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#381 June 2021 www.furniturenews.net

NEW HORIZONS Embrace tomorrow, with CGI by Orbital

National treasure The future of British-made furniture BEST OF BRITISH | DINING THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

Price rises – the trade’s response Why Manchester is relocating to Harrogate


TRYING TO GET YOUR COMPANY TO GO GREEN? CGI IS AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OPTION … Do you still rely on traditional photoshoots to sell your furniture? There’s a better way to get the shots you need that reduces your carbon footprint. With CGI, we can prototype a visualisation of your product rather than sampling and the need to ship, you can test the images with your clients to gague interest and avoid wasting resources and producing excess inventory and associated emissions. Additionally, it cuts out the need to transport furniture to photoshoots and helps companies demonstrate that they are committed to making environmentally friendly decisions and reduce their carbon footprint. Not only does CGI help you to reduce CO2 emissions, it also gives you unparalleled flexibility, huge cost savings, and you can take your products to market right away in a fraction of the time you would usually associate with a traditional photoshoot.

In today’s world, going green matters…

CGI FURNITURE SPECIALISTS

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

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COULD THIS (SLIGHTLY) MORE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD YET BRING LONG-TERM OPPORTUNITIES? Back in the depths of Lockdown #1 (seemingly a lifetime ago), a funny thing happened. Driven by logistical necessity, neighbourly camaraderie and the will to save jobs, many of us turned to local goods and services – even if they sometimes cost a little more. Granted, it was more likely a loaf than a lounger, but across the pandemicstricken nation, people were reevaluating British-made goods and what they were willing to pay for them. At the same time, imports stalled. “We’re all going to have to get used to paying more for things,” one supplier told me. With so many of our goods at the mercy of freight, and costs boiling over, those imported consumables suddenly didn’t seem so cheap. Had we got so used to seeing ‘made in China’ stamped on the base that we believed the scenario would never change? As significant as all this disruption might still be, I don’t believe it’ll turn the prevailing import/export balance on its head. Imports, wherever they might hail from, will recover. But with the price difference closing, could this (slightly) more level playing field yet bring longterm opportunities? In this month’s issue, we’re looking at how British manufacturers are approaching the market, given the changes that have taken place and the pricing and fulfilment pressures they too have borne. What sets British-made furniture apart from the imports, and are consumers really willing to pay more for it? If so, how is the ‘buy British’ message

best conveyed? We’ve asked a host of British brands to tell their stories (from p36), while sharing a roadmap to greener pastures from Barker and Stonehouse, whose Let’s Get Going Britain campaign led the charge to buy British last summer (p12). On the theme of price rises, I ask a range of retailers and suppliers how they’re handling the hikes (p54), while columnist Gordon Hecht offers an alternative view, suggesting that some good might actually come of this trend (p58). And, for anyone confronted with diminishing margins and considering further cuts, I really have to recommend a read of Bill McLoughlin’s column on p60 … Whether you’re hungry for Britishmade or imports, the chances are you’ve developed a real appetite for new product by now. To that end, why not visit one of the key trade shows taking place this summer? The Summer Furniture Show is coming to Telford this month (read our preview on p20), while Manchester Furniture Show devotees will be glad to hear that the event will go ahead this year – albeit in a different county. Read all about the temporary relocation in our interview with Clarion Events’ Zoë Bonser on p10. See you there? Finally, depending on when you read this, there may still be time to cast your votes in our Readers’ Choice Awards – visit www.bit.ly/fn-readers-choice-awards before midnight on Friday 11th June to nominate your supply champions (home or away).

GENERAL INFORMATION

No part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific prior written agreement of the Publisher and may not be stored on any type of retrieval system. Furniture News/ Gearing Media Group Ltd accepts no responsibility for variations in colour reproduction. Special colours (Pantone etc) can be catered for with prior arrangement. Some elements of the editorial content in this publication are submitted by the trade, however, all efforts are made to ensure that the editorial remains true to fact and unbiased. Monies may have been accepted to offset the costs of colour reproduction. Gearing Media Group Ltd reserves the right to alter without prior notice any content other than customers’ advertisements. No correspondence will be entered into regarding altered or adjusted editorial content. The editor’s decision is final. All material submitted for inclusion in Furniture News is done so entirely at the owner’s risk and no responsibility is accepted for the safekeeping or return thereof. Advertiser information is reproduced in good faith and Gearing Media Group accepts no responsibility in respect of adverts appearing in the magazine, and the magazines expressed do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s views. The Publisher accepts no liability for any loss arising from an advertisement’s late or non-appearance.

Paul Farley 01424 776101

Editor-in-chief paul@gearingmediagroup.com

@FurnitureNewsED


WE ARE

FORTE

uksales@forte.com.pl www.FORTE.com.pl


5

#381 June 2021 www.furniturenews.net

CONTENTS

NEW HORIZONS Embrace tomorrow with CGI by Orbital

06 NEWS 10 INSIGHT National treasure The future of British-made furniture BEST OF BRITISH | DINING THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

20 EVENTS

Price rises – the trade’s response Why Manchester’s relocating to Harrogate

FN381_Pages.indd 1

25/05/2021 11:11

ORBITAL (COVER)

10 Clarion Events / 12 Barker and Stonehouse 14 Indesign Furniture

20 The Summer Furniture Show

30

CONTRIBUTORS 60

Bill McLoughlin, editorin-chief, Furniture Today

58

Gordon Hecht, senior manager, strategic retail, Serta Simmons Bedding Co

52

Nick Garratt, MD, British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM)

PRODUCTS 34 Dining / 36 Best of British

53 OPINION SPONSORED BY

54 Going up? / 58 Price-rise payday 60 Build it and they will come? 62 Tales from the showroom floor 65 Partner comment / 66 Feedback

10 THIS IS SET TO BE A STELLAR RETURN TO LARGE-SCALE EVENTS FOR THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY


6

NEWS

IKEA INTRODUCES BUY BACK IKEA has launched its Buy Back service in the UK, which encourages customers to sell back furniture they no longer need, in return for vouchers. The furniture will be resold within IKEA’s Circular Hubs (previously Bargain Corner) – products returned as good as new will be bought for 50% of their original price, while items with minor scratches will be bought for 40%. Furniture that is well used with several scratches will be bought for 30%. Anyone wishing to sell back their IKEA furniture can submit items for consideration by filling out an online offer request. The tool will automatically generate a preliminary offer and customers will be invited to bring the fully assembled product and offer to their nearest Returns & Exchanges desk, where they will receive an IKEA voucher. The voucher will have no expiry date, encouraging customers to only purchase new items when they need something. Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer, IKEA UK & Ireland, says: “Households are connected to around 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, consuming around a third of the energy and 10% of the water used globally. Therefore, small actions taken within them can make a significant difference, and that’s why

BoConcept has opened a 5300ft2 “digital experience concept store” in St David’s Cardiff, offering a complimentary bespoke interior design service which can present 3D visuals of BoConcept’s furniture in customers’ own homes

IKEA is so committed to making sustainable living more affordable, attractive and accessible. As one of the biggest brands in the world, we recognise our unique opportunity to help lead that change. “Through Buy Back we hope to make circular consumption mainstream – making it easier for customers to acquire, care for and pass on products in circular ways.” In tandem, IKEA is introducing Pre-Loved Labels to its secondhand items, allowing customers to learn about an item’s past before buying it. IKEA has also launched a nationwide collaboration with online re-commerce platform Gumtree to advertise and promote its recovered products.

HARROGATE TO HOST THIS YEAR’S MANCHESTER FURNITURE SHOW Exhibition organiser Clarion Events reports that the Manchester Furniture Show will go ahead this year, but will take place in Harrogate, not Manchester Central. The show will be hosted at the Harrogate Convention Centre (HCC) and the DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate from 18th-21st July, co-located with the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Clarion says the move will give exhibitors an opportunity to do business with over 10,000 additional buyers, and buyers the chance to explore over 650 brands.

Portfolio director Zoë Bonser says: “We are delighted that we are able to run the furniture industry’s first and largest in-person event for buyers and suppliers to unite and do business in over a year. After such uncertainty, we are positive that this is the opportunity the industry has been waiting for, and with 87% of buyers saying they would attend the physical show in July, we are expecting a strong return. Clarion has confirmed that the show will have its own entrances with a separate registration process, and will be situated across four halls.

WHITEMEADOW DRIVES INDUSTRY RECRUITMENT THROUGH NEW CAREERS HUB Whitemeadow Furniture has launched a new online Careers Hub which aims to educate and attract young people and those wanting a career change into the industry, and to give an insight into the various roles available within the upholstery trade. MD Ian Oscroft comments: “We employ over 650 people at present but are still needing a range of people to fill various roles, especially upholsterers and sewing machinists. This has been an exceptionally challenging 12-month period, but it has encouraged us to focus our attention on ensuring that we are employing and retaining highquality members of staff who are proud to work for the company and who are passionate about what they do.

“The Careers Hub is a further demonstration of our commitment to not only fill the skills gap in our industry but to ensure that we have a workforce that believes in our vision and values so that we can continue to be a leading supplier to our many valued customers.” Whitemeadow launched its Sewing School in 2019, and has so far trained 18 full-time sewing machinists. Whitemeadow will also launch its first Upholstery School this year – both schools will be based at the company’s new Langham Park site in South Normanton, Derbyshire. Those who complete either course will obtain a Modern Upholsterer Level 2 qualification and the offer of a full-time role with the company.

The Lighting Industry Association (LIA) has appointed Matt Sturgess as CEO, replacing interim CEO, Paul Crisp. Matt recently served as the commercial director of Sylvania Lighting and as MD at Simmonsigns Vitra has opened a 140m2 standalone retail space in Harrods, from which the Swiss manufacturer is offering home office bestsellers plus classic and contemporary furniture and accessories for every room Furniture Village has appointed Mike Broughton, its IT and business development director, to the board of directors. A digital transformation and retail expert, Mike’s career highlights include transformative roles at William Hill, Asda Walmart, Dixons Carphone, FSA and Barclays Bank JYSK has launched an employer branding campaign to help recruit store managers as it looks to grow its global estate from 3000 to 5000 Wayfair reports total net revenue worldwide of $3.5b (up $1.1b, +49.2% YoY) for Q1, ended 31st March, 2021. US net revenue was $2.8b (up $0.8 billion, +42.8% YoY), while international net revenue was $0.7b (up $0.3b, +85% YoY)

READ MORE ONLINE AT FURNITURENEWS.NET


READ MORE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET 7

John Lewis & Partners Edinburgh, located in the new St James Quarter, has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment, and now boasts a new range of services and experiences, including the retailer’s largestever World of Design hub The Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) has been postponed from September 2021 to 8-11th March, 2022. The third edition of MIFF’s online exhibition, MIFF Furniverse, will take place in August Simba has recorded its highest-ever Q1 sales and profits. Sales jumped by +295% YoY in the UK, and Simba saw a +265% YoY leap in global sales over the period Argos achieved sales growth of +10.9% YoY despite a severely depleted store network in the year ended 6th March 2021, while parent company Sainsbury’s achieved general merchandise sales growth of +8.3% and digital sales growth of +102%

The BFM says demand for furniture soared as shops and the wider economy reopened in April, when a member survey revealed a +40% rise in manufacturers reporting new orders, with 84% of respondents more confident about the general business situation than they were last October Dunelm has revised its profit expectations for 2021 from £128-£134m to in excess of £148m (before tax), reflecting high sales growth since the lockdown was lifted

READ MORE ONLINE AT FURNITURENEWS.NET

ACQUISITION TO FUEL BED-PROTECTION BRAND Hollander Sleep Products, a leading North American manufacturer of synthetic and natural bedding products, has acquired furniture cover, bed protection and home decor specialist SureFit Home Décor Group – which includes Protect-A-Bed, an industry leader in bed and mattress protection. According to Protect-A-Bed’s national sales manager, Paul Lake, the move creates an opportunity for the new Hollander Sleep & Décor company, ultimately forming an all-encompassing solutions provider with a dedicated a focus on innovation and quality. “The merger is extremely exciting, as Protect-ABed are going to be in a position to offer complete bedding solutions for all of our retail partners,” explains Paul. “Hollander is the leading bed, pillow and mattress pad supplier in North America, under owned and licensed brands which include Beautyrest, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Chaps, Great Sleep, Healthy Home, I AM, Live Comfortably, Pacific Coast Feather, Renova and Restful Nights, we simply cannot wait to show our UK partners these exciting new product ranges and brands.” Thomas Pinnau, CEO of Hollander Sleep & Décor,

comments: “Together, our organisations’ products are sold in more than 20,000 retail, specialty, department store, off-price club and discount chain stores, and through ecommerce, across the US, Canada, the UK and other international markets worldwide. This combination creates an exciting opportunity for the new Hollander Sleep & Décor organisation and all of our partners, to strengthen our foothold across these complementary product categories, channels and markets – ultimately forming an all-encompassing solutions provider with a dedicated focus on innovation and quality for the betterment of all of our customers and partners.”

