Furniture News #377

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#377 February 2021

MAKE IT WITH MEDITE MDF solutions for today’s homes

Green giants Why sustainable practices matter more than ever Bracknell welcomes Danetti THE FURNITURE AWARDS ALUMNI ECO CONSCIOUS / TRADE SERVICES

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JYSK pushes ahead with store openings

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EDITOR’S COMMENT 3 EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Farley 01424 776101 Twitter @FurnitureNewsED

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BEFORE COVID-19 HIT HOME, THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS DEBATE WAS RAGING LIKE A BUSHFIRE While taking your daily Governmentapproved constitutional, you encounter some fast food packaging on the ground. Your initial thought might be to pick it up, shaking your head at the litterbug’s careless action. But what about the food supplier? Surely they should share some of the blame, for failing to develop better/less wasteful packaging? Before Covid-19 hit home, the global climate crisis debate was raging like a bushfire. In some quarters, its emphasis was shifting – away from each individual’s personal responsibility, and towards greater urgency in tackling the policymakers at the top. A family can cycle, recycle and eat as many greens as it can handle, yet it’s just a drop in the (warmer, bigger and dirtier?) ocean without the world’s governments enforcing meaningful change. Businesses sit somewhere between these extremes. The bigger the business, the greater its environmental impact, and the furniture industry certainly has its part to play. “Retailers and manufacturers have the power to make small changes to their processes that can make a world of difference,” suggests Room to Grow’s Anne Davies (p46). In this month’s issue, we revisit a sustainable movement fuelled by months of lockdown and reflection, and ask

some of the experts leading the ‘green’ conversation about directions, priorities, challenges, and whether the individual’s role still matters (p35). We also hear from several businesses that are striving to make a difference – and have found that doing so also makes good financial sense. They’re not the only ones trying to fix things before it’s too late. This month, Furniture News welcomes a new section sponsor, Furniture Sales Solutions (FSS). Led by ex-DFS staff development doyen, Adam Hankinson, FSS believes now is truly the time to invest in people and processes, and is well equipped to make sure yours are firing on all cylinders – read Adam’s column on p58. Elsewhere, we’ve interviews with JYSK’s Roni Tuominen (p8), Danetti’s Daniel Smith (p12) and Shabby Store’s Molly Robson (p24), plus the concluding part of our annual retailer review (p18). We also celebrate seven years of The Furniture Awards, with a recap of its storied alumni and a catch-up with some of last year’s winners (p54), and present the latest from Core Products (p30), SATRA (p50) and cover star MEDITE (p28) – as well as discovering how a rap video helped change the way we think about mattresses (p60) … Enjoy. And don’t forget those constitutionals.

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Paul Farley 01424 776101



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#377 February 2021


MAKE IT WITH MEDITE MDF solutions for today’s homes




INSIGHT 8 JYSK / 12 Danetti / 18 Retailer review 2020/21 (pt.2) 22 Glasswells / 24 Shabby Store / 26 CSIL’s global outlook

Green giants Why sustainable practices matter more than ever Bracknell welcomes Danetti THE FURNITURE AWARDS ALUMNI ECO CONSCIOUS / TRADE SERVICES

JYSK pushes ahead with store openings

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35 Eco-conscious / 50 Trade services 54 The Furniture Awards alumni



58 Tales from the showroom floor / 60 Dos Marcos’ hybrid theory / 62 Post-Brexit contract management 65 Furniture Industry Research Association 66 Feedback


James Keen, chief executive, Hypnos Beds




Mark Quinn, co-founder, Spink & Co


Brian Ahern, chair, Furniture Industry Research Association

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NEC FURNITURE SHOW POSTPONED TO 2022 Clarion Events, the organiser of the January Furniture Show, has announced that the April event (Furniture Show Birmingham, a rescheduled fixture from the traditional January slot) will now take place on 23rd-26th January, 2022. Zoë Bonser (pictured), who was appointed director of Clarion’s retail portfolio in December, says: “While this has of course been a difficult decision, the safety and success of our exhibitors, visitors and suppliers remains our number-one priority. The uncertainty surrounding live events that comes with the current national lockdown, combined with the expected timeline of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, means that postponing the show to its traditional January slot in 2022 is the best decision at this stage.” Following in-depth client conversations and industry analysis over

the past 12 months, Zoë says the team has a holistic understanding of what the show’s community needs and wants in this climate, and is in the early stages of launching “a market-leading offering” that promises to “innovate the way furniture and interiors brands do business”. “Whilst we are all missing physical shows, opportunities to do great business are still abundant,” Zoë continues. “We are thrilled to be in the testing stages of a brand-new offering that will meet the needs of our audience in the absence of live events and continue to complement them once they return.” Zoë, previously the event director for Spring and Autumn Fair and, most recently, show director for The Baby Show at Clarion, brings more than 15 years of events and exhibition experience to the role. Clarion has also appointed Abigail Quesnel as senior operations manager for the retail portfolio, while MD Daniel Nwaokolo’s role has been expanded to encapsulate both Clarion’s enthusiast and retail portfolios.

FURNITURE MAKERS PRESENTS INNOVATION WEBINARS A four-part webinar series hosted by The Furniture Makers’ Company promises to bring together some of the sector’s leading minds to explore the ‘hot button’ issues affecting the industry. The series, Innovation in times of crisis, will start on 18th February and run weekly until 11th March. The webinars, which will be free to attend on Zoom, will focus on four topics – manufacturing, trade bodies and Government, interior design/designermakers, and retail – with each featuring a guest panel of speakers, and running for 30-60 minutes before culminating in a live Q&A. The overview for each episode is as follows: Innovation in manufacturing (11am, 18th February), in which directors from leading UK domestic, contract and office furnishing manufacturers will discuss diversity in manufacturing to beat Covid-19, recovery strategies and the significance of circular

manufacturing; Sector survival strategies (11am, 24th February), in which a panel of trade association heads and Mike Wood, MP, chairman of the AllParty Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Furniture & Furnishings, will discuss how to get industryspecific Government airtime on key UK policy and future trade discussions, engaging with the APPG, and life after Brexit; Preservation through education (11am, 4th March), in which interior design and design sector experts will discuss skills and training requirements, usage of marks of accreditation and connectivity with interior designers/designermakers at grassroots; and Opportunities for furnishing retailers (11am, 11th March), in which leading furnishing retailers will discuss retail in the online age, how to entice the consumer back into stores, effective leadership in a crisis, and more.

FURNITURE HEADLINES RECORD YEAR OF ONLINE GROWTH Online sales of home products in the UK grew by +74.4% (and homewares and decorations by +108%) in 2020, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, as general online sales growth hit a 13-year high. Following November’s impressive performance, online retail sales growth in December remained high at +37% YoY, with online furniture sales up +63%. Overall, online sales growth in 2020 was +36% (YoY) – significantly higher than the start-of-year prediction of +7.8%. Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant - retail insight, Capgemini, comments: “Retail in 2020 has been fundamentally shaped by the pandemic, which

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caused disruption to consumer demand norms and a shift in focus to digital channels – reflected in the strongest online YoY growth in 13 years. “Throughout the year, multichannel retailers have driven a large amount of this growth due to the transfer of demand to online, up +57%. Interestingly, pure online retailers ended the year at +9.1% for 2020, compared to 9.8% last year, though the story remains split by the sector demand shift away from clothing and increasing in electricals, home and garden. We have also seen smaller retailers outperform the larger ones, perhaps due to the ability to be more agile in response to the changes.”

Loaf has appointed David Meredith as its new operations director. David joins having spent six years at John Lewis & Partners AIS states that this year’s AIS Furniture Show will run as an online event from 15th-21st March (AIS members only) and 22nd-28th March (AIS members and the general trade), rather than the January timeline previously announced

Mammoth has extended its exclusive agreement as Official Mattress and Pillow Supplier of Tottenham Hotspur

Long Point’s spring edition, which had been brought forward to the earlier timeline of February, has now returned to its later season slot, and will run from 19th-22nd April in showrooms across Long Eaton

Handy, a supplier of bedding and upholstery components, has joined Anti Copying in Design (ACID)to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the industry and itself from design fraud

The National Bed Federation (NBF) has set up a new body, the Suppliers Council, to focus on the interests of the association’s component supplier and support services membership. It is chaired by the association’s vice chairman, CPS Labels’ Simon Green


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GNG Group has announced that Darren Potterton has been promoted to the post of group MD, while Philip Whittell has been appointed as the group’s chairman

Vietnam’s VIFA EXPO will not take place this March, as its organiser Hawa Corporation had hoped, but is set to return in March 2022

Oak Furnitureland has appointed Mike Coupe as its chairman. Mike led Sainsbury’s for six years as CEO, where he was the architect of its takeover of Home Retail Group

The BFM says the British furniture industry is facing unprecedented increases in the cost of key raw materials, with sharp rises being felt across its membership

Messe Frankfurt’s physical trade fairs slated for this spring have been cancelled. Heimtextil will now take place from 11-14th January 2022, and Ambiente from 11-15th February 2022

Timothy Oulton has announced an extensive programme of global expansion which will see seven more ownedand-operated Timothy Oulton galleries join its existing 11 standalone showrooms and 30 retailer partners

Resident, a platform of digitally native brands in the mattress and home goods market (including the D2C Nectar mattress), has received an investment of £95.7m to fuel global growth


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EMMA LAUNCHES SMART MATTRESS AS SALES SOAR Emma – The Sleep Company has reported a leap in sales for 2020, while expanding its profitability by double-digit €m. With a growth rate of +170%, the sleep brand turned over €405m last year, compared to €150m in 2019. Emma sold 1.5 million mattresses 2020, more than any other D2C sleep brand. “I am excited, grateful and proud that we are progressing at light speed to make Emma the number-one global sleep brand,” says Dr Dennis Schmoltzi, CEO and founder of Emma, alongside Manuel Mueller (pictured). “A turnover of €405m in 2020 proves that our three levers to globally scale the business – growth in new markets, increasing market share in existing markets and expanding our omnichannel strategy – are well chosen.” Emma’s global team has grown to more than 500, with 200 new hires in 2020 across Frankfurt, Manila, Lisbon, and, more recently, Shanghai. Emma has also launched a smart mattress, Emma Motion, through which the brand is “not only changing, but revolutionising the way people sleep”, says Manuel. Developed over two years, its unique

features include: the Infinite AI Sensor, a mat that uses an AI-based neural network to permanently detect the sleep position; and Silent Move IQ technology, which ensures that the mattress automatically adapts to changes in sleep position. Emma Motion launched in France and the Netherlands last month, and will be made available in more countries throughout the year. Emma will also launch more sleep tech products, such as the Emma App, as well as extending its existing product lines with the introduction of a customisable, upholstered bed line, the Emma Bed.

DEBENHAMS BRAND ACQUIRED, BUT STORES TO CLOSE The administrator of Debenhams UK, FRP Advisory, has confirmed that boohoo group plc has signed an agreement to buy the Debenhams brand, and other business assets including all the in-house brands and websites – which will take full effect following the completion of the current stock liquidation programme. According to FRP, this transaction will enable “a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge under strong new ownership, including an online operation and the opportunity to secure an international franchise network that will operate under licence using the Debenhams name”. boohoo, which operates across the fashion and beauty sectors, has paid a cash consideration of £55m to acquire the global rights to Debenhams’ brands

and websites. Once the stores are able to re-open and the stock liquidation can continue in those outlets, the website will be operated by boohoo. The closing-down sale will continue in stores for several weeks until the stock liquidation is completed, and the value of this stock will be retained for creditors. All of the UK stores will then be permanently closed. Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner of FRP Advisory, says: “We are pleased to have secured the future for this great brand, and to have created the opportunity for a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge in a different shape beyond the pandemic. I expect that the agreement with boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams’ employees beyond the winding-down period.”

