Furniture News #395

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#395 August 2022

RESPONSE AND RESPONSIBILITY Uncovering Simba’s sustainable vision



Sterling Home’s £2m Aberdeen makeover Why conversational commerce matters

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

SALES SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR (FURNITURE NEWS PORTFOLIO) Sam Horscroft 07764 650655 Twitter @FurnitureNewsAD OVERSEAS AGENT Casey Loo (Asia) +65 973 00123 (WhatsApp)


ACCOUNTS GENERAL MANAGER Wendy Williams 01424 817433


Nigel Gearing


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WHEN THE GOING GOT TOUGH, THESE SUPPLIERS GOT GOING – AND THEY NEED TO BE ON YOUR RADAR With ‘Big Dog’ shown the door, the race to find a new PM commenced. Across a televised campaign (with a faint whiff of The Apprentice about it), 11 hopefuls became six, who, round by round, were whittled down to two. Following a series of hustings events this month, the winner will be declared on 5th September (unless one of them decides to throw in the towel first). In the meantime, the UK continues to venture deeper into a cost-of-living twilight zone. It’s been a lean summer, and with yet another perfect storm of challenges promising to take the shine off retail’s Golden Quarter – coupled with YoY comparatives that would be hard to match at the best of times – it’s likely the worst is yet to come. Who is the saviour our economy needs? And do we really have to wait so long to find out? For my part, I’m excited to share the results of another hard-fought contest right here and now in this month’s issue, as we reveal the winners of our annual Readers’ Choice Awards from p22. I was astounded by the trade’s response to this year’s poll, which surpassed 2021’s impressive debut. The resulting winners’ roster is a snapshot of best practice from across the supply spectrum. Leaders in creativity, consistency and customer care in their respective fields, each has fought to overcome countless challenges, and

has been enthusiastically endorsed by the industry around them. When the going got tough, these suppliers got going – if they’re not already, they need to be on your radar. Read all about them in our huge 58page feature. My thanks for engaging with our awards programme with such gusto for a second year running. Also this month, we talk to Jonathan Eager, MD of Meridian Upholstery (deservedly voted Best Newcomer in this year’s poll), about transition, ambition and his market position (p8), and look at the reinvention of Sterling Home’s Aberdeen showroom (p12). There’s a round-up of Ireland’s finest in our IFHS report (p18), the latest from prospective partners in the rolled mattress arena (p86), and, from p92, you’ll find updates on new directions in training and education, while our contributors share their views on staff succession and skills transfer on p106. Towards the back, Dario Betti explains why furniture businesses need to get to grips with conversational commerce (p98), Stephen Sidkin considers the implications of new competition laws (p102), Gordon Hecht asks how much choice retailers should offer (p103), and Levent Caglar provides an insight into FIRA International’s work on standards (p105). Until next month, I hope our recommendations and advice help keep your business in ‘poll position’ …

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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



Re is gis no tr w ati op on en ● FREE parking ● FREE lunch ● NAEC, Stoneleigh Park,


Showcasing a wide range of exhibitors See website for up to date listings and to register for your free entrance ticket



#395 August 2022

RESPONSE AND RESPONSIBILITY Uncovering Simba’s sustainable vision





8 Meridian Upholstery / 12 Sterling Home



16 INDX shows / 18 IFHS


Sterling Home’s £2m Aberdeen makeover Why conversational commerce matters

FN395_Pages1.indd 1

26/07/2022 15:05


22 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 80 PRODUCTS 82 Living / 86 Rolled mattresses / 92 Training and education


Dario Betti, CEO, Mobile Ecosystem Forum

98 OPINION 98 Conversational commerce / 102 Competition law 103 Effective merchandising / 104 Jobs 105 FIRA International / 106 Feedback



Stephen Sidkin, partner, Fox Williams LLP


Levent Caglar, senior ergonomist, FIRA International





AWARDS HAT TRICK FOR FURNITURE VILLAGE Furniture Village was named Supreme Champion Family Business of the Year, Retail Family Business of the Year and London & South East Family Business of the Year at the 2022 Family Business of the Year Awards, which took place last month. The retailer was recognised for its consistently innovative approach to retail, rich and meaningful family-first culture and strong growth performance, delivering sustained competitive advantage. Charlie Harrison, commercial director, says: “We are humbled to have won not one, but three awards at the Family Business of the Year Awards. Our philosophy of ‘doing it right’ spans across our entire business, and it’s a real testament to our staff and stores to have won all three awards. Family is the lifeblood of our business – not just the Harrison family, but many other families that put their heart and soul into making our business what it is today.” Businesses were judged on criteria including philanthropic activities and post-pandemic challenges, as well as how much involvement family members play in day-to-day operations.

Charlie concludes: “It’s fair to say we’ve been challenged on a number of occasions over the past few years, yet through all of this, we’ve achieved a remarkable milestone of our biggest turnover ever.” Pictured from left are: Peter J Harrison (chief executive); Claudia Cooper (director of multichannel); Eamon Wynne (operations director); Claire Sheils (finance director); Charlie Harrison; Nick Hipkiss (director of HR and people development); Mike Broughton (business development and IT director); and David Ayers (director of customer fulfilment).

HEAL’S UNVEILS STORE DEVELOPMENT PLANS Heal’s has revealed plans for a major transformation of its Tottenham Court Road store, with the retailer set to take over the adjacent vacant ground floor and basement space previously occupied by Habitat. The expansion will see a remodelling of the retailer’s current ground floor showroom, which has held prime position on Tottenham Court Road for more than 200 years. Reconnecting the space between the current Heal’s store and the vacant unit, a new lobby entrance will also be created, with an extended facade running from Alfred Mews up to Torrington Place. The planning application, submitted in May, seeks listed building consent for internal refurbishment and structural alterations to remove internal walls and create an open-plan design throughout the entire ground floor, plus expansion into the

basement floor in the vacant unit. This will provide a considerably larger street-level retail space, plus greater visual impact externally, states the retailer. Plans include widening of the shop frontage from the current 50m to 100m. CEO Hamish Mansbridge says: “Our flagship London store is an integral part of the Heal’s brand, heritage and future. When the adjacent space, previously occupied by Habitat, became available, it presented a timely opportunity for us to look at our Tottenham Court Road presence and how we could enhance the shopping experience of our customers, with a larger, easy-to-navigate, streetlevel showroom.” Heal’s has also opened a third London store. The outlet, at 324-326 King’s Road, Chelsea, spans 1728ft2.

BFC TRACKS INDUSTRY’S SUSTAINABLE DIRECTION The furniture industry is prioritising environmental issues – but many are struggling with the complexities and need more help, according to a survey of the industry conducted by the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), to which two thirds of respondents responded that sustainability was a ‘top three’ management priority. Just over half - 55% - thought the industry was doing OK on sustainability, while 21% thought it was not. Costs, other challenges, customer demand, competition, Government, management, or simply not knowing where to start, were all stated as reasons holding companies back from doing more,

with 62% saying they needed more help – in the form of more collaboration, guidance, financial support and even consistency of approach (for example, a single, agreed approach to carbon footprinting). Just 24% have adopted any of the UN 17 sustainability goals – with 23% not being aware of these. Over a third (36%) have signed up to some kind of green pledge – with the Government’s SME Climate Hub, the Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta initiative, the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Road Map and the NBF Pledge for our Planet all cited. Two thirds (64%) have not so far made any pledges.

DFS’ CFO Mike Schmidt is leaving the retailer to join B&M European Value Retail SA. Mike was with DFS for eight years, the last three of them as CFO

Wayfair has launched in Ireland, offering shoppers a proprietary delivery network plus tailored customer services in Galway led by Oscar Lovera-Perez

Mattress Online’s cycling trio have raised £2610 to date for child bed poverty charity Zarach, by completing the 140-mile Coast to Coast challenge

Loaf has appointed Theodore Sheppard (exRiver Island) as its new CCO. Theodore will define the brand’s direction and oversee its omnichannel presence and showroom rollout

Artisan Furniture has completed Goldman Sachs’ 10SKB Programme for highgrowth SMEs

The Very Group, operator of Very and Littlewoods, has appointed former president and CEO of Walmart Japan Lionel Desclée as group CEO. Current group CEO Henry Birch will step down on 24th September

Heimtextil took place as a one-off summer special at Messe Frankfurt in June, alongside Techtextil and Texprocess. The shows offered some 2300 exhibitors and attracted around 63,000 visitors, maintaining their pre-pandemic level of internationality




Loaf is opening its ninth ‘Shack’ late this autumn, in Edinburgh – its first in Scotland.Situated in Straiton Retail Park, the new showroom will be Loaf’s largest to date, ranging across a 9100ft2 open-plan site

London Fabric Show, organised by the BFM, will return to ILEC, London on 28th February and 1st March

Mattress Online has invested in additional warehouse space, increasing its Rotherham footprint to some 135,000ft2, while making new hires across its digital and commercial operations: Alison Straw (ex-Med-El) as general operations manager; Adam Blaxhall (ex-Press Association) as content strategist; and Michael Rhodes (ex-BT) as ecommerce marketing manager

ACID has invited Rupert Welch, joint MD of kitchenware and homeware supplier Robert Welch, to become an ambassador for the design rights champion

spoga+gafa made a successful comeback in June after three years’ absence, states organiser Koelnmesse. The Cologne event attracted around 25,000 visitors from 112 countries, and featured some 1000 exhibitors

Bensons has opened new stores in Yeovil and Didcot, making the number of openings/ relocations 11 so far this year

Hypnos has appointed David Baldry as group MD, to oversee the Hypnos Beds businesses serving the retail, interior design and contract markets



FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT RAISES RECORD DONATION The Furniture Makers’ Company’s annual charity five-a-side football tournament returned last month, following a three-year hiatus, sporting a new look and identity, with furnishing businesses competing to raise the inaugural Tim Bloyce Cup. The one-day competition, which was sponsored by Ocee Design, took place at the Lucozade Powerleague Football Centre, Coventry on 3rd July. Now in its eighth year, the tournament was renamed the Tim Bloyce Cup in 2022 to honour Tim Bloyce, a lifelong football fan and employee of Ocee Design, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2021. The event was on par with the biggest ever held, as 15 teams from furnishing retailers, manufacturers, distributors and service providers competed to topple returning champion Axminster Tools. After an hour of play, Ocee United and FC Hypnos claimed their spots in the final. With friends, family

and their colleague, Tim Bloyce, cheering on from the sidelines, Ocee United was victorious, winning 5:4. The event finished with a winners’ presentation and a barbeque. The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman team was presented with the silver plate, and the player of the tournament was Stefan Mason of Ocee United. The tournament raised a record £6518 for the charity. Jonny Westbrooke, CEO of The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “Over the past decade, the fivea-side football tournament has become a muchloved and very competitive staple in our calendar of fundraising events. After two years of inactivity, we were delighted to resume the event under a new banner and identity of the Tim Bloyce Cup. Thank you to Ocee Design for not only sponsoring the tournament but the support they provided in the planning and build-up to the day.”

SOFA SUPPLIER APPOINTS NEW AREA SALES MANAGER The sofamaker behind such brands as Ashley Manor and Alexander & James has appointed Simon Davies (pictured) as area sales manager for the South East, South West and Home Counties. Simon joins from the Minerva Furniture Group, and previously worked with AIS, and as a long-term buyer for the Fenwick group. “Simon is more than familiar with both Ashley Manor and Alexander & James, and shares our passion and enthusiasm for product,” says sales director Steve Morgan.

FREIGHT FORWARDER APPOINTS CHIEF MARKETING AND SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER UK-headquartered freight forwarder Cardinal Global Logistics, which enjoyed record-breaking YoY growth of +320% across the group in 2021, reaching a turnover of £460m, has appointed Kelly Hobson (pictured) as chief marketing and sustainability officer. Kelly will be responsible for the overall creation and implementation of a global marketing and sustainability strategy. “Cardinal Global Logistics is a fantastic success story to date,” says Kelly. “Originally founded by three ambitious professionals, over the last 25

years, by remaining purpose driven, the business has continued to thrive. Core values that have always placed the ‘Cardinal family’ at the heart of the business continue to drive an environment that ignites customer obsession and innovative thinking. “Positive impact has become more than just a buzzword for many companies operating within the logistics industry, and I am delighted to be joining a company that already has established initiatives within this space and a board that is supportive in doing more. I have no doubt my new role will be incredibly rewarding, and I’m looking forward to creating more awareness around the extensive services Cardinal offer.” CEO Brian Hay continues: “The last few years has seen a wave of accomplishments for Cardinal Global Logistics. Our prowess within the sector is underpinned by a formidable team, and I’m incredibly proud of the dedication each and every one of my colleagues continues to show in supporting our customers. Bringing Kelly into the Cardinal team felt like the perfect fit as we move into a new and exciting chapter.”



LEAN FORWARD It may be a newcomer to the domestic furniture scene, but County Durham’s Meridian Upholstery has made a barnstorming entrance, winning stockists the length and breadth of the nation, and making a name for itself among Furniture News’ readers. Paul Farley asked Meridian’s founder and MD, Jonathan Eager, for an explanation …

New Hampshire

9 Some just seem destined for the trade. Jonathan started his upholstery career on the bench in Darlington’s Ideal Upholstery in 2000, at a time when “dralon and fringes were the norm”. Rather than any particular design or style, it was the company’s efficient manufacturing practices and strict quality control methods which captured Jonathan’s attention, and in 2007, at the age of just 22, he founded his own business, Meridian Upholstery. Starting out in reupholstery and outsource manufacturing, Meridian’s break came when a local customer brought news that his neighbour, a Michelin-starred chef, was opening a new restaurant that required seating. Winning this job led to a major cruise refit operator discovering Jonathan’s capabilities (following a meal at that very same restaurant!). After years of growth across various commercial sectors, Covid stopped Meridian in its tracks, and the contracts slowed. Jonathan took this opportunity to engage with the retail sector once again – and with his team firmly behind him, the next chapter of Meridian’s history began. In April, Meridian made its January Furniture Show debut, and enjoyed a hugely successful event, opening a plethora of new accounts. With the news this month that Meridian

Upholstery had been voted Best Newcomer in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards, it felt like high time to find out more … How straightforward was the transition from contract to retail production? It was strangely easy … ish. We used to produce a new product every six hours, given the bespoke nature of contract and marine manufacturing, without any control over what was coming at us next – whereas standardisation of products opened up the dream of lean! What strengths does your commercial manufacturing background bring to your new domestic arm? I would probably say adaptability – our efficiency in developing and improving products. We listen to retailers, and we care immensely about what they feed back to us – lots of their ideas and

suggestions are incorporated in our current models. What type of upholstery do you specialise in? What are your bestsellers? Our upholstery ranges are fully customisable with modular configurations and mix-and-match fabrics, alternative-coloured pipings, different timber options and, from what I’ve been told, millions of configurations! I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but we want consumers to have an experience – we want everyone to experience real affordable luxury, which means high-quality products with a truly personal touch at a cost available to most budgets. Our bestseller is our Georgia model. It performed fantastically well at this year’s January Furniture Show, and now it’s been further improved we have even higher expectations for its performance.




