a comprehensive suite of services, including furniture repair, insurance solutions, commercial re-upholstery and product supplies, care product supply, and property repairs. Future expansion will also encompass facilities management and recycling.

“The business has been FCA registered for over 14 years, and furniture insurance has been a huge area of growth,” adds James, who is looking forward to the possibilities in the pipeline. “Our commitment to excellence, reliability and customer satisfaction remains unwavering, and we’re eager to extend these principles to new sectors. Together, we can

forge a path of growth, success, and mutual benefit. Our team of experts is available to discuss your specific requirements, and design tailored solutions that align with your business objectives.”

Over the years, the business has built a strong reputation within the furniture repair industry –and while furniture repairs will continue to be at its core, there is doubtless much more to come from this popular trade partner.

Emmiera Group can be reached by calling 01384 473000.

www.emmieragroup.com

56 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“Our commitment to excellence, reliability and customer satisfaction remains unwavering, and we’re eager to extend these principles to new sectors
James Lane
HQ
Emmiera Group’s Dudley
THE UK’S MOST COMPETITIVE PRICING
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BEST GARDEN/OUTDOOR FURNITURE SUPPLIER Gallery Direct

“We would like to thank everyone who voted for us – we are honoured to have won the award,” says Gallery’s sales and product director, Peter Delaney. “It’s fabulous to be recognised by the readers, it makes it really special.”

“Carole Nolan, our category manager for outdoor furniture, has done a fantastic job developing our outdoor offering since she joined us in 2021,” Peter continues. “She’s worked extremely hard, along with the rest of the team, to bring such a varied and exciting range of products to market in such a short time. Our 2023 collection has been incredibly successful, and 2024 is looking even more exciting.”

Gallery’s 2023 collection offered a vast range of products, and while some are now sold out until next year, for customers looking for stock now, there is still a good selection available for quick delivery.

Visitors to Gallery’s recent Outdoor Living @ Home event (see p10) had a chance to preview the supplier’s 2024 collection, which has been developed to offer not only an impressive selection of products, but also a range of price points to accommodate all budgets, including some “incredible-value” pieces and sets. The collection includes a wide selection of items, from sun loungers and bistro sets to entire lounge and dining sets, featuring eye-catching colours and a variety of materials (including some refreshing combinations).

Some of the tables feature a built-in fire pit, and Gallery also offers a selection of freestanding fire pits and chimineas, enabling the outdoor area to be enjoyed for longer, on cooler days, or when the sun goes down.

The chimineas feature a pizza shelf for added functionality, and Gallery offers a separate wood pellet-fired pizza oven for those who like to cook outdoors.

For even more flexibility for the outdoor area, Gallery’s Messina pergola features roof louvres which tilt open to allow the sunshine in, or close to give a watertight roof which offers shade and cover from the rain.

To complement the furniture, Gallery offers mirrors, lighting and solar lanterns, accessories and textiles, so ambience, interest and character can be added to garden areas.

These lines are just part of Gallery’s extensive catalogue, which offers over 6000 items and also features furniture, made-to-order upholstery, beds and mattresses, accessories, textiles, lighting and wall decor.

All of Gallery’s current products are listed on the supplier’s website, where customers can easily check availability, place and track orders, and access their invoice history. Stock is held in the UK ready for quick delivery by Gallery’s in-house transport team.

58 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
www.gallerydirect.co.uk
“It’s fabulous to be recognised by the readers, it makes it really special
Messina pergola Lamezia bistro set Sovera dining set

BEST OUTDOOR FURNITURE SUPPLIER

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve won Best Outdoor Furniture Supplier in the Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards 2023.

A huge thank you to everyone who nominated us, it is fantastic to have our hard work and quality products recognised and rewarded with this award and by everyone who voted.

Leading by Design is key to our ethos across all our product categories, offering a wide range of styles to give customers choice to suit their client base, as well as putting key looks together to help select products that work well.

View our full collection online at www.gallerydirect.co.uk Scan the QR code for more 

BEST HOME OFFICE FURNITURE SUPPLIER Jual Furnishings

“The whole team at Jual are honoured to receive this award for the second consecutive year, and we would like to thank everyone who voted for us,” says director Julie Powell.

“This award confirms that we are continuing to supply the right product, at the right price, with the right level of service, keeping Jual at the forefront of our customers’ minds – and we will continue to deliver first-class customer service, along with first-class products, for next-day delivery when required.”

The demand for home office furniture has persisted beyond the long Covid-19 period, and it is still a need in most households, says Julie: “This is why we ensure we cover every gap in the market, from smart desks to space-saving desks to modern home office – and now our new height-adjustable desk.”

Jual’s San Francisco smart desk, launched in 2019, continues to be the supplier’s bestselling product across the country. “Developing the range with customer needs in mind is what we will continue to do,” adds Julie.

“But we are not only known for our home office supply – our lounge collections are just as popular. This year brings new finishes, new materials, and new styles at affordable costs.

“The Auckland collection brings simplicity, along with a touch of class – black wooden veneer, with the elegance of brass legs, to create a sophisticated and timeless look. Its contrasting colours work together to create a striking visual appeal that is sure to make a statement in any room.

“And, adding to the Siena Collection, the new marble coffee table and side table is a luxurious choice for any living space.”

www.jualfurnishings.co.uk

60 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“This award confirms that we are continuing to supply the right product, at the right price, with the right level of service
San Francisco height-adjustable desk, in an oak finish
Siena walnut and marble nested tables
NEXTDAY DELIVERY NOMOQ SUSTAINABLY SOURCED REALWOOD VENEER UniquelyDesignedFurniture. V i e w t h e f u l l c o l l e c t i o n a t w w w . j u a l f u r n i s h i n g s . c o . u k NEWLY DESIGNED FURNITURE.

BEST IMPORTER Wiemann

Topping the vote for Best Importer crowns a successful year to date for German bedroom manufacturer, Wiemann …

Wiemann opened 2023 with a win in The Furniture Awards (delivered by Furniture News and the January Furniture Show), heading up the Global Player category, and says that busy trade shows with popular new products and bursting order books followed on during the spring.

The company’s new-for-2023 VIP range, Denver, is the hit of the year so far. The eyecatching collection, with its unique deckingstyle panel, offers versatility and striking looks. A sliding and hinged wardrobe, it is available in a range of bestselling finishes and, with options for outer or centre doors in matching or contrasting colours, the range gives a variety of bold or subtle finishes to suit every bedroom. Every Denver finish combination gives a different look, demonstrating the flexibility of this product.

Versatility is a central theme for Wiemann wardrobes. Slider range, Miami, and hinged choice, Tampa, come in plenty of colourways and are enjoying strong sales this year given their outstanding value for money, says Wiemann. Monaco, a VIP choice which comes in “virtually any variation imaginable, suiting any style of bedroom”, is also a market leader for Wiemann.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “This award is special to us because it has been decided by a readers’ poll. To be chosen by a popular vote proves that we’re heading in the right direction with our product range and

customer service. We are absolutely delighted and very grateful to everyone who voted.”

Kai Schwenke, Wiemann’s UK and Ireland export sales manager, adds: “The whole team, both in the UK and Germany, greatly values the endorsement, and would like to thank all those who supported us. We’re now looking forward to more of the same – and better – for the rest of the year and beyond.”

The next chance to see Wiemann will be at

Long Point (18-20th September), the NBF Bed Show (26-27th September) and the Autumn Furniture Show (3rd-4th October). In addition, Wiemann operates from two permanent showrooms, in Harlow, Essex, and Long Eaton, Derbyshire, and appointments to view at them can be made by emailing enquiries@ wiemannuk.co.uk.

www.wiemannuk.co.uk

“To be chosen by a popular vote proves that we’re heading in the right direction
Wiemann’s team Monaco
62 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
Denver in graphite/bianco oak

Stunning bedroom solutions from Wiemann

Denver in champagne

Bedrooms of distinctive style, quality and value

made in germany

enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk | www.wiemannuk.co.uk

BEST INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION

Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF)

“Thank you from MIFF! Thank you to the readers of Furniture News for your generous support in naming the Malaysian International Furniture Fair the Best International Exhibition (outside Europe) in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards,” states the show’s organiser.

“We’re grateful for the tremendous support of the global furniture industry, exhibitors and visitors in helping MIFF make a strong recovery in 2023. We look forward to welcoming everyone back at MIFF 2024 (1st-4th March), where we’re thrilled to celebrate our 30 years of excellence,

innovation and diversity in the global furniture trade industry. “Our focus remains on delivering good-quality growth, to reinforce MIFF as the best trading platform for our customers.”

www.miff.com.my

64 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

Renowned for its intuitive approach to providing innovative solutions for the problems that manufacturers experience, automated machinery manufacturer MattressTek has seen rapid growth in the past few years, and has been recognised for its international trade and export pursuits.

As a leader in the design, build, testing and installation of a variety of machines used in the manufacturing and processing of beds, mattresses and components, MattressTek knew that it was a logical move to cater to foam, spring and materials handlers, as it is seeing increasing

demand to move such components across its facilities. With success in America, Mexico, Europe and Australia, it will be interesting to see what is next in the company’s development.

www.mattresstek.co.uk

MattressTek 65 (404) 981-2676 Exclusive US agent AUTOMATION MACHINERY EXPERTS +44 (0) 1282 479922 | SALES@MATTRESSTEK.CO.UK HM Tek Enhanced Accuracy Handle Maker AUTOMAT INTRODUCING H-UB Tek Horizontal Spring Unbaler SEWING | SLITTING | PRESSING | LAYERING | STUFFING | STACKING | ROTATING | FLIPPING to streamline and automate production, increase capacity, reduce downtime, save time, prevent bottlenecks and maximize output. 1/2 page landscape.indd 1 14/07/2023 10:40
BEST MACHINERY MANUFACTURER

BEST LEATHER/LEATHER-LOOK UPHOLSTERY SUPPLIER

La-Z-Boy UK

Genuine leathers, a range of finishes and on-trend colours have helped La-Z-Boy UK win this prestigious award, which was voted for by Furniture News’ readers …

The iconic furniture brand has already enjoyed a successful year of expansion and growth, adding new products and upholstery options to its collections – and the award win is the icing on the cake, says head of marketing and operations, Adam Morley: “We are thrilled to receive this award, and the fact it is voted for by readers of the magazine makes the achievement even more special.

“I’d like to thank all the Furniture News readers who voted for La-Z-Boy UK for their recognition and support. The accolade is testament to the hard work of all the team members within La-Z-Boy who work tirelessly to bring highquality products to market for the benefit of our customers.

“At La-Z-Boy UK, we only ever use genuine leather in our upholstery, and the quality speaks for itself. We offer different surface finishes and grades to suit individual preferences, and we always try to keep on top of trends and refresh

our collections with fresh new colours.

“Our new leather option, Calda, which is most competitive to date, shows our commitment to giving our customers choice so they can personalise our products to suit their own needs and taste.”

Over the last 12 months, the La-Z-Boy team has been reestablishing the brand’s presence at trade shows, meeting retailers and buyers and showcasing the latest products. Earlier this year, two new collections – Paris and Lennox – were unveiled at the January Furniture Show, along with an expanded range of upholstery options,

including the new Calda leather.

La-Z-Boy UK has also continued a number of successful partnerships, including sponsorship of Burnley FC. For the second year running, the brand is the NFL’s official furniture partner for the London Games, where a number of highprofile American football teams play key fixtures in London.

“Business is going from strength to strength following the January Furniture Show, which was our best to date with sales and new retailers,” continues Adam. “We’ve already started gearing up for the next January Furniture Show, where we’ll be launching a number of exclusive new ranges.

“We’re currently launching the first La-Z-Boy UK sofabed, which will be sold within ScS stores. And, after the success of our new competitively priced upholstery options – Calda leather and Anivia fabric – we’re in the process of developing a number of new and exciting upholsteries to add to our collections in the future.”