VITA ACQUIRES NATUZZI MANUFACTURING SITE Vita Italy, a wholly owned subsidiary of foam specialist The Vita Group, is to acquire IMPE, a wholly owned subsidiary of Natuzzi, based in Naples, for €6.1m. The site manufactures polyurethane foam for the Italian furniture and bedding industry, and has 32 employees and production capabilities of 20,000 tonnes per annum. The €6.1m sale (subject to customary purchase price adjustments and warranties) is expected to complete this quarter, and is subject to customary closing conditions. Natuzzi’s chairman and CEO, Pasquale Natuzzi, comments: “The agreement is part of the company’s strategy to review its value chain and reshape the group’s manufacturing configuration. With this

agreement, we have posed the basis for a business co-operation with an international group, such as Vita, whose contribution will be beneficial to our operations.” Speaking on behalf of The Vita Group, group CEO Ian Robb says: “This acquisition constitutes a step in our ambition to broaden our production footprint across Europe. “We believe this is a win-win transaction for all parties and allows Vita to gain an established foothold in this important market. It is a highly respected company, with an experienced workforce, and we look forward to working with this team to support our customers and build our presence in the Italian furniture market.”

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GREAT DANE Seemingly undaunted by Covid-19, Danish retail giant JYSK is forging ahead with plans to open 13 new stores in the UK and Ireland this financial year, with 2021 shaping up to be its “best year yet” according to country manager, Roni Tuominen …

Roni Tuominen in JYSK’s Liverpool flagship

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9 In 2019/20, a year which saw JYSK’s UK and Ireland operations merged, the retailer achieved YoY sales growth of +74% (reaching Ð41m), and customer growth of +55% (to over 860,000), despite multiple periods of enforced store closure. Although almost a quarter (24%) of its orders were placed online, stores remain very much at the heart of JYSK’s ambitious expansion plans (see October 2019’s issue fore more details), and a further five in the UK (and eight in Ireland) are being rolled out during the current financial year. JYSK’s UK/Ireland growth during the pandemic is impressive – how far off hitting 2020’s original targets were you? We actually managed to exceed the original budgeted targets for the year. There were moments when we didn’t think it would be possible, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. However, people shopped online, and when stores re-opened, we adapted to make the stores safe for our customers and they were extremely busy. It was great to see our customers back instore again.

Roni with Jenny Johnston (sales & marketing manager, JYSK UK & Ireland) inside JYSK’s new flagship store in Hunts Cross, Liverpool


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What does the merger of the UK and Irish operations mean for JYSK and its customers? For JYSK, it was a case of achieving synergies across the operations and improving on our concepts in stores. I hope that the end customer sees no real change, other than perhaps an improvement in how their local store looks when they visit – we are very focused on continuing to raise standards across the board. Where and when are the new stores coming? And is the strategy still focused on the north? The new stores opening this year will be in Bury, Stockport, Leeds, Barnsley, and Gainsborough, with Stockport and Bury opening early summer, and more following soon after. For now, the strategy is to continue

our focus in the north, since there is a lot of opportunity for more stores there. In fact, all the new stores will be within an hour’s drive of existing stores, enabling us to make the most of process synergies and shared resources. Of course, we also want to move further south, and over the next few years we’ll start to look for opportunities to expand there. In Ireland, we’re opening eight stores, including new ones in Carlow and Tralee in May, then in Cork in June. Has the business model changed significantly due to Covid-19? Our business model has not really changed. In fact, I think our concept of having smaller-sized stores in many locations, combined with an ecommerce offering, has proven effective during the pandemic. Our store rollout and expansion ambitions have not changed – just slightly delayed. Do you feel some of the consumer lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic will be permanent? I absolutely think some of the lifestyle changes and behaviour will remain. Consumers are more likely to care about the planet and the environment, and they want to try to shop local more often. Sustainability will be a key component for retail across the board, and it is something that we are focused on at JYSK. During the summer of 2020 we introduced new sustainable packaging where we use less chemicals and no plastic, and by next year all new products will be in the new style of packaging.

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We have also committed to using only FSC-certified wood in our products by 2022. Our sustainability initiatives extend into our store operations, too – we have already cut our per-store consumption of energy, with LED lights and energyefficient distribution centres. We have reduced waste, sourced raw materials from more sustainable sources, and much more.

Is JYSK adopting any new technologies this year? We have been working for a few years now to update all store operations and processes to mobile devices, which makes life in-store much easier for our employees.

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Given the material/import challenges facing the industry, are you planning to refine the pricing architecture to deliver better margin, and will any higher costs be passed onto the consumer?

Our business is known for having a great offer, and that is what we will continue to deliver to our customers. We have no plans to pass on any higher costs to the customer. Luckily, we are part of a large organisation with great buying power, so the impact on our margins will be minimal. Why is Scandi product still in such high demand? And what’s new from JYSK in this regard? Scandi is associated with great design and a sense of wellbeing. Customers are looking to create their own little haven at home, particularly now we’re all

Roni with Liverpool store manager Victoria Bostock

How did your stores manage to perform so well, despite tougher tier restrictions? It’s hard to say really, but I think ultimately people felt safe when it came to shopping in our stores. That, combined with a big marketing effort in advance of the opening, helped ensure they performed well. I also think it is down to consumer spending habits at the moment – many people haven’t been able to go on holiday this year, so people have turned to spending their money on their home instead.

This integration requires massive investment in developing and updating our PoS system to allow for a completely seamless experience across our shopping channels, on top of being fully mobile. This new PoS system is currently being tested, and the rollout in initial test countries is expected a little later this year.

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spending so much time in our homes, and so the high demand continues. In terms of what’s new from JYSK, you can expect new furniture items from our Earthen Luxe range to help create a seamless indoor/outdoor vibe in your home – a trend we predict to be popular this year. We also have fantastic new outdoor furniture products coming early March, which we’re very excited to launch. How have your previous retail experiences informed your approach at JYSK? Working at various levels in retail organisations has given me a great insight into the daily challenges that our colleagues in-store face. This year has come with its challenges, but also some great learning curves. The shifts in consumer and shopping behaviour have truly required dynamic and quick reactions in

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SUSTAINABILITY WILL BE A KEY COMPONENT FOR RETAIL ACROSS THE BOARD order to meet and serve our customers to high standards. Still, I cannot wait to get back out on the road visiting our stores again and meeting our staff and customers – once it is safe to do so. How have you built on/diverged from the groundwork laid by your predecessor, David Ashton? My goal when given the task to merge our two markets was, from the beginning, to build up and strengthen the organisation so the board would be fully engaged and committed to supporting our ambitious expansion plans across both markets. Using the positive momentum we

experienced coming out of the first lockdown, we have been working with all staff across the organisation to ensure our JYSK concepts are implemented 100%, that we take more controlled approach to our costs and investments, and that our brand is promoted more to raise awareness of JYSK in our current and upcoming store locations. So far, the organisation has responded very positively to all the changes, and our results prove that the team is ready to support our expansion plans. For me this is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to continuing our efforts from 2020 into 2021 – knowing it will be our best year yet!

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DESTINATION DAN Having built his furniture brand online since 2006, Daniel Smith took Danetti into the physical arena in December, opening a 6752ft2 showroom in Bracknell, Berkshire ‌

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After working in the furniture industry for a few years, I saw an opportunity to start Danetti. There was a gap in the market to bring customers quality products that were both aspirational and attainable – I wanted to create something that was exclusively Danetti, and unlike anything elsewhere. I took the idea from bedroom to boardroom, and used all the insight I had gained from working with European manufacturers, and the knowledge I had built up from working with furniture and

Daniel Smith

The new showroom, located at Octagon House on John Nike Way, features a wide range of Danetti’s exclusively designed contemporary furniture for the bedroom, living and dining areas, and represents a significant investment in the brand’s future and the local area, says the MD. Key appointments to date include Kris Manalo (ex-Heal’s) as senior buyer, and Tim Ely (previously The Conran Shop and Heal’s) as head of commercial.

customer demands, to build my own range of products. I travelled the globe to find suppliers that represented my key values for the brand – aspirational designs, quality


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and affordability. I visited hundreds of factories, where I gained a wealth of experience around manufacturing and design. If I had to sum up Danetti in three words, they would be contemporary, aspirational and attainable. When it came to the brand’s name, I wanted to create something that represented and felt authentic to the contemporary designs that we create, and that was personal to me – and that’s why I created something around my own name.

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15 Seeing the first products I designed come to life and receiving the first customer reviews was a standout moment for me. I’m hugely passionate about running my own business, and, for me, that’s all about creating and developing a passionate and talented team. I love being involved in the creative process and seeing the products come to life, and working with people that are open and honest. The new headquarters are an opportunity for us to create a great place to work and attract new talent, and gives us an opportunity to really explore where the business can go. We feel there’s an opportunity to further establish ourselves as a well-respected lifestyle brand, synonymous with aspirational yet attainable designs. I grew up in the areas surrounding Bracknell, and with the recent town regeneration I am excited to see it flourish and change – and to bring a business that enhances the town and is part of that redevelopment. The new showroom site will be a welcome addition to this vibrant town (alongside our ambitious plans for growth to create new employment opportunities in the local area). Pandemic or not, a physical space was always on the roadmap. Since 2006 we’ve built the brand’s foundations through our online offer – but now, taking over this new building, it’s the perfect opportunity to create something special. When it comes to trends, it’s crucial that we always have our finger on the pulse and look to innovate. When designing, we’re always trying to ensure we bring products to the market that are relevant and accessible to the customer. Our focus for products is always designled, and we aim to create pieces that are aspirational and attainable in how they look and feel, whilst making the


shopping journey as simple as possible. We hope the showroom will become a real destination for our customers – somewhere they can come, be inspired and get advice from our product experts. We’ve created styled roomsets for all of our collections – bedroom, dining and living – to showcase looks that can be created with our products. We absolutely understand that now, more than ever, when we put something in our homes it has got to be right, and really add something to the space. With people spending more time at home, for Spring/Summer 2021, garden renovations and developing the outside space will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year. Key trends will be multifunctional outdoor products that allow people to get the maximum use and benefit of their gardens, to

spend time with friends and family. People have realised they have to create their own sanctuary. It’s a case of if we’re going to be at home more, let’s do all the things we should have done a while ago, and make our house as nice as possible (plus the whole UK ‘staycation’ movement). For my part, my own home embodies Danetti’s values – I like to use contemporary designs with a warm colour palette that creates an inviting home for family living and entertaining friends. Like most managers of fast-growing businesses, it’s typical that no day’s the same as the last! Most involve meeting with the team to discuss strategic direction, product development and how we can further improve the customer experience

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• • •

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Why let photoshoots hold up sales? Get ahead of the supply chain, and create market-ready CGI product shots Fast, flexible, cost-effective and hassle-free… 28/01/2021 17:20




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RETAILER REVIEW 2020/21 In the second part of Furniture News’ annual retailer retrospective, we present our remaining independents’ takes on the year behind us, and their thoughts on what lies ahead …

LOOKING BACK The best deal I struck was one that made me no money, but gave me my first international speaking gig, at Sleep Expo Middle East in Dubai in February, where I hosted a workshop called Profitable Partnerships between Retailers and Manufacturers. From a retailer’s point of view, some manufacturers have a lot to learn. This was great for some unexpected reasons: firstly, it gave me the opportunity to expand my network across the Gulf States and India; and secondly, I combined it with a short break which, in hindsight, gave me my foreign holiday fix before travel became severely restricted. What made it extra special was that my wife was given the allclear from her cancer, and the doctors cleared her to travel just days before, enabling her to join me. The biggest product trend in-store/online was a move towards bigger-ticket products. My plan is to reduce the sales of PU foam products in my store and focus on sustainable, natural products. We have a range of latex mattresses which are now our primary focus. For that reason, our top-selling products are higher quality and bigger ticket. What changed most about the way people shop was social distancing. We introduced an appointment-only system just before the first lockdown. Our reopening saw the new guidelines for retailers introduced, with QR codes, hand sanitiser, masks and visors, etc, showing our customers a reassurance that shopping with us was safe. During this time, weekends ceased to be our busiest days, with a more even spread of shoppers throughout the week. What changed most about the way I sell was the housekeeping. We were changing pillowcases and bedcovers after each shopper. Wearing the visor was strange at first, but we’re used to it now. What put me under most pressure was the uncertainty about what was going to happen for my business from 23rd March and on – nobody knew. It was probably the most stressful period of my business’ existence. I had to learn quickly to adapt to the circumstances – HR regulation, the furlough scheme, grant applications, managing my customers’ orders through uncertain delivery times … it was all new. If I learned one thing this year, it’s that if my business can survive this pandemic, it will survive anything.