How did the big NEC show go? Sales wise, we met expectations. However the real value was created in meeting all the retailers in person. Me and [sales manager] Kayleigh wanted to personally thank everyone we could for supporting us. For a new company, which ‘appeared’ out of nowhere, as we were told, it was heartwarming for me to see the support we got from the retail community. Don’t get me wrong, we have some amazing clients in the marine and contract industries, but on the whole it’s quite cold … I’m not sure if that’s the right way to describe it? … but the retail sector seems to be warmer, more personal and long lasting, and that’s what I like. We aren’t here for a flash-in-the-pan sale, we want to create a longstanding business that everyone in our team and community can benefit from, as well as the consumers – without any of them we wouldn’t be here today, so a big chunk of gratitude is in order! Why do you think you’re enjoying such impressive customer growth? It may be a bit premature to give a straight answer, but I would like to think we are trying to improve on what others are doing wrong, We make everything ourselves in the UK with a 6-8-week lead time, handmade to order, customisation, high quality and genuine care in what our retail partners expect, and with a clear ethos of making our operation as lean as possible, removing all elements of waste which customers shouldn’t be paying for. If we can make a luxury product by cutting out waste in all its forms rather than cheapening products, we are onto a good thing!

INNOVATION, QUALITY, OUT-OF-THE-BOX THINKING … ALL THOSE THINGS GET ME UP AT 6AM EVERY MORNING Are you taking market share from anywhere in particular? It’s a question I get asked on a daily basis, but I really don’t want to elaborate on that – the reason being I absolutely love the company that we seem to be taking floorspace from. They have suffered from corporate gluttony and poor choices, and we have capitalised on those failures. I feel bad saying it, as I know there is a place in the market for both of us! We don’t want to see anyone failing in our industry. What are your ambitions for this side of the business? We may be one of the most ambitious teams around, so I probably need to be careful here … but, I suppose, without that, where would we be? I’d like to think we can be up there with the market leaders. We will learn, improve, listen, and pursue improvement all the way. We want to be the Toyota of furniture manufacturing, the highest-quality product at a price available to most budgets. Innovation, quality, out-of-thebox thinking … all those things get me up at 6am every morning! If we can help each and every retailer that stocks our products, no matter how big or small, we will create an experience for consumers you don’t normally get in retail.

Given the challenges facing British furniture production, how prepared are you to negotiate what lies ahead? It’s a challenging time for everyone at the minute. Labour shortages, rising raw material costs and lead times on materials are just some of the hurdles we need to overcome, and we want to use those challenges as a chance to improve and be better. We can simplify and standardise how we make our products, which makes the training of people faster and easier. We can find better ways to use timber, fabrics and foams to maximise their use. We can improve how the production flows. There’s so much we are prepared for and prepared to do – we have a document full of improvement ideas to help us navigate the challenges. They don’t have to be massive things – multiple small improvements stack up – but if we have the continuous improvement mindset, we can be prepared for the challenges that will crop up. Increasing the cost of our products is always the last solution – we will look at everything else first. Sadly, things do increase – but it doesn’t mean they can’t come back down


Right Time, On Trend, In Stock Showcasing the most stylish and on-trend furniture and decorative interior accessories. Everything from classic styles to contemporary pieces, this is where form meets function.


18/07/2022 12:56:57

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Carefully handcrafted COLLECTION 2022



STERLING EFFORT Scotland’s Sterling Home nailed its progressive colours to the mast in Aberdeen last month, with the opening of its second refurbished store after Glasgow’s. Here, MD Gordon Mearns reveals the thinking behind the £2m makeover …


Founded in a disused Tillicoultry mill in 1974 by George Knowles (Snr), Sterling Home (formerly Sterling Furniture) is now one of Scotland’s largest independent furnishing retailers, operating through nine branches across the country. Sterling Home’s fully refurbished and reimagined Aberdeen store on Denmore Road officially opened on 1st July, having benefited from a cash boost of over £2m. Having traded from the site since 1991, Sterling closed the store for four months this year to deliver the transformation, and the new 75,000ft2 “home of inspiration” promises a

“unique, forward-thinking” shopping experience for all interior home projects, offering a mix of furniture and homewares, states Gordon. The store also features a cook shop, an upscaled Cobbs café, an extensive garden department, and a BoConcept concession spanning 4000ft2 and offering a complimentary 3D design service, eight room-themed studios, and curated private zones in which to meet with design experts. In terms of product, the store offers brands such as Le Creuset, LSA, Laura Ashley, Timorous Beasties, Wax Lyrical, G-Plan, Natuzzi, Nicoletti, Xoon and Venjakob.


“We are delighted to be back, bringing our much-loved customers an entirely new and specially curated shopping experience,” says Gordon. “This is an exciting new chapter for our family-owned business. Furniture is still very much at our core, but we have reimagined our brand to also offer a much wider range of non-furniture products to suit all budgets.” The retailer introduced homewares to its Tillicoultry flagship some 20 years ago, and the various departments were recently integrated to offer a more inspirational experience, says Gordon, who worked with a London-based design company to deliver a format that is “both functional and experiential”, comprising flexible room settings and a host of extra attractions. “It’s a significant move in terms of look and feel,” he continues, “and more in line with the digital presentation of our product.” An array of launch events, including design and culinary workshops, accompanied the opening, and Sterling plans to launch a new website this autumn. An additional 15 new recruits have joined the Denmore Road store team. With the closure of John Lewis, Debenhams and Frasers, Sterling Home’s offer is set to prove a welcome addition to Aberdeen’s interiors retail landscape







TIME AND MONEY IS PRECIOUS. WE KNOW IT, YOU KNOW IT. So why are you wasting it on lengthy photoshoots and the associated burden of sourcing a location, transport, hiring a photographer etc when you get the same images (if not better) with CGI? At Chilli Pepper Designs we create detailed, scalable, digital 3D furniture models that can be placed in a lifestyle scene of your choice. With current supply chain issues, shipping costs, sample delays and therefore lack of marketing imagery in the face of an economic downturn, why not try CGI where you will have your desired results well within budget and in no time at all - once you’ve tried CGI you will wonder just how you managed without it. We represent some of the best retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers in the U.K. to produce their product and scene CGI. You won’t be disappointed and we could help to change your company’s efficiencies and fortunes!


Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS


01424 734191




Brought to market by leading UK buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the INDX Furniture and INDX Beds & Bedroom trade shows will return to Cranmore Park Conference and Exhibition Centre in Solihull this autumn.


Collins and Hayes

Curated by expert selectors with a wealth of experience in the retail sector, each show will provide a business-focused opportunity for retailers to connect with top suppliers, discover the latest market innovations, and source new product ranges. First in the calendar, INDX Furniture will take place from 30th August to 1st September, with admission on day one reserved for AIS members, and the general trade being welcome across the subsequent days. Bringing together leading names across upholstery,

cabinet (living and dining), accessories and garden, the show will also host a series of on-site Retail Insights speaker sessions led by key names from the industry. Exhibitors confirmed include 3C Candy, Actona, ALF, Alfrank, Alstons, Andrena, Ashley Manor, Ashwood, At The Helm, Buoyant Upholstery, Collins & Hayes, Complete Colour, Corium, Duresta, Firmans, Global Furniture Alliance, Hill & Hunter, Himolla, HTL, Julian Bowen, Parker Knoll, Primavera, Recor, ROM, TCH, Unique, Venjakob and Violino. Next up, INDX Beds & Bedroom will return to Cranmore Park on 13-14th September, with admission on day one again reserved for AIS members. INDX Beds & Bedroom promises to showcase some of the biggest names from the world of beds, bedroom cabinets and sofabeds, presenting a professional networking forum and an inclusive mix of product ranges, covering promotional through to top-end luxury price-points. Exhibitors confirmed include Buoyant, Dunlopillo, Harrison Spinks, Highgrove, Hill & Hunter, Hypnos, Julian Bowen, Kaymed, Komfi, Limelight, Mammoth, Millbrook, Nolte, Rauch, Relyon, Rest Assured, Sealy, Silentnight, Sonlevo, TCH, Tempur and Wiemann. All INDX shows are free to attend, with free on-site parking, and visitors also enjoy complimentary barista refreshments throughout the venue. Exhibitor bookings are being taken, and online visitor registration is now open for both shows and can be completed via the INDX website

Curated by buyers for buyers

30 AUG - 1 SEPT 2022* Register now: *

30 Aug open to AIS member only

For exhibitor enquiries visit or email Cranmore Park Conference and Event Centre, Cranmore Avenue, Shirley, Solihull, B90 4LF. An AIS trade show.



IN IT TOGETHER Curtailed by Covid until this summer, the seventh edition of Ireland’s premier trade sourcing event, the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show (IFHS), was deemed a success by all involved …


This year, the show relaunched at a new, state-of-the-art venue, the National Indoor Arena, in Blanchardstown, Dublin. “This new location not only brought a new fresh look to the show, but also took how the furniture industry do business to the next level,” states the show’s organiser. “With all exhibitors under one roof, the National Indoor Arena was the perfect place for the IFHS to bring the industry together again in a relaxed environment. The feedback that we have received so far from all exhibitors has been great, and businesses are already looking forward to next year – highlighting how important trade shows are for the industry. Exhibiting at the IFHS 2023 is already on people’s minds, with current and new exhibitors looking forward to signing up for an even better event next year!

“With our marketing campaign focused on buyers, it’s not surprising the vast majority of exhibitors at the IFHS reported strong sales at the close of the show this year.” IFHS is representative of the variety of furniture and homewares available in Ireland. With the show being the only one of its kind in the country and attended by the majority of the top furniture businesses, it is an essential fixture, and this year’s show put thousands of products on display. Attendees had the opportunity to get a first look at new product ranges, explore the latest trends in the market, and avail of exclusive offers and discounts from the exhibitors. “The IFHS is a unique opportunity for Irish customers to see a wide range of products all in the one place, and, reflecting on the feedback we received, they were all very happy customers,” states the organiser. The event also hosted this year’s edition of the Irish Furniture & Home Awards, which recognises talent in the Irish furniture industry. This year’s programme saw 11 worthy winners claim best-in-show awards for their products, displays and overall approach to business. “It was clear from the level of interest and the number of entries received for the awards just how much work and commitment goes into offering their customers on-trend, high-quality products,” states the show’s organiser. Irish retailers in attendance had the opportunity to vote for the Retailers

19 Choice – Best Sales Rep award, which pays tribute to the top sales professionals in the industry today, and celebrates and acknowledges these individuals for their competitive spirit, sales achievements and the strong relationships built with customers while on the front line. Andrew Heasley, sales representative for Image Furnishings, scooped this year’s award. Claiming the Retailer’s Choice – Best Supplier award was Wholesale Beds and Furniture. “This is an award that Wholesale Beds and Furniture should certainly be proud of, as it recognises the high standard of quality and service that they provide to their customers on a daily basis,” states IFHS’ organiser. “Both of these retailer choice awards were voted for by the attendees of the IFHS during the registration process, with over 1000 retailers casting their votes. “For the IFHS awards this year, our focus was on representing Irish made – and also sustainability, which is rapidly becoming a key topic of conversation within the furniture

industry. Keeping this in mind, each of the awards were Irish, handmade with block oak and featured branding from Custom Wood Designs. These stunning awards were displayed on the winning stands throughout the show, and event organiser Mark Gannon presented each winner with their award.” In preparation for IFHS 2023, the organiser is committed to making IFHS bigger and better next year: “The relaunch of IFHS this year has highlighted how important trade shows are for our industry. The focus is to continue to support the industry in which we operate, by bringing the right people together all under one roof. Even if it is just meeting, collaborating or educating each other, attending the IFHS is a great opportunity to support the furniture industry.”



Celebrating the event’s best in show, the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show (IFHS) industry awards reception took place at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena on 26th June, and saw event organiser Mark Gannon (pictured right in shots) share the happy news with 11 worthy winners, who were selected by a panel of expert judges, and, in two cases, by retailers visiting the exhibition Helen Barker, Wholesale Beds & Furniture (Retailers’ Choice, Best Supplier)

Andrew Heasley, Image Furnishings (Retailers’ Choice, Best Sales Rep)

Conor McKeown, Annaghmore Agencies (Best Bedroom Collection, for Kilkenny)

James Caffrey, Homelee (Best Mattress Innovation, for the H3000 mattress)

Simone Galardini, Mini Divani (Best Upholstery Product, for the Chanel corner)

Phillip McClinton, Furniture Plus (Best Cabinet Collection, for the Fusion occasional pieces)

Patrick Meegan, Gie (Best New Homeware Product, for the 1986 armchair and footstool)

James Caffrey, Gleneagle (Best Irish Manufactured Product, for the Kinsale Living Collection)

Paul Taylor, World Furniture NI (Best New Furniture Product, for the Rocco dining set)

Paul O’ Dwyer, Durabeds (Best Overall Product Display and Exhibition Stand)

Duncan Porter, Samar Furniture (Best Overall Product Of The Show, for the Vespa bar counter)



HOW TO BEAT A RECESSION … “Despite our initial apprehension given the trade slump, we are REALLY HAPPY that this Greenwood Sale surpassed the first one [at Horsham] in 2018! Your Event Manager was great and got along with the team so well. We would book again with Greenwood and highly recommend their company.” Adam Tomlin. M.D. Jones & Tomlin Ltd.