The La-Z-Boy team is also working on further developing the augmented reality (AR) features on the brand’s website, which enable customers to see products in different colourways, leathers and fabrics, and envision how their choice will look in their home. The supplier is currently looking at ways this popular feature can be improved to give customers and website visitors an even better online experience. www.la-z-boy.co.uk

66 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“At La-Z-Boy UK, we only ever use genuine leather in our upholstery, and the quality speaks for itself
Oslo
Paris Otta

Vienna - Classic good looks and compact sizing designed for modern living. Style is an understatement, with contemporary detailing and a selection of exclusive fabric textures and patterns, as well as our full fabric and leather collection. Vienna is available as a static or a power sensor touch reclining suite.

www.la-z-boy.co.uk

Vienna

BEST LIGHTING SUPPLIER där lighting group

“We are delighted that the readers have chosen där as their leading lighting supplier,” enthuses Peter Legg, product and brand manager of the group’s där and House brands …

Designing with British homes of all shapes and sizes in mind, där’s product designers produce over 200 new designs each year.

Today, 50 years since its inception, där continues to offer the latest designs of expertly designed lights. This year sees the evolution of där’s Mix and Match lighting range, which enables stockists and end-users to build thousands of variations of lighting styles, utilising numerous glass and frame options.

After working closely to design and manufacture lighting and mirrors for Laura Ashley, där has also signed an exclusive licence agreement to manufacture and distribute Laura Ashley lighting, which has been “a delight for our stockists” says Peter, adding that the range continues to grow alongside the main där brand.

From the beginning, the brand’s ethos has been to offer lighting stockists the latest trends, ensuring a high level of quality through rigorous design standards, testing and QC – while ensuring its maintains a level of both stock and service across its extensive catalogue (numbering over 2000 products, and constantly updated).

“All these elements mean our stockists are confident that they’ll receive a high-quality, well-designed product within days – and, in most cases, by the next day,” says Peter. “We’re so glad that our products are brightening people’s interiors!”

www.darlighting.co.uk

68 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“We’re so glad our products are brightening people’s interiors!

experts in lighting

LIGHTING, FURNITURE & MIRRORS
Available through stockists and online darlighting.co.uk

WINNER

Best Mattress Supplier

“To win this award is a real honour. We couldn’t be prouder to be recognised by our customers on this occasion.

We feel this is testament to the hard work and expertise of the entire team.

We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to our retailer partners for voting for us, and for your continued support.”

The Heart and Soul of Sleep

BEST OCCASIONAL CHAIR/RECLINER SUPPLIER

Hydeline Furniture

“We are delighted to receive the award for Best Occasional Chair/Recliner Supplier. It is the collective ambition and effort from across our business that ensures we gain such recognition from the industry,” says MD Jonathan Burrage.

“We pride ourselves on being experts in innovation and comfort. Combining technology, superior performance and perfect craftsmanship, there’s nothing better than a Hydeline recliner!

“There’s an exciting year ahead for Hydeline, and we have a lot to focus on. With Hydeline

recliners gaining store listings, the imminent launch of our Lounge Chair Collection and our new and extended fabric offerings, we truly believe we are offering our customers incredible choice, and this award reflects that.”

www.hydeline.co.uk

72 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
Verona
Congratulations to this year's winners! Furniture News is pleased to reveal the definitive roster of your favourite suppliers, manufacturers and service providers Our Readers’ Choice Awards will return in 2024!
Verona

INTRODUCING HIGHLAND

& MALVERN

INTRODUCING HIGHLAND & MALVERN

Two new fabric collections, now available across all Hydeline models. As shown below, Cascade 2.5-seater in Malvern Oat.

Two new fabric collections, now available across all Hydeline models. As shown below, Cascade 2.5-seater in Malvern Oat.

For more information, please contact your local Regional Area Manager or Head Office on 01908 968228

For more information, please contact your local Regional Area Manager or Head Office on 01908 968228

“I’m absolutely delighted that we have been awarded this accolade,” says MD Paul Aiston. “This is a great honour for us, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team.

“We are proud to have been nominated by our customers and to have received this award, which recognises our excellence in this category. We are committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products and exceptional customer service, and this award is a validation of our efforts.

“We would like to thank our customers and partners for their continued support, and for recognising our commitment to such excellence. We could not have achieved this without your trust and loyalty.

“We will continue to work hard to maintain our position as the leading provider of furniture warranties and mattress protection products, and to exceed your expectations. Thank you again for your support, and for being a part of our success!”

www.staingard.co.uk

74 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS Go to staingard.co.uk or call 01244 888 658 to learn more about how Staingard’s comprehensive furniture care products can enhance your consumer experience and your margins. Thank you for awarding us Best Product Protection Supplier in the Furniture News Awards! Award Winning Home
FURNITURE CARE & REPAIR LEATHER CARE & REPAIR
Care
SUPPLIER Staingard
BEST PRODUCT PROTECTION

BEST SALES/MARKETING SERVICES PROVIDER Furniture Sales Solutions

“Dear Furniture News readers, on behalf of the entire team at Furniture Sales Solutions, I’d like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support and the honour of winning your votes,” says MD Adam Hankinson.

“Being recognised as the leading sales training company in the furniture industry for the third year running means the world to us. It reinforces our commitment to excellence and inspires us to continue delivering exceptional services to our valued clients.

“Winning this prestigious award signifies the trust and confidence that you, the readers, have placed in us.

“We are immensely grateful for your recognition, as it validates our relentless dedication to helping furniture retailers thrive and excel in their sales endeavours.

“Success, for us, is not just measured by financial gains, but also by the positive impact we make in the lives of the salespeople and businesses we serve.

“Over the past year we’ve remained steadfast in our mission to empower sales teams with

the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to elevate their sales performance. In response to the evolving landscape of retail, we are thrilled to introduce our revamped online sales training platform, designed to be the ultimate salesperson-friendly and effective resource.

“Our new platform features short, effective videos that are intentionally designed to be watched every single work day. These bitesized video lessons can be easily accessed and dipped into whenever a salesperson encounters a particular challenge or seeks guidance with a specific aspect of their sales process. Whether accessed via the web or our free app, this flexible training approach allows salespeople to enhance their skills at their own pace and convenience without ever having to leave the store.

“We firmly believe that continuous improvement is the key to sales success. Our online sales training platform provides a dynamic and engaging learning experience. It offers practical insights, actionable techniques, and industry best practices that have been

meticulously crafted to address the unique needs of furniture retailers and their sales teams.

“What sets us apart from our competitors is our deep understanding and years of experience in the furniture retail sector, and our unwavering commitment to its success.

“We understand the unique challenges faced by furniture retailers and are dedicated to providing tailored training solutions that drive tangible results.

“Once again, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to Furniture News and its readers for granting us this incredible honour. We are truly grateful for the recognition and support. Our commitment to empowering furniture retailers to unlock their sales potential and achieve remarkable success remains steadfast. With our revamped online sales training platform and continuous dedication to our clients, we firmly believe that the future holds exciting possibilities for both our team and the retailers we have the privilege to work with.” www.furnituresalessolutions.com

75

BEST SOFABED SUPPLIER

Kyoto

“We’re extremely grateful to the readers who voted for us,” says MD Nick Cancea. “Winning this award really means the world to us, and serves as validation for the hard work and dedication our team puts into every aspect of our business.”

Over the past year, Kyoto has focused on expanding its product range, improving its manufacturing processes, and providing the best possible customer service. It also relaunched its website, changing the way trade customers can interact with the brand by giving them the ability to view stock in real time and place orders at their convenience. The user-friendly platform has features which also enable customers to download product images and product information with ease.

“We’re continuously developing new and exciting products for the market, and we have several innovative sofabed designs in the pipeline that combine functionality, comfort and contemporary aesthetics,” Nick continues.

“We’re also exploring partnerships to enhance our distribution channels and reach a wider audience. Our aim is to provide even more options and versatility to our customers, ensuring we can be the best strategic partner for their business needs.”

Over the past five years, Kyoto’s team has made significant strides in establishing the business as a brand, and increasing awareness of its offering, adds Nick: “We have stayed true to our strengths, further developing our product range with our own distinctive signature.

“We offer a wide range of customisation options on our made-to-order products, allowing customers to personalise their sofabeds to suit their target markets. Our exceptional customer service, timely delivery and competitive pricing further contribute to our success.

“We’re immensely grateful to the readers of Furniture News for naming us the Best Sofabed Supplier 2023. This recognition validates our expertise and hard work. As we expand our product range across various furniture categories, we invite everyone to stay tuned and watch this space. Thank you for your support and trust!” www.kyoto.co.uk

76 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“This recognition validates our expertise and hard work
Kyoto’s team is ready to tackle the next challenge Juno sofabed in cream boucle
Blaire two-seater pop-up sofabed in burnt orange

With over 25 years of industry experience, Kyoto offers a comprehensive range of services including design and development, manufacturing, and sourcing.

We take pride in being an extension of our customers’ teams, providing a professional approach that ensures exceptional service and satisfaction.

Discover why Kyoto is the trusted wholesaler for all your furniture needs. Visit Our Website www.kyoto.co.uk

®

T: 01778 380555

E: sales@kyoto.co.uk DEEPING ST JAMESENGLAND

BEST SOFT FURNISHINGS SUPPLIER Scatter Box

“On behalf of Scatter Box, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for your overwhelming support and votes in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards,” says Caroline Horgan, CEO and owner of Scatter Box. “Winning the title of Best Soft Furnishings Supplier for the second consecutive year is an incredible honour for both myself, and our entire team.”

“Being recognised by the readers of this esteemed trade magazine means the world to us,” Caroline continues. “It serves as a testament to the hard work, dedication and passion that our team puts into crafting and delivering exceptional soft furnishings. We strive to provide our customers with the highest-quality products that combine luxury, comfort, and style.

“Winning this award not only fills us with a sense of pride, but also reaffirms our commitment to excellence in the industry. It motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation in our designs, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of the soft furnishings market.”

Over the past year, Scatter Box has embarked on an impressive journey of growth, demonstrating its resilience despite the challenging circumstances that the world has faced.

“Throughout this year, we’ve continued to expand our product range, introducing new and exciting designs that embody our commitment to luxury and quality,” Caroline continues. “We’ve also strengthened our partnerships with suppliers and retailers, ensuring that our products reach a wider audience and are available in more locations.

“In February, we made a fantastic return to the Ambiente fair after a two-year hiatus due to Covid. As a result, we were able to secure a new distributor in Taiwan and Vietnam. And our customer base has notably increased in Germany, where we are stocked in prestigious stores such as Kösters and Ideenreich.”

The award win reaffirms the position of Scatter Box as a leading brand in the luxury soft furnishings industry, known for its commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and stylish designs. “We’ve built a strong foundation of loyal customers who appreciate the luxury and comfort our products bring to their homes,” says Caroline.

Looking ahead, the business is continuously working on expanding its exclusive product offer to cater to evolving customer needs and preferences. “We have exciting new products in development that will further enhance our range of soft furnishings,” says Caroline. “In the world of home interiors, trends tend to evolve at a slower pace compared to the fast-moving fashion industry. However, one area where we have witnessed notable changes is in soft furnishings, where we have observed a growing demand for mixing textures.

“One significant shift we’ve noticed is the introduction of durable fabrics like Aqua clean. This innovation has revolutionised the way people approach their choice of soft furnishings, particularly for sofas. With the assurance of easy cleaning and maintenance, customers have become more inclined to select lighter colours for their sofas. This shift has, in turn, influenced a move towards more luxurious and lighter soft furnishings.

“In the near future, you can expect to see the introduction of new cushion designs featuring innovative patterns, textures and colour palettes. We are also working on introducing a luxurious versatile outdoor cushion collection to provide our customers with even more options to create stylish and inviting outdoor and indoor spaces.

“Our commitment to sustainability remains a top priority, and we are actively exploring ways to incorporate more eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes into our products. We understand the importance of reducing our environmental footprint, and aim to offer sustainable options without compromising on quality or style.

“Furthermore, we’ve started our digital journey, in order to adapt to the changing retail landscape. We’ll be enhancing our online presence and investing in technology to provide an even better shopping experience for our customers.”

Scatter Box, believes that several factors contributed to the business topping the category, such as: its commitment to luxury and quality, from the selection of premium materials to meticulous craftsmanship; being handmade in Ireland, the products benefit from a close eye on the manufacturing process but a personal touch to each piece; an extensive range of designs which caters to diverse tastes and styles, from classic and timeless to modern and contemporary patterns; going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction and comprehensive marketing support; and competitive pricing, despite positioning itself as a luxury brand.