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Jerry Cheshire, director SURREY BEDS Stores: 1 Headcount: 5 (+2 YoY)


LOOKING AHEAD I’m most looking forward to the end of the lockdowns. I didn’t think I’d miss coming into work every day quite as much as I do. I’m happiest when the till rings, and that doesn’t happen when the shop is forcibly closed. The next hot product trend is whatever the marketers chose to be their next project. There’s been some shocking products marketed exceptionally well, which sell much better than they should – putting a celebrity’s face on an outdated product, for example. Hopefully, with the increasing price of PU foams, they will no longer be seen as a cheap fillings alternative, and more manufacturers will focus on the natural, sustainable materials that we know work so well. The trend on its way out is grey, hopefully. It’s about time we reintroduced some vibrant colours into our interiors.

My technology priority is expanding my ecommerce offering. The pandemic has proven that a business cannot depend upon just one income stream. The biggest challenge will be generating our preferred quality and quantity of footfall, as always. I think the ‘new normal’ will see more homeworkers and homemakers. This is great news for some areas of the furniture industry, as people spend more time in their homes with home offices and interior remodelling. Knowing how my more forward-thinking suppliers have reacted so positively to the current trading conditions makes me hopeful for the industry’s future. Also, we may see the introduction of border tariffs and import restrictions shortly, which could be a boost for UK furniture manufacturing


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Royce Clark, MD Grampian Furnishers Stores: 1 Headcount: 20


LOOKING BACK The best deal I struck was securing a contract to furnish a batch of houses for key workers during lockdown. The biggest product trend in-store/online was anything grey. I think overall for us it was fabric sofas, as we saw a swing away from leather, which had grown significantly in 2019. What changed most about the way people shop was, other than the obvious facemasks, that we’ve found footfall to have increased, and I think overall customers are shopping around less and spending more time in our store. There has also been a increase in the ATV, which I feel is largely down to lots of holiday refunds! What changed most about the way I sell was being more careful with floor stock. We have always been pretty flexible, but given that the supply chain has been struggling we’ve had to be a bit more firm on not letting products be sold off the floor. Short lead times were a key part of our business pre-Covid, so we have had to be open and honest with our customers, and while most have accepted this, some have not understood the effect Covid has had on the supply chain. What put me under most pressure was thinking the lockdown was going to be 3-4 weeks, then realising after a few weeks that was not the case. I struggled to deal with the fact that I didn’t know when I could open the doors again. If I learned one thing this year, it’s that if you are proactive, react and adapt to what is thrown at you, then you and your business can survive almost anything (well, that’s until Brexit hits, then that may be a different story – but let’s not get too concerned about that for now, it can’t be any more challenging than Covid, can it?).

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I’m most looking forward to taking time off, going on holiday and not wearing a mask while working (although it may be 2022 before we can lose the masks at work). Definitely, being able to take time off to go on holiday to recharge is the biggest thing for me, as I’m pretty much running on empty after what 2020 has thrown at me! The next hot product trend is whatever is available from stock on a short lead time, perhaps? Only kidding … but I think we will start to see more colours selling through all categories in order to brighten up our store and people’s homes. The trend on its way out is all things grey, surely? My technology priority is updating and improving our sales software and reducing the transaction time for customers. The biggest challenge will be unexpected. I’m pretty sure 2021 will be every bit as challenging at 2020, but hopefully without any more lockdowns. Dealing with the threat of a possible Covid-20, the circus that is Brexit, further price increases, kickstarting the economy … for us in Scotland, the threat of Indy Ref 2 could have a bigger impact on our business than all of the aforementioned. Or maybe it will all get back to normal – now there’s a nice thought, just imagine that! I think the ‘new normal’ will be absolutely nowhere near normal – who even knows what normal was, is right now or could be in 2021 and beyond? I think even Uri Geller may struggle to predict the new normal for the furniture trade – perhaps we can ask him?! Knowing we have survived 2020 and all that it has thrown at us makes me hopeful for the furniture industry’s future and UK manufacturing as a whole

Why not join our feedback panel and share your views with the trade? Email for details

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A SPECIALIST FURNITURE TRAINING COMPANY FOR FURNITURE RETAILERS After 40 years in furniture and carpet retail, I feel reasonably well placed to say that I understand what goes on in a furniture store both in front of and behind the scenes. From working as a warehouse lad when I was 15 to leading the North, Scotland, and all of Ireland for DFS furniture (a £440 million business). In those 40 years, I have always championed the people in the business and it’s customers, in equal measure. Businesses can always do better, but it’s often more difficult to see that when you’re in it. From a short, sharp sales refresher to a strategic growth plan, from a coaching course for managers to floatation on the stock market, whatever you need and/or want to achieve we can help you deliver.


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HEART OF GLASS Glasswells has unveiled the new-look atrium at its Bury St Edmunds store, updating a 20-year-old extension to the entrance, which houses the retailer’s homewares and bedroom departments and a purpose-built carpet warehouse.

Paul Glasswell


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“Glasswells always strives to offer our customers the latest and most stylish furnishing options,” says MD Paul Glasswell, “and it is essential that our environment provides visitors with the very best shopping experience to match this. We are a forwardthinking company, and understand how important it is to move with the times and embrace change. “Whilst the store will be given a fresh new look, our ethos of offering the widest choice, at the best value, with the highest customer service will remain the same.”

The work was planned and managed in-house by Glasswells’ visual merchandiser and interior designer, Sarah Norris. Sarah began work in October 2016, with a £150,000, 22seat extension to Glasswells’ in-store restaurant. The start of the atrium work was delayed by spring’s lockdown, then by extensive flooding at the end of August, but was under way again by September. Glasswells says it plans to integrate more technology into the space, and that the atrium refurb is just larger of a larger modernisation programme which will see its home accessories and lighting departments updated in the future

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NOT TOO SHABBY Why visit your website? We are obsessed about remaining at the forefront of interior styles and fashions. We regularly update our stock, and new items are added weekly. On average we remove and add over 100 SKUs per month. Name: Molly Robson Position: Director, and head of buying and merchandising Business: Shabby Store is an online boutique, selling luxury home furniture and accessories. The site offers a rolling average of approximately 1500 SKUs, and attracts around 350,000 unique visits each month – and boasts nearly 500,000 social media followers, with over 300,000 on Instagram alone. Molly acquired the business in 2018 – then a loss-making enterprise with a declining revenue. It now delivers consistent profitability, and is on track to reach revenues of £3m this year, and £5m in 2022.

How did you enter this industry? I’ve always loved interiors, and used my experiences in launching other online businesses to acquire and scale Shabby Store. Who is your ecommerce hero? Ben Francis, the founder of Gymshark. I have followed his journey from when he was printing T-shirts himself – the company’s growth is incredibly inspiring. Describe a typical working day Every day is different, which is why I enjoy what I do so much! I am head of buying and merchandising, so a lot of my day is spent finding new products our customers will love and bringing those to life. We also have a lot of big things planned for this year as a company, so a lot of my time is spent planning for the future, which is really exciting. What has been your greatest challenge to date? Turning the business from a lossmaking small business to recruiting some amazing staff and aligning our vision in such a short space of time.

Molly Robson

What part of your job would you prefer to avoid? Some of the general administrative elements of my role can be tedious, but are essential in ensuring our customers have the most up-to-date trends, and maintaining Shabby Store as the market leader in boutique furniture and accessories for your home.

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This year, we’ve invested in our own bespoke CRM and order management software, which will deliver an unrivalled customer experience and allow us to focus even more on product. How much do you invest in making your site more visible? We easily spend more than £50,000 per month in driving new customers to our business and products, maintaining a healthy return on spend which isn’t overly risky. What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop? We believe that whilst online is seeing a boom today, there will always be a place for physical stores. For me, it’s all about customer experience, and whilst the physical/online experience was previously very separate, I see a future where the two become much more of a hybrid. In fact, we are planning to open our first physical store this year, which backs up this vision. Do you have any other plans to grow your business? Yes, absolutely – but not at any cost. We are self-sufficient, and have not had any external investment or support. We want to retain control of our business and scale sensibly – for us, the customers are the most important element of our business, so any growth must allow us to maintain the exceptional product and service levels we offer today. What advice would you offer an aspiring etailer? Be ambitious, but be sensible in your approach. No business is built overnight – it takes time, and a smart strategy that you commit to. Also, don’t be scared to pivot or seize opportunities that arise


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RECOVERY POSITION Covid-19 has severely impacted global furniture trade growth – yet recovery is imminent, reports Milan’s Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL) in its latest World Furniture Outlook. BY CSIL

2020 has been a challenging year for the furniture sector, hit by the pandemic both on the demand and supply side. The lockdown policies and their length varied across countries, segments of production and retail activities. World furniture consumption is estimated to decrease by -10% in 2020 (in current US$). For the first time, all regions are projected to experience negative growth in 2020, with differences across countries reflecting different economic structures (dependence on severely affected sectors, external financial flows and pre-crisis performances) and containment reactions facing the pandemic’s evolution. Some trends that were already present across the sector accelerated during the year, impacting companies’ strategies. On the consumption side, the role of the online channel increased at unprecedented growth rates, while leading manufacturers entered the market directly. On the production side, supplied products (for example in office spaces, home office, multi-functionality, antibacterial surfaces, consumer wellbeing, etc) are evolving, and could represent growth potential for the future. Production and consumption The main furniture producer is China, with 41% of world furniture production. Other major furniture manufacturing countries are the US, Germany and Italy. From 2011 to 2020, the furniture production share of Asia and Pacific increased by about 11 percentage points. As a consequence, in 2020, more than half of the world’s furniture production took place in Asia and the Pacific. The leading importers of furniture are the US, Germany, France, the UK and Japan. Until 2018, the increase in imports in the US was the main engine of growth in the international trade of


+5.2% CSIL’s prediction for global GDP growth in 2021

furniture. The decrease in US furniture imports in 2019 was mainly due to trade restrictions. Because of trade tensions between the US and China, total US furniture imports from Asia saw China’s share decrease, in favour of other import sources (Vietnam in particular). Preliminary data for 2020 shows substantial decreases in furniture imports for all major countries. The biggest furniture exporting country is China, followed at a distance by Vietnam, Poland, Germany and Italy. In the last 10 years, the international trade of furniture has consistently amounted to about 1% of the international trade of manufactures. After the major contraction in 2020, growth will resume in 2021, and the precrisis level, in current US$, is expected to be attained in 2022. CSIL assumes that global GDP (in real terms) will grow by +5.2% in 2021 and +4.2% in 2022 – in advanced economies it will rise by +3.9% in 2021 and +2.9% in 2022, and in emerging and developing economies it will grow by +6.0% in 2021 and +5.1% in 2022. According to the International Monetary Fund, the decrease of world GDP due to the pandemic in 2020 can be estimated at -4.4%, with a more severe contraction in advanced economies than in developing countries. Growth is expected to resume in 2021-22, but uncertainties regarding the evolution of the pandemic remain high, and the downside risks remain significant. For 2021, the growth of furniture consumption above the depressed levels of 2020 is expected worldwide. Among large markets (over US$5b of furniture consumption) the countries expected to have a greater rebound in furniture consumption growth are China and India. For more information about CSIL’s World Furniture Outlook 2021 and the countries covered, contact

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GreenwoodRetailFeb2021.indd 1 19/01/2021 13:49 5AG 1 Wilmslow House, Grove Way, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 GreenwoodRetailDec2020.indd 1 16/11/2020 14:17 28/01/2021 17:20



DO MORE WITH MDF No longer are the places in which we live simply our homes – now they must also offer be our offices, gyms, children’s classrooms, and the places we entertain ourselves, inspiring an unprecedented number of people to make home repairs, improvements and upgrades (up +35.6% last summer, says the ONS). Fortunately, MEDITE is here to lend a hand …

enthusiasts to share their work, gain inspiration, and benefit from prizes that will help facilitate bigger and better work with MDF. For an example of how MEDITE can help with the creation of inspiring fitouts and furnishings, just take a look at how its MDF panels were used to create a bespoke, art deco-inspired home in South Kensington (pictured). The interiors were designed and created especially for the project by Infinitus Bespoke Interiors using MDF panels – including MEDITE MR, which features special moisture-resistant properties. Each room was designed to reflect the sleek opulence of the 1930s and 40s, with each space boasting a unique character. The bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas were refitted to incorporate smooth, clean lines, highgloss surfaces, mirror cladding and