EVENT ORGANISER LAUNCHES ONLINE TRADING PLATFORM Clarion Events, the organiser of exhibitions including January Furniture Show, Manchester Furniture Show, Home & Gift and Top Drawer, has launched Reveal, a trade ecommerce platform. Powered by Treniq technology and designed to complement Clarion’s existing live show portfolio, Reveal promises to be “a hub of product discovery, easy ordering, inspiration and insight, 365 days a year – a rotating shop window highlighting the work of amazing lifestyle brands, big and small”, says the event organiser. Portfolio director Zoë Bonser says: “Regardless of whether buyers are B2C or B2B, the past year has

really changed how purchases are made, with 88% of our community telling us that, off the back of our award-winning virtual events, a trade marketplace would be useful to them. With that in mind, we’ve taken our time to do thorough research, run pilots, partner with the best tech in the industry, and build a platform that is not just a temporary alternative to live events, but an exciting, essential product for our buyers and brands to do business all year round. We can’t wait to share more in coming weeks.” The first of Clarion Retail’s live events will be the co-location of Home & Gift and Manchester Furniture Show in Harrogate – read more on p10.

NBF POLL REVEALS SIGNIFICANT BED INDUSTRY CONCERNS The bed industry is warning of further price rises and extended delivery times in the wake of reported daily increases and reduced availability of raw materials. According to the National Bed Federation (NBF), bedmakers remain under huge pressure as a result of volatility in raw material costs and availability, as well as logistical issues around Brexit, plus disruption caused by Covid-19. Supplies, affected by what one manufacturer described as “daily increases”, are mainly from foam, steel/spring, timber and chipboard, and even fabrics. Members reported that: foam continues to be on allocation, with further price increases being forecast (+40% so far); wire prices for springs continue to rise as steel remains in short supply in Europe (+30%

increase so far); and timber has seen +20%-plus increases, with US building and DIY trades “sucking all the capacity” from wherever they can get it, along with demand for housing/garden furniture (including ‘lockdown bars’) far exceeding supply. With foam manufacturers facing unprecedented increases in prices paid for key chemicals such as TDI, polyols, etc, one MD said the situation had been exacerbated by Europeans not driving or flying: “As many of these chemicals are biproducts of the oil industry, this means there are considerably less biproducts available, thereby driving prices ever higher.” Freight costs, fuel rises and an increase in paperwork and surcharges for Northern Ireland and European exports were also playing a role in price hikes, according to members.


8

NEWS

READ MORE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET

RIP MARTIN GRIFFITHS, 1953-2021 Martin Griffiths, a well-known and respected figure in the mid-market furniture trade, passed away on 21st April, aged 67. Martin held a number of high-profile positions across more than two decades, going from successful sales roles to founding a family business, Top Furniture, alongside his stepson David Edwards. In 1990 Martin joined Windmill Pine, where he served as national sales and marketing manager until 1999, whereupon he took up a similar role at Topcraft Pine Furniture. In 2003 he was appointed the MD of high-volume flatpack furniture supplier Marada. Before he left that role, Martin founded Top Furniture with David, which supplied stores (and a growing number of ecommerce sites) with goods from Europe and the Far East until 2010. Martin was a true devotee of Furniture News and its predecessor, Pine News International, recalls publisher, Nigel Gearing: “I knew Martin for over 34 years, and I have to say that he was one of the last of ‘the old school’. “We first met when he was in charge of sales at Windmill Pine. My overriding memory is of how he used to greet the arrival of Pine News International: ‘Right then Nigel, I’ll tell you now, that when the publication arrives, I grab my sandwiches, close the office door, then read it stem to stern … twice, muttering expletives about the competition! Then,

Sainsbury’s has appointed former John Lewis MD Paula Nickolds to its operating board to manage its £7.8b general merchandise and clothing business, including Sainsbury’s general merchandise, Argos, Habitat and Tu brands

invigorated by the feeling that we were holding our own within a booming industry, I felt set up for the month!’ “Such was his enthusiasm for the old pine trade, that it’s one that he remained in for the remainder of his working life. “Martin will always be remembered for his quick wit, euphemisms and desire to enjoy his industry. Even after retirement, he would still attend the furniture shows ‘just to keep his eye in’, and it became our annual catch-up. I really don’t think they make ‘em like that anymore, so he will be sadly missed, and always part of my memories.”

FLA INTERNATIONAL HONOURS THE INDUSTRY’S LEADERS Some of the international furniture and interiors industry’s top businesses and exceptional individuals were recognised at the International Furniture Leadership Awards 2020/21 (FLA International) and International Interior Design Awards 2020/21 (IDA International) joint award presentation ceremony, held virtually on 29th April. In addition to the award winners, the international judging panel (including Furniture News’ Paul Farley) and the programme’s global partners, the ceremony was attended by the heads of top regional and national associations from around the world. At the outset, the two programmes received over 60 international nominations from over two dozen countries – yet as the Covid-19 pandemic went on, almost half withdrew, with many quoting the disruption caused by the pandemic. At the end of the assessment exercise, the international judging panel arrived at the final number of 14 companies/ organisations and four individuals qualifying for the awards. These outstanding companies and individuals come from retail, wholesale, manufacturing, interior design, interior fit-out and trade associations, and represent 16 countries from across APAC, the Middle East, Europe and North America. The company award winners were: AA

Sofa Club has seen a spike in sales since June 2020. The retailer has projected a further +25% YoY growth for the next 12 months

Corporation, Vietnam; Akase Co, Japan; Deesawat Industries Co, Thailand; Federmobili, Italy; Gagu Guide, South Korea; High Point Market Authority, US; IQI Concept, Malaysia; JCS Design Project, Malaysia; Matthew Lim Associates, Malaysia; Picket & Rail Holdings, Singapore; Royaloak Incorporation, India; Samin Furniture, Iran; Seki Furniture Co, Japan; and PT Home Center Indonesia (Informa). Individual awards went to: Ali Ansar Ghumman, CFO, Trendline Furnishers, Pakistan; Arie Wissmann, CEO, Wissmann Holdings, Israel; and Shermaine Ong, group executive director, Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), Singapore. The Global CEO of the Year Award (the programme’s highest accolade) went to Meutia Kumala, MD of PT Home Center Indonesia (Informa). Held annually to celebrate excellence, FLA International and IDA International honour standout organisations, as well as individuals that display remarkable leadership. They are organised by FurnitureAndFurnishing.com, one of Asia’s leading B2B furniture import/export media platforms, are endorsed by International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP), an association comprising 18 of the world’s top furniture trade publications (including Furniture News), and are supported by CIFF Guangzhou.

Dunelm reports that Paula Vennells stepped down from her position as non-executive director on 25th April. Paula was the CEO of the Post Office from 2012-19, which is under scrutiny for its role in the wrongful convictions of numerous former postmasters Next reports that fullprice sales in Q1 (ended 1st May) were down -1.5% on two years ago. The retailer’s previous central guidance assumed that Q1 would be down -10%, and this forecast was beaten by £75m. Consequently, Next has increased its central guidance for full year profit before tax by £20m, to £720m

The Vita Group won two awards at this year’s interzum fair, for its sustainable foam innovations Orbis and the VitaRest Origin pillow Through EFIC (the European Furniture Industries Confederation), the European furniture sector has expressed its concerns over the lack of a harmonised response across the EU to the pandemic, and has called for a co-ordinated response to store reopenings, vaccine roll-out, trading and goods movement, and international trade fairs READ MORE ONLINE AT FURNITURENEWS.NET


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10

INSIGHT

HOME FROM HOME I’m guessing demand is high? It certainly is! After what will be nearly 18 months with no large-scale buying and selling opportunities, there is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand. We made the decision to run these shows after much consultation with the market – exhibitors, visitors, and other stakeholders – and in a recent survey, 87% of visitors stated that they will return to live events when they get the opportunity.

Zoë Bonser

This year’s first large-scale UK furniture exhibition, Manchester Furniture Show, will go ahead next month – but not in Manchester. Paul Farley quizzes Zoë Bonser, the director of Clarion Events’ Retail portfolio (also incorporating January Furniture Show, Home & Gift, Top Drawer and new online platform, Reveal) on the reasons behind the move to Harrogate, and what visitors can expect to find … www.manchesterfurnitureshow.com

LIKE THE MANCHESTER EVENT, HARROGATE HAS A FUN, SUMMER HOLIDAY VIBE, WHICH WE KNOW THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY WILL ENJOY

Why was the decision made to relocate the furniture component to Harrogate? We are co-locating the shows this year due to space availability and venue restrictions, plus it benefits our customers – there is a lot of cross-over in the furniture and home and gift markets. Our main aim is to service both markets, and create the first opportunity for buyers and sellers to meet in person. To be really clear, this is a co-location, which means Manchester Furniture Show (MFS) in Harrogate will have its own registration process, entrances, exits and halls, but a crossover point will connect both events. What are the benefits to regular MFS visitors of doing so? Co-locating the shows in Harrogate further strengthens and secures MFS. It gives exhibitors the opportunity to network and do business not only with the usual 5000 buyers, but with over

10,000 additional Home & Gift buyers, while giving buyers the opportunity to explore product from 50 furniture show exhibitors, and over 650 additional suppliers, across four days. There are a lot of suppliers which are relevant to both the home and gift market, and to furniture and interiors, so both buyers and suppliers will benefit from the colocation in Harrogate. Harrogate is easy to get to, especially by train. The Harrogate Convention Centre is clearly signposted from the A61, and there are 200 car parking spaces available at the centre, with hundreds more at the Great Yorkshire Showground. We’ll put free transport on from there to the centre. Also, all VIPs are invited to the VIP Indigo Lounge – a space for food, refreshments and meetings. And, of course, the return to live events wouldn’t be complete without plenty of food, drinks and parties for everyone.

Harrogate Convention Centre

Are there any plans to make the relocation permanent? This is the plan for one year only. After the last year, it makes sense for us to bring the industry together in one location, but next year we are hoping, like everyone, for more normality – including with our live shows. Who are the key personnel involved with managing and selling this year’s show? The co-located shows will be driven by: show director, Russell Rule; head of sales, James Howard; and head of marketing, Amy Donnelley. Furniture show regulars may recognise sales


INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 11

Can you give us an idea of some of the exhibitors confirmed? We are delighted to have already confirmed some great fantastic names including ALF, Venjakob, Alfrank, Buoyant, GFA, Kettle, La-Z-Boy, Rauch, 3C – Das Sofa, IFD and more. James and Shona are in the process of contacting all of the exhibitors you would expect to see at MFS, and we know the line-up will be compelling – this is set to be a stellar return to large-scale events for the furniture industry. MFS is renowned for its social side. Can Harrogate offer a similar experience? In a word, yes! Home & Gift is the social event of the summer for the home and gift industry, with plenty of opportunities to catch up with friends and colleagues with a gin and tonic or two on the lawn, a BBQ, cool food shacks, and the famous Home & Gift exhibitor party. The most popular social event is Sundowners on Sunday – hopefully we’ll get lucky with the weather again this year! Like the Manchester event, Harrogate has a fun, summer holiday vibe, which we know the furniture industry will enjoy. Harrogate is a really lively destination town, full of wine bars, restaurants, Yorkshire pubs and lots of spots to relax and have fun after a busy day at the show. Across the four show days there will be a number of ‘perks and offerings’ for exhibitors and VIP buyers to enjoy, including discount cards that offer -10% reduction in most bars, restaurants and cafes across Harrogate. Plus, Home & Gift is celebrating its 60th anniversary, so we’ll certainly be raising a glass or two to that. Based on their Home & Gift experiences over the years, can the team share any useful tips for newcomers? Great question! Harrogate Convention

The Manchester Furniture Show website – along with the rest of Clarion’s Retail portfolio – has been refreshed

manager Shona Carmichael and marketing manager Kate Pilling. Further strengthening the live shows team, we have: senior marketing executives Charlotte Simpson and Emma Telford; senior sales manager David Westbrook; and sales managers Paddy Wallace and Ben Myatt. Our ops team is made up of senior operations manager Abigail Quesnel, and operations managers Marisa Beckman and Lisa Howlett. The team and I can’t wait to get to Harrogate and meet as many of our customers as possible in person!