“By excelling in these areas, we differentiate ourselves from our competitors and offer an unparalleled experience to our customers,” Caroline concludes. “It is this combination of luxury, quality, craftsmanship, exceptional customer service and competitive pricing that sets Scatter Box apart in the industry.”

www.scatterbox.ie/scatterbox

78 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“Winning this award not only fills us with a sense of pride, but also reaffirms our commitment to excellence in the industry
Caroline Horgan The Scatter Box team at Abbeylands Furniture
Proud winners of the best ‘Soft Furnishings Supplier’ category in the Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards 2023 www.scatterbox.ie This is to certify that SCATTER BOX has been selected by the readers of Furniture News magazine as the winner in the BEST SOFT FURNISHINGS SUPPLIER category for 2023 Paul Farley Paul Farley, Editor-in-Chief, Furniture News

BEST SOFTWARE/TECHNOLOGY PROVIDER Iconography

Category winner Iconography is proud to be working with some of the most successful furniture retailers in the UK – helping them develop effective and profitable ecommerce websites.

In recent years, after consultation with a number of independent furniture retailers, Iconography has set about resolving one of the key issues they face – the source of the problems being the integration between the ecommerce website and the legacy retail management software they are using.

“Integrations can cause many day-to-day operational problems and impact business in numerous ways – causing friction, delay and errors in lead times, stock and customer order processing, and duplicating effort (managing data in multiple places and reliance on disjointed processes),” says Iconography director, Wayne Robbins.

“For retailers striving to be agile, effective and proficient online and in their store-based operations, a new approach is now available. We’ve developed a complete web-based

platform to manage and facilitate all aspects of furniture retailing – selling online, in-store and all associated back office operations.”

Wayne says Iconography’s Omnis solution enables furniture retailers to effectively sell online, in-store and via phone from one platform, through a single coherent system, powering selling, order processing and all associated back office retail management activity and reporting.

It provides: award-winning ecommerce; intuitive EPoS; comprehensive product catalogue

Effective & efficient omnichannel retailing

and inventory management; central omnichannel sales order management and processing; efficient back-to-back purchase order management; robust warehouse management and accurate stock control; intelligent incoming and outgoing delivery management; insightful CRM; tailored omnichannel marketing and promotions management; and reporting in real time.

www.iconography.co.uk/furniture

80 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
A new, unified retail ecosystem
+ Enterprise eCommerce + EPoS + CRM + Retail Operations Management

BEST TRADE ASSOCIATION National Bed Federation (NBF)

“Winning this accolade is a testament to the hard work of our small but mighty team, which recently welcomed our new executive director, Tristine Hargreaves,” says the NBF’s head of marketing and membership, Simon Williams.

“We continuously strive to improve our support offer for our members and the wider trade. We stay ahead of the game with our dedicated sustainability support, keep members up to date with new standards, and regularly survey

them for feedback on improving our services.

“The NBF is unrivalled in the bed sector because we are solely dedicated to UK- and Irelandbased bed manufacturers and their suppliers. Similarly, the Bed Show is solely dedicated to the bed trade. We encourage qualifying manufacturers and suppliers to get in touch for an informal chat about joining our fantastic trade association.”

www.bedfed.org.uk

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BEST TESTING SERVICES/CERTIFICATION PROVIDER

FIRA International

Celebrating its third consecutive win in this category, Howard James, FIRA International’s testing and technical manager, says: “The entire team at FIRA International are delighted to have won! We thank all our customers and Furniture News’ readers for again taking the time to vote for us.”

“This win in 2023 is even sweeter,” Howard continues, “as it follows previous successes in the same category achieved in 2022 and 2021. We are grateful to be recognised once again by the furniture sector.

“To celebrate this third win, we have some activities planned to thank our testing and certification experts this week, as without their dedication and support, we couldn’t deliver our breadth of services and support the sector.

“Over the last 12 months (since the 2022 award win), the FIRA International team celebrated our first anniversary in our new, custom-built 17,000ft2 testing site, which opened in November 2021. If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to see the new facility first-hand, please do get in touch with us, and we’ll arrange a tour.

“We also expanded our UKAS accreditation to include testing to four additional standards: BS EN 17191:2021 Children’s Furniture. Seating for children. Safety requirements and test

methods (excluding section 7 and 8); BS EN 16121:2013+A1:2017 Non-domestic storage furniture. Requirements for safety, strength, durability and stability; IS 254:1983: Flame resistance requirements for upholstery; and finally, IS 419:2011 Fire Safety Requirements for components of furniture.

“Aside from a comprehensive range of testing and certification services, FIRA International also support the furniture sector with ergonomic services, training, specialist technical advice and auditing.

“Furthermore, as the service provider to the Furniture Industry Research Association, our experts undertake all activities on behalf of the association, from supporting members with technical expertise to authoring all their guides and publications.

“We recently expanded the association’s technical offering by hosting forums exclusively for members. To date, we’ve focused on

flammability and sustainability, but there are more planned over the coming months.

“FIRA International are also the scheme administrator of the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP), a role which involves supporting FISP members and conducting the scheme audits. We really do touch on all aspects of the furniture sector!

“We look forward to the next 12 months as award winners, as we continue to support our customers. In that time, we’ll continue developing our testing portfolio (which may involve changes to the UK domestic flammability regulations based on the current review being undertaken by the Office for Product Safety and Standards). Both I and my colleague, Levent Caglar, are part of the committee supporting OPSS and representing the furniture industry, so we’ll keep our customers and the wider furniture sector up to date as applicable.”

For further information about the range of furniture testing and certification services available from FIRA International, visit the website, email info@fira-international.com or call 01438 777700. The business can also be found on LinkedIn, at www.linkedin.com/company/ element-built-environment. www.fira-international.com

82 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“To celebrate this third win, we have some activities planned to thank our testing and certification experts

BUILDING ASSURANCE. YEAR ON YEAR ON YEAR.

BEST TESTING SERVICES / CERTIFICATION PROVIDER 2023. AS VOTED BY YOU FOR THREE YEARS RUNNING.

The secret to our success is quite simple, really; excellence isn’t our finish line. It’s our ongoing ambition.

We deliver this to you with comprehensive testing, certification, dedicated expertise, strategic investment, and support for the furniture sector and the wider community.

Our continual improvement mission helps our customers be confident that their furniture materials, products and operations are fit for purpose.

It’s about making tomorrow safer than today. Together.

fira-international.com

BUILDING ASSURANCE TRUSTED SOLUTIONS BUILT ON EXCELLENCE

BEST UK EXHIBITION

January Furniture Show

The award-winning January Furniture Show (JFS) returns to the NEC Birmingham from 21st-24th January, and 2024’s edition will feature a brand refresh, a reimagined show layout, and a series of new features to entice and excite visitors …

The newly refreshed show promises to offer buyers an even greater opportunity to source furniture solutions and stylish interior accessories.

As the most highly anticipated event on the furniture industry calendar, JFS attracts retailers from around the world seeking cutting-edge designs, top brands and sustainable solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.

Spanning four halls of the NEC, JFS showcases the epitome of furniture and design excellence. Year after year, buyers, designers, manufacturers and suppliers meet at the show to source, connect, and be inspired by the unparalleled collection of British-made and international furniture and interiors brands on display.

For the 2024 edition, the show’s layout has been carefully curated to optimise the visitor journey across various core show areas. Within the four vibrant halls of JFS, visitors will embark on “a captivating journey through creativity and craftsmanship”, says organiser Clarion Events. Each sector: Premium Design; Interiors Accessories and Furniture; Living, Dining and Bedroom; and Furniture Upholstery and Beds, will house the latest product launches, exemplary craftsmanship, and a diverse range of styles and designs.

The upcoming show already boasts an impressive line-up of committed exhibitors, including ALF, Alpha Designs, Ashwood Designs, Birlea, Bontempi, Buoyant, Fama, Furninova, Gallery Direct, Highgrove Beds, Incanto, La-ZBoy, Lebus, Kesterport, Kettle Home, Malini, Mlily, Mindy Brownes, Qualita, Rauch, Scatter Box, Sherborne, Vogue Beds, Westbridge and

Wiemann. For buyers and interior designers, this means an abundance of choices when it comes to furniture designs, innovative storage solutions, product finishes, fabric choices, fixtures and styles to suit all requirements.

Alongside JFS, the Home Interiors Show will be co-located in Hall 2, offering visitors two sourcing opportunities under one roof. The Home Interiors Show promises to serve as “an oasis for design enthusiasts”, showcasing trend-led interior accessories from across the globe. Curated with interior designers in mind, Hall 2 will present a destination where contemporary interior accessories, lighting fixtures and more can be discovered.

“Get ready to immerse yourself in a world where evolution meets innovation, craftsmanship reigns supreme, and design excellence thrives, at the January Furniture Show 2024,” says Clarion Events, “and network with the industry’s best at the show’s brand-new champagne bar, plus the exhibitor and visitor JFS Social and more networking events across the four days.

“So, come to the NEC Birmingham from 21st24th January 2024 to witness the pinnacle of the furniture industry and embark on a journey of inspiration, connection, and discovery!”

For more information, and to register interest in attending, visit bit.ly/JFSregisterFN. www.thefurnitureshows.com

84 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“Get ready to immerse yourself in a world where evolution meets innovation, craftsmanship reigns supreme, and design excellence thrives
21-24 January 2024 • NEC Birmingham Register Now furnitureshows.com Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined Revitalised Refreshed Refined
Duxiana London

BEST UK UPHOLSTERY MANUFACTURER Tetrad

“We’re so proud of our team and their dedication to their craft in making our fine British furniture,” says Tetrad’s head of brand, Hope Cooper. “Having been voted as Best UK Upholstery Manufacturer by the readers of Furniture News, we’re incredibly humbled to know this is recognised and appreciated by others too.”

If there is one thing Tetrad’s team never tires of hearing, it is the phrase, “Ah, you can tell it’s a Tetrad” – the second someone sits back in one of its sofas or chairs and experiences that pleasant surprise that it feels as beautiful as it looks, states the sofamaker.

But the hidden secret to achieving that superior comfort lies much deeper than just the premium springs and feather-wrap seat interiors, says development and design manager, Tony Proctor: “It’s at the very core of the design process from start to finish.

“Having been making premium British sofas since 1968, we’ve certainly got a few years of know-how amongst us when it comes to creating the perfect sit, regardless of the style of sofa. Of course, a more formal, upright sofa such as the Vagabond is going to feel different to the relaxed, laid-back, sink-into style of the Ava, so there’s no one-size fits all approach.”

Known for its timeless, “typically Tetrad” look, the manufacturer enjoys elevating its designs

by layering textures and playing with vibrant prints and unique fabrics. With sofas typically being the focal point of most rooms, Tetrad has the opportunity to deliver enduring character and contemporary style to a room through its furniture – be it a sofa, armchair or footstool. With an eclectic collection of over 200 fabrics, Tetrad’s furniture can be as statement or subtle as one likes. “We’ve really noticed a difference in fabric choices since making our 3D product configurator live this time last year,” says Hope. “Being able to see your preferred sofa in every fabric option really helps people have confidence

in their chosen style. Gone are the days of closing your eyes and trying to imagine what that small swatch of fabric would look like as a three-piece suite!

“Not everyone is as imaginative as an interior designer, and our stockists have limited floorspace, so if they’ve got a sofa displayed in leather, trying to picture that sofa in a statement print can be quite hard.”

A walk through the Tetrad’s factory in Preston, Lancashire, reveals the utmost attention to detail and pride in craftsmanship taken by each team member, from well-proportioned, hand-studded detailing, to the skill in hand-antiquing leathers. No two pieces are the same, either, reflective of the manufacturer’s vast fabric offering.

Tetrad is overjoyed to take the top spot in this category, concludes Hope: “In a world of throwaway culture and one-season-use style, it’s encouraging to know that others share our values for delivering timeless style that’s built to last.”