MEDITE’S extensive range includes 10 MDF product families and many variants


Unsurprisingly, a major trend for 2021 is the concept of multi-functional spaces – particularly when it comes to living rooms. Indeed, Forbes indicated late last year that single-purpose spaces and furnishings were becoming unfashionable because of the need to adapt living spaces to accommodate a new work/life balance. Creating a multi-functional space with bespoke furnishings to suit the user’s needs may sound challenging, but is actually easier than one might think, states Irish MDF and OSB producer, MEDITE SMARTPLY, which continues to develop innovative, versatile and sustainable building products, suitable for bespoke interior fit-outs and refurbishments. The brand has even launched a new members community (www., enabling MDF

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CREATING A MULTIFUNCTIONAL SPACE WITH BESPOKE FURNISHINGS TO SUIT THE USER’S NEEDS IS EASIER THAN ONE MIGHT THINK ambient lighting, while the installation of a bar and cinema room further embodied the period’s elegance. Featuring a smooth surface and consistent density throughout, MEDITE MR is ideal for machining into bespoke shapes and cabinetry. As a moistureresistant MDF panel, it is also suitable for use in humid indoor conditions, making it popular for kitchen and bathroom installations, among many others. It is also a good substitute for softwoods or hardwoods when more machining flexibility is required. “If

you’ve an idea, MEDITE can make it real,” states the producer. The extensive range includes 10 different families of MDF products and many variants, with over 400 possible specifications. Through consistent commitment to R&D and ongoing investment in technology, MEDITE has introduced a wide variety of quality products and customer-led innovations, establishing itself as a leading brand in the MDF market. For more information on its extensive range, visit en/products/medite-mdf

MEDITE MDF panels were used to reinvent this South Kensington home

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NOT SURVIVING, BUT THRIVING With imports held up, raw materials in short supply and stores forcibly closed, a combition of fortuitious decisions has left Core Products in an enviable position as a supplier, explains CEO Mike Rowley …

More at-home dining means wine cabinets have proved a bestseller for Core


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How is the pandemic affecting your ability to trade? Aside from the concerns we have over everyone’s health and wellbeing, the supply of raw materials to make products and the capacity in the factories to meet the increased demand are major issues. Combined with the well-documented shipping issues, it’s fair to expect disruption for at least another year. Being locked down overseas at the start of the pandemic brought home the need to secure as much production as possible, even bringing forward new lines – this has helped ensure as much stock as possible is available in our warehouse. Have you seen any products or materials gain traction in the past year? As more people have been working from home there has been an inevitable increase in demand for home office furniture. Indeed, with more time spent at home, furniture is playing a bigger part in everyone’s lives – more robust, easy-to-clean and maintain finishes are in demand, which has accelerated the movement away from natural wood. Casual living is also heavily in demand (especially statement pieces such as wine cabinets and wall furniture). For many years, downstairs furniture was there to impress the neighbours – now it’s for colleagues and contacts, as the backdrop for Zoom meetings! How has your sourcing evolved? Anticipating a surge in demand for mail order 20 years ago, Core purchased a former supermarket distribution centre located in close proximity of Scotland’s main port, with direct access to the major road network. This is giving us some consistency of arrivals, as the ports in the South are all congested. Also, as our purchasing is geographically diverse, we’re fortunate to be able mitigate the backlogs affecting Far East shipping routes to some extent. Ultimately, our supplier relationships, established over so many

years, combined with our commitment to forward purchasing, is ensuring that, even now, we still have a considerable stockholding here in the UK. … and your marketing strategy? With personal visits to customers severely limited, we’re all having finding other ways to communicate. With trade shows traditionally being the proven route to showing new products and ideas, we’re now finding trade publications such as Furniture News are very effectively filling the void for us.


What marketing assets do you offer stockists? Early last year we projected that more and more retailers would look to enhancing their websites and social media over the coming years, but the current crisis has magnified this, with significant growth recently amongst retailers developing digital routes to communicate with customers. Because we already had proven ordering and digital marketing systems in place, we’ve seen more retailers expand their online portfolio to include our products, and this has certainly benefited us. Many suppliers attest to being fast and reliable – how does your service stack up? Supplying the mail order trade, even before the advent of ecommerce, meant we were one of the very first furniture companies to offer DHD deliveries with a fully supported online ordering platform. With so many retailers unable to open their doors, this is now more important than ever, and enables trading to continue. Despite all the news about shortages, customers are still hugely influenced by how long they have to wait – our ability to deliver in a matter of days does give our retailers a big advantage. With retailers able to access our stock inventory, which is regularly updated throughout the day, they are able to order with confidence of a quick delivery

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IN STOCK IN THE UK, READY TO DISPATCH TODAY Delivery to you or Direct to your customer’s home

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NEW FOR 2021

Modern living collections in stylish, hard-wearing finishes.

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Creative designs that enhance today’s life choices including innovative home office ideas.

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Delivering quality since 1986

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GREEN GIANTS Does ‘going green’ matter more than ever? With consumer demand increasingly in concert with supply legislation, Furniture News presents the people and businesses leading the industry’s conversation around sustainability in our latest ecoconscious furniture feature, writes Paul Farley …

This month’s contributors, clockwise from top left: Marlene Greenhalgh; Alun Watkins; Roger Durrans; Susan Inglis; Ruairi Giles; Richard Naylor; and Mandy Carmody

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While our collective memories of 2020 will be dominated by Covid-19, the start of the year saw a very different topic dominating the headlines. In Australia, bushfires raged. NASA proclaimed 2019 the second-hottest year on record. Addressing the World Economic Forum in January, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said: “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour. We are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.” As we entered a new decade, there was a widespread sense that it was a make-or-break moment in the ongoing environmental emergency facing our planet. Commentators urged us to go electric, recycle, lobby Government, to do whatever it took to make a difference and start to reverse the damage caused by years of excessive production and consumption. Then, perversely, nature took a hand. A global pandemic eclipsed all else, travel was limited and emissions dropped, and many of us reflected on the future. Whether this pause has a lasting impact, or is erased as we hurriedly make up lost ground, is yet to be seen – but more people than ever now recognise the planet’s health as the most important issue of our time, and demand for sustainably produced goods and services is growing.

From manufacture to delivery, the furniture industry is a significant agent of production and consumption, and will be a major player in this movement. Already, a huge number of suppliers and retailers are putting sustainability at the heart of their business, and striving to find better ways to operate. This month, Furniture News shares the stories of just a few of the businesses playing their part, and asks a range of experts for their views on the changing nature of the green movement, where their priorities lie, the challenges in communicating the benefits, and more. Our thanks go to: Alun Watkins, national secretary/executive director, Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) UK, and chair of the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP); Mandy Carmody, owner and founder, Quality Solutions (Technology); Marlene Greenhalgh, MD, Ammique; Richard Naylor, group sustainable development director, Hypnos Beds; Roger Durrans, CEO, and Liona Ripley, director of commercial and corporate responsibility, Jay-Be; Ruairi Giles, commercial director and head of sustainability, Harrison Spinks; and Susan Inglis, executive director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC).

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HAS THE PANDEMIC CATALYSED OR SLOWED THE SHIFT TOWARDS ‘GREENER’ FURNITURE? Alun Watkins: The pandemic has definitely catalysed a shift to greener everything. People working from home, less travel and increased use of green spaces has given people a chance to think about the environment and the impact their actions have. Hopefully this will lead to more questions being asked at the point of sale. We are already seeing this with the anti-plastic campaign. Richard Naylor: No, it hasn’t in terms of our roadmap to develop new sustainable initiatives – however, the ability to launch these initiatives within ‘new product launches’ has been and remains a challenge due to the cancellation of exhibitions/shows. We have lots of exciting, groundbreaking sustainable innovations for new products that have had to be delayed, while some innovations, such as our sustainable, carbon-negative plastic, can be launched in real time. Mandy Carmody: I would like to think it has made us humans stop and think about life and the planet in general a little more than before. With documentaries highlighting global warming and deforestation, these issues have been brought to our attention much more over the last several months as we’ve all had more time on our hands. Supply chains around the world have come to a halt at some point, which has delayed products for so many companies and increased container costs, and consumers may be focusing on UK-made product more than before. We all strive to improve, and want greener furniture, but once the world

starts to move around more freely and travel in general goes back to some kind of normal, will focuses shift onto other matters? I hope not. Susan Inglis: Here at SFC we see that the pandemic has, indeed, catalysed the shift towards more environmentally safe furnishings. Being at home all the time, consumers are all the more aware of indoor air quality, and anxious not to further compromise it with furnishings that off-gas noxious VOCs. Further, 2020 was a year of many environmental disasters, which has raised consumer awareness of the importance of taking responsibility – including by considering what their furnishings are made of and how they are produced. Ruairi Giles: At Harrison Spinks we have been pursuing a more sustainable future for over a decade and have taken huge steps in this direction throughout the last 18 months. Some of our achievements include the development of our award-winning Cortec spring unit, our 100% recyclable Velocity collection and the transition to foam-, glue- and FR chemical-free manufacturing. I think the general shift has been hastened by mainstream events relating to the cause, like David Attenborough and Blue Planet 2, Greta Thunberg, and increasing natural disasters and wildfires across the world. The global pandemic has certainly meant people are now more focused on what’s important, too. Marlene Greenhalgh: I believe that it has catalysed the shift – hopefully to


be mobilised before it’s too late. As pestilence bears down upon us, I’m not sure what else might persuade us that the threat to our habitat – and our very existence – is real. My hope is that, consequently, we will be motivated to adapt rather than to continue to spew more empty rhetoric. There appears to be a willingness to act. At last, we seem to be acknowledging that we must change our behaviours, as consumers and as producers, individually and together – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Let’s hope we can reach consensus urgently to act at a global level in a co-ordinated and planned way. It worries me that governments persist in stressing the importance of growth as currently measured in GDP, despite warnings from renowned economists that it is not (and never was) feasible to chase higher and higher GDP, which is fuelled by consumption and continues to strip our planet’s resources faster than our planet can replenish them. We cannot continue to rely on a flawed measure borne of a failed system based on false ideologies. The fact is that if we revert to the treadmill of consumption and exponential growth as if we have no choice, we are relegating future generations to a dismal fate. In these times of pollution, fires, floods, wars, waste, and now, plague, let’s hope we are being coerced to listen and to change our senseless globalised financial systems to a more effective, more egalitarian values and rewards system, using economic, ethical, and environmental metrics. Roger Durrans: From our observations, we feel that the pandemic has certainly catalysed the shift towards greener furniture. People have become very conscious of health and are beginning to appreciate much more the close interconnection between the environment and how protecting it plays a crucial role in helping to protect health.

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TO YOUR MIND, WHICH ASPECT OF THE ECOCONSCIOUS MOVEMENT IS PARAMOUNT? Ruairi Giles: In general, we need to stop waste to create a healthier world, and we need to be mindful of resource in everything we do and consume. This is from both a personal and business perspective – from the food we buy and the energy we use to the way different industries operate. We know there’s a massive problem with waste in our industry, for example, so we’re stepping up and leading to reverse the tide. We’re currently working on our dedicated recycling centre, where we’ll be able to break down any Harrison Spinks mattresses returned to us into raw materials, to be re-used. Being mindful of the energy we use and using renewable energy sources is another way that we’re looking to improve our operations. We’ve made a pledge to become fully net carbon zero by the end of 2021, offsetting our entire carbon footprint, and we’re also launching our new function, Harrison Spinks Renewables – our new solar and wind power venture.

Hypnos works with Red Tractor wool farmers to ensure regenerative farming practices

Mandy Carmody: I would have to say the fight against deforestation is paramount, as this has a huge effect on biodiversity.