NEXT MONTH’S ISSUE As we enter retail’s Golden Quarter, the shows are lining up to present the newest lines – and Furniture News is leading the way … • BED BUYER SUPPLEMENT, featuring our BED SHOW preview (NBF members only) • Previewing LONG POINT and the AUTUMN FURNITURE SHOW • A special focus on AFTERSALES, CARE AND REPAIR PARTNERS • Our regular look at the latest in BEDROOM, DINING, LIVING and TRADE SERVICES Alongside our usual circulation, September’s issue will be distributed at INDX Beds & Bedroom, the NBF Bed Show (with the supplement) and the Autumn Furniture Show.

Greenwood Sales continue to generate literally recordbreaking results for our clients year in, year out despite war, economic crisis, scandal, pandemic and media distractions of every kind. The benefits of holding a ‘Greenwood Sale’ are many. You’ll generate instant cash and profit. You’ll clear stock and the many long-term benefits include increased future market share. Realise the optimum sales potential of your business in any market climate. Find out more about Greenwood Sales. Call us to discuss the exciting possibilities and options we can offer you without obligation.


Want to be part of the furniture trade’s favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email


GREENWOOD RETAIL LTD Britain’s Leading Experts in Retail Sales Promotion

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07/07/2022 09:32



ABOVE AND BEYOND A little recognition goes a long way – which is why, earlier this summer, Furniture News asked every member of the trade to nominate their top suppliers from across the industry, to see who would take first place in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Finally, the results are in …

Whether it’s a fabric specialist that’s a cut above the rest, a particularly supportive bedmaker or a fulfilment partner going the extra mile, every furniture business relies on the goods and services of its suppliers – yet there are some which they could simply not do without. It’s these invaluable relationships which Furniture News created its Readers’ Choice Awards to celebrate. From fresh design and competitive pricing, to quality assurance and timely


delivery, it remains a challenging time for suppliers, many of which continue to develop and adapt to new ways of working. All businesses are having to work harder and smarter for their customers – with exceptional examples right across the field. Back in May, we asked the trade to nominate their top business partners for the second edition of our Readers’ Choice Awards. The programme proved immensely popular upon its launch last year – and even more so this time around. Nominations came from far and wide, resulting in a huge tally of the industry’s favourites across this year’s expanded category roster. Thanks to everyone who voted, and our sincerest congratulations to this year’s winners. They are truly deserving of your business.

Best Buying Group/Association: AIS “We are delighted to be recognised by Furniture News readers,” says AIS’ director of home and furniture, Emma Rackley. “With our buying strength, creativity, and knowledge of independent retailing, we are committed to supporting the industry to ensure it thrives. “Our focus remains to create strong supplier networks, leverage buying power and deliver buying and merchandise expertise to help improve margins, profitability and create products that help our members stand out in the market.”

says MD Rob Walker. “We are beyond thrilled to have won the award for Best CGI Visualisation Provider – most importantly, it’s great to see our team’s hard work acknowledged and appreciated. “To be recognised for being at the forefront of CGI within the interiors and furniture industry is such an achievement. It really is testament to our talented team for all the hard work they put in to create the 3D models, interiors, fabrics, and visuals our clients see every day. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our business, as we continue to strive only for the very best.”

Best Bed Supplier: Hypnos (p26) “We’re delighted to have been named Best Bed Supplier by Furniture News’ readers! A reader-voted award is always a special endorsement,” says CEO James Keen. “We pride ourselves on creating outstanding beds from responsibly

sourced, sustainable materials, offering true comfort with integrity – we’re thrilled to have received this recognition from our customers. “It’s been a challenging year, but we’ve worked extremely hard to put improvements in place across the business – we’re so grateful to our retailers too, for their continuous support. As a forward-thinking business, we’ll continue to lead the way and create innovative beds that are valued by retailers and consumers alike.” Best Bedroom Cabinet Supplier: Welcome Furniture Caernarfon-based Welcome designs and builds furniture with durability in mind, and strives to deliver top-class customer service. Best CGI Visualisation Provider: Orbital Vision (p28) “A massive thank you to our clients and readers of Furniture News,”

Best Children’s/Nursery Furniture Supplier: Julian Bowen (p32) “We are an acknowledged leader in children’s furniture, and this remains a key focus, with a comprehensive collection of innovative and highly functional new designs across all price points,” says MD Emmett Lenaghan.

23 Best Decorative Accessories Supplier: Coach House One-stop-shop Coach House remains a family business and one of the industry’s largest and most trusted suppliers, offering a huge variety of quality products.

creating retail theatre. We are proud and humbled by the news.” Ryan McNeish

Best Dining Furniture Supplier: Gallery Direct (p34) MD Peter Delaney says: “We are delighted to have won Best Dining Furniture Supplier category in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards! “Leading by design is key to our ethos, across all our product categories. We offer a wide range of styles to give customers choice to suit their client base, as well as putting key looks together to help them select products that work well. We are continually striving to bring exciting new products to market at value-for-money prices. It is therefore fantastic to have our hard work and quality products recognised and rewarded by the readers of Furniture News.” Peter Delaney

Neil Buckley-Jensen

David Nuttall

Best Display Support Provider: Gregor Ryan (p36) “The award is a wonderful accolade and is truly heartfelt by our team,” says owner/creative head Ryan McNeish, “as the Readers’ Choice Award recognises our passion for display and interior lifestyle concepts in creating inspiring spaces. “We really appreciate the acknowledgment by the industry audience, and we will continue to improve our links with inspiring visuals that enhance the sale’s experience. To be nominated was amazing, and to be awarded by the industry’s readers is a testament to our enthusiasm for

Best Component Supplier: Leggett & Platt Springs UK (p38) “Leggett & Platt is proud to be named Furniture News’ readers’ choice for Best Component Supplier in 2022,” says UK sales manager David Nuttall. “We would like to express our gratitude to the readers of Furniture News, its staff, our customers, and everyone else involved in making this recognition a reality. “Our mission is a commitment to enhance lives – by delivering highquality components and advanced bedding technology, offering empowering and rewarding careers, and doing our part in bringing about a better future. Topping this category and winning the award validates the hard work our employee-partners provide each day to make that mission a reality. On behalf of everyone at Leggett & Platt, thank you.”

“We are over the moon to have won the Furniture News innovation award – this was the one we wanted most! “In the 2021 awards we won the Best CGI/Marketing Provider and Best Newcomer categories. We are still by far the best CGI company in the UK for interiors and furniture modelling, but winning the Best For Innovation category is testament to our business model, what we do and how we do it. “We go above and beyond, not just by creating CGI images but also offering additional services at no other cost to promote our clients’ scenes and models to other companies, to use in many ways. We have streamlined and fasttracked methods we use to complete projects based on our knowledge of what furniture companies need from CGI to create a whole unique experience for our clients. “We’re not just ‘techie’ guys, but come from the furniture industry, and have gone on to incorporate a CGI sister company – so we know what clients want, and have produced an innovative package that is superior to any other CGI company’s offering. The rate that we are picking up new clients – who are moving over to us from our competitors – is testament to what we do, and I would like to thank each voter for helping us to achieve this prestigious award!”

Best For Innovation: Chilli Pepper Designs (p44) Founder Neil Buckley-Jensen says:

Best Fabric Supplier: Edmund Bell (p40) “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won Best Fabric Supplier in the Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards 2022,” states the winner. “We have an amazing team here at Edmund Bell, and it really is down to each individual and all their hard work that has enabled us to win this award! “As a global supplier of fabrics for



curtains, upholstery and accessories, we pride ourselves on offering our customers the best design-led technical expertise, support and service – it means so much that our customers recognise this and have voted for us as the Best Fabric Supplier.” Best Fabric Upholstery Supplier: Westbridge Furniture (p42) Westbridge’s sales director (independent retailers), Nichola Bell, says: “Everyone at Westbridge is very passionate about the product we design and produce, and we work extremely hard to ‘get it right’ for both the retailer and consumer.” Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier: Core Products (p34) Core is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of easy-assembly furniture (either instore or at home), with a strong product line tailored to the UK marketplace.

Best Fulfilment/Transport Provider: Rhenus Home Delivery (UK) (p48) Sales director Gavin Boden comments: “We’re all so delighted to receive the award for a second consecutive year. The Rhenus Home Delivery family all worked so hard to get to where we are, and are all passionate about giving our clients and customers a fantastic experience.” Best Furniture Care/Repair Provider: Homeserve Furniture Repairs (p50) “We’d like to say another huge thank you to Furniture News’ readers, our clients and staff,” says CEO James Lane. “We’ve come a long way – and are so immensely proud to win this award for a second year running. As the largest furniture repair company covering the

this June, reiterating its role as the industry’s definitive international creative showcase.

Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier: Home Junction (p52) Marc Rogers, group MD, Island Spring Sourcing, says: “Winning the award is an incredible surprise, and extremely humbling – and we don’t usually do humble! “Seriously, we didn’t expect to win (this year!). When we launched the new collection at April’s January Furniture Show, we were overwhelmed with the response and orders. It was a reaction we hadn’t seen in our 25 years in the industry. So, to now win Best Garden/ Outdoor Furniture Supplier, which is voted for by members of the trade, is an amazing achievement and a vindication of everyone’s hard work over the last year. “A heartfelt thanks to everyone that voted for us – much love to you all!”

Best Leather/Leather-Look Upholstery Supplier: Hydeline “On behalf of the Hydeline team, I am delighted to be receiving this award” says MD Jonathan Burrage. “We pride ourselves on being experts in craftsmanship and comfort, and our leather offering has certainly been a key plank of our success to date in the UK market. Our team work tirelessly with leading tanneries around the world to develop articles of the highest quality, and strive to continually provide our customers with market-leading designs and materials and technology “As a forward-thinking business, we continually explore new materials, and look forward to broadening our offering significantly in the months and years ahead.”

Best Home Office Furniture Supplier: Jual Furnishings (p54) “We are thrilled to have received this award,” says director Julie Powell. “It is special to us because it is voted for by the readers of Furniture News, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to vote. “This is testament to the hard work and determination by team Jual to offer the best customer service possible, and the whole team are delighted to have received this recognition. “We’re constantly looking to the future with new products and designs that are keeping up with the latest trends – a new Jual Collection is always in the pipeline.” Best Importer: Bluebone Imports (p56) “Thank you to the readers for choosing us as your favourite importer of the year,” says sales manager, Elaine Anderson. “Our sourcing for next year will be a voyage of discovery – we have found new places to source, opening up a wealth of product potential, and we will explore new and exciting furniture and homeware categories, with soft furnishings, lighting and upholstery all in development.” Best International Exhibition: Salone del Mobile.Milano After several false starts, Milan’s big show returned to the Rho fairgrounds

Jonathan Burrage

Best for Sustainable Thinking: Harrison Spinks (p46) “It is wonderful to be recognised for our hard work and the progress made in the field of sustainability,” states the bedmaker. “If there was one award we wanted to win, it was this one – so thank you to all who voted for us! “Being a sustainable, vertically integrated business is at the heart of everything we do, and this means that every member of the Harrison Spinks family, and all our stakeholders, play a huge part in current and future plans. Only with their input and their engagement can we truly continue to make a difference.”

UK and Ireland, our focus is quality of service, and ensuring the customer comes first.”

Best Lighting Supplier: där lighting där lighting remains one of the UK’s best-loved designers and distributors of domestic lighting, famed for its ability to create original designs that add individuality, excitement and ambience to any home. Best Living Room Cabinet Supplier: Kettle Interiors Agencies (p58) International sales director Simon Ainge says: “We’ve put a tremendous amount of thought, design and planning into creating the five brands that you see today, along with streamlining our service to make it easier for retailers to secure products for their stores at a competitive price point. The ability to offer an all-round service that focuses on product quality and customer service has always been

INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 25 a priority for the Kettle team, so being recognised from the industry we service is a huge honour.” Best Mattress Supplier: Sleepeezee (p62) With a heritage dating back to 1924, Sleepeezee is one of Britain’s most progressive bed brands, and its innovative mattress designs and comprehensive approach are finding favour with more and more stockists every year. Best Newcomer: Meridian Upholstery (p8) “To be even nominated for an award is unbelievably special for us,” says MD Jonathan Eager. “We have never won anything before, due to us being behind the scenes for so many years – and then to actually win the Best Newcomer award is a testament to all of our team’s hard work and efforts to totally transform our business to successfully enter the retail arena. “We can’t thank them, or anyone that took the time to vote for us, enough. Thank you so much, and a big thank you to everyone that has supported us so far.” Best Occasional Chair/Recliner Supplier: Stressless (p66) “A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for Stressless,” says James Thompson, Ekornes’ SVP Europe. “The recliner category is becoming increasingly competitive – however, Stressless is pleased to remain the leader of the pack!”

Best Soft Furnishings Supplier: Scatter Box (p70) This is the fourth major accolade in recent months for Abbeylands Furniture (trading as Scatter Box). Scatter Box CEO Caroline Horgan was honoured by the All-Ireland Business Foundation with its Meath Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 accreditation, and the company was recently shortlisted for the High Potential Exporter Award category in the Export Industry Awards (IEA) 2022 (the winners will be announced in September). Caroline says: “We are absolutely honoured and thrilled to have won a Furniture News Readers’ Choice Award. As it’s voted for by the readers, this is a significant feat. It’s been a great year for Scatter Box, and to receive recognition for this is a fantastic accomplishment for the business and its loyal and hard-working staff.” Best Testing Services/Certification Provider: FIRA International (p74) “The entire team at FIRA International are delighted to be voted Best Testing Services/Certification Provider for the second year running,” says testing and technical manager, Howard James. “It crowns an exciting 12 months for us, which included the move to our new 17,000ft2+ custom-built site, in addition to achieving further expansions to our UKAS accreditation. We’d like to thank all our customers for taking the time to once again vote for us, we really appreciate their support. We look forward to helping the furniture sector

over the next 12 months, as we aim to be the industry’s Best Testing Services/ Certification Provider for a third year.” Best UK Exhibition: January Furniture Show (p76) Portfolio director of Clarion Events’ Retail Division, Zoë Bonser, says: “A huge thank you to all the readers who voted for the January Furniture Show to be the Best UK Exhibition! Myself and the team pride ourselves on giving our brands and buyers not only a great show with the best brands and products on offer, but also the chance to learn, discover and be inspired. It’s always great to have our hard work recognised and appreciated by the industry!” Best UK Manufacturer: Millbrook Beds (p78) “Everyone is very proud at Millbrook to have won this category for the second year running, and we would all like to thank both the readers, our customers and Furniture News for this fantastic accolade,” says Millbrook Beds’ operations director, Ross Thurston. Best Software/Technology Provider: RetailSystem (p72) “We at RetailSystem are extremely proud and honoured to win the Best Software/Technology Provider category in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards,” states the winner. “It means the absolute world that our customers love our system and services – something that we work very hard on delivering. We are the leading provider of cloud-based EPoS software for furniture and mattress retailers, and awards such as these confirm our market-leading status. “Thank you to everyone that voted for RetailSystem. We take great pride in this award, and will continue our hard work to make our software the best in the industry.” RetailSystem’s team

Best Rug Supplier: Think Rugs (p68) Director Sam Tippett says: “We are thrilled to have won the Best Rug Supplier award! It is incredibly rewarding knowing that this award has been voted for by the readers of Furniture News. “We are committed to supporting every one of our valued partners, and will continue to strive to ensure that we provide the best possible service. “We have committed ourselves to ensuring our stock levels are constantly kept at the highest possible level, and that our lead times are as short as possible. We would like to thank every one of our partners and those that voted for us for this fantastic endorsement of our continued hard work.