86 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
www.tetrad.co.uk
“In a world of throwaway culture, it’s encouraging to know that others share our values for delivering timeless style that’s built to last
Warwick grand sofa Jacaranda Tetrad’s craftspeople specialise in traditional skills such as hand-studded detailing and hand-antiqued leathers

tetrad

fine furniture makers since 1968

We are proud to be the UK’s Best Upholstery Manufacturer as voted by the readers of Furniture News

tetrad.co.uk

BEST UPHOLSTERED BED SUPPLIER Furmanac Group

“I was delighted that the company was awarded Best Upholstered Bed Supplier in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards! Without question, this is the time to celebrate the combined dedication of all our teams involved in creating fine upholstery, building and furthering knowledge of over 50 years in the bed industry,” says the marketing director and senior designer for Furmanac/Hestia Living, Simon Hayford Morris …

“On behalf of myself and the team, I would like to acknowledge with thanks all the votes from the retailers,” Simon continues. “This prestigious recognition coincides with the strategic decision of Hestia Living and MiBed, two well-established brands, to separate into two distinct entities. The aim is to enhance the strengths and individuality of each brand, fostering growth, innovation, and improved customer experiences.

“Driven by a shared legacy of excellence and a commitment to quality, the division of Hestia and MiBed into separate brands is a deliberate move to build upon their strengths and expand their horizons. This decision promises numerous benefits for both brands, allowing them to cater to their unique customer bases and pursue their distinctive paths.

“Hestia Living, renowned for its exquisite and beautifully upholstered beds, will continue to provide discerning customers with unmatched craftsmanship and timeless design. The separation from MiBed enables Hestia Living to focus exclusively on its core expertise,

strengthening its position as a leading brand in luxurious upholstered beds. With undivided attention to its craft, Hestia Living aims to elevate its commitment to excellence and create exceptional pieces for the numerous retailers showcasing its products.

“The Evomotion range, known for its massive weight capacity, luxurious upholstery, and whisper-quiet motors, generates positive feedback, with exciting additions on the horizon. On a very similar path, the brand-new Retro sofabed has seen incredible sales after been showcased over the past 12 months, with retailers thrilled by its 6-second action and beautiful upholstery.

“Similarly, MiBed, known for its adjustable bed innovation and motion-intelligent sleep solutions, embarks on an independent journey, further leveraging its reputation as the industry’s most trusted and experienced manufacturer. Each base and mattress is proudly made in the UK, ensuring swift delivery.

“Operating as a distinct brand, MiBed can further invest in R&D, exploring cutting-edge technologies and advancements in adjustable beds. This autonomy allows MiBed to refine its state-of-the-art products, set new standards, and cater exclusively to individuals seeking customised comfort and the transformative benefits of adjustable beds.

“The recently launched MiBed Simplicity mattress range has received applause from UK retailers, and without question, this comes from our dedication to mattress design – specifically

for the adjustable bed product.

“As Hestia Living and MiBed evolve as separate brands, retailers can expect tailored POS material and brochures, and online resources will be adjusted accordingly. Both brands will have new websites, with Hestia Living embodying the luxurious look and feel of the brand, and MiBed making the experience even more accessible with simplified mattress and base option pages, with new roomset/lifestyle images that will generate a significant impact.

“In conclusion, the decision to split Hestia and MiBed into two separate brands marks an exciting new chapter for both entities. Hestia Living and MiBed can amplify their commitment to excellence, innovation and customer satisfaction by focusing on their strengths. Each brand will shine independently, delivering unparalleled experiences and products tailored to the unique needs of their respective customer bases.”

Simon believes that Furmanac’s “dedication to providing exceptional handmade upholstered bedroom furniture, with meticulous attention to detail”, played a crucial role in securing this accolade.

“This commitment will continue to ensure a competitive edge over our competitors,” he adds. “The future holds immense promise, especially with new inspiring designs, more additions to our world-class range of fabrics, and refined manufacturing to keep our pricing as competitive as possible. Each brand is poised to achieve new heights of success, industry leadership, and ultimately customer delight.”

www.furmanacgroup.com

88 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“This prestigious recognition coincides with the strategic decision of Hestia Living and MiBed to separate into two distinct entities
MiBed
Olivia, Hestia Living

BELIEVE IN EXCELLENCE

“Make each day your masterpiece.”

With the winner of Best Upholstered Bed Supplier

www.hestiabeds.co.uk LIVING

BEST VEHICLE MANUFACTURER

Maxi Mover

“Winning this award confirms that Maxi Mover delivery vans are, without doubt, the best in the marketplace,” says sales director, Mark Harris …

“Designed and built to deliver loads more for less, much bigger payloads and much bigger volumes means more deliveries everyday, maximising our customers’ ROI – every kilo matters, and every penny counts,” he continues. “It’s great that many of our customers from the furniture world – whether small independent retailers or national wholesalers and manufacturers – believe this too.

“A big thank you to all the readers and voters who truly believe in our product. If you’re not already a Maxi Mover customer, then we would love to hear from you – our expert van sales team are always there to help, you can visit our new website, or call us anytime at the office on 01673 863300.”

Maxi Mover is the UK’s largest low-loader delivery van manufacturer, Mark explains: “We’re not a dealer or finance broker, and we’ve

had a challenging time in the last 12 months, overcoming the global supply delays from all brands of chassis cab manufacturers – they’ve reduced production numbers from their factories in Europe, which has ultimately caused a storm in the UK’s transport industry.

“Demand has been very high since Covid, and supply remains restricted, meaning many transport departments are not able to replace or add to their vehicle fleets – so they’re having to continue to operate older, high-mileage, over-age vans, which are now becoming more unreliable and spending more time off the road in repair garages waiting for parts (which are also now in short supply – what was once available next day is now in some instances 3-4 weeks).

“It’s a real storm, and it’s set to continue for the next 18 months. Many of our savvy customers are planning ahead and reserving new vehicles with us so they get replacement Maxi Movers when they need them, on time and ready to go, avoiding the frustrations of continued vehicle supply disruptions. With our large stocks of vans, we’re able to overcome these obstacles – unlike our competitors, who are not always able to supply on time.”

Despite the myriad challenges, Maxi Mover has plenty more up its sleeves. “Continuous improvement is in our DNA,” says Mark. “We always strive to design and develop new lighter, more efficient Maxi Mover vans, using the

latest materials and technologies available, and partnering with leading world-class suppliers. And yes, we do have a new model just around the corner – a real gamechanger. Watch this space!”

In all, there are many reasons Maxi Mover topped this category, says Mark – not least an ambitious ethos that undepins everything the business does. “We don’t do average, mediocre or OK,” he concludes. “Those words aren’t in our vocabulary.

“The entire team at Maxi Mover are focused and committed to manufacturing and supplying the best high-performance low-loader delivery vans for our customers. We are not a standard van dealer or finance broker with limited choices – we’re a one-stop shop, offering our customers a full turnkey solution so they get exactly what they want, all under one roof, so their new Maxi Mover van is ready for business form day one.

“We offer full branding, popular and bespoke options, competitive finance options, and an aftersales service that’s second to none – all from our factory in Lincoln, where we started over 25 years ago. Maxi Mover vans are simply fit for purpose and built to last. We are with our customers for the whole journey, not just the initial sale. Visit our website and discover the difference.” www.maximover.co.uk

90 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS
“We are with our customers for the whole journey
Racing driver and TV presenter Tiff Needell with Maxi Mover’s latest FreightLoader range
Understandably the preferred choice to many of the UK’s leading transport, logistics & distribution companies Competitive finance and lease deals available LOW LOADER VAN MANUFAKTUR VANS IN STOCK NOW FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY Price starting from Price starting from + VAT Price starting from £36,995 + VAT FREIGHT LOADER RENAULT FIAT View extensive stock online maximover.co.uk | 01673 863300 MAX PAYLOAD MAX VOLUME MAX EFFICIENCY Understandably the preferred choice to many of the UK’s leading transport, Competitive finance and lease deals available LOW LOADER VAN MANUFAKTUR VANS IN STOCK NOW FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY Price starting from £38,990 + VAT Price starting from £36,995 + VAT Price starting from £36,995 + VAT FREIGHT LOADER RENAULT FIAT View extensive stock online maximover.co.uk | 01673 863300 MAX PAYLOAD MAX VOLUME MAX EFFICIENCY

HYDELINE FURNITURE

www.hydeline.co.uk

Adding to its current leather offering, Hydeline Furniture has introduced two new fabric collections, Highland and Malvern. Both have been thoughtfully selected with the customer and product in mind.

“These four fabrics have been selected to complement our new and existing leather palette, providing a modern, stylish offering across all our Hydeline models,” says the supplier’s commercial director, Michael Sheedy. “These stunning multi-tone woven fabrics possess longevity and a natural coastal feel. The designs are the perfect anchor for subtler shades and hues to add warmth and create

KETTLE HOME

www.kettlehome.co.uk

a peaceful and relaxing ambience within any interior scheme.”

Hydeline is dedicated to making the highest quality recliners, which offer more than just exceptional comfort and inspiring design, but are also constructed for modern-day living. “We believe expanding our Hydeline palette offering to include the right fabrics will provide a greater assurance not only for our retailers but their

customers too, showing our commitment to investing into new developments and coverings,” concludes Michael.

The Highland and Malvern collections are available to order across both the supplier’s brands (Hydeline and At The Helm). For more information, contact the relevant local regional area manager, or call head office on 01908 968228.

Kettle Home’s first in-house show will run from the 20th-23rd August at the supplier’s Northamptonshire HQ.

Visitors will be able to get a first look at the newest launches from Kettle’s new CL collection, high-value table sets, the eagerly awaited EA bedroom and dining ranges (in two colours), Kettle’s fabric bed collection, and the unique BG collection. They will also be able to access exclusive display deals, possibly saving hundreds of pounds across some of the supplier’s favourite collections.

“This is also a great opportunity to chat with your sales representative about your business’ needs, and get an understanding of how our customer-focused business objectives are designed to support you,” states the supplier. “Paired with our recent price reductions and repaired stock position on all core ranges, we know you’ll find exactly what you need to refresh your in-store displays for the upcoming busy trading period.

“We’ll also be demonstrating the benefits of our new website, and you can get a discount on your first web order. We can’t wait to welcome you home, here at Kettle Home!”

Interested parties should contact a local representative to book an appointment.

Cascade
92 PRODUCTS
EA dining
SIESTA BEDS COMFORT & QUALITY ASSURED Est 1986 Pocketed Springs Mulliners Works 154 Bordesley Green Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham . B8 1BY. Email sales@siestabeds.co.uk Tel: 0121 773 9969 Fax 0121 766 7413 A Life Changing Choice Exhibiting at Swmarf Show 5th 7th September NBF Show Telford 26th 27th September 2023 MEDIZONE 2,000 SERIES ENCAPSULATED POCKETED SPRINGS WITH ENGINEERED MEDICAL GRADE FOAM FOR SUPERIOR SUPPORT GIVING A UNIQUE COMFORT.

Where Airsprung leads, others follow

Although there was already a market for rolled foam mattresses –chiefly for the camping and casual sleepers – Airsprung says it was the first supplier in the UK to roll a sprung mattress, some 15 years ago, establishing a dedicated factory line to answer the question: “What if a consumer could receive their mattress more quickly, and more efficiently? Drive away with it in the back of their car? Try it, buy it, have it today? Or order online – and, in defiance of the existing norms, have it delivered to their home the next day?”

The rolled mattress is certainly not a phenomenon created by the more recent brand additions to the proliferating online market, says Airsprung Beds, which, by 2022, was producing around 100,000 of them every year, largely for online retail partners – but also in-store (both branded and white label).

“That’s a lot of beds, and a lot of rolling,” says MD Paul Little, outlining how he plans to stay at the forefront of this burgeoning trend: “It’s actually happening right now. By the time you read this article, ‘end-of-line automation’ will be a fact – installed, tested, and up and running. It sounds a boring term, but excitingly it means that our recent capital investment has enabled efficiencies only dreamed of when rolling first began.

“For the consumer, there’s the convenience of a compact and easily delivered product – and not just for those who live in apartments or have limited space. Reassuringly, the compression and rolling process doesn’t compromise the quality or comfort, so you have a quality product undiminished by the fact it arrives rolled.