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Alun Watkins: Responsibly sourced materials, a product’s carbon footprint and its recyclability are all important in the drive towards a low-carbon economy. Like every other sector, the furniture industry will need to play its part in reaching the Government’s 2050 carbon reduction target. Taking account of these three elements will be crucial in helping us do so. Susan Inglis: I think a concern for sustaining a healthy future is paramount. That includes what it will take to sustain life as we know it (more or less) for generations into the future, as well as ensuring health and wellbeing in our home environments immediately. The two are, of course, inextricably linked – our short-term decisions do have long-term impacts. Liona Ripley: Time and education are the most important factors, and because of this, the role that companies and Government play is crucial. The consumer can make a difference, but it is business decisions and Government policy that can have the quickest and most significant impacts. Richard Naylor: This is not an easy question to answer. All initiatives are important and impact on different social, economic and environmental levels. For me, carbon reduction is so important over the next decade. There is a lot of eco-washing lip service in this regard, and more than ever it is really important that businesses – and us as individuals – do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprints to stand any chance of halting and ultimately reversing climate change. Other initiatives such as regenerative farming practices (as employed with

our Red Tractor wool farmers) feed into this reduction plan, by employing farming methods and grazing plans that actively offset the emissions of the livestock. In tandem with this, we have to design our products so they can be easily dismantled at end of life, and the materials employed ‘mined’ for new uses within the circular economy. Marlene Greenhalgh: Eco-conscious design and eco-conscious choices are at the core of the eco-conscious movement. Everything we design we choose to design. Everything we buy we choose to buy. We can choose to design products that are built to last and engineered to work for decades rather than days. We can choose to buy products that are designed to last for decades or for days. We can choose to live in a way that preserves our health and protects our planet. We can choose to distribute the earth’s resources in the most ecological and ethical way, to ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met. We can choose to think about the environmental consequences before we jet from here to there, and back again – for business or for leisure. We can choose to make products in the countries we are distributing them in. We can choose to invest in local people and in local businesses. We can choose to think local but act global, and choose to use resources in the most economically, ethically, and environmentally sustainable way. We can choose to insist on change to enhance wellbeing, and safeguard ecosystems by stopping wars, waste, pollution, and by embracing change for the greater good. Or we can choose to stick with the status quo.





HOW HAVE YOUR PRODUCTS/SERVICES EVOLVED IN RECENT MONTHS TO MEET CHANGING DEMAND FOR ECO-CONSCIOUS GOODS/WORKING PRACTICES? Roger Durrans: As a business, we are already very eco-conscious, and constantly striving to be moreso. In 2020, we were very proud that Jay-Be was highly commended in the NBF Bed Industry Awards’ Sustainability category, and it has made us realise that we need to further highlight our eco credentials and achievements. Richard Naylor: Our whole brand direction changed 11 years ago. All products produced at Hypnos have sustainable development principles that continually improve. For example, Hypnos were the first company, 11 years ago, to go foam free. We were also the first company to become carbon neutral on a voluntary basis (more companies do it now, because it is mandatory for companies of a certain size). Our product design principles focus on recycled materials, natural materials and chemical-free/zero offgas compositions. Within these areas, we develop and adopt new initiatives such as Red Tractor Wool or Cotton Connect/ BCI Cotton, or our latest renewable carbon-negative plastic packaging, for example.


Alun Watkins: It’s difficult to speak from a FISP perspective, but from a PEFC point of view, we have certainly seen an increase in the number of companies undergoing certification so they can be confident that their raw materials originated in well-managed forests. Certification enables these companies to provide their customers with assurances of responsible sourcing. Mandy Carmody: We have always been adaptable, but like many other companies, as lockdowns have happened and travel is restricted, we have become more desk-based, with Skype and Zoom calls allowing us to continue to work with companies and global supply chains, as regulations still need to be met. We are seeing an increase in questions regarding sustainability and FSC/PEFC-accredited materials, which is heading in the right direction. Marlene Greenhalgh: Our philosophy predates the pandemic and is bolstered by its lessons – not least that designers and businesses worldwide have a crucial role in building back better if we are to successfully protect our species and our planet for future generations. We have designed and engineered a sleep solution that will revolutionise the sleep industry, not out of vanity – we have done so because unless we did something, nobody in the mattress industry would. Innovation is motivated by curiosity, propelled by passion, and driven by skill, self-belief, and sheer bloodymindedness. Complacency is a static state. Remember Kodak’s refusal to accept the concept of film-free? Or the meat industry’s ridicule of the concept of meat-free? Or the vacuum cleaner industry’s reluctance to work in partnership with Dyson’s concept of

bag-free? Our solution is mattress-free, simply because mattresses are the problem. Ammique beds have an estimated lifespan of 250+ years, by design, and can be styled, shared, sanitised, re-styled, re-shared and re-sanitised, repeatedly – more minimum waste and maximum value. It need never go to landfill – its benefits are unrivalled. There is always a choice when faced by change – avoid or adapt. As designers and engineers, we are inclined to DARE (Deconstruct And Reconstruct Everything) to see and do things differently. Ruairi Giles: We’ve developed our product offering so it’s fully recyclable and zero to landfill. Our recyclable Cortec spring unit allowed us to develop a fully recyclable range of mattresses – the Velocity collection – that we can also eco-pack and deliver in a more energyefficient way. We’ve also now fulfilled our pledge to become a glue-, foam- and FR chemical-free business, and as mentioned, we’ve made a pledge to become fully net carbon zero in 2021. The finer details of how we hope to achieve this will be in our first annual report. Susan Inglis: Here at SFC we are supporting manufacturers, retailers and designers as they reduce their own corporate environmental footprint. The questions and requests for support we are getting suggest that companies are in action to lessen their impact – including by adopting and implementing robust policies for avoiding deforestation while sourcing wood furniture, and also asking ‘what’s it made of?’ with an eye to avoiding the handful of harmful chemicals most commonly found in furnishings.

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WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATING THE BENEFITS OF ‘GREEN’? Mandy Carmody: Understanding is the key. Consumers do understand that there are costs involved in all products we buy/sell, but the barrier is when a consumer is interested in ‘greener’ furniture but still opts for the lower-priced option, as furniture is already perceived as a high-ticket item. The greener choices are often more expensive due to there being an accreditation involved, which in turn looks after the supply chain. This is where it becomes more of a grey area, as supply chains can be lengthy and complicated, so it’s not always possible for companies to go for the ‘greener’ option without putting up prices and/or changing sources – especially if they are in the middle of the supply chain and are being asked for lower costs that affect margins in the first place. Some retailers are buying direct from a manufacturing source, which in turn forces other companies to adapt to keep moving forward (and, ultimately, survive). Richard Naylor: Our first principle is to make a comfortable, luxurious mattress that is designed under the umbrella of sustainability. The customer, whether they appreciate/desire ‘green’ principles, get them as a consequence of buying a Hypnos mattress. With this, we remain 100% true to our brand values and meet the expectations of all our customers, whether they appreciate our sustainable added-value benefits or not. In the current climate (crisis), there is little opposition to communicating ‘sustainable/eco’ features. The key is to ensure the mattress/bed does what it is supposed to do as a first principle, and then celebrate the ‘eco’ messages through third-party certified bodies.

In a market where greenwashing is prolific, we’ve elected to ensure our messaging does what it says on the tin, by investing time, effort and money in third-party certifications such as FSC timber, PEFC timber, FSC latex, Red Tractor wool, BCI cotton, Cotton Connect cotton, Global Recycling Standard (GRS) polyester and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) on various materials. None of these standards is easy, but they are consumer-recognised and very easy to celebrate in-store and online – they become desirable to celebrate, and, rather than being a barrier, create an open door. Roger Durrans: The biggest challenges are greenwashing and ‘green fatigue’. Unfortunately, there are so many companies promoting questionable ‘green’ products, and there is so much information out there, that consumers and customers are becoming sceptical about claims and feeling overwhelmed with information. Ultimately, the risk is that they start to switch off and ignore legitimate claims, which could help them make positive choices. So, as a company, our biggest challenge is communicating our legitimate green credentials in a positive way, so they are easily spotted, understood, and trusted. To overcome this, we try to keep information clear and concise, and proactively seek validation from respectable third-party independent bodies. Marlene Greenhalgh: The waste of materials and energy in producing and disposing of millions of mattresses worldwide was never sustainable, and nor is it now. Of the 8 million end-oflife mattresses discarded in 2018 in the UK, 6.25 million of them were headed


for landfill or incineration. Mattresses cannot be re-used or repurposed, and recycling them is a sticking-plaster approach, doomed to fail. The costs in energy to retrieve the few materials that might be reclaimed from mattresses make the whole process non-viable. Simply put, the future of healthy and hygienic sleep and environmental sustainability is mattress-free. A major barrier to innovative, ecoconscious, forward-thinking companies like Ammique is severely limited access to finance. The global sleep economy is worth $432b and is part of a global wellness economy worth $4.2t. Innovation flourishes with investment – what an opportunity for investors to clean up, in every way! Susan Inglis: The proliferation of greenwashing is certainly a barrier to communication. But companies that are willing to be transparent and that have a genuine story to share would do well to, because consumers are interested. Alun Watkins: The barrier is communication. I believe that sales and marketing teams have an important role to play here. For example, furniture retailers rarely communicate a product’s environmental credentials as a key feature or benefit. Manufacturers need to better communicate their sustainability credentials to their retail customers. There is an education element to all of this, so FISP members can help by labelling their products. Ruairi Giles: It’s difficult for any brand to stand out in a world of greenwash and unfortunately, while being green is an incredibly important message for us to convey, it’s not always the sexiest. We need to ensure that what we’re doing is resonating with our customer –luckily, with the different channels of good work we’re doing, we’re confident that our goals and intentions will reach both the trade and consumers in a positive way.

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Liona Ripley: Our whole board is very aware of our company’s impact on the environment, and is passionate about doing what we can to help. I have always been active in environmental issues and I’m passionate about wildlife and protecting it, and I could only work for a company that respected these values and gave me the opportunity to have an impact on a wider scale. I’m continually promoting environmental awareness throughout the business, and recently partnered Jay-Be with the West Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to work with them on local causes.


On a personal level, I have adopted a vegan lifestyle, I minimise flying, I shop locally and in season wherever possible, and, like a lot of people, I want to make a difference. Marlene Greenhalgh: To make things better, we must make things better. Mandy Carmody: I have always driven my processes to guide both the consumer and the supply chain towards doing the right thing, giving people a choice, and explaining to everyone what their choices mean for the environment and the products we buy. This is one of the reasons I enjoy this side of retail and manufacturing, which I ‘fell’ into many years ago. Helping supply chains to understand the reasons behind best practices and regulations is where it can become rewarding – and yes, I also strive to do the right thing in my private life. There are some great eco-friendly companies that are constantly evolving, with natural, biodegradable and recyclable products that will reduce the amount we all send to landfill. Susan Inglis: Well, I was raised in a family that values stewardship, and I was raised in the countryside, so I’m

particularly aware of the wonders of the natural world. I do work hard to use no more than I need, and to restore as much as I can. Richard Naylor: I have a three-year old, and it’s my duty to ensure that I do my very best to ensure that the world she grows up in is habitable and sustainable. Our damage to this planet is widely reported, and clearly this is unsustainable. I try to do my very best from a professional perspective to positively impact climate change, and from a personal perspective, yes, I do practice what I preach. For example: all my energy is purchased from green tariffs; I have just installed an air source heat pump; we recycle everything; my lawnmower, strimmer and chainsaw are all batterypowered; we buy milk from the milkman in glass bottles; we buy all our produce from local farm shops and grow our own veg; we’ve made a conscious decision to holiday only in the UK (airmiles being the largest contributor to climate change); our external lighting is solar-powered; we avoid processed food; and we buy secondhand products where possible – where not, we buy with longevity in mind. And I sleep on a Hypnos mattress!

Photos: Oporkka/iStock, © Decker

Ruairi Giles: I think it’s important for us all to take individual responsibility here – after all, it’s a global issue, and we are all in control of our own choices. Whilst governments and big businesses need to lead on seismic and fundamental change, we can all eat, buy, travel, consume and dispose of things more mindfully to reverse the damage and ensure we leave a world for future generations.

100% of Harrison Spinks’ natural fillings are carded on-site in Leeds

Alun Watkins: I have always worked in the timber or furniture industries, and that came from a love of woodworking at school, which led to studying timber technology at college and, eventually, environmental management. I always try to buy products with a good environmental footprint, and recycle whatever I can. I do get some strange looks and answers when I start asking shop assistants questions about sustainably sourced products, etc – my wife generally walks away at that point!