THIS IS SET TO BE A STELLAR RETURN TO LARGE-SCALE EVENTS FOR THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY Centre is a large site, and MFS visitors and exhibitors will have full access to explore Home & Gift too, so wear comfy shoes, grab a map, and enjoy – you might even find an unexpected product or bump into an old friend! Also, make the most of Harrogate. There’s so much to do, from Bettys tea rooms to the famous spa – book now, as things will get booked up quickly. Harrogate boasts some fine dining and Michelin-recommended restaurants including Stuzzi and Three’s a Crowd, so they are definitely worth a visit for a treat. There are lots of lovely independent shops in town too, so bring your spending money. And, if the weather is looking good, remember that sun cream! How will Covid-suppression measures affect engagement at the show? I want to reassure the industry that safety is our priority, and we are working closely with the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), which is liaising with the Government directly on live event guidelines, to ensure the best possible experience for exhibitors and visitors alike. We will continue to share current information with our visitors and exhibitors as we get nearer to the show dates, once we know which precautions, if any, will be in place. Given the nature of the restrictions, do you feel the show’s timing will work out? Can you comment on the likelihood of earlier fixtures going ahead? We are confident that the show will go ahead. To put it simply, Clarion Events is committed to running these co-located shows, and we are delighted that we are able to run the furniture industry’s first and largest in-person event for buyers and suppliers to unite and do business in over a year.

What are you most looking forward to? The days and hours before the show opens are always quite hectic and a lot of fun and hard work – I cannot wait to hear the words “Home & Gift and Manchester Furniture Show are now open for business” ring out over the Tannoy. This one will feel even more special, as we have waited so long and worked so hard to put this on for our industry. Tell us a little about Reveal – what is it, and when will it go live? Reveal is our new trade ecommerce platform, and will be a hub of product discovery, easy ordering, inspiration and insight, 365 days of year. It is a 24/7 digital shopfront, and a rotating shop window for suppliers. For retailers, it will be a daily dose of product discovery, and a unique opportunity to source, connect and buy, as well as to learn and be inspired. Reveal is giving an exclusive opportunity for a limited number of retailers to gain early access to the platform from this month – those interested can sign up at www.info. clarion-retail.com/reveal-early-access – and the site will go live this summer. If you would like your products to be featured, find out more or see a demo, email james.howard@clarionevents.com. Can you share any information about the January Furniture Show? January Furniture Show will be going ahead in its usual footprint at the NEC, from 23rd-26th January 2022, and will be the largest event of its kind in two years. January Furniture Show now has a fresh new look to tie in with the launch of Reveal, bringing the shows within the Clarion Retail portfolio even more closely together. Watch this space as we move towards the largest furniture event in the UK …


12

INSIGHT

GREEN MEANS GO! Barker and Stonehouse opened its first store in 1946

Barker and Stonehouse is leading the charge for sustainable retail, having commenced its 75th year by becoming first UK furniture retailer of scale to achieve Carbon Neutral Plus status. www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk

Big Blue is made entirely from sustainably sourced and 100% recyclable components

CUSTOMERS WANT TO BE ABLE TO FIND FURNITURE THEY CAN BUY WITH GOOD CONSCIENCE

As well as reducing emissions above and beyond its own carbon footprint, Barker and Stonehouse has pledged to plant at least 75,000 trees this year – including one for every delivery the company’s fleet makes – via reforestation charity Trees4Trees, of which Barker and Stonehouse was a founding partner.

Innovation is also high on the agenda, with a further pledge to initiate meaningful conversations around sustainability with key suppliers. During the last 12 months, the retailer launched two world-first products – the Big Blue upholstery range and the Loop mattress. Big Blue uses materials that are sustainably sourced, and its fabric and cushion fillings are made from 100%-recycled plastic retrieved from the ocean. Similarly, Loop, the result of two years’ of R&D, uses natural components and is 100% recyclable. MD James Barker says: “Customer response to our sustainably produced furniture has been terrific. These pieces are quickly becoming bestsellers, showing that customers want to be able to find furniture they can buy with good conscience. “We now want to significantly increase the volume of furniture we sell to be made using environmentally sound practices. It’s a complex task, but we are already working closely with our supply chain to achieve this.” Alongside a major focus on eco projects, there will be continued investment in new jobs. The company is building its own digital production studio complex in which to produce content around all aspects of furniture, interiors and design.


13 The 100% recyclable Loop mattress, developed with Harrison Spinks

MD James Barker tends his flagship store’s living wall

Barker and Stonehouse tackles deforestation in Indonesia by planting trees through the nonprofit organisation it helped found, Trees4Trees

Commenting on the start of the company’s 75th anniversary year, James says: “It’s fantastic to look back and see how far we’ve come since my grandfather opened the doors of our first store in 1946. “Something especially rewarding is recently being independently accredited as a Carbon Neutral Plus company. This means that we are eradicating the environmental impact of the business’ carbon output. We are the first largescale independent furniture retailer in the UK to achieve this. “We have twice as many stores as we did 10 years ago, but still use the same amount of power. This is the direct result of our carbon-reducing initiatives. “Gaining this accreditation reflects a significant milestone and an investment of time, money and a company-wide effort in a whole range of initiatives over the last decade. These include store design, transport logistics, supply chain management, community tree planting activity and product innovation. “Tackling climate change needs to be at the top of everyone’s agenda. That’s why a major part of our anniversary activity is focused on continuing to tackle the challenges the furniture industry faces regarding environmental impact. To do this, over the next 12 months we’re launching a number of

further ambitious sustainability goals and initiatives.” Barker and Stonehouse is pledging to work with UK makers and manufacturers whenever possible. Conveying the value of buying British has long been part of Barker and Stonehouse’s ethos. Now, actively communicating to customers the reduced journey time and lower carbon footprint associated with these products will be a key part of the story. Electric delivery vehicles are also a priority for the coming year, with discussions with a UK supplier under way


14

INSIGHT

FAMILY TREE Neil Buckley-Jensen is the founder and director of Indesign Furniture, a business which incorporates Little Tree Furniture, Zephyr Furniture and Northshore Furniture, and offers a one-stop-shop service combining design, manufacture, quality control and global export. As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, last year Neil also founded Chilli Pepper Designs, a CGI studio that specialises in creating realistic furniture and interiors imagery for wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers across the globe. www.indesignfurniture.co.uk www.chillipepperdesigns.co.uk

Neil Buckley-Jensen


INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 15 How did you enter the trade? By chance! I have always had an interest in woodwork – my grandad was a cabinetmaker and I used to help out (get in the way) in his workshop as a boy. After university I became an air steward and started to travel to places like India, and saw workshops where handmade furniture was being made ‘the old school way’. It resonated with memories of my grandad – but in a far hotter place than in a workshop under the railway arches in Bermondsey, South-east London! I actually ended up getting the sack by the airlines as I was not particularly patient with the passengers – however, I met my wife-to-be in that job, we bought a house together and renovated it throughout. We needed furniture, so I suggested we have a go at designing some ourselves (not that I’d designed anything in my life before that!), and that I’d go get it made in India. So that’s what I did – I found a carpentry yard, got my designs across, learned how to ship a container back, got the container on a lorry outside our home, managed to block the road, police turned up … but we’d manage to design and get our furniture made. Our friends and family liked it, so we took a punt, built a website and got another container load of furniture – and so began Little Tree Furniture (and the rest is his history!). Who was your inspiration? My grandad as a skilled craftsman, and Aimee (my wife) and my mum, with all the moral support they gave to me to start a furniture business during a recession. What was your career high point? There’s two, actually. Firstly, going from starting a company and having no idea what I was doing – having to be the web developer, the furniture designer, the QC guy, the warehouse man and delivery man, and the salesman in between. No loans were available, so I had to self-fund

everything – and then, within a few years, sitting in Pottery Barn’s head office in San Francisco about to pitch to the directors to start supplying them. It worked. We became an official vendor to Williams-Sonoma – one of the biggest, most reputable furniture companies in the world. Another high point was setting up another company, Chilli Pepper Designs, in the first lockdown in March 2020. It’s a furniture CGI company, and was set up to create hyper-realistic visualisations of interiors and furniture for our furniture company brands (under Indesign Furniture). I did it as we had so much new, innovative, creative furniture product coming through and no possibility of getting photography done during lockdown. It worked so well that it’s now a standalone company. The furniture orders placed on the back of our imagery have given us the biggest order book we’ve ever had, and we’re already making images for some of the world’s biggest brands. I’m very proud. If you’ve never tried or considered CGI, I highly recommend it (seriously). … and low point? After the highs of starting out and having to get a full-time job in the pharmaceutical industry to fund the company, then having to leave to give time to the business, and the realisation of having to put in 18hour days every day for what seemed forever, minimum cash flow, spending our savings on furniture stock, freezing cold in a shed trying to QC furniture after emptying containers on my own and then load vans to deliver furniture alone … I just remember being so cold and tired. It just goes to show that perseverance pays off! … and the turning point? Having started from scratch, the realisation that if you want it hard enough and try hard enough, you can make an impact and achieve your goals.

THE ORDERS PLACED ON THE BACK OF OUR IMAGERY HAVE GIVEN US THE BIGGEST ORDER BOOK WE’VE EVER HAD

CAREER DIGEST 1998 Club 18-30 rep, Ibiza 2001 Air steward 2001 Pharmaceutical rep 2010 Founder and director, Little Tree Furniture 2017 Founder and director, Zephyr Furniture 2018 Founder and director, Indesign Furniture 2020 Founder and director, Chilli Pepper Designs

IF YOU’VE NEVER TRIED OR CONSIDERED CGI, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT Describe a typical working day Wake up around 5.30am to catch up with the CGI and furniture teams in India on WhatsApp. Get ready for the day, help get the kids ready for school. At 7am, get to the office to answer emails from our distributors/ wholesalers Down Under, as they are up to 12 hours ahead of the UK. Then review the CGI work schedule for the day, catch up with the UK team, Zoom, Zoom and more Zoom with CGI clients. Then, in the afternoon, it’s all about furniture – completing designs and liaising with UK customers up to about 4.30pm, when my attention goes west, to dealing/liaising with our distributors/ wholesalers in the US and Canada, who are eight hours behind us. I try to be all done by 6.30pm, to see the kids before bed. If you had to start over, which career would you pursue? Trendy sports shoe/trainer designer.


16

INSIGHT

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to? Las Vegas Market. I like to visit the show and drop in on our distributors/ wholesalers in Canada and the US on the way to the show, and then stop off to see our distributors/wholesalers in New Zealand on the way back (yes, the long way round). After getting back home, we always take family holidays (even though the kids already think I’ve just been on a holiday!). What is the most important issue affecting your business right now? Covid in India – two of our offices are in India, as well as our factories. Which company do you look up to? Barker and Stonehouse.

What would you most like to change about yourself? Caring too much, and taking things personally. What do you enjoy most about working in the trade? Being able to be creative, and knowing that something I’ve designed is in homes all over the world. I also love being innovative with new ideas, styles and concepts (like CGI), and being able to add value to customers’ businesses. I l being able to travel as well – Middlesbrough all the way through to Melbourne! Can you leave us with an anecdote or phrase that sums up your approach to business? “He who dares, wins”

IF YOU WANT IT HARD ENOUGH AND TRY HARD ENOUGH, YOU CAN MAKE AN IMPACT AND ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

QUICK-FIRE PC or Mac? Mac. Apple has trapped me, and I really don’t mind! Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert. I’m an ex-Club 18-30 rep … although now I’m living a much quieter life! Smile or game face? Smile – most of the time. I genuinely enjoy what I do, and can’t help but smile – especially when I know what we supply and deliver is genuinely good. There’s never really been much of a need for game face, as customers see and appreciate what we do and understand our worth Saver or spender? Both. At home I tend to want to save money rather than spend, but in business I do believe in spending and investing to build infrastructure and keep growing

The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charity

IT’S TIME TO

STEP 2 IT

Step 2 It is the exciting new fundraising campaign by industry charity The Furniture Makers’ Company.

The Furniture Makers’ Company is launching its largest ever fundraising campaign in May, asking the furnishing industry to ‘Step 2 It’ and help raise £250,000 to support people from the trade who have been impacted by COVID-19. Step 2 It aims to inspire companies and individuals to organise sports-based fundraisers between May 2021 – April 2022 in aid of the charity, encouraging friends, family and co-workers to join in the fun. What’s more – thanks to a benefactor, every single penny you raise will be matched, effectively doubling your donation. Last year our charity awarded a record number of financial grants to people from the sector whose lives and livelihoods were disrupted by the pandemic. Now we need your help to raise funds so we can keep supporting the industry.

Have fun, raise money, support lives, Step 2 It Claim your fundraising toolkit: www.furnituremakers.org.uk/step2it


ADVERTORIAL

“FOLLOWING THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, WE LEFT THE OLD WORLD” AS THE FUTURE BEGINS TO LOOK JOYFUL AND AS WE MASTERED THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, WE REFLECT UPON THE PAST YEAR AND LOOK CONFIDENTLY TOWARDS EXPLORING NEW ADVENTURES TOGETHER…. Our international design team’s focus has been to create and produce a fusion of historical and 21st-century style, blending global luxury designs to represent a voyage of discovery into a bold world of style and comfort. Focusing on continually supporting our existing retailers, we have introduced new team members and added the exciting creation of stimulating projects. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new flagship showroom featured at our head office, showcasing new collections from early summer 2021. The in-house marketing team have comprehensively compiled a selection of new lifestyle photography to support the Charterhouse, Marco, Columbus and new Isabella ranges. These images are available upon request to download and use across various digital channels.