“Our offering over the intervening years has grown to ensure that there is a rolled mattress to suit pretty much every preference and budget, making them a genuinely versatile choice.”

And it is not just the consumer that benefits, adds Paul: “An ever-increasing driver when making a considered choice is the environmental impact. Simply, the compact packaging reduces the need for

bulky transportation and reduces carbon emissions during shipping. To be blunt, smaller packages equate to more on a lorry, equating to fewer lorries and lower emissions.

“All of this means that all rolled models – including the flagship Core and Eco ranges (both fully rollable) can now be even more efficiently supplied, fulfilling the promise of making quality beds at affordable prices, that people will want to buy. There are also dedicated ranges designed specifically for AIS customers, and others developed for individual retailers.”

Fundamentally, Airsprung believes that the rolled mattress is here to stay, and, with continued investment and product innovation, it aims to maintain its lead in the sector. “That’s good for the industry, good for customers, and good for the environment,” Paul concludes.

Anyone wishing to know more about how Airsprung Beds could enrich their rolled offer should email Paul at opportunity@airsprung-beds.co.uk.

www.airsprung-beds.co.uk

94 PRODUCTS ROLLED MATTRESSES
1000 Pocket Memory model and set, from the AIS Dreamworld range
“The compression and rolling process doesn’t compromise the quality or comfort
The 1500 Memory Pillowtop, from Airsprung’s core range 1200 Pocket model and set, from Airsprung’s Eco range

INVESTED IN ROLLED

The nautilus. A marvel of engineering, highly efficient, enduring, successful. Evolvement can take millennia, or can happen within decades. 15 years ago we changed the industry by introducing the first rolled sprung mattress. By 2022 we were rolling 100,000 mattresses a year. With further investment in 2023, this will only grow.

Find out more about how the next stage of evolution can enrich your rolled offer. Contact us at: opportunity@airsprungbeds.co.uk

GNG expands Komfi mattress range

GNG has used its experience as an approved supplier to the NHS to develop its brand-new KomfiMed range, an industry first which combines medically proven foam with TrueGel technology, plus the environmental benefits of Ecofoam. This product delivers impressive pressure relief while minimising motion transfer and regulating temperature to provide a peaceful night’s sleep.

Specifically engineered for enhanced support, the range promises superior spinal alignment, while relieving stress on joints. A highly advanced material known for its exceptional comfort and therapeutic benefits, medically proven foam is crafted with precision and adherence to strict quality standards. It offers a supportive sleep surface while conforming to the body’s contours, and is available in soft, medium and firm options.

Richard Gretton, commercial director of GNG, explains: “Having provided some 70,000 products to the NHS this year alone, we wanted to bring this proven technology to the consumer market. KomfiMed is a truly unique product, combining the benefits of medically proven foam with our exclusive TrueGel technology and ‘green’ Ecofoam.

As innovators in the mattress industry, and with our strong track record in healthcare, our in-house team have been able to develop an exciting addition to our range.”

Developed in response to consumer demand for products with a reduced carbon footprint, most models in the Komfi collection feature GNG’s Ecofoam, made from 100% recycled and reengineered foam, resulting in a ‘greener’ product which can be completely recycled.

Resilient, durable, and naturally dust mite resistant, Ecofoam is ideal for use in mattresses, says GNG, adding that it also provides “excellent” body support and is recommended by the Football Medicine and Performance Association to its members, “as these mattresses help achieve the best sleep and, consequently, deliver the best performance”.

The Komfi collections include the Unity range, launched last year, which provides an affordably priced mattress and is proving very popular, says GNG. Offering value as well as quality and comfort, Unity delivers the benefits of Ecofoam, and all models have a removable and washable soft knitted cover.

All Komfi mattresses also benefit from being vacuum packed, with the smaller packages easier to transport and resulting in a lower carbon footprint, as well as being more compact to store, so enabling retailers to hold more stock and provide quicker delivery to customers. Customers also have the convenience of being able to move the mattress to the room of their choice and unpack it at their leisure.

With purpose-built 40,000ft2 manufacturing facilities in West Yorkshire, GNG is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of rolled mattresses, and has been accredited as a carbon-neutral company.

The complete Komfi and KomfiMed range, along with Sonlevo and Nectar, will be on display on stand D40 at next month’s NBF Bed Show. www.gnggroup.co.uk

96 PRODUCTS ROLLED MATTRESSES
Leading UK mattress manufacturer GNG Group is adding to its popular Komfi mattress collection, with the launch of its unique KomfiMed range at this year’s Bed Show.
“Having provided some 70,000 products to the NHS this year alone, we wanted to bring this proven technology to the consumer market
KomfiMed KomfiMed Ortho Richard Gretton
Carbon Neutral Organisation BEST OF BRITISH CATEGORY
gnggroup.co.uk

Elevating sleep quality for all

Elevating sleep quality and wellbeing, one product at a time, Simba’s latest innovations promise to be a gift for sleepers of all sizes …

Side sleeping is the most common sleep position in the UK, says Simba, but in the pursuit of a restorative night’s slumber, those who prefer it often face unique challenges that can impact overall rest and wellbeing – uncomfortable pressure points, and restless tossing and turning, can impact the quality and duration of sleep.

Sleep tech innovator Simba has revealed the Cooling Body Pillow, a cutting-edge cushioning accessory meticulously crafted specifically for side sleepers. Elongated and versatile, this state-of-the-art sleep companion promises unrivalled comfort, hip and spinal alignment, and elevated sleep quality –making it a must-have for lateral resters or those who are pregnant, says Simba. Meanwhile, Simba’s Stratos cool-touch technology acts like a thermostat within the pillow, making the fabric feel instantly cool to the touch, drawing heat away from the body.

The Cooling Body Pillow also features a washable, breathable and removable 100% Better Cotton cover, and recycled Simba Renew Bio filling. This advanced, anti-allergenic material offers down-like comfort from soft, airy clusters, and is made from GRS recycled PET bottle fibres, that can biodegrade in just two years.

The long, gently curved shape of the Simba Cooling Body Pillow ensures the comfortable alignment of the

entire body, reducing pressure on the shoulders and hips, which is beneficial during pregnancy and for support during breastfeeding.

New parents will also appreciate the Simba Hybrid Cot Bed Mattress. Engineered with the smallest customers in mind, this mini Simba mattress is suitable from birth to three years old. With a unique, double-sided design, it offers a firmer sleep surface to support newborns up to one year, and responsive, Aerocoil-cushioned comfort on the reverse for growing toddlers.

The Hybrid Cot Bed Mattress features a waterresistant inner cover, with a washable, breathable, anti-allergy sleep surface to protect from allergies and accidents. Certified to current fire safety standards and sustainability standards, the mattress is made with Simba Renew filling and CertiPur foam, free from unwanted chemicals or toxins, so parents can rest easy too.

In March this year, Simba became the first UK sleep brand to secure global B Corporation status, achieving a major milestone for the company’s aim to be net zero by 2030. In the same month, the sleep technology business launched its state-of-the-art, not-for-profit recycling service, to accept any brand of mattress, with no purchase necessary.

Mary Love, Simba’s product and sourcing director, says: “We strive to design sustainable solutions that elevate sleep quality for all. Striking a harmony between comfort and good body alignment can be a struggle for those who sleep on their side.

Our Cooling Body Pillow offers optimum comfort, support and climate control for all side sleepers, especially those who may be pregnant, menopausal, experiencing back pain or sleep apnoea – while the Hybrid Cot Bed Mattress brings all of our engineering and comfort expertise to the smallest members of the household.”

98 PRODUCTS BEDROOM
www.simbasleep.com
COVER STORY
“We strive to design sustainable solutions that elevate sleep quality for all

Engineered for Sleep

We’re

High-tech mattress based on data from ten million sleepers.

AWARD-WINNING

Proud winners of over 50 sleep industry awards.

simbasleep.com We offer free delivery and returns, with a 200-night free trial and a 10-year guarantee. You can also shop with 0% fi nance over 12 months.
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experts in the science of sleep, and over a million customers have already trusted us to give them the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had.
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National next-day distribution, and more

As Rhenus Home Delivery UK expands its portfolio as a logistics solution provider, the business continues to prioritise its customers, with a next-day delivery guarantee across 95% of the UK …

With over 18 years of experience in the UK premium delivery market, Rhenus Home Delivery UK offers an industry-leading, two-person, last-mile delivery service, which is consistently recognised for its excellence.

Rhenus focuses on delivering first-class quality and exceptional service directly to consumers – driven by its unique understanding of the final stage in the supply chain. With networks in 11 countries and three more national partner networks, Rhenus is the European market leader in the handling of home and living goods through the final mile.

Rhenus Home Delivery UK now provides a nextday, two-person home delivery and collection service covering 95% of the country.

Its services also include: order processing; storage; home delivery; assembly; disconnection and installation (wet connection and ‘green button test’); in-house training; returns management, including inspection reporting; and recycling of packing materials and end-of-life product

Late last year, Rhenus Home Delivery UK officially opened a new 260,000ft2 facility in Magna Park, Lutterworth, which functions as the business’ national distribution centre. This change facilitated a transition to a hub-and-spoke model, and was part of Rhenus’ strategic plan to offer next-day delivery.

Rhenus’ expansive storage facility offers 32,000 pallet space capacity, with 13,000 spaces readily available, 126 loading doors and a generous 30,000ft2 bulk storage area. This considerable capacity enables Rhenus to accommodate the fast distribution of a vast array of products, including those that are bulky, fragile or difficult to handle. Thousands of items are dispatched every day from the company’s six UK depots.

It is no secret that ecommerce growth has increased competition within the delivery service industry, and among the fastest-growing delivery options is next-day delivery, allowing consumers to receive their goods as quickly as possible.

Rhenus was known for specialising in high-ticket, considered purchases, but as the business has diversified it has moved into new markets such as TV and electrical, white goods and mobility – recognising a necessity to provide customers with a next-day option across the board.

MD Vinny Riley says: “Next-day delivery is an excellent addition to our already-outstanding delivery services. Furthermore, it allows us to enter new markets by diversifying our delivery portfolio.”

www.rhenus.group/uk/en/supply-chainsolutions/home-delivery/

100 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES
“Next-day delivery is an excellent addition to our alreadyoutstanding delivery services

All orders received before 4pm are eligible for nextday delivery*

95% of the UK coverage for next-day.

Deliveries are made by our specialist two-person crews who are trained in-house at our Rhenus Academy of Excellence.

Removal and recycle of the customer's old product.

A link is sent to the customer the day before delivery on the A message with the 3-hour time-slot.

The new purchase is delivered to the customer's room of choice in their home.

YOUR NEXT-DAY DELIVERY PARTNER... CONTACT US: Head Offices (Cheshire, United Kingdom) Rhenus Home Delivery UK, Unit 7 New Cheshire Business Park, Wincham Lane, Northwich, CW9 6GG Tel: +44 (0) 7745 540524
gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com / alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com Website: www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk RHENUS HOME DELIVERY NEXT-DAY PROMISE
Email:

Pre-finished veneered panel range upgraded

James Latham, one of the UK’s leading independent materials distributors, has introduced Shinnoki 4.0, Decospan’s new range of premium, pre-finished real wood veneered panels.

Exclusive to the distributor in the UK and Ireland, the new Shinnoki collection combines cool and contemporary timber decors with “an almost unmatched degree of strength and resistance”, says the distributor: “Showcasing the kind of beauty only real wood can bring, Shinnoki 4.0 comprises 18 different styles, within six distinctive collections, to suit almost any taste” – starting with the subtle, lightercoloured Washed Stone and Pure Natural, through to the darker-hued Sultry Browns and Luscious Blacks.

“Pre-finished perfection”

Manufactured with a real wood veneer, bonded to a 100% sustainable MDF core, Shinnoki’s pre-finished boards are manufactured with the highest levels of care, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.

With the authentic look and feel of full-bodied timber, every Shinnoki panel is treated with Decospan’s signature six-layer varnishing technique, meaning they are scratch-proof and water-resistant, able to withstand the demands of busy interior environments. The addition of a subtle super-matt coating and a deep brushing also makes the material soft to the touch, while enhancing the texture of each grain.

The full range includes matching panels, veneers, and edgebanding, ensuring complete consistency.