Best Sales/Marketing Services Provider: Furniture Sales Solutions (p55) MD Adam Hankinson says: “We’re thrilled to have received the award for the Best Sales Services Provider for the second year in a row! “We’d like to thank Paul and Sam for putting this all together, all of our trainees and friends at Sofology, Harvey Norman, Dixons, Gillies, Woods, EZ-Living, Nimbus, Arighi Bianchi, and everyone who’s supported us on this crazy rollercoaster over the last couple of years. “Delivering training in everywhere from Dundee to Dorchester is what we absolutely love – but sometimes it’s great to have a chance to stop and smell the roses! Here’s to bringing home the bacon again next year!”

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





Laying the best foundations for topquality sleep is no mean feat – but Hypnos manages to deliver champion products within an increasingly robust ESG framework … As a business that prides itself on working in partnership with its customers, family-owned British bed manufacturer Hypnos was delighted to have been recognised as Best Bed Supplier in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice awards. “To be nominated in this way means a great deal to the whole team at Hypnos,” comments CEO James Keen. “We’ve worked hard to deliver on our promises, and thank all the readers for their support. In the past year we have continued to create forward-thinking products and initiatives that meet the ever-evolving needs of consumers – particularly the eco-conscious.”

An innovator in sustainable bed manufacturing, and winner of the NBF’s first Sustainability Award in 2021, Hypnos is seeing retailers and consumers alike respond well to its collaborative partnerships with farmers and producers. The bedmaker recently teamed up with the John Lewis Partnership to launch a mattress range using wool from sheep farmers that supplied the retailer’s sister brand, Waitrose. The initiative highlighted the plight of the British wool industry and ensured farmers were paid a fair price for their wool. Waitrose’s Sheep to Sleep campaign went on to win the Sustainability Initiative of the Year title in the Grocer Gold Awards 2022. Hypnos also collaborated closely with

John Lewis to develop its own-brand Classic Eco Collection 1200 pocketspring mattress, which won the Best Wool-Free Mattress Award in PETA’s 2022 Vegan Homeware Awards. James comments: “We pride ourselves on working in close partnership with our customers to provide them with solutions to meet the demands of their consumers.We create comfortable beds made from responsibly sourced, sustainable materials, offering true comfort with integrity – and by collaborating with certified suppliers such as The Woolkeepers, Better Cotton Initiative, CottonConnect, and many others, Hypnos goes beyond carbon neutrality to ensure that the wellbeing of both consumers and the planet remains at the centre of the business.” The recently launched GOTS and Soil Association Certification-certified luxury collection, Origins Organic, is endorsed by the Eden Project, Hypnos’ sustainability and charity partner, helping the bedmaker engage colleagues, support local communities, and encourage sustainable living, education, conservation and responsible, eco-friendly product design. As part of the partnership, a charitable donation from the sale of each mattress from the Origins Organic Collection will be made to the Eden Project. “It’s an exciting time for Hypnos, and we look forward to demonstrating our commitment to sustainable, comfortable sleep further at the autumn shows,” James concludes

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ORBITAL VISION With CGI visualisation technology steadily replacing traditional photography in many areas of the trade, few are better equipped than Long Eaton’s Orbital to make the revolution a reality … “We are really thrilled to have won the award for Best CGI Visualisation Provider,” says MD Rob Walker. “A huge thank you to all of our clients and the readers of Furniture News, it’s fantastic for our team’s hard work to be recognised and celebrated. “As much of our work isn’t trademarked, we rely on our own marketing and client recommendations, so it’s great to have our name associated with this award to further solidify our strong position within the industry. “Our team go above and beyond to ensure our clients have the best imagery to sell and showcase their products online. With a diverse set of skillsets and strengths, our team works together to create some of the most photorealistic imagery in the industry. “We have always specialised in our fabric and material builds – our fabric team work hard to ensure our 3D builds reflect the true plushness and texture of the physical fabric, making us one of the best in the business.

“This past year has been fantastic for our team. We’ve grown in both size and skillsets, as well as celebrated some fantastic achievements and awards. “Late last year we launched our 3D product configurator, Envision, which we’d been working on in the background. This is a crucial ecommerce and visualisation tool that we are now able to offer to our clients, making selling furniture and accessories online even easier and more affordable. “We’ve recently launched Envision on a variety of sites, including UK

manufacturer Tetrad. The manufacturer is known for having an endless array of combinations for each product, including the ability to choose your own fabrics, piping, studs, and leg colour. It would be impossible to photograph all of these combinations – even rendering still images would’ve been a slower and more expensive process. “Using Envision has not only allowed Tetrad to showcase all of these combinations, but has also opened up doors for their customers, as they are now also able to make use of these digital assets on their own sites. “The main purpose for Tetrad adding Envision to their site was so their customers can visualise every possible combination of a product. As Tetrad pride themselves on offering so many combinations, to suit any and all interiors, Envision was the perfect tool for their new website. Not only are customers able to visualise a product on their screen, but by using our app-less AR feature, they can view products in their own home. “It’s been a great project, and has been a true test of the abilities of the platform – which in turn has allowed us to develop more features and improve the overall user experience. “We are so excited to see where the next year takes us – and what awards we might pick up too!”


You sell it, we deliver it, direct to your customers’ door.

01738 630 555





Saturn mid-sleeper

Offering a huge variety of product for every corner of the home, this East Midlands-based supplier demonstrates time and again that it’s not kidding around when it comes to children’s furniture … The Julian Bowen business is “extremely proud” to have topped the Best Children’s/Nursery Furniture Supplier category in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, says MD Emmett Lenaghan, revealing that this year has seen an acceleration in the growth of new developments in children’s furniture at the supplier, with the continued success of new concepts driving additional revenue. “The company is an acknowledged leader in children’s furniture, and this remains a key focus, with a comprehensive collection of innovative and highly functional new designs across all price points,” says Emmett. This includes mid- and high-sleepers which combine multiple storage options with a desk, mirror and hanging space, together with clever contemporary bunk beds with pull-out desks, and the Trio, a highly specified, triple-height bunk in a high-quality lacquered finish. “We are immensely proud of achieving this award,” continues Emmett. “Our customers have never

been faced with such a combination of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty for the future ahead, and we have all had to rethink and adapt to the new world. We know how difficult it can be to navigate such an environment, and feel that it is our job to be totally supportive, making it as easy as possible for them to maximise their businesses while working with the team at Julian Bowen in an enjoyable and efficient way. “We are both grateful and proud that our customers continue to show such confidence in Julian Bowen, and we are working hard constantly to improve all aspects of the proposition we offer.”

Product development at Julian Bowen is backed up by an ongoing investment programme across the business to ensure an enhanced customer proposition. Product quality and testing procedures are in place – particularly around children’s beds. There have also been significant IT upgrades to maximise efficiency through automation, from stock feed management to ordering, distribution and customer service support. This is augmented by a progressive staff training programme with an absolute focus on delivering best practice and a trouble-free experience for the customer

Campervan bunk

Mars bunk and underbed

Hercules Highsleeper – Woodgrain & Anthracite Bentinck House, Park Lane Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts NG17 9LE tel: (01623) 727374 email: web:

All Products are available for Direct Home Delivery







Since its beginnings in 1986, Core has grown to become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of furniture specifically designed for easy assembly (either in-store or at home), with most products designed and developed by the business, and uniquely tailored to the UK marketplace.

Core Products’ portfolio is synonymous with pine furniture, which still accounts for a big part of its sales. Corona still retains a formidable following – yet Core’s offer has evolved to incorporate new styles, including industrialinfluenced designs and coloured finishes. Painted furniture remains a popular consumer choice, says Core, as it so effortlessly blends with most decors. Contemporary furniture is also well catered for – Core’s Lido collection,

for example, comes in a high-gloss white finish and includes a collection of products ideal for modern starter homes where space is at a premium. Those seeking interesting pieces which are ideal for open-plan styling and boast hardwearing, easy-to-clean finishes to withstand everyday family use, will also find Core’s modern living collections appealing. More traditional tastes are also well catered for, through Core’s Highland Home collection, which offers a variety

of wood and painted finishes, and has been designed to be easy to build. Dunkeld, for example, is finished in a midnight blue paint with antique finished hardwood tops and polished steel cup handles. With such a wide variety of styles and finishes catered for, it may surprise some that Core Products carries all these lines in stock in the UK, and offers delivery to the store, as well as express delivery direct to the end-customer’s home.


GALLERY DIRECT MD Peter Delaney says: “The whole team at Gallery Direct would like to thank the readers for their votes – we are thrilled to have won the Best Dining Furniture Supplier category in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards! “We continually work hard to offer customers a wide choice of quality products at value-for-money prices, regularly bringing new products to market to keep our offering fresh for our customers. Our catalogue currently features over 6000 lines, including furniture, made-to-order upholstery and mattresses, outdoor living, accessories, textiles, lighting and wall decor.” Gallery’s furniture collection includes

a strong selection of dining products. There are dining tables in a range of styles and sizes, from traditional to contemporary and from small to large and extending. To complement these, Gallery offers a selection of chairs, including the popular Hinks and Rex, which are available from stock in two and three colours respectively, as well as made to order in a choice of 75 fabrics. Select co-ordinating sideboards, display and shelving units, cabinets and occasional tables to complete the look, or go for a more eclectic feel by choosing pieces from different ranges. All Gallery’s current products can easily be ordered through its website. The supplier boasts two warehouses, north and south, in the UK, holding stock ready for quick delivery by its inhouse transport team. At Harrogate’s Home & Gift last month, Gallery launched its AW22 accessories and soft furnishings

Blair dining table with Chalkwell chairs

Supply supremo Gallery has proven its worth across a plethora of categories – with its dining offer truly taking pride of place in readers’ hearts.

range, which offers over 300 new lines, including a huge Christmas collection. It also previewed its SS23 Outdoor Living Collection, offering over 100 SKUs including 13 new furniture families and a range of outdoor kitchens and pergolas. Gallery will also be exhibiting at Autumn Fair, in hall 20, stand D20-E21. “We would love to see you there, to tell you more about all our collections and what we have to offer,” concludes Peter, “so please come along and see us!“

View our full collection of over 6,000 products at




Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS





Tetrad’s award-winning stand at this year’s January Furniture Show

From show-stopping exhibition stands to captivating retail theatre – and much more in between – visionary Ryan McNeish’s design studio boasts a wellearned reputation for putting products in the best possible light.

At The Helm’s stand at this year’s January Furniture Show

“It was a warm and truly fantastic surprise to win the Best Display Support Provider category in the Readers’ Choice Awards,” says Gregor Ryan’s owner and creative head, Ryan McNeish. “Our team truly thank Furniture News’ readers for the time they have taken to vote for us at Gregor Ryan. “With a continued passion for the belief that retail theatre is so important, we push ourselves to ensure we deliver design-based spaces within our client portfolio. To be recognised across the industry by readers is a wonderful accolade. We will continue to move forward and try to inspire the consumers who walk into our creative spaces. “At the moment, we’re introducing new creative proposals using a variety of media to explain our concepts and ideas – working across many disciplines in manufacture and retail, variety is always my focus.

“The last year has seen an increase in retail spaces asking for new concepts and department upgrades – and exhibitions are back! Our focus this year was to ensure the clients we had at the NEC and beyond were elevated from previous showcases, and inspired the industry visitors. Winning Best Stand at the January Furniture Show for the Tetrad/Spink & Edgar display – and with great feedback on the stand presentations from both At The Helm and Spirit by Westbridge – we will continue to enjoy forthcoming trade

shows locally and abroad. “We’re also focusing on new client developments, and have partnered with new clients in different interior market positions. New clients including Caseys Furniture in Ireland, Lee Longlands in Birmingham, and a collaboration with Libra Interiors. “Our existing client portfolio, which includes Gillies and Housing Units, will see new upgrades in stores and departments. We’re also launching a CGI division this year, focusing on highquality styling and lifestyle CGI, which we are excited to explore into 2023.” Asked why he thought his business topped this category, Ryan responds: “Offering tailored packages, creating inspiring environments, listening to clients and always considering budget and relevance – which I guess comes with experience. “I try to avoid ‘square peg, round hole’ situations, so it’s important we consider client position and their values. We always consider the relevance of the design proposal and ensure we are never too trend led. I pride myself on seeing the design process through, and our skilled team support with project management and design assistance. Our focused team really do work well, and relationships are an important part of recurring projects with existing clients. “Again, a warm thank you to the industry for voting Gregor Ryan as best in display support”




LEGGETT & PLATT SPRINGS UK For any bedding company seeking to source consistent and high-quality components, manufactured by a secure, local supplier (plus the benefits of added value and good supply chain solutions), Leggett & Platt is increasingly the partner of choice.