Our dynamic creative team have forged a wonderful style presentation to showcase our continued direction in style and comfort. Our visionary voyage continues to explore British design fusion with 21st-century style influences. Our signature global traveller story is fused with a contemporary approach, featuring our trademark luxury hand-finished leathers and sumptuous velvet fabrics, creating meaningful pieces made for modernday living. Be the first to come and try our new beautiful, comfort-focused sofas and signature chairs, designed in-house by our inventive British design team. Our core still reigns in design and comfort made by hand, with heart, for any home. We would love to welcome you to discover and explore our new venture. We very much look forward to the return of international exhibitions early in 2022, and beyond. Please contact our office or your local sales representative for further details. Tel: 01908 968228 www.atthehelm.com

“Where HOME is at our heart, EXPLORE our new style, We will LIVE in a new decade, Where we MAKE sofas with heart, by hand”


20

EVENTS THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

SUMMER DAZE Telford International Centre, the venue for The Summer Furniture Show this month

After an extended drought, physical trade shows are finally returning – and The Summer Furniture Show, taking place at Telford International Centre on 15-16th June, promises to be the perfect opportunity to rediscover the joys of meeting and working face to face … www.thesummerfurnitureshow.co.uk

The event is delivered by the team behind The Autumn Furniture show, a popular trade event

Delivered by the team behind The Autumn Furniture Show, The Summer Furniture Show will bring the trade back together for two days of buying opportunities. The event will present over 50 exhibitors from across every home category, including Ancient Mariner, Alstons, Ashwood Designs, Baker, Bluebone, Celebrity, G Plan, Harrison Spinks, Himolla, Hjort Knudsen, HTL, Hypnos, Italia Living, Julian Bowen, Kettle Interiors, La-Z-Boy, Lebus, Parker Knoll, Primavera, Rauch, Relyon, Sofa Factory, Sealy, Sherborne, Vale, Violino, Welcome Furniture and Wiemann, plus Emma Sleep’s UK independent launch, and businesses offering rugs, pictures, mirrors, accessories, outdoor furniture and services. Telford International Centre is located just 20 minutes from the M6, and offers

over 1500 free on-site parking spaces – while Telford Central station is just a short distance away, and Birmingham Airport offers a direct train service to Telford or can be easily reached by road. Upon arrival, visitors can relax with a barista-made coffee and a complimentary lunch. For those wishing to stay overnight, there are over 400 hotel rooms within a minute’s walk, and 1000 within a 10-minute drive. The show’s organiser stresses that a lot of work has taken place behind the scenes to make the event Covid-safe in a way that will not interfere with visitors’ ability to do business – those attending will find spacious halls with wide aisles and good ventilation, plus hand sanitiser on every stand. Visit the show’s website to see a complete list of exhibitors and to register to visit for free


22

EVENTS THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

FAIR TRADE With its decade-long commitment to sustainability, British bed manufacturer and show exhibitor Hypnos has been on a journey of constant innovation. Proving its green credentials in every aspect of the manufacturing process, from the ethical sourcing of natural materials through to the creation of its unique plastic-free packaging, Hypnos is dedicated to creating products that are as stylish as they are sustainable. www.hypnosbeds.com

The latest step in Hypnos’ sustainable journey is the company’s industry-first partnership with Red Tractor Food and Farming standards, to create the pioneering Origins Collection. Created using responsibly sourced materials, the mattresses contain 100% British wool that can be traced back to Red Tractor-assured farms. This commitment also ensures that the wool is bought at a fair price, allowing farmers to invest in a more stable, sustainable future. Designed with comfort at its heart, the Origins Collection features two ranges designed for the ethical consumer: the Wool Origins mattress range, which comprises as many as eight sheep fleeces (16kg) of Red Tractor-assured, 100% British wool in each 150cm mattress; and the Cotton Origins range, which uses as much as 4.5kg of sustainably sourced cotton within its principal fillings. As the world’s first carbon-neutral bed manufacturer, and the only bed manufacturer to have been certified for a decade, Royal Warrant-holder

Hypnos led the industry change on carbon reduction, and was recently awarded The Planet Mark – Carbon Neutral Certification, and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development, for its commitment to environmentally friendly design, sourcing transparency and ethical bedmaking. In addition, Hypnos also achieved the Global Recycled Standard, which is given to companies that use recycled materials from socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. Hypnos has recycled over 235,000,000 plastic bottles, using eOlus fibres inside some of its mattresses. Not only that, but by developing eco-packaging that is made from sugarcane, Hypnos has reduced its carbon footprint by almost 4 x the industry norm. This means retailers can rest safe in the knowledge that Hypnos provides products that are not only comfortable, but transparent and ethical, too. Find Hypnos on stand 37 at The Summer Furniture Show


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.

hypnosbeds.com Carbon Neutral | Handmade in Britain and 100% recyclable

| A proud member of The Better Cotton Initiative


24

EVENTS THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

WELCOME BACK, WIEMANN Monaco in pebble grey

Award-winning German bedroom manufacturer Wiemann is poised to unveil two new ranges alongside existing favourites at The Summer Furniture Show …

Korfu in bianco oak and graphite

Kos in white with LED lighting

www.wiemannuk.co.uk

Visitors to H1-4 will be the first to see Cairns and Interliving, the latest additions to the Wiemann catalogue. The company will also showcase its spring 2021 launches, Kos and Metz, as well as the updated premium range Monaco and popular entry-point collections, Miami Plus and Korfu. Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “We are very much looking forward to showing off our latest collections and of course, catching up with friends and making new contacts as the post-lockdown makeover market takes hold. We think customers will be excited by the ranges we are exhibiting, further consolidating our position as a brand which has a total bedroom solution for everyone.”

Interliving is a premium offering which is a design lover’s dream, states Wiemann. Based on strong sales in Germany, it brings a bold, on-trend look to UK and Irish bedrooms. Customers can choose from a number of carcases and finishes, such as graphite, white, bianco oak and glass. Cairns is a value-focused wardrobe with matt-painted hinged doors, available in white, pebble grey and graphite for a contemporary look to suit any style of home. It is available with or without mirrors, and is well suited to online sales. In the spring, Wiemann launched Kos and Metz, two VIP wardrobe and accessory collections, both of which combine in-vogue good looks with cleverly thought-out versatility in a variety of carcase and door options. Completing the display at The Summer Furniture Show will be three of Wiemann’s most sought-after ranges. The VIP Monaco range, with its trademark L-shape design, makes stylish use of every inch of space available, and Korfu, with sliding doors and a carefully curated colour card, has long been a budget market leader. Lastly, Miami Plus, a top performer online, has recently been updated to include more colourways and finish options. For those who cannot attend the exhibition, Wiemann’s ranges can be viewed by appointment at the company’s showrooms in Harlow, Essex and Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire – contact enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk to find out more


Wiemann puts the wow into bedroom makeovers

Monaco

Come and see us at the Summer Furniture Show, June 15-16, Telford International Centre, Hall 1 Stand 4.

made in germany enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk | www.wiemannuk.co.uk


26

EVENTS THE SUMMER FURNITURE SHOW

BLUEBONE www.bluebone.co.uk Bluebone will present its summer 2021 collection, which revolves around five key themes: Surface Texture layers cement, reclaimed wood and polished minerals; Indoor Outdoor and Home Entertainer embrace the trend for garden living and garage bars; while Versatile Living and Natural Luxe are full of Bluebone’s signature modern rustic touches – solid wood, brushed gunmetal, rattan and soft gold. Call 0161 330 8959 or email elaine@ bluebone.co.uk for further details.

FIRMANS DIRECT www.firmansdirect.com Alongside a selection of garden furniture, Firmans Direct will launch a new indoor range, the Hampshire collection, which is handcrafted from premium-quality timber which has aged beautifully over many decades. Every piece is sustainably sourced from decommissioned boats and ships, or old properties due to be demolished. The reclaimed timber has been exposed to the elements, and has contracted, expanded and dried out many times over, preserving and fortifying the wood. The varying grain and colour of each salvaged board are hallmarks of the timber’s past life, boasting a texture and appearance as unique as their origin, and each hand selected to tell its own story – and given the opportunity to become part of a new one.


LAUNCHING THE NEW THERAPEUTICS RANGE

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Visit us at The Summer Furniture Show - Hall 2 (15th & 16th June)


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For a full list of exhibitors and to register for FREE please visit

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Alstons Ancient Mariner Ashwood Designs Baker Furniture Bluebone Celebrity Emma Gala Collezione G Plan Harrison Spinks Himolla Hjort Knudsen HTL Hypnos Italia Living Julian Bowen Kettle Interiors La-Z-Boy Lebus Primavera Furniture Parker Knoll Rauch Reylon Sealy Sherborne Vale Upholstery Violino Welcome Furniture Wiemann And many more


30

PRODUCTS

DESIGN WITH DISTINCTION The New York Collection comprises functional furniture with high-quality finishes

Offered by selected independent, group and design-led stores throughout the UK, Evanyrouse bedroom, dining and occasional furniture blends current trends and colour palettes with a unique design handwriting, making it a popular choice with anyone seeking something classy yet different for their home …

The brand’s beds offer a bespoke look without the delivery hassles

Evanyrouse boasts an extensive mirror collection

www.evanyrouse.com

“Our current bedroom collections are designed with the UK in mind, and allow customers to enjoy an interior design finish, but with the sizes, dimensions, and delivery of any commercial brand,” says Claire Bell, sales director of Evanyrouse UK Furniture. “With our range of colours, our retailers can choose their own colour palette for their store – embracing the current trend for soft greys, or, for a more traditional approach, natural woods. Our new bedroom collections are aimed at the customer who would like quality, style, and something a little different than everyone else, and

are repeating extremely well for our retailers.” As well as eye-catching upholstery in a range of fine finishes and fabrics, Evanyrouse boasts an extensive mirror collection, with everything from wall mirrors to full-length statement pieces, suitable for every room in the home. Claire is particularly proud of the brand’s bedroom offer. “Our bedroom ranges create a sublime room,” she enthuses. “Entirely characterised by comfort, our beds are defined by quality and unique exclusive designs. “Choose from our UK fabric swatches, and from matt/high-gloss colours to natural or luxury woods. All our beds and wide headboards are designed with delivery access in mind, giving the customer that bespoke design appeal with normal ordering options, in UK sizes.” The brand’s bedroom cabinets, meanwhile, are finished in standard finishes, up to and including luxury woods – with options to keep a contemporary feel by opting for soft greys and stainless steel, or deeper walnuts and gold finishes. “Evanyrouse can meet every possible customer requirement,” Claire concludes. Prospective stockists can contact Claire on sales@evanyrouse.co.uk to discuss their specific selection and display requirements, or avail of current curated product packages


www.evanyrouse.com www.evanyrouse.com

UK Sales Enquiries: UK UK Sales Sales Enquiries: Enquiries: e-mail: salesuk@evanyrouse.co.uk | Head Office: 01294 212 577 e-mail: salesuk@evanyrouse.co.uk e-mail: salesuk@evanyrouse.co.uk || Head Head Office: Office: 01294 01294 212 212 577 577


32

PRODUCTS Como coffee table and open display

GALLERY DIRECT www.gallerydirect.co.uk Despite the challenges affecting global supply chains, Gallery Direct has managed to maintain a supply of stock to its UK warehouses, supplementing its usual shipping methods with charter ships. MD Peter Delaney says: “We realise how hard the last few months have been for our bricks-and-mortar’ clients, so being able to supply them with our SS21 Collection products, to enable them to offer fresh and exciting new lines for their reopening in April, was really important to us. And to support them further, we offered a significant discount off orders in the run-up to reopening, and we had a fantastic response to this.” Gallery has also strengthened its team with the appointment of two experienced buyers – Carole Nolan for outdoor living, and Matt Baldock for accessories.

RIBBLE PACKAGING www.ribble-pack.co.uk/right-size/furniture Ribble’s solutions can reduce its clients’ packaging costs by some -25%

Right Size packaging solutions provider Ribble Packaging has helped its customers regain control of their packaging supply and reduce packaging costs by an average of -25% with the aid of Panotec packaging technology. Launched in 2010, Panotec solutions are used by many of the leading furniture manufacturers across the UK, including Wren Kitchens, Nobia Group, Gresham Office Furniture and Integral Surface Design, enabling them to create the perfect size box for every product they manufacture. To find out more about Right Size furniture solutions, visit Ribble Packaging’s website.

YOTFC

Ye Olde Traditional Furniture Company

WE ALWAYS TRY HARDER TO GO THE EXTRA MILE!

Call us on 01604 890956 email md@yotfc.co.uk or visit our website

www.yotfc.co.uk

YOTFC_MayJA.1.indd 1

19/04/2021 16:46


WHO ELSE TO in Just 17WANTS Days… GUARANTEE SALES SUCCESS Will your January 2017 salesIN be the2021? best month’s total

given a fair chance to shine, then clear it and replace it with a better performing line. Test and measure the selling 33 potentia of all your products in a Greenwood Sale.