“Not only that,” adds James Latham, “they’re made using Decospan’s proprietary MixMatch technology to create a uniform surface, with a linear grain effect, using only the choicest cuts of veneer to never compromise on quality.”

Form and function

Suitable for a wide variety of consumer and commercial applications, now including horizontal use, Shinnoki can be specified for walls and ceilings as well as furniture – from kitchen cabinetry to standalone pieces.

Crucially, from a fabrication point of view, Shinnoki offers the look and feel of real timber, with the added benefit of lighter weight, greater consistency, and easier machining. “It’s taking ready-to-use veneered panels to the next level, with a product that truly combines luxury and functionality,” says the distributor.

“The fact that every panel already comes brushed, stained and lacquered means it requires no additional finishing. This alone offers the potential for buyers to achieve significant savings and efficiencies, whether on a large-scale residential development or on a busy furniture production line. No longer is hand treatment the only way to achieve the perfect finish on wood panels.

“Even better, it’s incredibly easy to install, and low maintenance, simply cleaned with a dry or damp cloth, providing further reassurance to homeowners, facility managers, and cleaning contractors alike of Shinnoki’s quality and durability.”

Quality at every level

Finally, each panel comes with a guarantee that all the timber used in production has come from responsibly managed, FSC-certified forests. Furthermore, Shinnoki is only produced using wind and solar energy, guaranteeing a carbon-neutral material from cradle to gate.

Panels measuring 2790 x 1240 x 19mm, composed of two layers of veneer and an MDF core, are available exclusively from James Latham in the UK and Ireland in packs of 25 sheets.

102 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES
www.lathamtimber.co.uk
“No longer is hand treatment the only way to achieve the perfect finish on wood panels
Natural Oak Pebble Triba Terra Sapele

DFI Beds, an Irish bed and mattress vertical, is expanding its services by offering D2C delivery for other retailers.

Known for its quality products, DFI Beds aims to streamline the distribution process and enhance customer satisfaction. Retailers can benefit from outsourced deliveries, enabling them to focus on sales and customer service.

“With DFI Beds’ established logistics network, prompt and reliable deliveries are ensured, upholding retailers’ reputations,” explains MD Brian McCann. “Customers will enjoy the convenience of direct home delivery, resulting in an enhanced buying experience. This expansion brings efficiency, cost savings, and an improved overall experience for all parties involved.”

Interested parties should email Brian at brian@dfibeds.com.

The Furniture Makers’ Company, the City of London livery company and charity for the furnishing industry, has launched the call for entries for its 60th anniversary campaign, 60 for 60, which aims to honour outstanding young people working in the furniture and furnishing industry.

The campaign will recognise 60 exceptional people 35 years old or younger working in any role who are exhibiting dedication to their careers and show promise as tomorrow’s leaders – visit www.furnituremakers.org. uk/60for60 to find out more.

DFI BEDS www.dfibeds.com Brand ambassador Erin McGregor with Brian McCann
THE FURNITURE MAKERS’ COMPANY www.furnituremakers.org.uk
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR MATTRESS AND BED RETAILERS IN IRELAND SleepSource
DFI_JA.indd 1 19/07/2023 12:02 103
EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY MATTRESSES, DIVAN BEDS HEADBOARDS AND BEDDING ACCESSORIES DIRECT FROM OUR FACTORY TO YOUR CUSTOMER
EXPERIENCED B2B SALES AGENTS REQUIRED FOR ROI AND NI
For more information please email brian@dfibeds.com

The store strikes back

Are brick-and-mortar retailers ready to take market share from the online pureplays? The cost of living crisis is still proving challenging, but there are reasons to be optimistic, according to the latest whitepaper from the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank, which looks at how post-pandemic access to physical retail has driven consumer appetite, and the viability of the online-only model …

After years of speculation that online retail would cannibalise bricks-and-mortar stores, the high street is making a comeback – driven by the cost of living crisis, and a post-Covid appetite for real-life experiences.

The retail sector is emerging from a turbulent winter – characterised by its own high costs, rising interest rates, strikes in other sectors, and inflation hitting consumer spending power.Even with the Government’s support packages for households, including the energy price cap, retailers have seen volumes dwindle and profitability dented as households focus on buying essentials and trading down from more expensive lines.

At the first quarterly meeting of the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) this year, members agreed that the road ahead was likely to be rocky in Q2 –however, going into the summer months, there are reasons to be optimistic.

They suggested that the sector is potentially reaching an inflection point, with inflation set to slow as energy prices stabilise, while the historically low unemployment rate and fast wage growth should bolster consumer confidence. This is expected to provide a boost for retailers with physical stores, who have long had to watch their market share being taken by online-only players with no costs related to physical stores and overall lower cost of capital benefitting customer acquisition.

Now the tide is turning, as pent-up demand for in-person experiences after the pandemic is driving people to shops and leisure attractions. Meanwhile, value retailers, who often don’t have unprofitable online channels to service, are benefitting from more cost-conscious consumers opting to shop with them.

But the RTT stressed that retailers will still need to significantly invest in technology to refine their omnichannel offer – delivering not only exceptional experiences for shoppers but also driving down the cost to serve, especially while high levels of inflation continue.

Grocers in particular are taking a hit on margins as they absorb the cost of rising food prices, and increase promotional offers to retain market share. The risk is that high food inflation could dampen overall consumer demand elsewhere in the wider retail sector.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight UK at NielsenIQ, says: “The economic challenges haven’t gone away, and even when inflation slows, food and energy will still cost significantly more than two years ago, which means shoppers will remain cautious about what they are spending. Food inflation is going to be the wild card for Q2 as it is not easy to call the peak and, if it remains higher for longer, it might impact the non-food and hospitality sectors, as many households will still struggle to balance the books.”

The buffer of savings some consumers built up

during the Covid lockdowns has been eaten away by inflation, both in terms of its value due to rising inflation and because they’ve had to dip into them.

Explaining more, Ruth Gregory, deputy chief UK economist, Capital Economics, comments: “If we are right in thinking that pandemic savings are now less powerful, households will no longer be as able to use those savings to support spending, so real consumer spending may evolve more in line with real household disposable income.”

The performance of the sector is reflected in the RTT’s Retail Health Index (RHI), which dropped one point in Q1 2023, as rising costs continued to hit profitability. However, all signs suggest the summer months will bring improvements, as inflation continues to ease, employment remains high, and retailers receive a boost from spending during the Coronation Bank Holiday.

Re-emergence of physical stores

It would be easy to think the cost of living crisis would push consumers seeking out rock-bottom prices even further online – but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, it seems that the market is rebalancing after the pandemic.

The RTT agreed that retailers with only a physical presence, particularly the discounters, were currently at an advantage compared to those having to subsidise unprofitable online channels.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail, KPMG, says: “If we go back to August 2019, we saw online growth dip to below +10%. Now, we’re in the same place again, albeit the market has grown by +50% overall. We’re seeing equilibrium in the sector, with online penetration lower than predicted during Covid. In fact, online penetration for non-food sales has dropped every month in Q1 of 2023. When compared YoY, non-food online penetration has fallen from 40.7% in March 2022, to 38.4% this year.”

The RTT also suggested that physical stores were more appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. Nick Bubb, retailing consultant, Bubb Retail Consultancy, notes: “The big conundrum is how far the cost of living crisis has stimulated the return to store shopping, with the most hard-pressed consumers finding it easier to control their spending and check for price promotions in-store, rather than online.”

While the barrier to entry might still be lower for online-only retailers, they’re currently grappling with growing warehousing costs, including a rise in business rates, competition from ecommerce giants, and consumers who want a change from non-stop digitisation.

James Sawley, head of retail and leisure, HSBC UK, agrees that the balance is tipping back towards physical retailers: “Some of the big winners are the discount stores who’ve achieved growth without being able to transact online. The pureplay ecommerce model has become increasingly

104 OPINION
“The sector is potentially reaching an inflection point, with inflation set to slow as energy prices stabilise, while the historically low unemployment rate and fast wage growth should bolster consumer confidence

challenging following the collapse of some big names. They have high supply chain and marketing costs, and it’s often a race to the bottom on pricing.”

At the same time, the RTT pointed out that while ecommerce brands are being acquired by physical retailers, investors are also eyeing up city centres, looking to transform existing spaces into a mix of retail and leisure attractions.

Jonathan De Mello, founder and CEO, JDM Retail Consulting LLP, says: “Online retail has become too much of a crowded space in the post-Covid world, which has sparked a sea-change in physical retail. Big names in the physical retail world are snapping up online brands, and sometimes investing in entire shopping centres. There’s demand for former department stores, office and residential buildings, which can be repurposed as entertainment emporiums with shops and leisure attractions, like cinemas and mini golf.

“Online retailers, on the other hand, are not only fighting for spend from physical and other online stores, they’re also seeing their costs rise due to the hike in business rates on warehousing space. While online pureplays will pay much higher business rates, physical retailers will benefit from lower rates across many locations.”

Human nature

Members of the RTT were in agreement that the improving fortunes of the high street is being driven in

part by a continued shift in consumer behaviours after Covid lockdowns forced shoppers online.

James Sawley explains: “Humans are inherently analogue, and there is some pushback on the increasing digitisation of our lives. My bet is that younger people who lived through the lockdowns will want to go shopping.”

This return to a more social customer experience represents a major opportunity for retailers which are prepared to invest in their physical presence.

Martin Hayward, founder of Hayward Strategy and Futures, adds: “The recent focus on online sales has been an own-goal for physical estates, and now that consumers are starting to reassert their needs, there is a huge opportunity for investment in stores, inventory and staff.”

Perfecting omnichannel experiences

Even if shoppers flock to the high street, the RTT believes that the appetite for convenience driven by technology won’t go away. While it might not be costeffective for the discounters to start investing in online channels, most other retailers will need to refine their omnichannel models so they can serve customers better at every interaction.

Independent retail analyst Maureen Hinton says: “We are social beings and, post-Covid, there is a big opportunity for physical retailers to win more customers. However, this does not mean online is finished – the pandemic converted many agnostics

“Online retail has become too much of a crowded space in the post-Covid world, which has sparked a sea-change in physical retail
Many consumers are hungrier for in-person interactions post-Covid, which has created 105 ››
more opportunity for stores, says the RTT (photo courtesy 123RF/highwaystarz)

to the channel, and boosted online in sectors such as furniture, where penetration was low. It’s about getting the balance right and offering the convenience of the omnichannel experience that consumers now expect. The challenge is how to do this profitably.”

Moreover, consumers are becoming less concerned about what channel they use, but how well it meets their needs at the time.

Joe Marshall, MD, customer experience and channel performance, Ipsos Retail Performance, says: “The line between online and offline is blurring. Customers want to pick the channel that best meets their needs – it’s become very fluid. For omnichannel retailers who get it right, the future is positive. It’s more challenging for those who’re fixed to one channel.”

In the grocery sector, members agreed that retailers would need to strike the balance between offering different ways to shop and building customer loyalty. Mike Watkins notes: “As consumers seek out different ways to shop for groceries, the challenge for the big supermarkets is to retain the loyalty of shoppers’ spend at their stores and limit the loss of sales to other store-based retailers – whilst at the same time maximising the longer-term growth opportunities in omnichannel and multi-mission retailing which are being driven by demographic and lifestyle changes.”

Loss leaders

Members discussed whether retailers could subsidise less profitable channels in order to deliver an omnichannel experience. They concluded that it was possible – but only if it was underpinned by digital transformation across the whole business.

Paul Martin comments: “Whereas the big ecommerce platforms can prop up multiple channels, other retailers have to be smarter in order to avoid a race to the bottom. They can still subsidise different channels – but they have to fundamentally change the cost structure of the business and use more automation across the supply chain, including last mile.

“It’s interesting to see Switzerland discussing the option of nationalising last-mile delivery due to there being too many delivery vehicles on smaller roads, which could it make it more efficient. Geolocation analysis needs to be more accurate too, so retailers can see exactly which channels will deliver the best ROI.”

Members agreed that digital transformation is still siloed in different departments – and horizontal transformation across the business is needed to ensure that each one works seamlessly together.