NanoCoil coiling technology is executed on Spühl machinery at L&P Springs UK

“Leggett & Platt is proud to be named Furniture News’ readers’ Best Component Supplier for 2022,” says David Nuttall, sales manager, L&P Springs UK. “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the readers of Furniture News, its staff, our customers, and everyone else involved in making this recognition a reality. “Our mission is to enhance lives by delivering high-quality components and advanced bedding technology, offering empowering and rewarding careers, and doing our part in bringing about a better future. Topping this category and winning this award validates the hard work our employee-partners provide each day to make that mission a success. On behalf of everyone at Leggett & Platt, thank you.” Leggett & Platt specialises in springand wire-related products, which often include technologically advanced features. The business also provides a host of generic, volume-based products that are not patent-protected, and

consistently invests in new products and processes. “Trading conditions in 2021 were robust,” continues David, “and L&P Springs UK realised several key milestones during a year which could hardly be considered normal. The operational impacts of the lockdowns and Covid-19 regulations presented many new challenges that highlighted the interconnectivity of global supply chains. L&P Springs UK has responded well to these unprecedented challenges and continued to supply UK customers with high service levels whilst developing solutions for the changing market and customer needs. “The return of the NBF Bed Show last September allowed us to showcase our ActivEdge category and discuss the benefits in-person with customers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The rollout has been successful, with our new PC480 technology providing key customers with cutting-edge innovation and differentiation. One product, CaliberEdge, has been a great contributor for a key customer securing the contract of a major UK hotel group’s upcoming refurbishment. “Currently, the market is feeling the impact of poor consumer and business confidence, underpinned by the geopolitical factors driving inflation, rising energy pricings, and prolonged

supply chain disruption – but investment in new technology and additional capacity has us well positioned to support customers in this uncertain environment. “With a growing focus on sustainability in the UK industry and bedding sector, investment in processes and technology to support our customers’ needs in this regard will increase in 2022/23. Our PC483 and PC480 technologies are leading examples – providing customers with process, labour and product solutions. “Semi-finished products and enhanced supply chain solutions have been a key focus as well this year. The NanoCoil Edge represents our ongoing commitment to providing innovative comfort layer solutions to mattress and upholstery manufacturers, while ActivEdge offerings are well suited for the market’s growing compressed mattress or bed-in-a-box requirements. “Today, we are strategically positioned to react to customer requirements, due to our ownership of Spühl. This provides the flexibility required to adjust capacity in line with customer needs. Our investment in and installation of the latest manufacturing technology to boost capacity, increase product range and specification, and improve already-high levels of pre- and postsales service, demonstrate our leading commitment as a UK manufacturer. “Global reach with local service allows us to draw on L&P’s knowledge across international markets – in-house testing facilities at each of our L&P Springs centres, as well as a dedicated testing centre for R&D at our corporate HQ in Carthage, Missouri, sets us apart. “Vertical integration, raw material contingency and finished goods control are also critical differentiators. Valueadded services such as demandplanning analysis (beyond pure stock profiling) and operational assistance (including storage, supply chain programmes, and flexible bespoke supply chain solutions) provide optimised customer operations and working capital (increased cash flow) – all whilst supporting sustainability with a reduced carbon footprint”

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Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS





Urban upholstery fabric

It’s quickly becoming clear that, although a relatively new kid on the upholstery block (if not to the fabric game), Rochdale’s Edmund Bell is one to watch …

Hideaway upholstery fabric

With roots dating back to 1855, Edmund Bell has long been recognised as a leading global supplier of fabrics and accessories to the domestic, commercial and institutional interiors markets, offering design-led technical expertise, support and services to designers, specifiers and contractors across multiple sectors. Over the past few years, Edmund Bell has invested heavily in its upholstery range, resulting in an eminently versatile selection of fabrics. Most of these ranges are available in different coating options, from uncoated, and cigarette and match, to the company’s Enduracare (an industry-leading, stain-resistant finish and flameretardant coating) and Enduracare+ (Enduracare, with the added benefit of being waterproof and anti-microbial) technology – all finished in Edmund

Bell’s own UK mill. No matter the customer’s requirements, Edmund Bell promises to deliver “the perfect upholstery fabric”. Edmund Bell is also a signatory of the Climate Pledge, further reinforcing its commitment to sustainability and taking action to reduce its effects on the environment and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Several goals have already been achieved: over 80% of Edmund Bell’s product range is now recyclable; fabric waste is recycled and

remade into other products for use in the flooring industry; 54 products are now certified to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX; and, last year, the business locally coated enough fabric to cover the length of 10,058 football pitches, saving over 408 tonnes of coating weight on its carbon footprint (the equivalent of four blue whales, 5.5 space shuttles, 65 elephants and 60,000 bowling balls!). With a dedicated Green Team in place, Edmund Bell is planning to implement further initiatives in the future

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“We are super excited and proud to have been awarded this title,” says Westbridge’s sales director (independent retailers), Nichola Bell. “Everyone at Westbridge is very passionate about the product we design and produce, and we work extremely hard to ‘get it right’ for both the retailer and consumer. “We strive to stay ahead of commercial trends, and are very serious about our impact on the environment and being the most responsible manufacturer we can be. We do this by constantly working on new initiatives and listening to our customers.For this to be recognised by the very people we partner with makes it all the more special. “Thank you from all at Westbridge!”


Westbridge operates from four UK production sites, occupying in excess of 450,000ft2 of production, design and office space, and employing over 1300 staff – but despite manufacturing in excess of 10,000 pieces of upholstery every week, the Deeside giant is still able to maintain its quality promise …

A huge thank you to all of the readers who voted for us …

… we are “chuffed to bits”





CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs

“There’s plenty of reasons to embrace CGI digital product visualisation,” says Chilli Pepper Designs’ founder, Neil Buckley-Jensen. “It gives sellers unparalleled flexibility in how they present their goods online and create marketing materials, and it can prove cheaper and far more time efficient than traditional product sampling and product photography in the long-term. “But with the entire industry still confronted with supply chain disruption, a massive downturn in sales, having to cut budgets, and still receiving a backlog of containers into warehouses in the face of a recession, CGI is one of the best options to revive furniture companies’ good fortunes. “Since the pandemic, CGI has shown its valuable worth to the furniture industry, and has truly come to the fore. The industry has a lot to lose

currently in the process of designing, developing, creating and exhibiting products in an economic downturn when sales have dropped and budgets are being cut. That’s not to mention the time and investment spent travelling to factories, developing prototypes, inspecting them, making the product, shipping it, promoting it to the trade and displaying in-store – all while fretting about how popular it’ll prove. In all, you could be waiting 6-9 months just hoping something works.” Neil brings extensive industry experience to the mix, owning and managing his own cabinet company, Indesign Furniture, which includes the Little Tree Furniture brand. Neil discovered during the pandemic that buyers were increasingly willing to place orders based on high-quality, hyperrealistic CGI product renders alone, so began exploring CGI to circumvent his own in-house roadblocks. Consequently, the nationwide lockdown sharpened his focus, and Chilli Pepper Designs was born. As a real-life case study, the CGI from Chilli Pepper Designs has contributed to doubling the turnover of sister company Indesign Furniture since the former’s inception. Chilli Pepper Designs already

CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs

Fledgling virtual virtuoso Chilli Pepper Designs (an offshoot of Indesign Furniture) has quickly earned a name for itself in the trade, its perfectly placed, photorealistic campaigns wowing buyers and sellers alike. The future starts here …

represents some of the largest brands, retailers and manufacturers, and creates CGI on their behalf, which is a testament to the quality of the imagery produced – and those companies also see a high return on their CGI investment, says Neil. “Right now, people are looking for pipeline products, and our technology offers an innovative bridge from concept to sample creation in less than two weeks, without the costs (and carbon footprint) usually associated with the development of new ranges and trying to get imagery of stock either piled high in warehouses or stuck on the water,” he continues. “Chilli Pepper Designs’ CGI can cut the associated costs of all aspects of product development and imagery by around -80%. The ROI is enormous, and increase sales by an unprecedented percentage. “CGI enables suppliers to leapfrog the back-and-forth associated with sampling, traditional product development and photography, whilst also enabling clients to cut costs but boost sales. With Chilli Pepper Designs, new products can be visualised, tweaked, and run past key stakeholders in a matter of days, while – or even before – they are made. With material supplies, shipping, exhibitions, and bricks-and-mortar retail all still reeling from the backlash of the pandemic, CGI is a powerful antidote right now,” Neil concludes





Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS


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HARRISON SPINKS “It is wonderful to be recognised for our hard work and the progress made in the field of sustainability,” says Harrison Spinks’ director of innovation and sustainability, Richard Essery. “If there was one award we wanted to win, it was this one, so thank you to all who voted for us!

“Special thanks go to our sustainability team – Sarah Emmins, Emma Linney-Taylor and Ethan McGuigan. However, being a sustainable business means that every member of the Harrison Spinks family, and all our stakeholders, play a huge part in current and future plans. Only with their input and their engagement can we truly make a difference. “Over the last year we have commissioned and worked with sustainability consultants Project Rome to take a 360° view of our commitments to become a more responsible

Richard Essery

From farm-grown fillings to reuse and recycling, family-run bedmaker Harrison Spinks is a natural when it comes to sustainable development.

manufacturer. This has led to a renewed way of thinking and a new direction in our circular manufacture strategy and stakeholder plans (both internal, external and community based). We have employed non-exec main board director, Dr Louise Ellis-Jones, to support our plans and challenge our thinking. “Looking ahead, we are constantly looking at ways we can improve comfort and resilience, while ensuring low impact to the environment. These include more homegrown, natural, and locally sourced fillings. Recycling and repurposing remain a strong focus for us as we look to increase output at our own recycling facility, to help reduce the impact of the 100,000 mattresses that currently go to landfill each week in the UK. “Being the most vertically integrated bed manufacturer in the world means we are always looking at ways to improve manufacturing touchpoints. We have a unique insight into the supply chain, which gives us the ability to innovate and improve in each area of production. “Our luxury proposition, coupled with our fantastic heritage, strength in innovation and our farm-to-bedroom story makes us unique in the furniture industry. Additionally, our management structure means we are extremely agile. This goes hand in hand with a culture of creativity and innovation which means we can take a leading position – not only in our category, but in manufacturing as a whole”


Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

The True Bedmakers We have been creating the ultimate in luxurious comfort since 1840, making mattresses that have been lovingly homegrown and handmade in the heart of Yorkshire. We are also the world’s most vertically integrated bedmakers. From growing our own natural fillings, to designing glue free spring systems and weaving our own fabrics, we are passionate about leading the way in luxury sustainable sleep. H A R R I S O N S P I N K S .C O.U K




RHENUS HOME DELIVERY (UK) Stepping up its UK game massively over the past year, this international logistics powerhouse continues to deliver on all fronts. “The management team, staff and delivery crews are all overwhelmed with the news that we have successfully won the award for Best Fulfilment/ Transport Provider for the second consecutive year,” states the winner. “Over the last year we have seen some huge investment within the business and experienced incredible growth – including increasing our employee numbers by over +200%, opening a new 268,000ft2 central distribution centre in Magna Park Lutterworth, implanting our graduate scheme (which has brought three

new graduates into the business) and increasing our owned fleet of vehicles with several tractor and trailer units. “Over the last year, we have onboarded several new major accounts, which have not only increased our diversity but also our delivery density. This has allowed us to complete daily deliveries to a high percentage

of locations around the country, and will allow us this year to offer ‘nextday delivery’, which we know is a huge feature to some of the major ecommerce retailers within the UK. “The introduction of our HGV fleet has enabled us to offer collection services to clients on a daily basis, sometimes visiting them several times a day to complete the collection of their live orders. To fit in with our family company feel, we’ve decided to name our vehicles – look out for Ronny, Rosie or Ray driving up and down the motorways of the UK! Having all of our vehicles sport the Rhenus Home Delivery branding has definitely increased our visibility. “The opening of our new CDC in Magna Park Lutterworth has enabled us to increase our offering and our volume, and has allowed us to change our operations to a proper hub-and-spoke model. Once the full refurbishment of the site is complete and it is 100% operational, we will have over 30,000 pallet spaces – enabling us to not only offer our existing clients warehouse space, but also to reach out to new prospects requiring much-needed warehouse space too.” Sales director Gavin Boden comments: “We’re all so delighted to receive the award for a second consecutive year. The Rhenus Home Delivery family all worked so hard to get to where we are, and are all passionate about giving our clients and customers a fantastic experience.” To talk to the team regarding any warehousing or final mile delivery requirements, email sales.RHD@



Email: / Phone: +44 (0) 77445 540524 Rhenus Home Delivery UK, Unit 7 New Cheshire Business Park, Wincham Lane, CW9 6GG, Northwich



Email: / Phone: +44 (0) 77445 540524 Rhenus Home Delivery UK, Unit 7 New Cheshire Business Park, Wincham Lane, CW9 6GG, Northwich




HOMESERVE FURNITURE REPAIRS Homeserve Furniture Repairs’ training academy

Getting yet another win under its belt, Homeserve Furniture Repairs is rapidly cementing its position as the trade’s repair partner of choice.