IT’S SHOWTIME!•

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PRODUCTS – Be ruthless with your precious floor space. If a Manchester Furniture Show may be relocating to Harrogate your competition the most relevant beneficial USP’s [Covid-modified] marketing produced a product oron collection isn’t performing after being given a fair trial, this summer, but it remains a huge opportunity to engage then clear it and replace it with a faster selling line. Test and measincluding choice, quality, and service. Greenwood steady flow of value customers over a Call longer ure the selling potential of all your products in a Greenwood Sale. buyers. •

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PRODUCTS DINING

THE COST OF CHOICE Variety may indeed be the spice of life – today’s consumers certainly seems keen to express themselves though more individual home purchases. Yet for manufacturers and distributors this desire to be different creates significant challenges, writes Peter Woodman, founder of Woodman Chairs … www.woodmanchairs.co.uk

near-bespoke – choice, is tugging more than ever at manufacturing efficiency and product availability. “We will see more trends which may not be long-lived. This will also have a bearing on prices. As always, the strongest offers will build some volumes and may have some lifespan – but all of us in the supply chain will need to be more alert to shifts in demand, which may be more subtle and individual, or short-lived. “At Woodman Chairs, as makers and wholesalers, we are well placed to notice trends more quickly than retailers might themselves, and are always innovating our offer – allied to an ability to make in small production numbers, and flexible enough to deliver bespoke finishes or seat pads, with delivery from stock or on short lead times. “We can also make bespoke to your own individual styles in low minimum order qualities – which may help reduce your risk, and the likelihood of you having to stock larger qualities,” Peter concludes

Oak Loire chair with natural hopsack seat, oiled

Oak Hexham spindle chair, oiled

Oak Hamburg carver with jet hopsack seat

IT’S NO LONGER ABOUT DELIVERING LARGE VOLUMES OF A RELATIVELY FEW STYLES

“It’s all about choice,” Peter begins. “In chairs, like almost everything else, things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. As chairmakers and wholesalers ourselves, it’s no longer about delivering large volumes of a relatively few styles – instead we now have an explosion of choice, of styles and within styles, with the internet making all this more visible and accessible. “This trend is likely to continue as we, as consumers, all look for something a bit different.” However, says Peter, what is not always so readily appreciated, is the problems this demand creates for manufacturers and wholesalers – many of which are losing the volumes needed to make production and distribution efficient. “Working with smaller production runs is significantly more costly, and knowing what to make and stock is more problematic,” explains Peter, “so the consumer’s increasing desire for change and greater – perhaps, in time,


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36

PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

NATIONAL GUARD Import disruption and the will to shop local has heightened demand for UKmanufactured furniture throughout the pandemic – but could material shortages and rising costs kill the opportunity to recover lost ground? Paul Farley investigates …

CAN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRY SECURE THE SKILLS AND RESOURCES NECESSARY TO SURVIVE IN A WORLD WHICH SEEMS INTENT ON DRIVING COSTS EVER-HIGHER?

Last year, pandemic pressures prompted traders and consumers to wake up to the benefits of buying British. In part a result of severed supply chains, in part a declaration of support for local businesses and jobs, those national manufacturers able to operate were spurred on to meet demand as best as they could. In June, Barker and Stonehouse called for the industry to champion British furnituremaking in a marketing campaign entitled ‘Let’s Get Going Britain!’ – an later, in September, the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) led the UK’s key trade associations in its ‘Buy the Best, Buy British, Save Jobs’ campaign, stating that Covid-19 had made a third (+34%) of the population more inclined to buy British furniture. “UK furniture manufacturing has dramatically declined over the past 50 years, mostly because of cheaper labour in other countries,” said BFC chairman, Jonathan Hindle. “Factories overseas don’t always meet the UK’s requirements for a minimum living wage, safe working conditions and product compliance standards. “The home market is worth £12b a year, and if you add in the whole of the furnishings sector along with retail, the industry supports some 340,000 jobs. And every extra £1m spent on British furniture could support up to 50 manufacturing jobs in the sector.” Today, such sentiment sits well with the independent spirit of a post-Brexit Britain, plus growing environmental concerns about where goods come

This month’s panel: Ben Fowler; Edward Tadros; Nick Gigg; Nick Williams; Paul Myerscough; and Phil Whittell

from, how they are made, and how much energy is spent getting them into people’s homes. Thanks to swingeing shipping costs, the import trade is proving slow to rally – yet British manufacturers too are reliant on a measure of imported materials or components, leaving them unable to fully seize the advantage. Despite reporting a significant jump (+40%) in demand for its members’ products in April as stores reopened, the British Furniture Manufacturers’ association (BFM) continues to warn of rising raw material and fuel costs, plus supply chain shortages – and, despite enjoying reasonably high sales, British bedmakers face similar challenges, says the National Bed Federation (NBF). This month, Furniture News is exploring what sets British-made furnishings apart from their foreignmade counterparts, and if the national industry can secure the skills and resources necessary to survive in a world which, despite being tempered by pandemic, seems intent on driving costs ever-higher. Read on to discover what the answers might be, courtesy of our expert panel: Ben Fowler (co-founder, Marque Sussex); Edward Tadros (chairman, Ercol); Nick Gigg (MD of the Airsprung Group’s Gainsborough Beds, Swanglen and Hush-a-Bye brands); Nick Williams (sales manager, Sweet Dreams); Paul Myerscough (director and GM, Westbridge); and Phil Whittell (chairman, GNG Group, and founder of the Komfi brand)


37

Q&A

WHAT SETS BRITISH-MADE FURNITURE APART? Ben Fowler: Many countries have a unique history of carpentry – their history is heavily influenced by the materials available and the culture – and the UK is no different. Our furniture industry has grown out of building ships and mill wheels from our native oak and elm to making haywains, wagon wheels and longbows from ash. We also have a wealth of other timbers like sycamore, beech, sweet chestnut, alder and cherry. So, carpentry, and bodging Windsor chairs in our woodlands, have laid a foundation for our unique style of furniture. Ercol for example, are still producing furniture the same way that it has been made for a thousand years. Edward Tadros: In the first instance, what is really important is almost not so much whether we are a UK manufacturer, but whether or not we make furniture that our consumers desire to have in their homes – then

we can focus on our abilities to make furniture, and on the advantages of UK production. We have always had a strong belief in manufacturing and in our ability to manufacture to high levels of quality. But in addition, starting with our founder, Lucian Ercolani, we have combined our manufacturing skills with a deep investment in design and craftsmanship. Nick Gigg: Consumer loyalty to anything homegrown in today’s world plays a very big part. If a product is easily accessible and the price is within budget, then I believe consumers would buy British-made products over imported. At Gainsborough, we proudly label our bed and upholstery products with the British-made message as we believe this is very important to our principles and brand identity. History and heritage provide a feelgood factor for consumers, while product quality and craftsmanship

expertise create confidence and peace of mind. Nick Williams: Better perceived quality, design, materials, construction and service. Paul Myerscough: There’s a strong heritage message and a low carbon footprint, while buying closer to home ensures quicker delivery in comparison to overseas competition, and helps keep jobs within local economies. There’s also an assurance that British-made furniture is specifically made to fit our market and complies with all product safety legislation and quality craftsmanship, ensuring high-quality products. Phil Whittell: The qualities that set us apart are our continuous innovation and design, along with UK components and manufacturing skills, plus distribution via established retailers.

DO CONSUMERS TRULY PREFER TO BUY BRITISH? Ben Fowler: This is hard to say, as so much of the consumer decision is based on cost. However, I think once people begin to recognise how much quality can affect the value, they will be more happy to spend a little extra to buy furniture made here in the UK – furniture that is going to last and stand the test of time. Overseas, there has always been a recognition that the British furniture industry has produced high-quality products – but we do have a way to go to rebuild, and sell, our local furnituremaking industry. All our factories have been turned into bijou apartments and coffee shops!

does not mean better, therefore demand for homegrown, quality products will always be there.

Nick Gigg: I am certain that consumers would buy British given the choice – I do, for one! There will always be a demand for low-cost products in all consumer sectors, therefore imported products will likely continue to meet the needs of certain buyers – but, as we know, cheap

Paul Myerscough: Overall, I believe British consumers would prefer to buy British and feel that they are supporting local, skilled jobs. The carbon miles travelled by bulky, finished furniture probably do not feature highly in that decisionmaking process. For overseas

Nick Williams: Generally speaking, Britons are increasingly preferring to buy British, and there is an increasing appetite to buy British/local due to a variety of issues including climate change management, sustainability, coronavirus, Brexit and the geopolitical situation. There will always be an appetite for imported goods – however, with increasing costs in containers/ freight, the price advantage is slowly being eroded.

competition, there is of course the allure of Italian design, or the scale of an American brand like La-Z-Boy – but our principal competition from China. Yet China only has the advantage of price, and the current rising transport costs may be eroding this. British manufacture is ethically compliant, with factories bound by strict UK legislation regarding employment laws and benefits. Phil Whittell: I think consumer desire to buy British goods will increase sharply, as long as UK companies can provide good value and quality goods which are superior to, or match, imported products. Personally, I prefer to support local produce from my farm shop rather than imported produce from the supermarket, so why should furniture be any different? We label food clearly, but I would struggle to find out where a mattress being sold on many websites was actually made.


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PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

Q&A

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING UK FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS? Ben Fowler: The big challenge is to explain and sell the idea that these things are worth the money – that homemanufactured products may cost more, but carry the intrinsic value of quality and jobs for skilled people and the cultural heritage of our industry. Here at Marque Sussex, we make furniture in our own workshop from local timbers wherever we can and sell it direct to consumers, alongside a strong message that explains our ethos of small-batch furniture, ethically sourced, loved for generations. Nick Gigg: Rising raw material costs and a shortage of skilled labour will be the biggest challenges – which ultimately leads to the increased importing of goods. Gainsborough actively tackle raw material increases through innovation and development. I encourage my very skilled and knowledgeable team to think outside the box in order to innovate, both in processes and design. The answer to

skilled labour shortages is to engage with apprenticeships, training and recruitment. Nick Williams: Maintaining a competitive product range that delivers value for money against increasing raw material, labour and freight costs. We are listening to our customers and ensuring that our products are relevant, hit the right price points and deliver on service.

considerations, severely limit end-of-life recycling options. For example, wool is one of very few fabrics which passes the fire tests without chemical treatment, but is very expensive, so is not viable for the mid- to lower-price market. Then there’s the global demand and servicing of raw material components (foam, timber), so you have to look at every possible supply chain route/partnership to secure future volume.

Paul Myerscough: How to design for a circular economy, sourcing proven reusable or recyclable materials and designing for ease of disassembly after useful product life. Our designers and technologists are constantly investigating and sampling alternative materials, and we are making progress. However, this effort is hamstrung by the current fire safety regulations, which have been written in such a way that most materials require chemical treatments which, due to safety

Phil Whittell: Currently, our biggest challenges are rising material costs and supply shortages. In the main, these are directly linked to overseas components. To help combat this, and to increase our own buy-British ethos, we have worked with our main UK suppliers to develop a new and exciting range of mattresses with a strong eco message. These products are not so dependent on traditional foam and springs, which have caused most of the supply problems this year.

123RF.com/Katarzyna_Białasiewicz

MANY COUNTRIES HAVE A UNIQUE HISTORY OF CARPENTRY, AND THE UK IS NO DIFFERENT


INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 39

Q&A

IN THE LONG TERM, CAN BRITISH-MADE FURNITURE HOLD ITS OWN AGAINST CHEAPER IMPORTS? Ben Fowler: The environment, and our commitment to reducing waste, will become an increasingly strong driver – making people realise the value of more expensive but longer-lived products. We must learn to save up our money so we can enjoy and pass on furniture as heirlooms, free of the guilt associated with cheap, throwaway stuff. I still have, and love, an Ernest Race rocker that my dad bought in 1952. Edward Tadros: We will always make furniture that always reflects its value. In particular, we will demonstrate value in the use of materials, the thought in design, and fitness for purpose for our homeowners. There will always be

imports that spread the breath of offer in the furniture market – as there will always be a place in the market for goodquality furniture, for ercol furniture. Nick Gigg: Absolutely – we do now, and we will continue to do so in the future. Nick Williams: If you mean will it increase its market share, then I would say the jury’s out. Raw materials and labour costs will always be a factor in this. Paul Myerscough: Yes, I believe so – by continuing to offer a broad choice of options on short lead times, which are difficult to replicate with long supply chains from the Far East.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance will highlight the adverse impact upon our planet of the increased carbon footprint associated with imported products. Phil Whittell: If we can increase business to UK companies, then yes. With rising fuel and transport costs globally, we have a chance to balance the trade deficit in so many sectors. Of course, there is consumer demand for cheap products, but they are wising up to poor-quality goods. If stating the country of manufacture was made mandatory for displaying online and in-store, plus on product labelling, this would be a very good start!