Miya Knights, director, Zendu Contracting Services, and publisher, Retail Technology Magazine, adds: “Margin optimisation and omnichannel are the key areas that retailers will need to concentrate on.

“At the moment, they don’t have the data to orchestrate their strategy successfully. They need to have the right technology to understand customer preferences, location, warehouses – with their systems identifying the most profitable segments

and locations. They also need to be able to see that opening a store could generate, say, three times more sales volume compared to online.”

The RTT believes that stores can have a ‘halo effect’ by delivering value beyond the sales generated in-store, as long as they’re located in the right areas. Consumers haven’t lost their love of technology, but they may use it in a different way. Using store mode on apps, for instance, is a way to deliver seamless instore experiences, so people are less tempted to use their mobile to compare prices or make purchases with competitors online.

Miya Knights adds: “The UK is one of the most voracious online shopping nations in the world, and how consumers use apps in physical stores is important. Many of them will use their phone to pay, and retailers could encourage certain behaviours with a store mode on their app.

“Whatever channel consumers choose, retailers need to give them the confidence that they are buying the right thing first time, in order to drive sales and reduce returns.”

Conclusion

The members of the RTT are quietly confident that the health of the retail sector will improve towards the end of Q2, and continue on an upward trajectory over the summer months. Retailers and investors recognise the appetite for in-person experiences, and are developing new destinations, tipping the balance away from online retail.

The extent to which retailers invest in different channels will depend on their model. There’s still room for online-only retailers, particularly niche ones, while some of the most successful discounters have avoided, or removed, home delivery completely. Most retailers, however, will tread a middle ground with an omnichannel offer, using technology to drive behaviours in-store, rather than pushing people to make purchases online.

What’s clear is that digital transformation across every part of the business will be critical to realising this omnichannel ambition and competing with ecommerce giants. Consumers might be looking for in-person experiences, but that alone won’t drive success – retailers must therefore be data-driven in their decision-making. With good-quality analytics, they’ll be able to see which channels are the most and least profitable, where cost savings could be made, and whether it’s worth subsiding less-profitable channels. Moreover, every store opening must pull in consumers with the promise that they can interact with a brand via whatever channel best meets their needs at the time.

The stage is now set for retailers to strike back against their pureplay rivals as the summer months draw people out of hibernation. In an ever-changing sector, they’ll need to act quickly – maximising their data to identify emerging opportunities and refining their omnichannel models to improve customer experiences.

www.retailthinktank.co.uk

106 OPINION
“Digital transformation is still siloed in different departments –and horizontal transformation across the business is needed to ensure that each one works seamlessly together

What is ‘purpose’?

It’s not easy being green – but furniture businesses must face up to the challenge. In the second of an exclusive series of articles exploring the whys and hows of becoming a more eco-conscious furniture business, Hypnos Beds’ group sustainable development director, Richard Naylor, looks at the importance (and impact) of having a purpose …

One of the first lectures I received on my MSc Sustainability course was on ‘purpose’. I learnt that purpose is the best starting point for any sustainability journey – prior to that, I most likely viewed it as sustainability rhetoric, and not really top of my list of ‘to-do’ business actions.

As we all try to be more sustainable in our personal and business lives, it’s okay to be ignorant, because we can’t be experts in everything … right? Actually, remaining ignorant or ignoring the issues is not helpful, and ultimately may impact a business’ reputation and value as competitors embrace – and excel in – their positive actions.

My own ignorance or awareness was corrected through expanding my knowledge base through selfstudy and via more formal and traditional educational routes. My metaphorical lenses were somewhat blurred, and expanding my understanding of various issues has given me clarity of vision to enable considered strategic direction. So often I witness poor choices based on a lack of knowledge surrounding climate change, material choice impact, biodiversity, environmental issues, social issues, and language/ claims employed around these areas.

In 2018, Larry Fink, the CEO of Blackrock, the world’s largest institutional investor, entitled his annual letter to CEOs ‘A sense of purpose’, in which he asked companies to “embrace the notion of having a longterm strategy bigger than simply making profit”.

In this year’s letter from the ‘Finkmeister’, the overall narrative remains firmly underpinned by a sustainability and ESG agenda. It is an extremely interesting read, and I would urge anyone to visit www. blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/larry-finkceo-letter and be pleasantly engaged. The highlights for me are the following two quotes:

“Our question to these companies is – what are you doing to disrupt your business? How are you preparing for and participating in the net-zero transition? As your industry gets transformed by the energy transition, will you go the way of the dodo, or will you be a phoenix?”

And: “That is why it is more important than ever that your company and its management be guided by its purpose. If you stay true to your company’s purpose and focus on the long term, while adapting to this new world around us, you will deliver durable returns for shareholders and help realise the power of capitalism for all.”

Having a business purpose is a statement of intent –but what is purpose, and how can it help my furniture business?

Purpose was defined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020, with the launch of ‘The Davos Manifesto: The universal purpose of a company in the fourth industrial revolution’, which stated that “the purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustainable value creation”.

However, I’m not sure this definition helps on a plain English level. I prefer the following definition by Colin Mayer at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, who defines corporate purpose as producing “profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, and not to profit from producing problems for people and planet”.

I think this definition adds simple clarity to purpose. Let’s face it, ‘purpose’ is not a new concept. It has been around for decades (and even centuries, in some cases). In fact, Lord Lever, the founder of Unilever, expressed his company’s purpose as “to make hygiene commonplace”.

However, it is only more recently that purpose statements have been transformed to reflect the contemporary issues that people, planet and economies face.

Here are a few examples of current purpose statements (good, bad and questionable, in my opinion) of some household brands that you will be familiar with:

“We’re in business to save our home planet (Patagonia).”

“Our purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport. Worldwide, we’re levelling the playing field, doing our part to protect our collective playground, and expanding sport for everyone (Nike).”

“Refresh the world. Make a difference (Coca-Cola).”

“Our purpose is to deliver a smoke-free future by focusing on smoke-free products that are less harmful than smoking (Phillip Morris International).”

“Working together for healthier world (Pfizer).”

“As it has been from the beginning, our purpose goes far beyond profit. We believe in the pursuit of doing good (Starbucks).”

“To create a better everyday life for the many people (IKEA).”

“Enhancing lives. Every day (M&S).”

For a lot of businesses, a purpose statement has

108 OPINION
“Purpose is a way of behaving, not an opportunity to market positive actions whilst actually doing very little

become their north star, a bright guiding light that drives a force for good business strategy whilst delivering economic benefit to stakeholders.

For brands, a strong purpose is a statement of intent for consumers. In recent years, brands such as Patagonia, Allbirds and The Body Shop (albeit for much longer) have raised the consumer profile of their business with great, planet-friendly purposes. However, be warned – purpose is a way of behaviour, and not an opportunity to market positive actions whilst actually doing very little. The US has recently seen class actions brought against brands that are overpromising and underdelivering.

So, to answer the question I know you all have –how do I become a purpose-led furniture business? –the following is a simple, six-step process that will help purpose-guide your business strategy:

1. Review

Look at your current assets, such as mission, vision, values and positioning statements. Is there a theme that helps define purpose and inspire stakeholders?

2. Engage

Work with internal and external stakeholders to gain balanced feedback. This bottom-up approach can be inspirational, truthful and, most importantly, authentic.

3. Write

With the insight gained from steps one and two, craft

a purpose statement with both internal and external communication expertise. Consideration should be given to clarity, inspiration, practicality, authenticity and trust.

4. Alignment

Now the purpose has been written, the core business strategy will need to be reviewed and amended to ensure alignment with purpose.

5. Communicate

Tell everyone about your purpose. Socialise it as much as possible, as it is now a commercial asset. Ensure your communication plan is resourced enough to maximise ROI, build trust and create a differentiator from your competitors.

6. Measure

Review the outcomes and impacts by monitoring purpose progress. This can be achieved through questionnaires/surveys, focus groups and 1-2-1 conversations.

All of the above can be undertaken by small or large businesses – there are no scale rules here! I’ve implemented purpose at Hypnos in conjunction with stakeholders, and we are working hard for people, planet, and, of course, profit (there’s no shame in this!).

www.hypnosbeds.com

As

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“For a lot of businesses, a purpose statement has become their north star
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Six tips for doubling sales

Would you like to double your sales (with half the stress) in just two years or less? Here, award-winning sales trainer and bestselling author Sam King shares six techniques and strategies that he says will guarantee business growth …

1. The perfect meet and greet “Hi guys, are you just looking, or are you after something in particular?”

This greeting completely disarms the objection and puts the customer on the back foot. Most often, people will reveal and explain what they are looking for. As a salesperson, you should then delve into their ‘why’, finding out as much as you can without being pushy.

2. Understand their ‘why’

By unravelling your customers’ ‘why’ when they’re interested in a particular product, you’ll start to understand their way of thinking and be able to offer more products that may be a better fit (based on your expertise). Not only this, but your customer will appreciate the time you’re giving them and see you as even more of an authority figure. This only strengthens your rapport with them, increasing the chances of making a sale.

3. Address the hesitation

Always address the hesitation before closing the deal. You know – you’ve been in the scenario before. The deal is right there, you can almost sniff it out, but something is just … off.

Never close at this point. If you do, you run the risk of coming across as hard nosed and pushy, and not taking into consideration the feelings of your customers and clients. Instead, say to your customer, “You seem a little hesitant …”

This gives your customer an opening in which to reveal their thoughts and feelings, and makes them more comfortable about their choices. It also allows them to feel ‘human’, and that their opinions and thoughts matter, without being rushed (who knew sales had to be like that, right?). Oh, and buyer’s remorse is slashed too – win-win!

Remember, we must only close when we know the product is a 100% right fit for the client, never before. Addressing the hesitation unlocks further objections that are stopping them from buying.

More objections? That can’t be good, I hear you say. Wrong! Objections are what we want to hear. Objections are buying signals that can be overcome. If the customer doesn’t have an objection and mentions how everything is OK (or something similar), it is time to close.

“Great. Shall we do it?”

4. Closing the deal

You must close the deal when appropriate. Some 80% of good salespeople don’t hit their quota. Why? Because they don’t ask for the sale.

Say the words over and over to yourself to get more confident in the way they roll off your tongue. Try roleplaying with somebody who is willing to help you out, maybe a colleague, and then reverse roles. Practice makes absolute perfect, and the more you do it, the more confident you’ll be saying it in real life, and the more natural you’ll sound. My favourite close used to be, “Shall we do it?”. Very casual and relaxed, and it made it easy for the customer to say yes.

Give it a try, and let me know how it works!

5. Bundle your products

Bundling your products into a package is an easy way to help double your sales. This could be offering a half-price footstool if your clients buy top-grade leather and recliner options. It could be offering a further 10% off additional purchases when a customer has spent over a certain amount. Put a Platinum Package in place, where you remove all existing furniture, with ‘free delivery and installation’ included.

6. The Envelope Method

This method alone has helped deliver 10 x growth for businesses when implemented correctly.

People say they want happy customers. This is wrong. What you really want is a tribe of raving fans that actively promote you and your services!

By implementing the Envelope Method, you use a ‘give-to-get’ referral scheme that will saturate your target audience. The Envelope Method consists of providing a beautifully written letter to your customer at the point of sale (or, at the latest, 48 hours after, never longer, as studies show this is the sweet spot for referrals). The letter will explain your thanks for their custom, and that if they recommend somebody else to shop at your store, you’ll buy them and their friend a fantastic lunch at a restaurant you’ve chosen prior.

Extra for experts – cut a deal with the restaurant to receive a discount for all the extra custom they’ll be receiving!

www.fromfeartomindful.com

110 OPINION
“Some 80% of good salespeople don’t hit their quota. Why? Because they don’t ask for the sale

We’re hiring!

If you are looking for a role where you can make the good days great, then we should talk.

We are looking to recruit a Sales Representative –Northern Ireland - Republic of Ireland’ to join our already great Sales team.

With proven experience in b2b sales, the role will involve managing and developing customers’ accounts, using your networking skills and proven b2b track record to develop and engage customers existing and new, if this sounds like you, then get in touch.

tom@kettlehome.co.uk

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Tables, Chairs, Sideboards, Chests, Beds, Wardrobes, Coffee Tables, Console Tables, TV Units, Bookcases, Accessories etc. available in wood, metal, or glass.