Homeserve Furniture Repairs’ new head office building in Waterfront Business Park

“We’d like to say another huge thank you to Furniture News’ readers, our clients and staff,” states CEO James Lane, the driving force behind Homeserve Furniture Repairs. Since he founded the business in 2004, James has built the company into Britain’s largest upholstery, bed, mattress and cabinet furniture repair specialist. “We’ve come a long way – and are so immensely proud to win this award for a second year running,” he continues. “As the largest furniture repair company covering the UK and Ireland, our focus is quality of service, and ensuring the customer comes first.” As well as securing another Readers’ Choice Award, Homeserve has already had plenty of cause for celebration this year, scooping Business of the Year at the Express & Star Business Awards, a major West Midlands event, while James himself won Business Person of the Year. “I started Homeserve Furniture

Repairs 18 years ago on my own – just a £5000 loan from the bank to get me started,” says James. “Like all businesses, I’ve had some challenges along the way – and still continue to now, along with learning every day. However, I absolutely love what we do and the people I work with. I have an absolutely awesome team – the passion, commitment and togetherness is just brilliant. “We now have over 250 people in the Homeserve Furniture Repairs family. I still have a vision to continue our growth, and am always reinvesting in the business, so to get recognised not only

for our business, but me personally, is just amazing. “A new move to bigger premises, incorporating brand-new training facilities, means Homeserve Furniture Repairs now offers a comprehensive and fully up-to-date training academy – and we have a fantastic team of technical managers with extensive knowledge on all aspects of the furniture repair service, to provide training for our new recruits. “Once again,” James concludes, “from me, and the Homeserve Furniture Repairs team, a massive thank you to all our staff, clients, and readers of Furniture News, for your support”


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It’s been a stellar year for Home Junction, the new brand from established importer Island Spring Sourcing – and this win just goes to prove how much of an impact a supplier can have when it ticks all the right boxes …


“Seriously, we didn’t expect to win (this year!),” says Marc Rogers, the group MD of Home Junction’s parent, Island Spring Sourcing. “When we launched the new collection at April’s January Furniture Show we were overwhelmed with the response and orders. It was a reaction we hadn’t seen throughout our 25 years in the industry. So, to now win Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier, which is voted for by members of the trade, is an amazing achievement, and a vindication to everyone’s hard work over the last year. We are humbled and very grateful to all those that voted for us! “Such a successful show also meant a lot of work to process all the orders. On return to the office, our team worked at full speed to get new account forms, images, product information packs and the actual orders out to our new customers, and the repeat orders that were coming through were great. “Unfortunately, the economic landscape has changed quite a bit since the show, with the rises in the cost of living leaving consumers with difficult decisions to make regarding

their spending. The home furnishings markets, and garden furniture in particular, due to the seasonality of the product, have definitely seen a drop-off in demand over recent weeks. “Home Junction is not immune to this downturn, either – so we are working hard with our retail customers to keep those orders coming in. We are always looking at the bigger picture, so doing end-of-season deals really helps our customers with their marketing campaigns, trying to offer that little bit extra. “Our latest campaign, which runs until 15th August, will see our

customers receive a free HJ Papasan chair with every order placed on selected items within our ranges. “As a wholesale supplier we are fairly unique in terms of how we work with our customers, in that we do not enforce any commitments to purchasing stock throughout the season – if someone just wants to order one set, they can. “What else sets us apart in this fairly crowded market? We offer two simple prices – one for direct home delivery, and one for collected. We are probably one of the few suppliers this year that have bought prices down as shipping prices fell from the artificially high prices at the start of the year. “I should also mention our extensive experience in the furniture industry, which really helps us understand our customers’ needs. And we are always open for conversations to help your business grow. “We are already preparing for next year’s January Furniture Show with the development of new products on both the higher end of the market and cheaper flat-packed level. Additionally, we are developing new non-garden furniture ranges, so keep reading our newsletters and make sure you come and see us in January 2023!”




JUAL FURNISHINGS Renowned for its curvaceous take on traditional forms, Wales’ Jual started out selling TV stands in 2006, and its signature (and tech-minded) designs have become increasingly popular ever since. “We are thrilled to have received this award,” says director Julie Powell. “It is special to us because it is voted for by the readers of Furniture News, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to vote. This is testament to the hard work and determination by team Jual to offer the best customer service possible! “As more people have been working from home, there has been an inevitable increase in the demand for home office furniture. “With this in mind, we have strived

to ensure that our warehouse is full, and stock remains healthy. This has enabled our customers to be able to keep offering our next-working-day delivery service. During these testing times, where customers are being quoted rocketing lead times, our nextday service has been appreciated more than ever. “We are proud of all our home office collections, and are excited to be adding to them continually. However, there is one product that continues to stand out – our San Francisco Smart Desk (PC711) was launched in 2019, and is still proving to be our bestselling product. With a discreet wireless charger, Bluetooth-compatible speakers and two USB charging ports, it remains the centre of attention at any exhibition. “This year saw the release of our new Oslo home office. Its sleek, minimalistic design ensures that it fits into any

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home living space. But we’re constantly looking to the future, with new products and designs to keep up with the latest trends – a new Jual Collection is always just in the pipeline! “At Jual, we aim to ensure that we offer the best customer service, along with the best quality furniture, at the best possible price. “Thank you again to all our loyal customers.”




FURNITURE SALES SOLUTIONS Adam Hankinson’s expert sales training programmes have proved just the tonic for store teams the length and breadth of the UK in the past year, earning Furniture Sales Solutions its second win in this category.

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“We’re thrilled to have received the award for the best sales services provider for the second year in a row,” Adam enthuses. Furniture Sales Solutions’ programme starts with a short, free-of-charge discovery call, before an initial store visit to assess the possibilities. “Stores often hire us for a furniture sales programme that moves them towards best-practice quickly,” Adam explains. “With you, we’ll co-design the right type of programme to deliver a guaranteed return on your investment. “Unlike most training companies, we’ll follow up in person to embed and ingrain attitudes and behaviours that maintain the highest level of performance long after our programme has finished. “People come to us because the bottom line just isn’t what it could be, they know sales can be improved – the

sheer number of furniture retailers we’ve worked with means we know what makes the difference. Having done it so often, we know we can grow profits and sales by a minimum of +10% for any furniture retailer.”

14/07/2022 17:28




BLUEBONE IMPORTS Dwell bar and etagere

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – and Bluebone has done just that, responding to the pandemic’s supply chain pressures by working hard to ensure continuity for stockists and suppliers alike.

Painted birds

“Firstly, thank you to the readers for choosing us as your favourite importer of the year,” says sales manager, Elaine Anderson. “It has certainly been a journey, with increasing obstacles being posed to importers on a daily basis. We have weathered Covid, Brexit, the freight prices and now the war in Ukraine, and with no easy fix in sight, we have had to adapt as importers. It is lovely to receive this affirmation that we are still providing the same high level of product and service, despite the challenges. “We rapidly realised that while the nature of our product should not be impacted, the method of moving it from A to B would have to adapt. We have focused on design, and in particular how a design could be packed into a box. Several of our most popular pieces became too expensive to ship, so we set about redesigning them – could they be made KD without compromising the design and quality?

Games Room backgammon board

“A perfect example is the new Dwell range, featuring a bar and etagere bookcase made from reclaimed teak and metal. Essentially they are a rework of the Kleo boatwood pieces, made instead from village teak, recycled from old timber buildings, and packed completely flat. “We have also looked at how many products we can fit into a container, and by extending our range of homewares, accessories and small pieces of furniture, we can make sure that every inch of shipping space is utilised. Autumn 2022 will see new beaded

chandeliers, bold new wall art, quirky antique pieces, and, of course, more painted birds! “Our sourcing for next year will be a voyage of discovery – we have found new places to source, opening up a wealth of product potential, and we will explore new and exciting furniture and homeware categories, with soft furnishings, lighting and upholstery all in development for next year. “The Bluebone signature will always be present – a modern, rustic style for easy living, with a flair for design details and quality of build”


VISIT OUR SHOWROOM River Mill 2, Park Road, Dukinfield, Cheshire, SK16 5PD 0161 330 8959




KETTLE INTERIORS AGENCIES Kettle has grown to become a dominant force on the UK cabinet scene, not a year going by without significant improvements being made to its goods and services. Kettle took this year’s living room crown – but it’s a confident player right across the board. International sales director Simon Ainge comments: “We’re delighted to have won this award, and I would personally like to say a huge thank you to those who took time to vote for Kettle Interiors and our living room collections. “We’ve put a tremendous amount of thought, design and planning into creating the five brands that you see today, along with streamlining our service to make it easier for retailers to secure products for their stores at a competitive price point. The ability to offer an all-round service that focuses on product quality and customer service has always been a priority for the Kettle team, so being recognised from the industry we service is a huge honour.” Confirming its place as a market leader, Kettle Interiors continues to deliver a range of living room furniture to suit the varied budgets and tastes of an ever-demanding consumer. This versatility has made it easier for retailers

to tailor their offering to a shifting market, while still ensuring quality and customer support from a knowledgeable and industry-respected supplier. From its beginnings as a container specialist, Kettle Interiors has evolved into a multi-million-pound UK stockholding company, which offers independent and large national companies alike the reassurance of availability along with well-crafted living furniture and accessories that fit the individuality of their customer audiences.

Investment in fleet infrastructure and a user-focused DHD service has resulted in a retail-friendly experience which offers 24-hour access to online ordering and account management. One integrated price means retailers do not have any unexpected additional charges, with free delivery for orders over £250 making it possible for retailers to replenish stock with ease. Kettle Interiors has continued to focus on a customer-centric experience, with a dedicated service team to help with preand post-sale enquiries.

INFORMING INDUSTRY, BUILDING BUSINESS 59 From its launch in 2019, the Essentials collection remains supportive of the modern and starter home sector, and continues to provide an affordable solution for retailers and ecommerce platforms. Offering impressive value through oak-finish and painted ranges designed for modern and starter homes, Essentials by Kettle Interiors is focused on commercially aware designs that have wide appeal. Essentials is popular among retailers for its ability to lead instore promotions. Originals by Kettle Interiors forms the truest and most tested products the supplier offers. The collection is aimed at family homeowners who want the practicality of quality furniture that will withstand the rigours of modern living. Signature, meanwhile, gives retailers an opportunity to stand out, offering statement pieces featuring high build quality with eye-for-detail elements that one might expect from a premium collection. Living areas have extended to outdoor zones, and the Mambo Outdoor Living Collection reflects the consumer’s desire to create living room aesthetics without the constraints of walls. Each piece has been designed in on-trend colour fabrics while ensuring a highquality, built-to-last finish to weather the seasons. The supplier’s Mint Interiors at Kettle collection provides the opportunity to accessorise the supplier’s living room furniture with stylish, on-trend accessories. This large collection of over 440 products encompasses multiple interior trends, and can be offered at varying price points by retailers.

WE’VE PUT A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF THOUGHT, DESIGN AND PLANNING INTO CREATING THE FIVE BRANDS YOU SEE TODAY From stylish gold and glass cocktail trollies to sculptural coffee tables, modern chairs and a vast accessories collection, Mint Interiors captures the latest in glam home styling. Designed for anyone looking to add their unique style and statement pieces, the collection comes packed with choice. Over the next few months, two show vans will be taking a tour of the UK to bring the Kettle Interiors brands directly to retailers. Tom Bayliss, UK sales director, comments: “For our retailers, we understand the importance

of connecting with our brands while balancing the commitments of running their stores. Our show vans remain a popular way of showcasing our collections without asking retailers to take valuable time away from their business. “However, we remain committed to engaging with our trade audiences, and will be exhibiting at Autumn Fair in September, where we’ll be inviting new and existing clients to explore the Mint Interiors range.” The Mint Interiors by Kettle stand will be 19E10-F1

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“Getting a good night’s sleep allows us to perform to the best of our ability,” states Sleepeezee. “Affecting concentration levels and productivity, research has shown that sleep impacts everything from our routines, to our memory and our ability to focus. “Medical studies suggest there is a clear link between sleep quality and our physical bodies. Having shorter sleep patterns can often affect our appetites, and many athletes find that training for optimum performance goes hand in hand with sleep. “Sleep is therefore integral to our lives, and so it is crucial to choose the correct level of support and comfort

for your unique lifestyle. This will help you to fall asleep faster and will provide the correct spinal alignment. A proper mattress can also help solve sleep issues such as restless sleep, back and neck pain and allergies, allowing you to enjoy the best night’s sleep possible.” Through innovation and marketleading mattress designs, Sleepeezee has grown into one of the most wellknown bed manufacturers in the world. Since 1924, its team of expert craftspeople has built bespoke beds and mattresses to premium standards. With traditional family values at the heart of the business, Sleepeezee makes and manufactures every product at its factory in Rochester, Kent. Throughout the past 97 years, the company has received Royal Warrants (from HM The Queen in 1963 and from HRH The Prince of Wales in 1985). As well as this, the bedmakers works alongside its brand ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and continuously support charities that are close to its team and ambassador. “We offer a range of mattresses and

Sleepeezee works closely with its brand ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

With a heritage dating back to 1924, Kent-based Sleepeezee is now one of Britain’s most progressive bed brands, and its innovative mattress designs and comprehensive approach are finding favour with more and more stockists each year.

bedding with outstanding comfort and support,” Sleepeezee continues. “Our Jessica collection is therefore ideal for those with an active lifestyle. This range offers unique Platinum fibres which are designed to increase breathability by wicking away moisture. Each mattress has edge-to-edge support, providing supreme comfort all night long”

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Ekornes’ superlative recliner brand continues to excel in the fusion of comfort and design – even as the business branches into new areas of the market.


“Firstly, a huge thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for Stressless,” says James Thompson, Ekornes’ SVP Europe. “The recliner category is becoming increasingly competitive – however, Stressless is pleased to remain the leader of the pack! “The last four years or so have seen a real direction change for Stressless in terms of the breadth of product and styles that we offer. We are on a journey, transitioning from a recliner brand to a lifestyle brand that can offer premium and innovative seating solutions throughout your home with a range of aesthetics to choose from, ranging from modern classics to contemporary styles.

“With an increasingly changeable market, Stressless has had to remain nimble and in close partnership with our retailers. We have strengthened our position within Europe, as we have responded with increased production capacity from Norway, with production times having to stay fairly competitive. “We are focused on being strategic partners to our retailers, and the new product being launched at the end of the year is influenced somewhat by our retail network feedback. Products due to be previewed at the end of the year include something new in all of our categories, plus some advancements to existing favourites. “Why do I think our brand topped this category? In short, great products that are built to last in a contemporary design, breadth of range, quality and reliable manufacturing, European production, and a strong UK team”

Lean back

and embrace the relaxation of Stressless® Rome. Be the first to discover the sumptuous comfort of New Stressless® Rome. With an elegant curved form that is as supportive as it is beautiful. Be inspired and discover the full range of recliners, sofas and dining.








“Think Rugs are incredibly pleased to receive the award for Best Rug Supplier,” says director Sam Tippett. “It is incredibly rewarding knowing that this award has been voted for by the readers of Furniture News. “We are committed to supporting every one of our valued partners, and will continue to strive to ensure that we provide the best possible service. We have committed ourselves to ensuring our stock levels are constantly kept at the highest possible level and that our lead times are as short as possible. We would like to thank every one of our partners and those that voted for us for this fantastic endorsement of our continued hard work.