HOW ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUYING BRITISH BEST CONVEYED TO CONSUMERS? Ben Fowler: By showing consumers the value of well-made, sustainably sourced furniture. Much as in the way we have become used to buying good food, locally sourced and seasonal, so we need to realise that furniture can be beautifully made from indigenous materials with low miles and a long life. With food, celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall put the issues firmly on the map. With furniture, we have figures such as Kevin McCloud and George Clarke aiming to drive the message home. Larger retailers shining a spotlight on sustainable materials also have their place – even European brands, such as IKEA with their Sustainable Living range, can help. Edward Tadros: Our most important challenge is always to make the consumer want to buy furniture, and then to purchase ercol. We have a more-than 100-year story to tell the furniture buyer in the UK, and we have to make sure that we live up to that story and that we tell it to our consumers loud and clear.

We have to present our furniture in ways and presentations that make consumers feel this is how they want to live in their homes – and to do that, we must work with our retail partners, and with our partners and friends in the analogue and digital marketplaces. At ercol, as every piece made in our Buckinghamshire factory is individually crafted for our customers, we have a powerful and unique ability to be flexible in our production. We offer many colour finishes and fabric combinations – so each piece made here is tailored to the consumer.

the message of the ripple effect of buying British on the UK economy.

Nick Gigg: Grocery, automotive and furniture sectors promote the Britishmade message well. Supermarkets are ahead of all other industries in promoting local produce, and this is clearly done through labelling and packaging. The next steps must be in promoting the messages of why we are buying British products, and what the real benefits are. I believe the trigger for consumers is loyalty and quality, which are great reasons – however, we may need to push

Phil Whittell: Consumers need to be reminded about the benefits of buying British, so they have a better understanding and improved knowledge, which in turn will affect their buying choices. Benefits such as lowering carbon emissions, improved lead times, quality and meaningful warranties, buying from manufacturers who are members of organisations such as the NBF, and supporting British jobs. A marketing dream, I would say!

Nick Williams: Strong Union Jack advertising, and British brand profiles being raised, emphasising quality, craftmanship and sustainability. Paul Myerscough: Emphasise pride in buying British, which results in keeping British skills alive and a smaller carbon footprint (this needs to be quantified, so a solid claim can be made). Retailers should highlight the benefits.


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PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

SWEET SUITES Gawthorpe

With retailers looking for good-looking, well-designed, high-value upholstery that meets key price points, British manufacturer Sweet Dreams has launched its 2021 upholstery brochure, which features a large range of stylish models – in most cases delivered to UK mainland stores with 20 working days …

Leighton

Lytham

www.sweetdreamsuk.com

Sweet Dreams designs and makes its own sofas, chairs and stools at its Lancashire premises, providing local workers with employment, and stores up and down the country with quality upholstery – and all the company’s own-made models come with a fiveyear frame guarantee. “Consistency of quality and service is our goal,” says sales manager, Nick Williams. “A SATRA member, we have our own compliance centre, and in the last year have invested both in track systems and cutting machinery so we can offer a greater number of designs,

all with a very quick turnaround. Our British-made models are made to order and delivered within 20 days to almost everywhere in the UK.” New models for 2021 include the Gawthorpe, with its classic looks and silver stud detail, while the Lytham comes in either rich upholstery fabrics or an urban-styled two-tone option. The Leighton sofa, meanwhile, provides a stylish, modern look, with a lumbar back cushion for extra support. Other new models include the classic Windsor, the elegant Highclere, and the curvy and comfortable Hardwick. These new additions bring Sweet Dreams’ upholstery offer to in excess of 25 ranges, including cottage suites, accent chairs and stools. And that is not all. With space so often at a premium in British homes, it is no surprise that Sweet Dreams’ sofabeds have really come into their own this year, says Nick: “Finding a sofabed that looks attractive as a sofa and is just as comfortable as a bed is no mean feat – yet the Sweet Dreams’ new sofabed collection, with its luxurious, vibrant fabric options, has gone from strength to strength, proving that it has what it takes. “Sweet Dreams’ upholstery suites offer superb value for money, fantastic service and speedy delivery – and you can see all our new and existing ranges on our refreshed website”


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44

PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

LET IT BE www.jaybe.com

Tape edging in action in Jay-Be’s factory

WE SOURCE LOCALLY WHEREVER POSSIBLE TO ENSURE A SPEEDY AND RELIABLE SUPPLY CHAIN

Based over two sites in West Yorkshire and employing around 175 people in the UK, Jay-Be currently produces from 7000-10000 units of ‘sleep smart’ products every week – and it is all done with sustainability in mind. Supplying both retail (roughly 70% of the business) and contract (around 30%) customers, Jay-Be has an impressive logistics network, selling its UK-made product in more than 20 countries. Since 2008, Jay-Be has grown more than 10-fold, seeing double-digit growth in nine of the last 11 years. It has achieved this by building on its strong relationships with customers, expanding into new international markets and developing innovative new environmentally friendly products. From a small range of folding beds in 2008, Jay-Be has expanded its offer into a comprehensive collection of folding beds, adult and children’s mattresses, as well as bespoke sofabeds for hotels and caravans. Jay-Be’s team believes the main benefits of being a UK-based manufacturer are the trust and confidence it gives to the end-customer – primarily in terms of product quality, service and ethical standards. JayBe holds various accreditations as a UK manufacturer, including the Manufacturing Guild Mark, ISO9001 and FSC certification, and the company is also an approved member of the NBF and BCFA.

Jay-Be MD Mark Cort

Multi-award-winning maker of mattresses, folding guest beds and sofabeds Jay-Be recently embarked on the newest chapter of its British manufacturing story, taking its retail offer to new heights and planting its flag firmly at the market’s vanguard – but what’s behind the business?

“By manufacturing all our beds and sofabeds here in Yorkshire, we can control every step of the production process, ensuring the best quality is maintained,” says MD Mark Cort. “Where possible, we also source our raw materials from other UK manufacturers, which secures continuity of supply, as well as consistently high standards – we source locally wherever possible to ensure a speedy and reliable supply chain, and we maintain dual supply for critical raw materials. “The pandemic has certainly created some challenges in our industry – especially with regards to delays of certain raw materials from overseas – but I am proud that our team has worked extremely hard to overcome these challenges and has continued to service our customers throughout, with minimal disruption.” Recent challenges aside, Jay-Be has successfully developed significant international reach over the years. After the UK, Jay-Be’s largest market is the US, where the company sells through large retailers including Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond – and the company also works with distribution partners in Canada, Europe and the Middle East. “We are very proud of our Jay-Be brand, its heritage and the quality and service it is well known for,” comments CEO Roger Durrans. “We embrace a culture of enthusiasm and innovation, and believe this is what attracts the most passionate, diverse and highly skilled people so we can continue to push the boundaries of innovation and ensure we remain an industry leader!”


A new adult mattress range offering exceptional comfort while helping to protect the future of our planet. Developed using the latest sustainable materials there are four distinct mattresses to choose from available in four sizes. Discover more – visit jaybe.com


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PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

BOOK SMART A true British success story, Pike Textiles has supported the UK upholstered furniture industry for 130 years, and, keeping up with digital demand, remains a key player in the interior design and fashion fabrics industries. www.pike-textiles.com

THE LAST YEAR SAW DEMAND FOR SAMPLING MOVE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE

The sampling solutions specialist was founded in 1891 by the Pike brothers James and William, who formed James Pike Brother & Co in London. Four generations later, and the business continues to be a frontrunner in the pattern book industry, with siblings Hannah and Andrew Pike operating as joint owners. The company, now based in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, employs 120 staff and works with some of the world’s most prestigious design and retail brands. Using traditional processes and an innovative approach, Pike has the capacity to produce an impressive 5000 tailor-made pattern books every week to meet demand.

To support soft furnishing and upholstered furniture retailers and manufacturers with their growing online demands, Pike invested heavily in rapidly growing its cuttings and fulfilmentsampling solutions during the pandemic. This included a new 400m² mezzanine floor, which ensured that the accurate and fast fulfilment of online sample requests was met, helping brands to win the race to the door mat. To spark imagination and help them make decorating decisions, consumers look for easy ways to order fabric cuttings online for the furnishings that inspire them. With its extensive knowledge and expertise, Pike says it is able to deliver the highest-quality product, regardless of specification or deadline, to fulfil evolving digital demand. “We are very proud of the contribution Pike Textiles has made in supporting the British furniture industry for well over a century”, says Pike’s sales and marketing director, Caroline Adams. “The last year in particular has seen us further evolve how we support the industry, as demand for sampling moved almost exclusively online. “We are proud to continue to offer our highly crafted products of outstanding quality and durability, whilst at the same time advancing our service proposition to suit the changing environment in which we are all now operating.” For further information, email enquiries@pike-textiles.com


130 YEARS 130 YEARS of Sampling Excellence of Sampling Excellence

Combining tradition with innovation tradition innovation for Combining all your sampling andwith fulfilment needs. for all your sampling and fulfilment needs.

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01945 461 361 01945 461 361


48

PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

SLEEPING PARTNER Luxury British bed and mattressmaker Sleepeezee has renewed its partnership with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic and three-times world champion heptathlete, to help promote the importance of a good night’s sleep and launch its new campaign, ‘Leave the rest to us’. www.sleepeezee.com

Sleepeezee has been luxury beds and mattresses by hand at its factory in Kent since 1924, employing a unique combination of luxury materials, innovative designs and traditional techniques. Brand ambassador, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, says: “Quality of sleep is key to performing well in every part of our lives, fundamental to that all-important physical and mental rest that we need for our bodies to recover to go again. Whether I’m exercising, doing the school run or at work, I know that sleep needs to be prioritised to ensure I am in the best shape possible to take on all of the many challenges of everyday life. “The quality and craftsmanship of the mattress is the foundation of that all-important rest and recovery, which is why I am really proud to be Sleepeezee’s ambassador and to work

with them to help promote the benefits of a good night’s sleep. I am also delighted to have my very own mattress – The Jessica.” David Miller, commercial director at Sleepeezee, responds: “It is a real privilege to be working with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill again. This latest collaboration will form part of an integrated campaign to grow brand awareness and shine a light on the importance of a great night’s sleep, and what it can bring to both physical and mental wellbeing. “At Sleepeezee, we’ve been perfecting the formula for a good night’s sleep since 1924 – we know sleep, how important it is, and we believe it’s a precise feeling of comfort and quality. This campaign will strengthen the bond between sleep and the world of wellness and relaxation”


So good, Jessica put her name on it

LE AVE THE REST TO US


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PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Graffiti is the go-to signmaker for cosmetics retailer Lush

Graffiti Design has been a family-run business for 40 years, with signmaking itself a family tradition for over 70. Born and raised in Britain, Graffiti knows the ins and outs of what makes a business stand out on the street … www.graffitidesign.co.uk

Graffiti developed the signage for Danetti’s new showroom in Bracknell

Graffiti Design says its approach is people-centric. Rather than moulding its clients’ needs to its capabilities, Graffiti builds its projects around their exclusive specifications. This method of work has seen Graffiti embark upon countless projects with some of the UK’s best-loved high street names, from chains to high-end and independent furniture retailers including Loaf, Danetti, Made.com, OKA, Sofa Workshop, Feather & Black and Barker & Stonehouse – with impressive results. Dawn Gregory, Loaf’s head of creative, comments: “Our brief was to find a company who could create an eclectic array of signs that had to look like they had been made years ago and picked up for next to nothing at a car boot sale.

“From our first meeting at Graffiti, it was clear that if any company was going to bring our ideas to life, it was going to be these guys. The attention to detail, care and craftsmanship that Graffiti applied to each of our signs was an art in itself. From dusting and rusting to the perfect ‘warmth’ of light, it was all spot-on. “We have since received endless compliments on our ‘very cool’ signage. We are thrilled.” Indeed, Graffiti’s people-based philosophy is recognised industry-wide. The business is proud to engage with its communities, and prioritises the training of apprentices – an approach which has been recognised on a number of occasions by the prestigious British Sign Awards, an independent award scheme celebrating the very best of British skill. Graffiti Design consistently takes home some of the most distinguished awards, including Retail Sign of the Year and Young Signmaker of the Year. Alex Scott, UK & Ireland retail project manager for Lush, testifies to the quality of the results: “Graffiti Design have delivered several high-quality projects of varying sizes and complexities for Lush. Their attention to detail and superior workmanship make them the go-to company for our signage requirements. I cannot recommend them highly enough”


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52

PRODUCTS BEST OF BRITISH

STATE OF THE NATION The British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) has represented the interests of the national industry for more than 65 years. Faced with unprecedented pandemic disruption, the association’s members continue to receive advice and support that could prove crucial in how they face the future, MD Nick Garratt tells Furniture News … www.bfm.org.uk

THE COVID-19 CRISIS HAS RESULTED IN RAPID CHANGES IN ALL ASPECTS OF BUSINESS

How has British-made furniture performed since the start of last year? Demand is definitely on a growth curve. Our April 2021 survey found a +40% rise in manufacturers reporting new orders, while 84% said they are more confident about the general business situation than they were in October last year. The first lockdown had a hard impact, but as people spent more money on their homes, we started to see the furniture sector bounce back. Limitations on foreign and domestic travel have redirected spend, too.