Benches from £21.25

Upholstered chairs in grey from £22.50 (assembled) Chests from £30.00 (assembled)

Lamp Tables from £30.0 (assembled)

Nest of Coffee Tables from £40.00

TV Unit Oak and Painted from £60.00 (assembled)

**FREE MAINLAND UK DELIVERY**

BUY NOW

PRICES WILL NOT BE REPEATED LIMITED AVAILABILITY

Whatsapp: 07472 344 880 (text now)

www.kettlehome.co.uk

JOB TITLE

ASM - Area Sales Manager UK South East. We are currently recruiting for a full time senior ASM to oversee and manage a portion of our southern customer base.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

• Responsible for consistent delivery of sales growth and development in your assigned area

• Responsible for role modelling and building effective relationships with key customers and stakeholders both internally and externally

• Maintain and grow the customer base in your assigned area

• Be responsive and flexible to your customers’ needs, become a trusted partner

• Build the Vida brand in your assigned area, delivering first class customer service

• Advocate and drive consistent use of Vida’s systems and tools

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING

• Manage a portfolio of regional customers, growing existing customer accounts and attract significant new business in order to deliver Vida’s growth targets

• Ensure effective ongoing communication with our sales and operations teams in order to ensure our customers expectations are exceeded every time they deal with Vida.

• Measure success on profitable portfolio growth, new business wins and excellent debt and discount management of your portfolio

• Increase the volume of accounts in your portfolio by identifying new business opportunities within your geographical area

• Represent the values of the business and portray a professional image to all customers and those you meet in the course of your work

• Working with other department such as Operations, Finance etc to ensure the collaborative development of the business, effective teamworking, and support to colleagues

• Build and develop strong relationships with both sales and marketing teams to identify potential within new and existing customers through fully understanding their needs and demands.

• You will be required to identify and support new sales channels.

• You will manage key accounts to agreed targets and within agreed cost controls and credit terms.

• Contribute to company marketing campaigns and product launches

CORE COMPETENCIES:

• Understanding Your Customers – acts as a role model taking a personal approach to understanding both internal and external customer needs

• Excellent sales and customer relationship building skills are critical, along with a passion to drive great results for our customers

• Through leadership by example, you will promote and maintain the core Values of VIDA Living

• Set an example of exceptional standards in all activities, language and communications.

• Flexibility & Adaptability – Demonstrates understanding of how to be flexible with our customers and works in partnership with them to find solutions

• Building Effective Relationships – Is a role model for maintaining constructive and effective relationships with customers and others across departments and other boundaries.

• Communication & Listening – Exceptional communication skills, seen as a team player.

• Successfully delivers messages to all levels of the business & stakeholders achieving desired effect.

• Represents VIDA in a professional and credible manner to customers and the public.

• Focuses on ensuring excellent service levels are maintained at all times

• Is accessible and responsive to customers at all times

• Follow all agreed procedures and comply with the company processes and systems

EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE:

• Minimum 4-5 years relevant experience in furniture sales industry

• Experience of UK and European sales markets desirable

• Strong presentation skills and a sharp commercial acumen

• A results-driven individual with a determination to deliver sales forecasts

• Sales driven and enthusiastic with a strong sales background

• The ability to cultivate long-term relationships with customers and business partners

ACCOUNTABILITIES:

• Reporting to VIDA Livings Sales Director

• Accountable to the relevant VIDA company Director, peer group and governance bodies

CONTACT DETAILS FOR

ALL APPLICATIONS:

Very competitive salary and benefits on offer for the ideal candidate.

Please email your CV to steve.lamb@vidaliving.com or call Steve directly on 07747274976 for an informal discussion.

Vida_JA.indd 1 20/07/2023 11:22
VIDA Living are delighted to announce that we are now accepting applications for the following position.
112

NATIONAL BED FEDERATION

Who turned off the tap?

We were contacted recently at the NBF by a bed retailer who had been in the trade for 38 years, reporting that he had never experienced such a desperately quiet period, and asking whether it was just him, or were others feeling the pinch?

We reassured him that he wasn’t on his own, and that the pain was being felt up and down the country by many bed retailers, bed manufacturers, component suppliers and consumers. In fact, the day after he contacted us, in an effort to curb inflation, the Bank of England raised interest rates by one half of a percent to 5% – the highest level since 2008. I could picture the bed retailer wondering whether it was actually worth him opening his shop doors the next day!

In his initial contact with the NBF, he asked why we were promoting our Bed Show, gala dinner and awards in September, instead of focusing on the hereand-now issues affecting our sector. Why weren’t we targeting consumers with the benefits a new bed would have on their sleep and overall health, thereby benefitting the whole industry? Cue an opportunity for me to share with him exactly what the NBF does to benefit the whole sector.

Unfortunately, we no longer have the industry levy on each mattress and base sold to provide the funds for national advertising campaigns like we did back in the 1980s and 1990s (even if we did, I doubt it would be sufficient to make any impact in today’s fragmented media). I pointed out that we used a mix of social media and public relations to engage with our audiences, and that we’d invested in new websites, podcasts and video content. We are also extremely active on social media through our consumer-facing Bed Advice UK website, as well as via our Bedfed channel, using a mix of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

We also offer free downloadable materials on the Bedfed website’s marketing support pages, including digital toolkits covering subjects such as why consumers should buy beds made by approved NBF members, a nine-step guide on how to test a mattress

before buying, and mattress settlement. We have numerous short videos that can be embedded into retailers’ websites or simply shared on social media.

Bed retailers can also apply to join our Retail Champions Scheme, as long as at least 50% of their UK-sourced beds and mattresses are from NBF member companies. In return, they receive window vinyls, swing tickets and a digital marketing pack to help them promote their business to consumers. We also add their company details to Bed Advice UK, which includes a Find a Retailer search facility.

All our Retail Champions receive regular communications via our dedicated Champions’ Chat newsletter, which includes the latest trade news and exclusive insights. They also have the opportunity to enter the annual NBF Bed Industry Awards and advertise their company on the Bed Advice UK website. So, there’s plenty of resources, help and advice available from the NBF for bed retailers – but we can’t do their marketing and promotion for them.

If you have a website, make sure it’s kept up to date with new products and your latest promotions and special offers. Similarly, if you have a presence on social media channels, it’s absolutely vital that you maintain them and update them regularly. My advice would be that it’s better not to use social media to promote your business if you can’t commit to keeping it up to date. It really doesn’t portray your business in a good light if the most recent activity was from six months ago.

Yes, we are in difficult trading times. But it’s not as though we haven’t been here before. It’s during such times that businesses need to take a proactive approach and regularly review customer interaction levels and what has worked or not. Those businesses that think differently and act quickly, instead of just hoping and waiting for things to pick up, will be the ones that will benefit most when the tap is turned back on.

www.bedfed.org.uk

PARTNER COMMENT OPINION 113
“I could picture the bed retailer wondering whether it was actually worth him opening his shop doors the next day!
Yes, times are tough – which makes proactive marketing all the more important, writes the National Bed Federation’s head of marketing and membership, Simon Williams …
INDUSTRY PARTNERS Young Furniture kers exhibition. FURNITURE Women in

THIS MONTH,

WE’RE ASKING

… Who is your industry hero?

John Hancock MBE, the former Sealy MD, who passed away earlier this year. He really made a difference to the bed industry, and had a positive influence on many people still making a living in the bed business –including me

Shane Harding (Highgrove Beds)

Still Graham Kirkham

Neil Barker (Barkers Furniture)

Bruce Sneddon. He was an agent/rep, but sadly passed away a couple of years ago. He had a massive impact on my business, and always believed in me when others in the industry didn’t

George Sinclair (Nimbus Beds)

Eileen Gray – an iconic Irish designer

Mark Gannon (Sofa Source)

I was impressed by Timothy Oulton, and his ability not only to create a clear vision, but also to execute it in his products and retail spaces. A sad loss to the interiors industry

David Kohn (The Multichannel Expert)

My dad. I can never fathom how he generated so much money from his first tiny store in Eastleigh. He started his business in 1956 with £150, and in 1966 he was able to buy his huge Walkround Showrooms outright. It was one of the biggest furniture stores of its time, and it put Peter Green on the map. My father had a very clever mind Wendy Martin Green (Peter Green Furnishers)

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary – he’s been proved right again and again Martin Seeley (MattressNextDay)

Easy one – my dad, Roy Rob King (Julian Bowen)

Zillah Byng Thorne. She was the CEO of Future Publishing, which owns Homes & Garden, Livingetc and Period Living. Zillah transformed the business under her tenure, from print to a digital powerhouse Deirdre Mc Gettrick (ufurnish.com)

Timothy Oulton

Keiran Hewkin (Swyft Home)

114 OPINION FEEDBACK WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! • Follow Furniture News on LinkedIn • Join us on Twitter @FurnitureNewsED • Contact the editor at paul@gearingmediagroup.com • For advertising and subscription enquiries, see p3

60 for 60 –an award recognising emerging talent

60 for 60 –an award recognising emerging talent

60 for 60 –an award recognising emerging talent

for 6060

for 6060

for 6060

Is someone at your work demonstrating outstanding commitment to their career?

Is someone at your work demonstrating outstanding commitment to their career?

Is someone at your work demonstrating outstanding commitment to their career?

o celebrate 60 years of being a City of London livery company, in 2023, The Furniture Makers’ Company wants to honour 60 young people who will shape the UK furniture and furnishing industry going forward.

o celebrate 60 years of being a City of London livery company, in 2023, The Furniture Makers’ Company wants to honour 60 young people who will shape the UK furniture and furnishing industry going forward.

TTTo celebrate 60 years of being a City of London livery company, in 2023, The Furniture Makers’ Company wants to honour 60 young people who will shape the UK furniture and furnishing industry going forward.

Introducing ‘60 for 60’ – a recognition programme applauding 60 exceptional talents under 35 who are working in the industry and are emerging as leaders within their field and ‘ones to watch’.

Introducing ‘60 for 60’ – a recognition programme applauding 60 exceptional talents under 35 who are working in the industry and are emerging as leaders within their field and ‘ones to watch’.

Introducing ‘60 for 60’ – a recognition programme applauding 60 exceptional talents under 35 who are working in the industry and are emerging as leaders within their field and ‘ones to watch’.

Enter yourself or nominate someone you know who deserves to be honoured.

Enter yourself or nominate someone you know who deserves to be honoured.

Enter yourself or nominate someone you know who deserves to be honoured.

What will the winners receive?

What will the winners receive?

What will the winners receive?

•Esteemed recognition from the industry’s most prestigious, respected institution

•Esteemed recognition from the industry’s most prestigious, respected institution

•Esteemed recognition from the industry’s most prestigious, respected institution

•An award certificate

•An award certificate

•An award certificate

•Digital assets to promote the achievement

•Digital assets to promote the achievement

•Digital assets to promote the achievement

•Inclusion in press activity and social media

•Inclusion in press activity and social media

•Inclusion in press activity and social media

for 6060

for 6060

for 6060

•Inclusion in a commemorative 60 for 60 booklet

•Inclusion in a commemorative 60 for 60 booklet

•Inclusion in a commemorative 60 for 60 booklet

•Invitation to an exclusive networking event with other winners

•Invitation to an exclusive networking event with other winners

•Invitation to an exclusive networking event with other winners

•Professional development, including the offer of a mentor, and networking opportunities

•Professional development, including the offer of a mentor, and networking opportunities

•Professional development, including the offer of a mentor, and networking opportunities

ENTER FREE

ENTER FREE

ENTER FREE

Call for entries: 19 June 2023 – 22 September 2023

Call for entries: 19 June 2023 – 22 September 2023

Call for entries: 19 June 2023 – 22 September 2023

furnituremakers.org.uk/60for60 hello@furnituremakers.org.uk

furnituremakers.org.uk/60for60

furnituremakers.org.uk/60for60

hello@furnituremakers.org.uk

hello@furnituremakers.org.uk

PRINCIPAL PARTNERS SPONSORS

PRINCIPAL PARTNERS SPONSORS

PRINCIPAL PARTNERS

industry’s charit y

SPONSORS

The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charit y The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charit y
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