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Looks good, feels good, good for the planet... Ask your suppliers for PEFC-certified products Choose PEFC Discover more at FN377_Pages2.indd 41

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Caring for our forests globally and locally

PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

Photos: Oporkka/iStock, Š Decker

PEFC: Your assurance of responsibly sourced furniture

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22/03/2018 09:23



SUCCESS AND SUSTAINABILITY Last year, Denmark’s flat-pack forerunner Steens Group pledged its long-term commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. Paul Farley caught up with Steens’ UK & Ireland MD, Alan Cozens, to discover how, with demand at an all-time high, the business’ waste reduction agenda was faring …

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to new opportunities. And, as consumer shopping habits changed, Steens’ UK and Ireland operation – which was already heavily weighted towards ecommerce – flourished, Alan’s team stepping up “magnificently” to meet the challenge. “Our customers enjoy real-time stock availability, and keeping all those order portals up to date is no mean feat. But, despite the sheer scale of orders (it’s astronomic), and having to manage all those home deliveries, I don’t think our customers saw any sustained reduction in service levels.”

Pine now arrives at Steens’ factory cut to size, significantly reducing fuel and plastic waste


Aside from a few weeks last spring, Steens has been busier than ever, seeing significant double-digit sales growth by the year’s end, says Alan. “Order intake dropped quite markedly at the start of the lockdown, but quickly recovered – the latent demand was so much higher than expected,” he reveals. “Yes, there’s been huge pressure on our key lines, and our stock levels have been strained. But, despite all that, it’s been our best year ever.” When supplies were interrupted, the group’s enviable financial strength enabled it to react quickly and decisively

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READ MORE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET 43 Steens is committed to FSC-certified timber

With fresh challenges emerging daily, and production busier than ever, it would be easy to assume that the goals set out in Steens’ Environmental Sustainability Programme – a reinforced commitment to FSC-certified pine, waste reduction, recycling and re-use, reduced factory power consumption, and more, all aligned to the UN’s pillars of sustainable development – might have taken a back seat.

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WE’RE MAKING MORE THAN EVER, BUT IT’S DONE WITH SUSTAINABILITY IN MIND Far from it. “Improved productivity actually means better sustainability outcomes,” Alan explains. “We’re making more than ever, but it’s done with sustainability in mind, so we’re reducing waste across the board, and working more efficiently. It’s a win-win situation.” Take a recent example. For highvolume lines, Steens is now buying timber components in the required lengths, rather than cutting them to suit in its factory. Doing so has already reduced truck use by -6%, and saved a massive 13 tonnes of plastic. “We’re still working on cutting our plastic consumption,” says Alan. “Often, we’re limited by what our suppliers can work with – but they’re getting there, too!” In the meantime, the business is also finding more energy-efficient ways of taking its goods to market. Confronted

with the cancellation of the industry’s major trade shows, Steens decided to develop its own virtual showroom (which mirrors its in-house facility in Kjellerup, Denmark). It was launched on 20th January – the day imm cologne would have opened, had a pandemic not stood in the way – and gives customers an idea of what they might have encountered on its stand, including visuals of Oniria, a new Steens for Kids range. “A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have embraced the idea of a virtual showroom, but it actually works really well,” says Alan. “The world’s a different place now. “But I don’t think the pandemic will fundamentally change how we do business. Indeed, our commitment to sustainable practices is stronger than ever”

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HELPING HANDS Following an unprecedented year, James Keen, chief executive at Hypnos Beds, looks at how the retail landscape has changed for retailers and consumers …

James Keen


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As we begin the year with more restrictions, it’s important to look to the future and how we can all work together to continue to support our consumers and their changing needs. As an industry, optimising our customer experience is important, and that’s why manufacturers, such as ourselves, must continue to adapt and transform our business. This includes committing resources towards enhancing our ethical supply chain to produce sustainable products and raise service standards – it starts with us. This ensures that not only are we making beds with supreme quality and comfort, but that customers can be confident they’re investing in products that support sustainable living. The focus on sustainable living is part of a wider rise in conscious consumerism, where more and more customers are taking a keener interest in the background and behaviours of the brands they buy from. It’s clear many consumers want to purchase from ethical British manufacturers, with sustainability credentials playing a large role in this. One of the most noticeable changes for everyone within the industry this year is the temporary closure of retail stores, with customers buying more mattresses and beds online, without being able to compare and test mattress comfort or consider styling elements. This has

resulted in a temporary shift away from in-store browsing to online searching, comparison and purchasing, which is likely to continue to grow – but not to replace the expert advice and inspiration from in-store shopping experiences. Whilst this trend for convenient online shopping can not be ignored, and we need to develop our digital presence to ensure our presence for both online searchers and shoppers, we must continue to enhance our traditional instore customer experience and overall service. Finally, there has never been a time where the importance of personal wellbeing and the restorative powers of sleep has been so crucial, and this carries through to consumer expecations when looking at mattreses and beds. It’s absolutely essential that we continue to provide expertise and bespoke products which create tangible boosts to sleep comfort and, in turn, overall health. In the coming months, retailers will be expected to provide even better online customer experiences in the absence of in-person assistance and expertise from staff. Whether this is through live chat features, online buying guides or other innovations, it will be interesting to see how our industry continues to adapt and overcome adversity, with Hypnos helping to support our retailers in a number of ways

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3923 H

We value the people, animals and places behind our new sustainable and ethical bed ranges.

Expertly handcrafted mattresses with 100% traceable British Wool from Red Tractor assured farms. Carbon Neutral | Handmade in Britain and 100% recyclable

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| A proud member of The Better Cotton Initiative

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24/09/2020 17:16



MAKING A DIFFERENCE Doing our bit to protect the planet is a responsibility for us all, writes Anne Davies, owner of Yorkshire-based multichannel retailer, Room to Grow – yet furniture businesses definitely have a part to play …


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Real change can most often be achieved through small tweaks to the processes adopted by manufacturers and retailers.As a children’s bedroom specialist working within the furniture industry, we are not only committed to helping parents create inspiring bedrooms for their children, but also aim to do it in the most sustainably responsible way possible. When it comes to selecting the brands we work with, we ensure that all of the furniture created by our manufacturers originates from sustainably sourced timber that is FSC- or PEFC-certified. Not only are the materials from which the furniture is made important, but also the packaging used to protect it during delivery. We ensure that all elements of our packaging are recyclable, and the team is working hard to reach its goal of omitting all plastic and polystyrene within the packaging by 2023. The brands we choose to work with are also carefully selected – often based upon their eco-conscious credentials. The perfect example of this is our JayBe range of mattresses, which has been developed using sustainable materials. With the inner mattress structure made from flexibly bonded e-fibres that are completely free of harmful chemicals and VOCs, the mattresses are also 100% foam-free, making them a comfortable and sustainable choice for children’s bedrooms. The Jay-Be mattresses are also

vacuum-packed in recyclable material and rolled to reduce pack size by 70%. Small considerations such as this work wonders in helping to lower transport carbon emissions when products are being shipped. As well as working with likeminded brands, we align closely with the British Heart Foundation to save old or unwanted furniture going to landfill. As part of the initiative, The British Heart Foundation will arrange collection of any unwanted beds and bedroom furniture at no cost to the customer, before taking it back to their base and selling it in one of their many shops across the UK. This partnership is key in reducing landfill, and helps to raise vital funds for life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases. So far, our team has raised an impressive £11,000 through the furniture collection partnership, with ambitions of reaching £20,000 by the end of 2021. The phrase ‘doing your bit’ is often reiterated when we think of recycling and being more conscious of our environment. Although personal actions are just as important, retailers and manufacturers have the power to make small changes to their processes that can make a world of difference. As a company that values wellbeing and the importance of creating inspiring spaces, Room to Grow is committed to a more environmentally friendly future, and is actively playing its part in real change to help protect our planet

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Supply Chain Sustainability


Reducing Our Plastic Footprint

Recycling Timber



Reduced Power Consumption

Sustainable Surface Treatments

Recycled Cardboard

ORDER HOTLINE / 01489 778890 EMAIL / www /

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“Eco-friendly furniture doesn’t mean low-end or non-luxurious,” says Whitemeadow’s sales director, Daniel Oscroft. “With the increase in eco-awareness and conscious consumerism, we are beginning to put the environment at the forefront of our design process. “With that, we were extremely proud to launch the Neptune range last year. The fabrics used are made solely from recycled yarns, the interiors are packed full of polyfibres that have had a

previous life as plastic bottles, and the timber elements are sourced entirely from sustainable, traceable sources. All this, and still the same quality, comfort and style you would expect from a Whitemeadow product. “As a business we have implemented a fundamental environment policy to ensure that our manufacturing processes and sourcing of materials is as sustainably focused as possible, and this will continue to be a focus for us for the long-term.”

Stuart Wallace and Mike Rowley planting trees in Brazil last March


FN377_Pages2.indd 48 At last year’s January Furniture Show, Core Products pledged to plant a tree for every visitor that came to its stand. The initiative saw a very positive response, “which just shows that the industry cares about the materials used to make furniture”, comments director, Stuart Wallace, who, together with CEO Mike Rowley, travelled to the forests of southern Brazil last March to personally embark on the planting programme. Stuart comments: “We have always considered that it is our personal responsibility to ensure the traceability and sustainability of the products we sell. Not only do we carry out our own manufacturing partner audits on a regular basis, but we also go to great lengths to ensure the wood they use is responsibly sourced. We have worked with forestry companies in the region for over 20 years, so this is nothing new to us.”

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The world has changed

have you caught up yet? Is your compliance up to date with the changes and if you’re a supplier to the bigger retailers are your policies in line with theirs? Customers are increasingly informed of where product is coming from and because of that the market place has to change to become more transparent and work towards sustainability. Is your business thinking of becoming more sustainable and working towards an accreditation such as FSC? Have you been audited, understand it? Do you have questions? need help to guide you through the process? QSL can supply support as a one off or as an on going consultancy. T: +44 (0)1354 677101 / 0758 4284989 E:

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22/01/2021 11:50

The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charity


Things don’t always follow the design


There may be times you need

have in mind

often throw some curve balls

We will always be there for

The Furniture Makers’ Company has been supporting the welfare of employees in the interiors and furnishing industry for more than 100 years. If you or someone you know is in need of financial support, let us help. Visit our website or contact 020 7256 5558 This advertising space was generously donated by Furniture News magazine in support of The Furniture Makers’ Company’s welfare campaign. The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ Charitable Funds incorporating the Furnishing Trades Benevolent Association is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1015519) and a registered company (no. 02759359) in England and Wales

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12/10/2017 15:22

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bigger the savings), members benefit from having experts like Phil on hand for support and advice. With Brexit bringing about some divergence from existing EU standards, plus the ever-evolving nature of product legislation, there is significant demand for guidance across the board – flammability, REACH, product safety and marking, slip testing and sustainability are just some of the areas SATRA can advise upon, and Phil plans to offer the wider trade a variety of virtual taster classes throughout the year.

Geoff Bindley, Johnny Worthington (senior team leader) and Phil Reynolds head-up SATRA’s furniture & floorcoverings division


“It’s an exciting time here,” says Phil Reynolds (divisional manager, furniture & floorcoverings), who joined SATRA in December, bringing a wealth of fresh expertise to the testing house as it looks to expand its dedicated furnishings services and membership base. “SATRA’s always had a great reputation for product testing, but we’re making several changes here to make our unparalleled expertise even more accessible. Given the wider situation, businesses are hungry for guidance and support around new product, so what we’re offering is invaluable.” The Kettering-based operation, which marked its centenary in 2019, has long been the authority in several product sectors, from footwear to PPE. With flooring, furniture and textiles also catered for, SATRA’s members can to tap into a vast resource of knowledge and skills – such as a fully-featured innovation and research department, complete with the latest product development tools (mattress pressure mapping, 3D printing, high-speed video analysis, and more). As well as discounts on testing services (the bigger the throughput, the

Phil Reynolds in SATRA’s furniture test centre

Thanks to the perfect storm of Covid-19 and Brexit, the rules of product development and delivery are changing fast, and demand for professional support services has never been greater. With that in mind, research and testing specialist SATRA is significantly expanding its membership offer, reports Furniture News …

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INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 51 SATRA is able to stress-test a wide range of furnishings