How successful was last autumn’s ‘buy British’ campaign? A clear priority for us as a trade body is to promote the buy-British message to the general public. There’s no doubt that last year’s Buy British Furniture Event was very well received. It gained national media attention and helped us to demonstrate that buying British goods not only represents an investment in quality, but also helps to support jobs in the country. It is our intention to work with the BFC and NBF on another scheme in the future.

What might the summer look like for British furniture manufacturers? The figures from the recent survey were encouraging. A total of 63% of respondents said trade was better YoY. It was great to see 69% reporting that output over the last six months beat expectations. I’m hopeful that this measure of performance is expected to improve still further over the summer.

What might the pandemic’s long-term impact look like for our industry? After the last 12 months, I think it is near-on impossible to predict anything accurately. However, we can be prepared as possible. With a lack of clarity and confidence in foreign travel in 2021, the public could – like last year – look to continue to invest in their homes. One issue which will grow in significance is sustainability. We recently held a roundtable event to look at the Road To Net Zero for our manufacturers. We will continue to offer advice and initiatives to help them on this journey.

Of all the pressures these businesses face, what is the biggest? Furniture manufacturers across Britain are facing the same challenges – to source materials to enable their factories to operate and maintain production. It is an issue not only in our industry, but one that is occurring across many sectors, and not just in Britain, but around the world. We have written to those in the supply chain to build a clear picture, and we continue to closely monitor the situation and keep our members informed. Staffing remains crucial, too. Our survey showed that 42% of our members expect to recruit new staff in the next six months. We are promoting skills in the second half of 2021, which will include explaining the opportunities in our industry to the general public. Is export growth viable right now? The quality of British-made goods is not only a strong selling point here, but around the world. We will be looking to work with the Department for International Trade to investigate opportunities for our members now that the Covid-19 situation is easing.

How can the BFM help its members negotiate the challenges yet to come? We are keeping our members informed and involved to face the challenges ahead. The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in rapid changes in all aspects of business, and this fast-paced environment is set to continue for some time to come. Since the first lockdown began, the BFM has provided timely, industryspecific information to help members get fast access to the facts. We’ve offered resources including dedicated hotline support and webinars, as well as our members’ area information service. We’ve also ensured the industry is kept up-to-date with the often-complex factors surrounding Brexit. As an industry, we are stronger together. In the challenging times we face ahead, it has never been more important for our industry to come together as a community and be part of the BFM


53

OPINION THINKING AHEAD 54 GOING UP? With prices rising dramatically across the board, Furniture News’ Paul Farley looks at how trade professionals from retail to supply plan to deal with the squeeze

58 PRICE-RISE PAYDAY Gordon Hecht explains why it’s important to keep price rises in persepctive, as they do come with benefits …

60 BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME? Why bother marketing or promoting your business when demand is high? Bill McLoughlin, editor-in-chief of Furniture Today, offers his wry take on the dangers of coasting

62 TALES FROM THE SHOWROOM FLOOR This month, Adam Hankinson explains why it’s essential to offer customers the opportunity to buy on credit

65 PARTNER COMMENT FIRA International’s John Hubbard outlines how sustainable initiatives are being pushed to the top of the agenda, in both the UK and the EU

66 FEEDBACK As the voting window for this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards draws to a close (11th June), we ask our contributors which businesses really came through for them in the past year


54

OPINION

GOING UP? Price rises may be a fact of life, but Covid-19, Brexit and a host of other factors have helped open floodgates to serious hikes – with a good deal more to come. Paul Farley looks at how the trade plans to deal with the squeeze …

Resources are finite, yet the global population continues to grow – so, given due course, price rises are as inevitable as death or taxes. Repeated lockdowns may have created massive demand for home furnishings, yet material and component shortages mean much of this potential has gone unfulfilled. From foam to fixings, supply has often failed to match demand. Add soaring freight costs, labour shortages and Brexit redtape to the mix, and you have a recipe for widespread furniture price hikes – many of which are yet to come. The BFM reports that, YoY, the price of materials and fuel increased +4.7%

in January, +5.2% in February and +5.7% in March – while the NBF states that nearly three quarters (72%) of its members reported significant cost increases in Q4 2020, compared to just 8% in 2019. Now the UK’s stores have reopened, many expect the more traditional patterns of trading to reassert themselves, and prices to level out – leaving the trade to come to terms with how it negotiates the new status quo. Can production and material costs be negotiated or absorbed any further, or must they be passed on to the consumer – and if so, will they even notice?

123RF/ lightpoet


INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 55 Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins): Price rises are coming through thick and fast. Aside from organic increases, Covid-19 has created issues with labour costs, raw materials, freight, production schedules and any number of other costs. This applies to pretty much all products in all industry sectors, and inflation figures are sure to rise in the coming months. As much as nobody wants to be seen to be adding further hardship to stretched household incomes, it seems inevitable that these additional costs will have to be passed on down the chain and ultimately will hit the pockets of the end-consumer. It’s interesting to see how suppliers are handling the increased costs. Most are implementing across-the-board price rises. Some are targeting the products most affected, and where possible holding the prices of unaffected products. At least one has decided to add a surcharge to each invoice to cover the massive increases in freight charges, which can be easily stopped when freight costs realign to something more reasonable. In terms of communicating this to customers, I’m not sure there needs to be any specific message. Cost increases are affecting every business, every producer, every supplier and every retailer. It’s simply a fact of coronavirus

that prices are going to go up, and it’s something consumers will find almost impossible to avoid, no matter where they shop.

“PRICES ARE GOING TO GO UP, AND IT’S SOMETHING CONSUMERS WILL FIND ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID” Steve Adams (Mattress Online): We work with our supplier partners to minimise the impact on consumer pricing, but there is only so far you can negotiate when component prices are rising. As a buyer, Mattress Online are pragmatic and realistic, and want the relationship to work for both parties. We have passed these price rises onto our customers. I would argue that, industry-wide, our products are undervalued and underpriced. Being a periodic purchase, price sensitivity is not a particularly big challenge, and therefore requires no additional communication to our consumers. Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture): Price rises have been an almost daily occurrence over the past 14 months. Suppliers appear ready to use the

Peter Harding

pandemic and its connected shortterm impacts to impose very significant ongoing price rises, above what I believe can be properly justified by the actual impact. This is making maintaining key retail price points very difficult, and unfortunately I don’t see it changing any time soon. Blaming Brexit for increases of anything up to +12% is very hard to understand, as furniture is a nontariff product, and, in reality, the only additional costs are related to the border paperwork, which certainly doesn’t equate to the increases being seen. Suppliers will, I believe, find they will lose placements if they aren’t prepared to look more closely at their costs as the UK reopens. Meanwhile, inflation will likely become a significant issue, fuelled by the vast increases in the money supply needed by governments to support economies through the pandemic.

Andy Stockwell 123RF/ meepoohyaphoto


56

OPINION

“SUPPLIERS WILL LOSE PLACEMENTS IF THEY AREN’T PREPARED TO LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT THEIR COSTS” Emma Leeke (Leekes Retail): We will pass these on to consumers – although we are trying to minimise their overall impact by reducing our cost base at the same time. Mike and Karen Rowley (Core Products): Price rises are here, and will continue to be for a considerable time to come – we have to accept this. Every business, regardless of type, is suffering increased operational costs as a direct consequence of the pandemic, so it is not realistic for any company to absorb the costs. Negotiation or switching to cheaper suppliers is not an option, as there is a world supply shortage – consumers are already seeing this on everything they buy, but it’s just far more noticeable on big-ticket items. Dids Macdonald (ACID): I think price rises may be inevitable but, hopefully, there may be balance for some who may have benefited from being able to reduce fixed costs and are able to ride

the storm. I don’t think there is any easy answer, other than focusing on all the positive aspects of a commercial/ trading relationship based on quality, customer service, design et al, and this need to be accompanied by positive marketing messages. Royce Clark (Grampian Furnishers): We saw price increases from most of our supply chain at the end of last year. Some had two in a short space of time, with the shipping rates skyrocketing – but I’m optimistic that we’ll see some price reductions. I think the new US government will see the dollar strengthen further, and shipping rates will surely settle. Like our suppliers, we’ve had no choice but to pass these on – hopefully the end-user understands we are all living in difficult times. However, I do feel the media could help us a little more by reporting on the challenges we are facing, which would help the public see the bigger picture. Henrik Pontoppidan (S2U Design Containers): The UK was hit extrahard due to the combination of the worldwide container shortage following the first international lockdown on the one hand, and then the Brexit congestions on the other. The biggest factor, I believe, was the extortionate shipping rates, which were up to 8 times normal rates. This became a huge problem, and inevitably pushed prices up. We share unbearable costs with our customers, so we all lose out. But I think we are slowly returning to something approaching normality. As a business, we’ve met only understanding and accommodating attitudes from all our partners in the industry, be it suppliers in Vietnam or customers around the world. We’ve had no choice but to pass some things down the chain – but not all the costs. Business is not exactly lucrative at the moment, so the best way is to have open and honest discussions based on the facts facing us all, and arrive at optimal agreements. Unlike global politics, my opinion is that our industry is reassuringly civil and pleasant – pleasantly surprising, actually! Of course, it is also a survival game, so it is important to also look at alternative ways or sourcing channels.

Henrik Pontoppidan

“WE SHARE UNBEARABLE COSTS WITH OUR CUSTOMERS, SO WE ALL LOSE OUT” Lee Ness (Global Upholstery Solutions): Foam is the obvious culprit, wood another. We’ve absorbed them so far through efficiency improvements. Adam Ashborn (Reborn Marketing & Design): Only when we are fully out of lockdown and the new norm has been established will we be in a position to determine what price increases are being imposed – not only by suppliers, but by the Government, through higher taxes. I personally think everyone is expecting price rises in the future in some shape or form – whether that is immediate or further down the line, only time will tell. Mike Murray (Land of Beds): We understand the need for price rises, due to the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in. However, it is important that the supply chain is viable and profitable for businesses to be healthy. At Land of Beds, we will always try to ensure that we are giving great value to our customers, and, where possible, we will always strive to keep our prices as competitive as we can. It will be interesting to see, once the supply chain issues have been resolved, if the surcharges are removed as quickly as they were implemented – one to watch for all businesses …


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58

OPINION

PRICE-RISE PAYDAY Prices are rising across the board, and will ultimately hit the consumer’s wallet. As they creep upwards instore, reconciling value and cost can be increasingly problematic – so salespeople might want to maintain some perspective, writes US bedding retail expert, Gordon Hecht …

NOBODY LIKES TO PAY MORE FOR THE SAME THING. IT’S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT ARE IN OUR SPHERE OF CONCERN AND OUTSIDE OUR SPHERE OF CONTROL

By GORDON HECHT ghecht@sertasimmons.com

Whether your economic theory preference leans toward Keynesian policies or Dickensian policies, you can’t help noticing that prices have been going up for the last 8-12 months. Over the last decade or so, prices have remained stable – and even decreased for technology and energy. My training in economics at my alma mater Sagebrush State University consisted of discussing the pros and cons of splitting eights at the blackjack table, and I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I can give some perspective on the value of rising prices (aka inflation). My home furnishing career started in 1973 as a delivery helper at Jay’s Furniture, Carpet, and Appliances. On a clear day, you can see the (former) location from the 16th floor of Las Vegas Market (Building B). The owner promoted a $99 kingsize mattress almost every week. He could do that because gas was under 40 cents a gallon, and I was earning $2 an hour. The salespeople who sold the king mattress doubled my earnings, earning $4 commission every time they sold one. It was an ideal situation for the time. I could eat lunch at McDonald’s and get change back from my dollar. Entertainment was priced at 89 cents for a sixpack of Schlitz, and $2200 bought you a decent brand-new car. Then things changed. Gas doubled in price, a Big Mac shot up to $1.19, and it took about three grand to buy some wheels. That $99 mattress became the $159 special – but the boss could be generous, and boosted starting pay to $2.50 an hour. Flip forward to 1980. I’d had my diploma for a couple of years, and scored a job making about $15,000. My new sports car set me back $8100, and my brand-new three-bedroom home (two years in the future) required a 30-year note to pay off $65,900. I could afford all of that because the $99 king mattresses I was selling were $499 now. The invisible hand of Adam Smith (see, I did learn a little about economics!) guided wages and profits higher, trailing every price increase. Those of us who worked in the very late 1970s and early 1980s should remember

the very large increases in prices – often 10% every 4-6 months. As a salesperson, it became harder to justify value-to-cost to myself. Luckily, my very sage store manager, Louis Landro, explained it all to me in one sentence: “Every price increase is a pay increase for the salespeople.” It was true then, and it’s true now. Price increases are not limited to the products in your store. Costs are increasing for every manufacturer – so the guys and gals in the store down the street (or next city, state, or across the planet) are experiencing the same jolt as you are. And it’s not just our industry. Food, fuel, technology, housing (big time), building materials and more are increasing in cost. You know it, and your shopper knows it too. Price increases are a hassle and a disruption in your day. You have to re-tag your store and reprice your website. So does everyone else. But that change in tag means another $25-100 in the register with every sale. You can’t even argue that price increases mean less sales. Increasing that $99 king mattress to $159, then to $499, and now $1599, didn’t cause less units to be sold, because the products were still good value in the marketplace as it stood in the moment. Price increases mean that your sales team can sell the same number of units and get paid more money. Price increases also mean that the percent of sales dollars devoted to covering occupancy costs (stable) and operational costs (if fuel prices remain steady) decrease – generating a great net profit for you. Nobody likes to pay more for the same thing. It’s one of those things that are in our sphere of concern and outside our sphere of control. It’s up to you to look on the dark side (the world is crumbling!) or the lighter side (the situation is not limited to my four walls – I’m still on an equal standing). Costs and prices will stabilise. They always do. We, who used to curse at $1/ gallon gas now cheer when it’s $1.99. Ride out the adjustments, change your tags … and remember to review compensation for your hourly and salaried employees, to keep them level too