“We are also happy to announce the launch of our 2022/23 brochure, which will be available from September. We have been working hard on a selection of brand-new ranges as well as many additions to a number of established ranges. Our brand-new ranges include Solace and Bellagio, as well as additions to our top-selling Apollo, Boho and Bazaar Jute ranges. “The Solace range is a recycled shaggy, with 100% of the pile made from recycled plastic bottles. Each square metre of product saves over 100 plastic bottles from entering landfill (to see the recycling process in action, visit www. “Our ultra-high-quality Bellagio range is to become our highestquality machine-made product,” Sam continues. “Woven with incredibly high-density polypropylene and viscose, the range is made up of four unique abstract designs in muted tones. “The very popular Apollo is set to be thoroughly expanded from 10


Purveyor of a vast range of hand- and machine-made rugs, Think Rugs has developed a varied and versatile product range over more than 25 years of business.

options to 25. Created with high-quality polypropylene and metallic-effect polyester, the Apollo range is set to become our next top seller. A must have for any buyer! “Boho continues to be our most popular range, and is already available in over 20 options. We have now added a fantastic selection of six new designs, all available in a fantastic multicolour selection. “Our sustainable and stylish Bazaar Jute ranges have been expanded to include four new options, taking the range to eight options across multiple sizes. Made from 100% jute or hemp, the range is amazingly sustainable and eco-friendly. “To view all of these ranges and more, call 01782 747713 or email info@ to request a digital or print brochure. With over 1500 product available, you are sure to find the perfect selection of rugs for your range,” Sam concludes. “We look forward to hearing from you!”

For Every Home T: 01782 747 713 E:


Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS





Established in 1959, Abbeylands Furniture, trading as Scatter Box, is one of Ireland’s leading B2B designer furnishings brands, with a reputation for quality and inspiring interiors, strong customer service and a commitment to supporting local manufacturing. “A huge thank you to the readers of Furniture News for this award – it is a massive compliment that really means a lot to us,” says CEO Caroline Horgan. “Our team is fully focused on understanding what our B2B customers – and in turn their customers – need, and we are committed to delivering a quality product and service at an affordable price. We are humbled to know that so many of our customers have such strong confidence in our brand and took the time to vote for us. Thank you! “2022 has been a phenomenal year of growth and brand development. The pandemic required us to change our approach to marketing – we put a proactive focus on increasing our social media presence, engaging directly with the end-consumers by increasing brand awareness, and in turn created a demand for Scatter Box that translated into sales for our customer base. We have over 30,000 followers on Instagram

– which is no mean feat for a B2B brand, and a credit to our marketing team. “We also invested heavily in photography, and supported our customers in their endeavours to move from in-store to online-based sales. “This year we also launched two new ranges, which have been very well received. The Textured Edit, a new addition to our ‘Made with love In Ireland’ cushion range, focuses on the tactile experience of fabrics such as boucles, soft velvets and woven jacquards. We encourage a mixand-match approach by blending the different tones, textures and sizes within this range. “Our Fine Rug Art collection, meanwhile, launched in June, is our first venture into rugs, and offers both statement and subtle patterns to complement our cushion range or as a statement home feature. Our rugs offer durability, premium quality and an affordable price in equal measure. “This September, we’re launching Earth Kind, a collection made from recycled materials that’s Oeko-Tex and GRS certified. As textile fanatics it is incredibly exciting to offer products which combine sustainability, high performance and design. “And it’s been great to reconnect. With eased restrictions, we were thrilled to return to exhibiting at trade

shows again. Trade shows have always been a key forum for us to release our new collections, network and conduct business. We are very much looking forward to exhibiting at Autumn Fair 2022, January Furniture Show 2023 in the NEC, and Ambiente 2023 in Frankfurt, where we will be launching new ranges.” But what does Caroline think are the top traits in an award-winning supplier? “Coming from an upholstery manufacturing background since 1959, and therefore having a huge knowledge of fabrics, we are quite the specialists in the soft furnishings category,” she says, “and we focus on what trends are within the upholstery and furniture market, and supply accessories to complement them. “The heart of our business is a human-centred approach to customer service, design and manufacturing, with a focus on style, high quality and longevity. It is truly a team effort, with hard work throughout the process, from design concept to delivery of the finished products to our customers. “The team at Scatter Box is passionate, helpful, professional and very experienced in their field. We always try and go the extra mile where we can – our hands-on approach means customers often go on to become friends,” Caroline concludes


Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

Proud winners of the best ‘Soft Furnishings Supplier’ category in the Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards 2022




RETAILSYSTEM Taking the top spot in the technology category once again, RetailSystem’s EPoS, and the ecosystem around it, continues to prove popular with store managers across the UK and further afield.

“We at RetailSystem are extremely proud and honoured to win the Best Software/Technology Provider category in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards,” states RetailSystem. “We would like to thank our amazing customers, without whom we wouldn’t receive such welcome acknowledgement and high-profile awards such as these.

“A big thank you to everyone that voted for us. This award and recognition means the absolute world, and shows that our customers love our system and services – something that we work very hard on delivering. “We are the leading provider of cloudbased EPoS software for furniture and mattress retailers, and we couldn’t do it without great customers, or our amazing team behind the scenes. Another big thank you goes out to each member of our team, who really make the difference. “It’s no secret that our software has won many awards of the years, and to continuously be named as the best software provider in our industry is a true testament to what we are doing here at RetailSystem. Since 2004 we

have designed genuine end-to-end cloud software solutions for our retail customers, and we are always looking to develop and innovate our services to offer even more value and customer satisfaction. “We continue to grow. The RetailSystem PoS continues to evolve and get stronger, and we continue to align with key partners such as Intuit QuickBooks Online and Barclaycard. Our commitment to be the strongestvalue proposition cloud-based PoS in the industry stands stronger than ever. “Again, a big thank you to all that voted, our loyal customers and our team that makes RetailSystem the best, once again, in providing software that delivers results.” RetailSystem was designed and built by a furniture retailer for furniture and mattress retailers. The company’s goal and motivation remains the same – to help its clients better run their furniture businesses





Howard James

Despite a busy year of transition and development, last year’s winner managed to retain its crown in this category, while further expanding its influence and expertise.

FIRA International’s new testing centre

“The whole team at FIRA International are delighted to have been voted Best Testing Services/Certification Provider for the second year running,” says testing and technical manager Howard James. “We’d like to thank all our customers and the readers of Furniture News for taking the time to vote for us once again. “We’ve had a very busy time over the last 12 months – most notably the move from our former Maxwell Road site to our new custom-built facilities. Maxwell Road had been our testing hub since 1964, but, following significant investment from our parent company, Element Materials Technology, we were able to develop our new facilities on a blank canvas, enabling us to build a new laboratory to ensure we were best placed to support the furniture industry. “In addition, by relocating so close to our former site, we were able to ensure our colleagues experienced no relocation issues. Our experts are at the heart of everything we do at FIRA International, and we’re all very proud of our new facilities.

“Recently we also gained further key expansions to our UKAS accreditation, mainly regarding international flammability testing. For those who export to America, we’re now accredited to ‘California TB 117-2013 Requirements, Test Procedure and Apparatus for Testing the Smolder Resistance of Materials Used in Upholstered Furniture’. Due to Brexit we’re also supporting Irish exporters with accreditation to ‘S.I. No. 316/1995 - Industrial Research and Standards (Fire Safety) (Domestic Furniture) Order, 1995’.

“From here, we’ll continue to expand our UKAS accreditation to ensure we offer the widest portfolio of furniture testing. As the service provider to the Furniture Industry Research Association, we’ll continue to play a key role in the group – we’re currently examining potential changes to the UK domestic flammability regulations, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, as well as changes to the requirements for electrically operated furniture. “At FIRA International we offer a full suite of services to the furniture industry and related sectors. This enables us to offer support throughout the whole product lifecycle, from prototypes to end of life. “Aside from testing and certification, we also support with ergonomics, sustainability services, training, auditing and expert advice. We’re the scheme administrators of the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP), which has seen significant growth in membership in the past year, and of course we’re the service provider to the Furniture Industry Research Association. Our experts undertake all activities on behalf of the association, from supporting members with technical expertise, right through to authoring all of their guides and publications. We really touch on all aspects of the furniture sector”

‘BEST TESTING SERVICES / CERTIFICATION’ PROVIDER YOUR BEST PROVIDER FOR THE SECOND YEAR RUNNING We specialise in providing comprehensive testing, certification and technical services to the furniture industry. We help our customers make certain their materials, products and operations are safe, compliant and ultimately fit for purpose

+44 (0)1438 777 700





JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW It’s been a busy year for the team behind the UK’s biggest furniture shows. April saw the successful return of the long-delayed January Furniture Show to the NEC – which remains the industry’s event of choice. Show manager James Howard says: “Considering the challenges the pandemic has thrown the team, they were overjoyed to receive the award for the Best UK Exhibition for the January Furniture Show! “The show had a triumphant return to the Birmingham NEC, with buyers able to explore over 300 industry-leading brands set across four halls. Our brands brought the best in new innovative products for our buyers to discover, from furniture and storage solutions to stylish homewares. “The January Furniture Show also saw the launch of our new seminar programme, Furniture Talks, which offered buyers the chance to gain valuable insights from industry experts and learn how they can grow their business. “The team strive to give their industry the best shows possible, where buyers not only have the chance to shop, but also to learn from their peers, connect with new clients and play a part in

helping the furniture industry thrive!” In the wake of that success, James and his team have been working hard on launching two new initiatives for 2022. First was the Furniture Collection launch at Home & Gift in Harrogate in July, which enabled the gift-buying community to expand their home interior offering with the help of top furniture and homeware brands. Buyers were able to discover the latest products from brands including Ancient Mariner, Shankar, Kettle Interiors, IFD, AWS Trading and more. The launch offered exhibiting brands the opportunity to sell

at an additional summer trade show, and to meet buyers form outside of their traditional industry. Up next is Furniture Focus, an exclusive, invite-only confex taking place in Manchester Central (GMex) which aims to bring together the industry’s top players to learn, network and connect. Attendees will have the chance to hear talks from industry experts on a multitude of topics, while suppliers will have the opportunity to showcase the best of their furniture ranges to top buyers. Guests will also be able to break out into seminar groups to discuss the issues impacting the furniture industry, and find solutions to help implement change, says James

The UK’s home of furniture and interiors Find out more online at

22-25 Jan 2023





Two-time winner Millbrook Bed Company, based in Hampshire, has designed and manufactured beds for more than 75 years, delivering comfortable, high-quality sleep solutions while working towards a more sustainable future – and boasting many of the qualities which set UK manufacturing apart.


“Everyone is very proud at Millbrook to have won this category for the second year running, and we would all like to thank both the readers, our customers and Furniture News for this fantastic accolade,” says Millbrook Beds’ operations director, Ross Thurston. “It certainly has been another interesting year – even as we now come out the other side of Covid, other issues continue to arise. But, despite the ongoing challenges, we have continued to prosper over the last year, and have continued to grow and introduce some fantastic new ranges. “We’ve been working very hard on developing new ranges, and we are really excited for the upcoming NBF show in Telford, where we will again debut some stunning new developments. Certainly, anyone coming

to the Bed Show should allow at least an hour to visit us, and see everything we have new to offer!” Millbrook’s partnership with Bedding Industries of America continues to bear fruit, with good progress being made on both side of the pond, against the backdrop of the company’s sale to its

largest customer last month. “Why do I think we topped this category for a second year running? We’re a very consistent mattress manufacturer, who makes a good product that offers good value for money and delivers on time,” concludes Ross



Furniture News 2022 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS






















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Perfect sleep. A simple statement that lies at the very heart of our business. That’s why we have been burning the midnight oil for nine months, developing and refining our new range. Because innovation never sleeps. THE NEW COLLECTIONS PREVIEW AT INDX BEDS AND BEDROOM SHOW 13TH & 14TH SEPTEMBER AND THE NBF BED SHOW TELFORD 20TH & 21ST SEPTEMBER




UNLOCKING CREATIVITY With so much choice available in the decorative materials marketplace, it can be difficult to know where to start – states Stuart Devoil, group head of marketing at James Latham, one of the UK’s leading distributors of decorative products …



Lathams’ Digital Showroom streamlines the solution search process

“We want to make the selection process as seamless, engaging and exciting as possible,” says Stuart. “That’s why our 2022 Décors campaign celebrates 1400 of our decorative lines, including laminates, melamines, edgings, veneers, solid surfaces and more. “Showcasing our expansive range of products for furniture applications, the Décors portfolio will enable you to meet any client brief. Whether it’s the timeless style of EGGER, HIMACS, Abet, Finsa and Kronospan, or the cool sophistication of UK-exclusive Transformad, XyloCleaf, Aristech or Dekodur, we’ve got them. “We also stock some of the most innovative and sustainable architectural materials on the market – from Honext, a high-performance interior panel manufactured from waste paper pulp, to Garnica Ultralight, a Poplar plywood sandwich panel that weighs just 4.5kg/ m2 for an 18mm sheet.” The Décors campaign explores an extensive array of textures, colours, shades and tones, including industrial metallics, rusts, concretes, marble, natural timber, leathers, linens and lacquerware. Attributes such as anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, flame retardance, impact resistance, even thermo-healing properties can also be found throughout the ranges. Additionally, Lathams stocks an extensive catalogue of MDF, plywood,

fibre boards, attractive hardwoods and modified, engineered and profiled timbers. As part of its commitment to make the product selection journey as intuitive, interactive and user-friendly as possible, the supplier recently launched the James Latham Digital Showroom, which is supported by powerful, algorithm-backed search functionality, enabling users to quickly discover an array of material possibilities, and easily identify the best options. Each material is rendered in hyperrealistic 3D, and can be viewed under a range of lighting conditions. It also features Lathams’ 48hr-delivery-aim sampling service and video consultancy service. “There you have it,” Stuart concludes. “Our summer Décors campaign not only reveals the extensive design potential of our unique catalogue, but also highlights our ability to meet the specific needs and demands of the sector’s vibrant furniture-manufacturing community”

Curated by buyers for buyers

13-14 SEPT 2022* Register now: 13 Sept open to AIS member only


For exhibitor enquiries visit or email Cranmore Park Conference and Event Centre, Cranmore Avenue, Shirley, Solihull, B90 4LF. An AIS trade show.