“Basically, we act as an extension of our members’ technical teams,” says Christine Anscombe (assistant director, commercial). “Thanks to Covid-19, everyone’s experiencing staff absences right now, including key members of their technical teams – and we can pick up that role.” SATRA is also planning to deliver a raft of dedicated online resources for the sector, plus opportunities to network across borders via technical forums. “We want the wider furnishings industry to have access to what we know,” Christine continues, “and with more people engaging with technical

delivery online, we can reach more businesses than ever.” SATRA veteran Geoff Bindley (department manager, furniture & floorcoverings) is excited at the prospect of taking the company’s proven furnishings offer to the next level. “We’ve made significant investment in new furnishings testing machinery in recent years, as well as helping members create their own in-house testing facilities and working with them one-to-one to develop new products,” he says. “We’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic to deliver essential services across various

industries, and maintained our ability to respond quickly and effectively – for which our members are continually grateful.” By establishing an all-encompassing, high-value membership package, SATRA is making its fast-evolving services even more accessible – at a time when the industry is most in need of them. “The market has changed, and furnishings sourcing has changed – if anything, the industry’s even more global than it was before the pandemic,” Phil concludes. “There’s truly never been a better time to join SATRA”


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PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES Fashion retailer FatFace is another Graffiti client


Promoting in-store ice creams at Loaf’s Battersea store As well as being key to increasing ROI, temporary signage is also a great tool with which to inform a customer base of crucial information without making them search online, states experienced signage specialist, Graffiti Design With so many other businesses striving to achieve greater online reach, it is worth considering how custom-designed signage can help promote an online offering instore. It may be an A-board listing product delivery times, or a window vinyl urging customers to check in online – there are many ways to help maintain customer loyalty and generate further business, without breaking the bank. Graffiti Design is well-versed in re-brands and helping small businesses reach their full potential. To discuss specific requirements with one of Graffiti’s specialists, call 01435 866763 or email

John & Sylvia Reid at Nathan, with mid-century styling

NATHAN FURNITURE As the pressure on retail continues to mount due to the prolonged impact of Covid-19, established furniture manufacturer Nathan has taken the bold step of investing in an interiors stylist to broaden its appeal to a new generation of social media-savvy clientele. The appointment of Victoria Alderson, a freelance artist and interior designer, has enabled the Yorkshire-based company to reach thousands of new Instagram accounts as well as raising its content interactions by nearly +40% over the last quarter of 2020. Nicholas Radford, MD of Nathan Furniture, says: “Victoria has done a great job pulling Nathan into the 21st century. Fantastic styling of the product, with on-trend accessories and great photography has been a vital part of our new approach on Instagram and, more recently, Facebook. “Instagram is absolutely image-led, and so the photographs posted need to be right, and Victoria has a great eye

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for that. She is also passionate about engaging with potential customers, which is key to driving forward each campaign and generating new interest in the company and our products. Consumers’ buying habits were already changing, but Covid-19 has hastened for us the importance of establishing a solid and attractive online presence.” Nathan Furniture has also amended how its retail offer is presented on its website, by rebranding its sub-brands

to help with the comparisons of similar items. “We’ve discovered that younger customers aren’t searching for a suite of furniture, they are more interested in finding that one, key stand-out piece of furniture,” says Nicholas. “Mixing and matching across a range, as well as mixing contemporary with vintage pieces, is very much on-trend, and our aim is to create a website that supports that.” To see more, visit www.instagram. com/nathanfurniture1916.

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HALL OF FAME Seven years ago, The Furniture Awards were developed by Furniture News magazine in partnership with the January Furniture Show to bring the industry’s most creative, intelligent and industrious suppliers to the fore. This month, we celebrate these inspiring alumni, and catch up with some of last year’s winners …


“In a highly competitive industry, it’s crucial to seize every opportunity to stand out,” says Furniture News’ Paul Farley, who co-ordinates and chairs the annual awards programme. “As the biggest gathering of furniture and interiors suppliers in the UK, the January Furniture Show presents an excellent opportunity to celebrate the industry’s best and brightest.” With UK trade shows currently on hold, it will be some time before the next instalment of The Furniture Awards is able to take place – but Kate Pilling, marketing manager at January Furniture Show organiser Clarion Events, is looking forward to seeing them return. “The Furniture Awards are always a highlight of the show, and a fantastic way for us as an organiser to support and champion excellence in the industry,” she says. “The winners are always a diverse group, as the judges select the

very best from across the furniture and interiors sector. We look forward to continuing to support the awards.” Selected from a shortlist by an evolving panel of top retailers and industry experts each year, the awards have recognised a good number of champion suppliers over the years, across various pricing and product categories. Last year’s winner in the Living & Dining Cabinet was Fortune Woods UK. “As a fairly young company, we were thrilled to be nominated for our designs over the last few years – and indeed to win the best Living & Dining Cabinet supplier award for 2020,” comments sales director Mark Bonner. “Winning the award gave us more exposure and helped enhance our reputation as a leader within our market sector. Indeed, the 2020 January Furniture show was by far the most

From left: James Howard (head of sales, January/Manchester Furniture Show); Paul Farley (editor-in-chief, Furniture News); Craig McGowan (MD, Fortune Woods); Mark Bonner (sales director, Fortune Woods); and Rob Whotton (creative director of regular awards sponsor, Orbital Vision)

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successful that we’ve attended.” Mark says his team is continually working on new designs, and looks forward to presenting these to new and existing customers in the near future. “The pandemic has been a challenging time for all businesses, and as an importer/wholesaler, have become even more testing and difficult to manage in recent times. Fortune Woods are committed to leading the market in both service and design, and we’re working closely with all our valued customers during these unprecedented times.” In the Bedroom Cabinet category, Wiemann scooped its third consecutive win – an unprecedented achievement, which truly helped cement the supplier’s status in the UK marketplace, says Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent in the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture. “There’s no doubt that being able to describe ourselves as ‘award-winning’ – not just once, but three times – has enhanced Wiemann’s reputation and been a fantastic platform for talking positively to our existing and potential retail partners about the quality and value of our products and service,” he says. “The wins have been a great moralebooster for the team, who strive so hard to always deliver great products and service. “Now, we’re cracking on as much as possible with business as usual. When the going gets tough, you can retreat into a corner and wait for things to get better – or you can jump in with both feet and find the opportunities that are always there for the taking, with a view to emerging from the other side stronger than ever. “We’re still spending and investing in the UK. We’ve still got plans for launching new products in the early part of the year. We are able to deliver and install safely. We have products that can be sold online just as well as in-store. We see no reason why we can’t continue to drive sales successfully with both

ROLL CALL! 2020 Winners: Wiemann (Bedroom Cabinet), Collins & Hayes (Upholstery), Gingko Electronics (Accents), Fortune Woods (Living & Dining Cabinet), Silentnight (Mattresses & Divans) Highly Commended: Cintique/ Celebrity (Upholstery), Gallery Direct (Living & Dining Cabinet), Arte-N Furniture (Bedroom Cabinet) existing and new retail partners. Bring it on!” In the Upholstery category, Collins & Hayes Furniture fought off stiff competition to be crowned 2020’s winning supplier (building on a Highly Commended performance in 2016). “The Collins & Hayes story started in 1870, and it has always been in our DNA to deliver enduring comfort and understated style to all living rooms,” says sales & marketing director, Jo Slaven. “To win The Furniture Awards in 2020, our 150th year, was a fabulous accolade, and testament to the preservation of our design credentials and brand values. “We won with Bailey, a versatile and modern modular range, and the Banks chair, once part of our collection in the 1960s, which we reinvented to create a modern classic, statement piece. Thank you to the judges who deemed us worthy. “But who knew what that year would bring? It was a very challenging year indeed for our industry – a year in which we all learned a lot, and took nothing for granted. “With that in mind, we must approach 2021 with energy, flexibility and creativity, as the world and industry as we knew them have changed. At Collins & Hayes, our focus, first & foremost, will be on teamwork and partnership.” The Furniture Awards will return alongside the next edition of the January Furniture Show, now taking place from 23rd-26th January, 2022

2019 Winners: Wiemann (Bedroom Cabinet), Parker Knoll (Upholstery), Hartman UK (Accents), ALF UNO (Living & Dining Cabinet), Sealy UK (Mattresses & Divans) Highly Commended: Silentnight (Mattresses & Divans), Jual Furnishings (Bedroom Cabinet), Thought Machine (Accents), Alpha Designs (Upholstery), Gallery Direct (Living & Dining Cabinet) 2018 Winners: Tetrad (Living), Wiemann (Bedroom), Gallery Direct (Dining), Think Rugs (Decor), Highly Commended: Alpha Designs (Living), Fortune Woods (Bedroom), Bentley Designs (Dining), 2017 Winners: Nolte Möbel (Bedroom), Bentley Designs (Dining), Tetrad (Living), Flair Rugs (Decor) Highly Commended: Cottonsafe Natural Mattress (Bedroom), Evanyrouse (Dining), Asiades HK (Living) 2016 Winners: Think Rugs (Value), Bentley Designs (Mid-level), Nicoletti Home (Upper-level) Highly Commended: Gallery Direct (Mid-level), Collins & Hayes (Upperlevel) 2015


Winners: Bentley Designs (Value), Gallery Direct (Mid-level), Henderson Russell (Upper-level) Highly Commended: Time Living (Value), Tetrad (Upper-level)

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OPINION THINKING AHEAD 58 TALES FROM THE SHOWROOM FLOOR When stores are permitted to re-open, their teams must hit the ground running, says Furniture Sales Solutions’ Adam Hankinson

60 DOS MARCOS’ HYBRID THEORY US mattress industry veteran Mark Quinn shares the thinking behind his new book, and explains how he helped change the conversation around sleep products

62 POST-BREXIT CONTRACT MANAGEMENT Stephen Sidkin outlines some of the finer points of doing business in this new environment

65 PARTNER COMMENT New Furniture Industry Research Association chair, Brian Ahern, reveals how the group has helped its members develop new products for a nation working from home

66 FEEDBACK You’ve read what the experts make of the sustainable furniture movement (p35) – but how are some of our regular contributors’ businesses going greener?

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MAKING UP LOST GROUND With less than a week conducted of the calendar’s biggest trading period (and that’s the lucky ones – Northern Ireland and Wales were already closed for customers before Boxing Day), we’re all hoping and praying that, when we reopen, we can pull back some of the lost sales we’ve missed thanks lockdown #3, writes Adam Hankinson. But when the chance arises, how can we ensure our teams hit the ground running?


If you don’t use it, you lose it! With an earliest expected re-opening of the 3rd week of February, for most salespeople the lockdown will mean a seven-week period of extremely limited interaction with other people outside their bubble – let alone an enthusiastic, highly charged and engaging sales opportunity, maximised in the moment. Our intrepid salespeople will hopefully be champing at the bit – but will just as likely be feeling a sense of trepidation, accompanied by the fear of having ‘lost it’ (‘it’ being the art of conversation) whilst in enforced hibernation. The art of conversation The art of conversation – and it is an art – is a beautiful sight to behold, and even better to be part of. The effortless ping-pong of questions and answers, the active listening skills of an intrigued Columbo, and the eye contact and body language of two beautiful swans courting, leading to a level of connection that starts with chitchat or small talk, works its way onto common ground, and ultimately ends in trust, the tipping point for closing any sale. Helping our industry’s own frontline workers We will, then, need to help our ‘frontline’ workers prepare for a seamless return to successful selling – by keeping in touch with them (if they’re furloughed), and by holding some digital training sessions (you can still conduct staff training whilst colleagues are furloughed without penalty or charge) before we re-open, blowing off the cobwebs and helping them warm-up their attitude, selling skills and product knowledge.


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Three steps to getting match-fit Here are three steps to consider for getting the team ready to hit the ground running when we can all re-open.

Session 1: Limbering up A 1-1.5hr Zoom or Teams meeting, to just have a catch-up and see how everyone is coping and share situations and anxieties (children and pets welcome!). Make it fun and interactive, and ensure everybody gets a chance to share/speak on the call (you will see people warm up as the call goes on). Session 2: Remembering products A quiz that involves general and product knowledge. Again, book a call with the team 1-1.5hrs long, and share the question-creation task equally amongst the participants (for example, 10 people come up with four questions each, two general knowledge and two on product knowledge, to give you a bank of 40 questions in total). For added competitiveness, you could split your teams into groups or locations/ breakout rooms. Session 3: The day before returning to work/re-opening If possible, this should be held physically in the store. I would recommend at least half a day of the whole team working together to ensure they are ready to rock and roll, and to reacquaint themselves with colleagues and their long-forgotten work environment. Make this as much fun as possible, and include a bought-in breakfast or lunch celebrating the opportunity ahead – and a blood-boiling inspiring and motivational meeting that gets everybody up for it! This is a people business, and we owe it to ours to help them get them in the best possible place for them to do well – for themselves, and for the business. I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it – you need a plan (and now you have one!)