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60

OPINION

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME? When disruption strikes, marketing is often one of the first casualties – but a quick look at the bigger picture reveals just how self-defeating these cuts can be. As High Point Market approached this spring, Bill McLoughlin, editor-inchief of US trade magazine Furniture Today felt compelled to speak out about any business with its head in the sand …

BY BILL MCLOUGHLIN www.furnituretoday.com

I’ve had some interesting discussions about markets and marketing the past few weeks. They usually start something like this: “I’ve got more orders than I can fill. I can’t take on new customers and am allocating to the ones I have. My backlog stretches out months and new product development is delayed because I can’t fill orders for in-line goods. I don’t really need to exhibit at market, so why would I bother marketing?” My answer is this: don’t. Stay home. Save the money. Tuck it away for a rainy day. While you’re at it, save the money you’re spending on that high-tech new CRM system. You have the list of existing customers. They’re placing orders. What else is there to track? You know that money you’ve been spending on product marketing? Bank it. Without product, what else is there to talk about? Things will always be just like they are today, and consumers will buy whatever they can get their hands on. Won’t they? Certainly, your competitors aren’t going to snatch up the customers you dumped. There’s no way they’ll use that extra business to grow their own capacity and take aim at the customers you’ve prioritised. Right? And those priority customers, their needs won’t change, will they? They couldn’t be lured away by better pricing, more new lines, a better ability to supply or strong marketing that touts all of the above … that never happens.

Fortunately, we live in a world of static business conditions. Things don’t change quickly, if at all. Once you capture some business, it’s yours to keep, safe and secure until you decide you no longer need it. Of equal good fortune is the fact that companies all move in sync. So, when you skip market because you’ve got nothing significant to show, everyone else will do the same. No one’s going to take the opportunity to poach your customers. Will they? And besides, when things calm down a bit and you catch up on supply, you can always go back to market. Everyone will have saved your place in line, and you can pick up right where you left off because that’s exactly how business works. Isn’t it? Yes, the current market conditions confront companies with tough choices about how to allocate resources, how to manage customer relationships and how to handle product development and marketing. But make no mistake, there is serious competition afoot – and it’s not to determine who’s going to win next week. The companies with vision in this industry are placing major bets. The savviest players in the business – and we all know who they are – are waiting for the faint of heart to create an opening. There is already major share changing hands – and that’s while demand is high. When demand levels off, even if it is at a higher level, the competition will be even more intense. So why go to market and invest in marketing?

NO ONE’S GOING TO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO POACH YOUR CUSTOMERS. WILL THEY?


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62

OPINION TALES FROM THE SHOWROOM FLOOR

WOULD YOU CREDIT IT?

25% OF PEOPLE WHO BUY ON FINANCE WOULD NOT HAVE BOUGHT AT ALL IF THESE TERMS WERE NOT AVAILABLE

By ADAM HANKINSON www.furnituresalessolutions.com

I always wanted a Bang and Olufsen TV. My dad inherited one from his dad in the 70s, and I remember what a big deal he made of having one. Somewhere in my psyche, without a lot of conscious thought, this became embedded – but it was there, and every now and then I would stand outside the B&O shop in Southport and gaze longingly at the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of TV and hi-fi brands, never having the confidence to enter because I didn’t think I could afford it! One summer day, around 25 years ago, both doors were wide open, and I ventured in with my two young sons. A Disney film was on at the back of the shop, and they ran to watch it. As I browsed longingly at the TVs on the floor stands, a TV in front of me swivelled, as if by magic, silently, slowly, and smoothly. My mouth dropped open. “Wow! That’s amazing!” The salesman – who was stood behind me with a heavy, chrome remote control in his hand, obviously moving the TV with it – smiled at me, and said “yes, it is, I’ve sold six of those this week!” I wanted it all the more. I asked “how?”, he said “we do this brilliant interest-free offer where you pay a 10% deposit and pay the rest off, interest free, in a year.” Fifteen minutes later, I’d paid my deposit and agreed an installation date for the following week. In my dealings with many retailers I often hear them say that “our customers don’t need credit to buy”, or “we don’t want to push interest-free credit, as it costs us a lot of money”. Now, this is, of course, a point of view that the owners, operators and managers of these (often independent) retailers are absolutely entitled to hold – and they can choose how and what they do in their business all day long. I ask them, though, to consider a number of facts and reasons that they might consider before finalising this (in my opinion) costly decision. The first fact is that 25% of people who buy on finance – whatever type, interestfree, low-rate interest or normal credit terms – would not have bought at all if these ‘easy’ terms were not available. In

Finance purchasing options can help bridge the gap between demand and financial reality

When younger customers enter your store, there’s no lack of aspiration or ambition, writes Adam Hankinson – but there is often a price barrier that can prove unsurmountable, without the right payment options in place …

the case of the market leader, DFS, that quarter of ‘finance’ customers is £125m per year. I repeat – these people say that they wouldn’t buy at all without a finance option being available. The second fact is that the average order value of a three-year interest-free sale is +50% greater than an average cash order. At a 5% subsidy rate, that makes the gross margin £600 on a £1500 finance order, versus £450 for a cash order at £1000 (after the subsidy has been paid). The third fact is that people don’t say “can we do it on finance please?” What they do say is “we’ll go away and think about it” or “we’ll go and measure up.” Unfortunately, people get really embarrassed talking about money – and especially about their own personal financial situation, and any possible hint that they need some type of ‘credit’ to buy what they want. Easy terms or small monthly payments are the ‘bridge’ that the customer needs to get across the ravine of “I want that, but how can I get it?” There are many customers who want to buy what you sell – often because their parents or grandparents had bought from you – but they think that they can’t afford it! As you struggle to see sub-35-yearold customers visiting and buying from you, consider why and how you might build a bridge for them to cross easily into owning your furnishings (“I’ve always wanted to buy from there, but really thought I couldn’t afford it – then they showed me a way that I could!”). Before I forget, the fourth fact is that customers who buy from you on finance are more loyal – actually twice as likely to buy again in the same way – as “it’s so easy to pay monthly, we hardly miss it”


OPINION

65

GREEN LIGHT John Hubbard, technical consultant at FIRA International, offers his view on a number of initiatives at both UK and EU level that are pushing sustainability towards the top of the business agenda.

IT HAS BEEN ESTIMATED THAT 2.5% OF THE WASTE FROM UK HOUSEHOLDS IS FURNITURE

INDUSTRY PARTNERS

By JOHN HUBBARD www.fira.co.uk

Despite the UK Environment Bill being delayed until the next parliamentary session, the process for the consultations outlined in an August 2020 policy paper, which sets out how stakeholders will be consulted and the requirement for Government targets to be published by 31st October 2022, remains in place. The initial targets, which will contain both long-term but also interim targets, will be published in four key areas: air quality; biodiversity; water; and resource efficiency and waste reduction. In addition, there will be a target concerning PM2.5 (fine particulate matter). The exact nature of the targets will be developed through consultation with environmental experts and stakeholders, which is expected to take place in the early part of 2022. Key areas which may be of significance for the furniture industry are the control of chemicals released into air or water, and for a clear focus on improving resource efficiency to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill or incineration. In preparation for this bill, this month sees the conclusion of two consultations about waste in the economy. The first deals with a Waste Prevention Programme for England. The background of the consultation is founded on two objectives – maximising resource use and minimising waste and its impact on the environment. Furniture is one of the industries highlighted. It has been estimated that 2.5% of the waste from UK households is furniture (including carpets), and that the industry is responsible for 1% of the UK’s carbon footprint. The Government has identified four key actions that it is intending to take to address waste in the industry: encourage sharing of best practice in

product design and take-back schemes; introduce minimum standards on durability, reparability, recyclability and the recycled content of furniture through the UK Environment Bill; encourage Local Enterprise Partnerships in the field of repair and refurbishment for reuse; and introduce a consultation proposal by 2025 for Extended Producer Responsibility in the industry. The second consultation is on the UKwide proposal to introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging, which intends to focus the compliance on the packaging producers rather than spreading it along the supply chain, as well as improving recycling rates and labelling of packaging. The EU have also introduced a Circular Economy Action Plan. In the consumer products field, the aim is to deliver green products to the market which are high quality, functional and safe, and which are also efficient and affordable. The strategy for consumer products relies on three areas: designing sustainable products; empowering consumers; and circularity in the production process. Furniture is one of the product group value chains identified in the action plan (alongside ICT, electronics and textiles). The ‘empowering consumers’ activities will include better information and an improved role for ecolabels and other sustainability schemes, each requiring clear and transparent benefits. As public procurement is responsible for approximately 14% of EU GDP, then an increased role for Green Public Procurement is envisaged. Recognising the growing importance of sustainability to the industry, FIRA International have developed modular training sessions around sustainability topics, which will help identify the key issues for the industry


66

OPINION

READ MORE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET

THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING … Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins) I could name some that didn’t come through for us in 2020/21, but not in the furniture industry. I can’t think of an individual company that stands out in this respect, but I could name a number of sales agents who have been outstanding over the last 12 months – that’s no surprise though, as these agents have been outstanding over the last 10 years. Hopefully you know who you are.

Anne Davies (Room to Grow) Kids Avenue was one of the standout businesses for us last year. They managed the challenges of stock shortages really well and were able to offer alternatives. We managed to retain orders and keep our customers happy

Lee Ness (Global Upholstery Solutions) 3D Ply. They kept us going throughout lockdowns 1 and 2 as we are a healthcare supplier – they really went the extra mile for us

Henrik Pontoppidan (S2U Design Containers) MFC Group managed to come out stronger by launching all-new activities and products very rapidly, following the loss of a big chunk of their sales through the demise of their biggest customer Mike Murray (Land of Beds) Ocado automatically pre-booked our usual delivery slot for us during lockdown so we never missed our weekly slot, even due to increased demand – talk about going that extra mile!

CAN YOU NAME A BUSINESS THAT REALLY CAME THROUGH FOR YOU IN 2020/21?

Gavin Boden (Rhenus Home Delivery UK) Furniture News

Adam Ashborn (Reborn Marketing & Design) Credit where credit is due, I think all businesses who have survived this pandemic need to be acknowledged for their efforts throughout the year. I would also like to give praise to the local suppliers who have gone above and beyond to support the industry throughout the lockdown to ensure production kept rolling. With international shipment delays and long lead times, our local suppliers have really stepped up to keep the industry alive Rob Scarlett (Scarlett Design) House of Kojo (plants) Emma Leeke (Leekes Retail) John Lewis – just reassuringly solid!

Royce Clark (Grampian Furnishers) That’s a tricky one, as all our key wholesale partners supported us really well given all the challenges – but Vida, World Furniture and Annaghmore went above and beyond, and are genuinely nice people to deal with Steve Adams (Mattress Online) My local Korean restaurant kept me well fed, pivoting their business to a premium takeaway model!

Dids Macdonald, OBE (ACID) I think, collectively, our amazing UK manufacturers who immediately responded to the current crisis through adaptive manufacturing helping the NHS with, for examples, mattresses, specially designed beds and PPE equipment – and retailers who have had to nimbly respond to online trading

Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture) Buoyant Upholstery have been fantastic throughout, despite the repeated lockdowns – unlike many others, whose performance has been lamentable! Adam Hankinson (Furniture Sales Solutions) All our furniture customers paid us on or even ahead of time, even before furlough help was announced. They all kept in touch and were a pleasure to work with

#381 June 2021 www.furniturenews.net

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