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28/01/2021 15/01/2021 17:21 11:34



HYBRID THEORY When Leggett & Platt’s Mark Quinn and Mark Kinsley saw sprung mattresses falling out of favour with the US consumer, rather than maligning the competition they decided to change the conversation around sleep (with just a word). In this article, Mark Quinn – bed industry veteran, podcaster, and the co-author (with Mark Kinsley) of Come Back to Bed, a new book written to help independent retailers drive footfall and customer loyalty – explains how …



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In 2009, Leggett & Platt, the world’s largest producer of innersprings for the mattress industry, found itself in a difficult position. A few mattress brands had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince consumers that innersprings were old technology, and that foam and air beds were better. The erosion of market share was beginning to hurt Leggett’s business, so we had to figure out a way to reverse that trend. Innersprings needed to be ‘the cool kid’ again. It was time for Leggett & Platt to position itself not just as a wire-bender, but as a thought leader in the mattress industry. When competitors are beating you up on price every day, you have to get creative. It was time for us to step up and step out. I remember sitting around a conference table at Leggett’s corporate headquarters in Carthage, Missouri, and Mark Kinsley (now the president and CEO of US mattress business Englander) asking me, “what’s the conversation around innersprings?” I told him the narrative with the most traction was “springs suck and foam’s great”. He said we had to change the conversation, noting: “The worst comeback when someone says you suck is ‘no I don’t – you suck.’ People are convinced springs are squeaky old technology. We can’t try to say we’re better. We have to change the conversation.” I remember watching a golf tournament on Sunday morning and seeing a great commercial about hybrid golf clubs. Another ad celebrated the newest hybrid car. At that moment, I heard a gong go off in my brain. I jumped up and started making notes. For years, mattresses had been made with both springs and foam. It wasn’t an either/or proposition – together, springs and foam were better. Together, they were a hybrid. That language was familiar to consumers, and we thought people would understand it. We asked retail sales associates (RSAs) to use the term ‘hybrid mattress’

in the selling process and tell us their observations. The RSAs reported back that people understood the term, it increased their average ticket, and from door-to-desk it shortened the sales cycle. Our team also did an internet sweep and discovered that nobody was using the term ‘hybrid’ to define a mattress. A search audit showed (US industry magazine) Furniture Today had never used it. This left things wide open for us to define hybrid mattresses in a way that served Leggett & Platt. We created our own category. The language freshened things up and gave bedding producers and retailers a new way to talk about the latest sleep technology. And we positioned Leggett & Platt’s Comfort Core innersprings among the heroes of the story. The RSAs liked hybrids and consumers understood the term, so we knew we were onto something. The question was, how could we get an entire industry to adopt our new way of thinking? Naturally, we decided to make a rap video. Through a partnership with Second City Communications out of Chicago, we created a rap video about hybrid mattresses called Get Hybrid. Go to YouTube and search for ‘Get Hybrid Mattress Rap’ – it’s worth the two minutes and 56 seconds, I swear. We

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INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 61 Mark Quinn and Mark Kinsley, the hosts of the Dos Marcos podcast

The Get Hybrid rap video gave Leggett & Platt’s new approach widespread recognition

think you’ll agree that it is, without a doubt, the best mattress rap video ever produced. That Get Hybrid video was like a Super Bowl commercial. It was a large part of a broader strategy to push major mattress manufacturers into using the term ‘hybrid’. One year after the campaign launched, Sealy aired a national television ad with a product called the Sealy Hybrid, becoming the first major retailer to embrace the new category, and validating our strategy. The hybrid mattress was eventually adopted by every major bedding

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producer, including some of the companies that had been attacking springs for years. Hybrids soon became the fastest-growing and most profitable segment in the industry. The results were measurable. We had reversed the erosion. Leggett was no longer losing market share, and innersprings outpaced specialty foams for nine out of the next 10 quarters, generating millions in sales and profits. The strategy wasn’t entirely without risk, but Leggett said yes to the idea and it paid off big. Our business shot up by over +30%, bringing millions

in profit to the company and to our customers, the bedding producers that jumped on the hybrid train. We were able to do all this not by attacking our competitors, but because we changed the conversation. If you want to ignore your problems, there are 1001 ways to justify inaction, but we know where that leads. Be bold. Take action. Mark’s book – Come Back to Bed: Attract More Foot Traffic and Make People Fall in Love with Your Store – is available on Amazon.




DEVIL IN THE DETAIL The free trade deal with the EU is the equivalent of arthritis – you can still do most of what you did before, but it just takes a bit longer and is more painful, says Stephen Sidkin, who explains some of the finer points of post-Brexit contract management …


Something that may help alleviate the pain is good contract management and awareness of the roles and responsibilities of those businesses in your supply chain. Getting ahead of risks and uncertainties can help to put your business in the best position to face the new terrain ahead. Identifying potential potholes and areas of friction now may prevent arguments and delays in the near future. Terms and conditions of sale/purchase Whilst there will be uncertainty as to the division of roles and responsibilities with unwritten contracts, written contracts can leave gaps that are only become obvious when circumstances change. For example, here’s a provision in respect of the delivery of goods: “Seller shall deliver goods to Buyer at Buyer’s address.” What this fails to state is: at who’s cost; which party insures the goods in transit; when delivery takes place, for the purpose of risk of damage or loss – when goods are loaded onto the third-party carrier’s lorry, when the goods are available for unloading at the buyer’s address, or when unloaded; and who is responsible for clearing the goods for export or import? Also, do your terms and conditions contain a ‘no oral modification’ clause that provides that amendments are to be made in writing and signed by the parties in order to be effective? If not, could it be said that conduct to date has varied the terms and conditions in place? Does this leave you in a more or less favourable position? No oral modification Where there is a ‘no oral modification’ clause in the terms and conditions, and the seller occasionally helped out the odd key customer by delivering to the customer in the EU, where does that leave the seller’s role and obligations?


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ATA Carnets (‘passport for goods’) Moving away from the concept of delivery, what about where your contract obliges your counterparty to attend trade shows? Post-pandemic, trade shows are again likely to be a popular

forum at which businesses and their products can be displayed to potential buyers. Whilst guidance is to be updated, we anticipate that ATA Carnets will be needed to passport samples from the UK to the EU – but who will be responsible for putting in place the paperwork to ensure that samples can be taken with the attendee, where the contractual terms are silent? UK distributors Where you are acting as a distributor under a contract with a manufacturer based in Germany, you will become the importer that places the products on the UK market. As this is a new concept, it is unlikely that your role as importer and the additional obligations that will be placed on you are addressed by the distribution contract. Such obligations include labelling and conformity processes. It may be the case that the additional risk that accompanies such burdens would have resulted in a different price or a more favourable position in respect of purchase requirements being negotiated and accepted by you when the contract was put in place. VAT Changes in VAT payments will need to be understood. Whether importing or exporting goods, VAT rules are likely to change. What are the implications of this in terms of record keeping, VAT returns, and cashflow? Do changes need to be made in terms of your supply chain structure? If you are the seller, what costs are you to put on your customers, and how will this reflect on your brand? An open dialogue between businesses in the supply chain is critical at this stage and in the months to come. Businesses will be battling to keep on top of additional paperwork and logistical challenges, but it is important to: reflect on terms in place with counterparties in order to highlight potential risk areas; and, where necessary, agree on the sharing of additional roles and responsibilities moving forwards

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At The Helm Join Hydeline’s voyage of discovery BEDROOM / DINING / LIVING IFHS / AUTUMN FAIR / TRADE SERVICES

#367 October 2019

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The International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP) comprises 17 of the world’s leading industry trade publications. As the IAFP’s UK representative, Furniture News can offer exporters and importers market information, contacts and reach through the most effective B2B channels.

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19 15:07



WORKING TOGETHER With Covid-19 creating demand for new home-working solutions, the Furniture Industry Research Association’s experts have been busy helping the group’s members deliver fit-for-purpose products, writes the association’s new chair, Brian Ahern.


Designers have been quick to identify possible solutions, and FIRA International’s testing laboratory has drawn on test methods from different areas to look at these. This includes desks designed to fold into walls that collapse down to the size of a suitcase when not in use – even beds that convert into desks during the day. When it comes to office chairs, the difference between flammability requirements for domestic and contract environments has been a regular topic of discussion – with chairs that meet the contract requirements sometimes not meeting the domestic regulations due to the use of different test methods. FIRA is working with its members to educate and clarify these issues, and this will be fed into the ongoing review of the flammability regulations and help shape the revised requirements. Whilst this has been a worrying time for us all, as an industry there are positive signs. People have had to spend more time at home, and this has led to a desire to improve and adapt the space. People’s desire to improve general wellbeing and ability to effectively work from home has seen an increased spend on home improvements and furnishings, with some retailers reporting record sales figures. As we go forward into 2021, I am sure that with the initiative, quick thinking and adaptability of the furniture industry, we will as a whole manage to overcome any challenges that present themselves. The research association will be continuing its efforts to ensure that knowledge, information and research that is a benefit to the whole sector is right at the forefront of what we do



I think everybody would agree that 2020 was the most challenging year in living memory – both in and outside of work, with the twin assaults of Brexit and Covid affecting every part of our working and home lives, and in many cases bringing the two together as a large number of us began working from home. But, as the old saying goes, every challenge presents an opportunity, and the furniture industry certainly embraced the challenge of Covid, innovating new products and adapting existing ones to help people set up home offices that were safe, durable and ergonomically fit for purpose. FIRA, in its role as the leading furniture industry association, has played its part in assisting its members with this – with home working guides available for employers and employees, and a home working DSE assessment service, ensuring employees are working in a safe and comfortable environment (long periods sitting on an unsuitable chair can cause long-term health issues, and we have worked to ensure proper guidance and support is available). In addition, the FIRA testing department experts have provided advice to members as to the correct testing requirements – a vital service as retailers and manufacturers moved out of their traditional markets and product ranges. FIRA International’s testing and technical consultancy manager, Howard James, was particularly taken by the efforts made by furniture designers to recognise the challenges of working from home for people who don’t have the luxury of a separate room to work in, and have been trying to fit their home office into existing dining rooms, bedrooms or even kitchens.

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THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING … Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture) Alongside a more conscious productsourcing process, we’re also introducing hybrid vehicles and a new, more efficient delivery fleet, further increasing our packaging and product recycling rates, greater use of solar energy, moving to even more ultra-low-energy lighting, reinsulating all our stores, reducing delivery mileage through routing software and looking at forestry replenishment options Gavin Boden (Rhenus Home Delivery) Trying to do video calling more, instead of travelling to meetings – the whole situation with the Covid-19 crisis has taught us that this is a reasonable and productive way of doing business while taking care of the planet. We could take fewer flights and only deal with suppliers who have proven strong green policies

Jerry Cheshire (Surrey Beds) We have focused for some time on sustainable materials and recyclability – ee are selling more latex product for this reason. Additionally, old mattresses we collect are sent for recycling


Thomas Small (TCS) Most of it is happening naturally, to be fair – we’re using a lot less paper, we’ve invested in some newer vehicles with lower carbon footprints, and our packaging is now cardboard rather than plastic James Hudson (Gallery Direct) We are continually looking at ways to make the business greener, and have several projects in place to help achieve this

Steve Adams (Mattress Online) Pushing our recycling initiative as a non-profit, and actively working with our manufacturers and transport partners to reduce our use of polythene for delivery protection

Simon Ainge (Kettle Interiors) We moved to a paperless order-picking system some time ago, eliminating over 200,000 sheets of paper a year, and changing to email-only invoices to all customers who would accept them. In addition, we’re constantly reviewing vehicle efficiency and product packaging with a view to reducing our impact on the environment and managing costs Steve Pickering (Sussex Beds) Everything we collect is either reused or recycled. We separate and break down woods and metals, which are then collected for recycling. All returned mattresses are collected and sent to a facility which breaks down all the various elements – most will be reused/recycled, the remainder will be used in a fuel capacity Paul Galley (Symmetry CGI) I think CGI must count as a green business – we don’t need to build studio sets that are pulled down after use. We don’t even need to print an image! We’ve definitely switched to a digital office – I used to be buried under heaps of printouts but now, between half a dozen of us, we hardly use the printer. Even before Covid, we found that a video meeting is really handy – we can share our screens and present solutions as easily as we can in person

#377 February 2021


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