Referencing the architectural shapes of the Bauhaus movement, Module is a new design from Louis de Poortere for its Rugs 2022 Collection. As one of the designs in the Nuance collection, Module is an expression of architecture born through the symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes celebrated in the early 20th century Bauhaus movement. With linear curves and bold blocks of colour, the design has a distinctly contemporary allure despite its historic reference. Louis de Poortere weaves Module in Belgium from a 100% polyester yarn that gives impressive softness and durability, as well as an intensity of colour that works with its bold design and palette. Module is available in six colourways.

Gallery Direct offers a wide range of living and dining furniture. One of these is the eye-catching Voss Slatted Console Table. This piece offers unusual yet stylish design. Crafted from solid mango wood, with a natural finish to show the grain, it features slats along the back, curving around the sides to the front. Black stud detailing on the slats adds the finishing touch. Take a look at Gallery’s website to see more of its design-led products, or visit the supplier at Autumn Fair (hall 20, stand D20-E21) to find out more.


Kelston House has expanded its Heritage collection, it says the additions have proved a particular hit with customers seeking tasteful solutions for holiday homes and small hallways. The line comprises attractive, hand-painted occasional pieces that can work with any style of interiors. For more information on Kelston House’s collections, email


Total Area



Exhibiting Companies



Worldwide Buyers Gathered on IFEX 2019




Two American favourites making a splash in the UK have teamed up together for “a month of great sport” …



La-Z-Boy is well known throughout the world as an iconic American furniture brand – but the UK arm of the business is now manufacturing sofas, chairs and recliners at its factory in Lancashire, to form a growing number of made-inBritain ranges. To celebrate both its American roots and its commitment to the UK, La-ZBoy UK has become the official furniture partner of the NFL London Games. Three American football games from the NFL’s 2022 season will be taking place in London during October, with the matches expected to be a big draw for sports fans. The Minnesota Vikings will be taking on the New Orleans Saints at the

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 2nd October, while the New York Giants will be going head-to-head with the Green Bay Packers at the same venue on 9th October. On 30th October, the action will move to Wembley Stadium, where the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Denver Broncos. La-Z-Boy UK has agreed a three-year sponsorship deal with the NFL, and will be providing the “best seats in the house” for the London-based games. La-Z-Boy UK will be running competitions to give away tickets to the matches, which are expected to sell out. In addition, the brand will be a key sponsor of the Jason & Osi podcast, where listeners can hear the thoughts of two former NFL players, as well as BBC pundits. Those who are not lucky enough to get hold of tickets to watch the action in the stadium can still enjoy the matches with family and friends in the comfort of their own home. “La-Z-Boy sofas and recliners are ideal for sharing memorable moments together in luxury,” states the brand, which is also launching a new leather reclining chair – the Spectator – ready for the NFL fixtures. This manual, handle-operated rocker recliner comes in five different colours, and there are even two handy cup holders built into the chair for added convenience and comfort, “so now you’ll never miss a moment of the match”

Spectator - This manual, handle-operated rocker recliner comes in five different colours and there are even two handy cup holders built into the chair for added convenience and comfort so now you’ll never miss a moment of the match.





RESPONSIBLE REST Simba’s donations help make a difference at charity End Youth Homelessness (EYH)

Simba’s concise range of patented mattresses, beds, duvets and pillows bring new a perspective to existing bedding categories …

Simba’s products are made in the UK, which helps reduce their carbon footprint


With a design promise to make genuinely purposeful products, Simba uses cutting-edge sleep technology to counteract the effects of poor sleep in its aim to improve the daily life and health of every sleeper around the world – as well as furthering its ongoing mission to create a truly circular product. “Our ultimate ambition is for no mattress to ever go to landfill, and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030,” says Emma Reid, Simba’s head of sustainability. “While all Simba mattresses are 100% recyclable, we have consciously designed our nextgeneration mattress with a view to making the whole disassembling

and recycling process even easier. By including organic and natural materials along with smart design, we have been able to reduce the carbon emissions by half compared to a traditional hybrid foam mattress.” Striving to meet its goal of B Corp status, Simba has completed and released an impact report examining the challenges, measures and changes that it is working to achieve by 2030. It includes a full lifecycle assessment and carbon footprint of all products in the UK, France, Canada and China. In response, health, planet and people are the three pillars of Simba’s mission, and are built around central principles of transparency, advocacy and collaboration. An international brand with responsible production practices, Simba uses sustainable materials such as Simba-Renew with 75% recycled content, GOTS-certified 10o% organic cotton, and GOLS latex – all while reducing waste, increasing the recycling and resale of pre-used products, and eliminating harmful chemicals to meet the highest safety standards. Simba aims to foster a new global culture centred on wellbeing, by cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace, ethical working standards for all employees, and supporting local communities, partners and charities(such as End Youth Homelessness and the NHS)


A Life Changing Choice

Est 1986

Copper Latex Encapsulated Pocketed

Bamboo 3,000 Pocketed Springs

Amalfi Natural Bamboo Fillings Gel Upholstered Tencel Soft touch fabric Springs Hand Pocketed Tufted

Mulliners Works 154 Bordesley Green Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham . B8 1BY. Email

Tel: 0121 773 9969 Fax 0121 766 7413



ON A ROLL Rhenus Home Delivery UK has been delivering roll-up mattresses to customers in the UK for the last five years – and before that, CEO Vinny Riley and COO Lucie Riley were doing the same thing with Network 4. Factor in the experience of sales director Gavin Boden and CFO Luke Ball, and together Rhenus’ principals boast over 60 years of experience, either in the furniture industry or in furniture delivery …


“We have found our forte in delivering roll-up mattresses, giving that premium service that couriers cannot offer and that a lot of customers are looking for,” states the delivery specialist. “Our clients choose us because they want to offer their customers a higher level of service, a better customer experience. One of the reasons is because the average weight of roll-up mattresses has increased by 20-30kg – some of the roll-ups we deliver are 70kg. When the mattresses are that heavy, customers struggle to get them from the doorstep up to where the bedroom is. They can be awkward to

get up the stairs, and then even more awkward to actually roll out and expand. “Our two-man team will: take the mattress up to the customer’s bedroom; remove the packaging; roll out the mattress and place it on the customer’s bed base; and take away the packaging. We will even offer to take away the customers old mattress to be recycled with our partner TFRG, where the mattress is deconstructed, sorted and sent for recycling into other industries (94% of the mattress is fully recycled, 0% goes to landfill). “All of the packaging we remove from the customer’s home is taken back to our depots, bundled and then goes off to local certified recycling companies. “We also offer two-man delivery of traditional mattresses, bed frames, adjustable beds, divans, chests of drawers, flatpack furniture and all bedroom furniture. “Each delivery is fully trackable from the time it enters our central distribution centre, and we give customers several levels of communication, including: customer choice of day of delivery SMS/email; confirmation SMS/email; time slot confirmation SMS/email; on-the-van SMS/email; delivery-at-before SMS/ email; and a call from the driver crew when they are on the way. “If you need to improve your customers’ experience/journey, email us at”



CONTACT US Rhenus Home Delivery UK. Unit 7 New Cheshire Business Park, Wincham Lane, CW9 6GG, Northwich Phone +44 (0) 7745 540524. Email:



INVESTMENT, FLEXIBILITY AND SUPPORT Leggett & Platt recognises that success in the UK’s manufacturing industry is down to innovation and automation – producing revolutionary products as quickly and efficiently as possible to satisfy the end-consumer. Within the supplier’s state-of-the-art facilities, focused automation, labour requirement solutions, added-value processes and sustainable solutions are focal points, as L&P continues to create top-of-the-line components that provide value and advantage for customers …

L&P’s state-of-the-art factory

L&P’s semi-finished products include Caliber Edge, which forms a steel coil perimeter around select pocket systems to deliver consistent support across the sleep surface

“Our customers’ needs are our own,” says Mike Holmes, L&P Springs UK’s MD. “It is our mission to consistently meet industry demands, for the success of everyone involved and the satisfaction of consumers.” Leggett & Platt is a bedding industry leader and full-service provider of bedding components and compressed mattresses – including bed-in-a-box supply. “Our product development, manufacturing and fulfilment capabilities add significant value, as we provide customised solutions to customers where a strategic benefit to both parties exists,” says Mike.

“Developed and manufactured in accordance with our customers’ final specifications, and labelled with their brand name, our innovative BiB mattresses are compressed, folded, rolled, and available from our facility on an ex-works basis, or drop-shipped to a predetermined location.” L&P Springs’ UK facilities form a state-of-the-art, vertically integrated business that serves as the primary locally based supplier of high-quality innerspring and micro-coil comfort layer solutions to the region. The company’s ‘global, yet local’ strategy drives it to meet the demands and challenges of an ever-changing and evolving landscape to help its customers succeed. L&P possesses the capabilities and expertise to produce a variety of industry-leading components – from semi-finished bedding components that pair well with current standards or proprietary product lines, to foamencased innerspring systems and various proprietary comfort layers (such as NanoCoil, Softech, and specialised foam technology from Peterson Chemical Technology). “At L&P Springs UK, we have the capabilities and technologies to deliver a superior portfolio of products and services. Our machinery and processes are unmatched – allowing us to provide high-quality, sustainable products for our valued customers,” concludes Mike



THE WORKFORCE OF TOMORROW An expert in skills development, regulation, quality assurance and inspection of the quality of learning, Derek Williams, quality director at Achieve + Partners, was the guest speaker at the first regional meeting hosted by the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM), held at Ercol’s Princes Risborough HQ earlier this summer. Themed around ‘The Workforce of Tomorrow’, Derek shared his thoughts on apprenticeships and employer-led learning, including the new T-level qualification – here’s a summary of his presentation …

Derek Williams was the guest speaker at the BFM’s first regional networking event


Among the essential tools for the workforce of tomorrow are the skills and knowledge gained through industry-tailored learning schemes such as apprenticeships, post-GCSE study programmes and T-Levels. Each of these provides opportunities for potential recruits to learn, gain real-world experience and become employment-ready. Apprenticeships Apprenticeships can add value to business. Programmes are set by employers and approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE), with a mix of 80% onthe-job work-based learning and 20% off-job learning. The Government currently offers a £3000 incentive for hiring a new apprentice, while 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their business, 78% said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity, and 74% said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service. Apprenticeships are open to people aged older than 16, and can provide a route to employment for younger people, as well as opportunities to expand the knowledge and skills of more mature employees within the workplace. Study programmes Study programmes for 16-19-year-olds are courses based on knowledge and skills for a vocational area, set and delivered by FE colleges and training providers. Current programmes include learning based around specific areas such as furnituremaking and fitted furniture installation. While these courses are full-time, with learners expected to attend college each week, each course must also include at least one or two weeks of relevant work experience each year. Some of these students are workready upon completing a study

programme, while others may be recruited to an apprenticeship scheme to further develop their knowledge and skills in a specific area. T-levels Technical Levels (or T-levels) are a new employer-led qualification equivalent to three A Levels, and designed to ensure young people are work-ready. Combining 80% classroom learning and a 20% work placement of nine weeks over two years within a relevant industry, T-levels consist of a core curriculum with opportunities to specialise within the subject, as well as English, maths, and any relevant digital skills. Getting in early with T-levels presents opportunities for employers. Businesses establishing relationships with training providers can get involved in influencing the design and delivery of the curriculum as well as consider opportunities to sponsor students, provide work placements and offer mentoring. Relevant T-levels for BFM members will include Furniture Maker, Management and Administration, Digital, Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control. Return on investment Getting involved in training options requires an allocation of time, and often, budget. But these can offer significant returns on investment, depending on what a business plans to achieve. As part of a strategic skills and retention policy, investment in apprenticeships and training can ensure retention of skilled employees, as well as upskilling existing staff and bringing people with specific skills into the industry. Study programmes, apprenticeships and T-levels are all launchpads for people considering a career in Britain’s furniture-manufacturing sector, and as businesses look to secure the skills needed for growth, these routes to employability are essential tools for them, and the workforce of tomorrow


LEVELLING UP NCFE’s Zac Aldridge is calling for sector leaders to help shape a pioneering new furnituremaking qualification – the new T Level for craft and design …



Innovative new T Levels (the technical equivalent of A Levels) have recently been announced in creative and design. These include a specific T Level pathway for craft and design, which will be available to learners from September 2023 onwards. As part of this T Level, students must specialise in one area, which makes up a large section of the course, and one of the specialism options is furnituremaking. The T Level will give students a route into a variety of careers, as well as into higher education. These are flagship, Government-led qualifications, unique in their blend of high-quality classroom learning with on-the-job experience. They are also unique in the way they are developed, hand in hand with employers. NCFE is already working closely with a vast number of employers, household names and specialists who will lend their expertise to shape the future of training in their industries. From formulating the courses to reviewing qualification detail and assessments, NCFE is involving the experts every step of the way to ensure the qualifications are suitable for the sectors they support and learners are equipped with the skills they need. The Craft and Design T Level gives students the chance to learn about furnituremaking, restoration, and upholstery, which is a growing field with lots of employment opportunities. Through the two-year programme, it qualifies students to progress into this field, with a variety of opportunities for future employment that reflect the design and creativity of the sector. Furnituremaking and upholstery is complex, bringing in elements of function, texture, form and more, in order to design and construct furniture. Taking this specialism will help students explore modern design principles to make new pieces. It takes time management, exploration and creativity to complete the work for the course. Within the T Level course, students will be expected to learn and keep up with market trends, as well as think creatively about how to use familiar

materials. Sustainability and ethics of materials, methods, and the process of producing furniture, is important for the future of the field, and adds an exciting element to the programme. Using various materials will expose students to the complexity and scope of the furniture and upholstery process. NCFE has been working closely with experts from across the furniture world to design these qualifications. David Tragen, a furniture designer and artist, described how being part of this process has impacted him directly, by being able to reflect on the details required to produce learning material, which gave him a new perspective on his own work. Christian Notley, a chief expert in cabinetmaking, also helped to provide insight to the design of the T Level. He described how the new T Level will create a choice of pathways into the industry, and said it will help bridge the gap between the student and the employer, creating the right fit for both companies and individuals. He urged others working in the industry to do what they can to offer their support. The skills from the programme will help to alleviate the skills shortages facing the furniture industry. NCFE is anticipating that the Craft and Design T Level will be an eye-opening and inspiring course for students, granting access to the industry and helping them along their career journeys. Right now, NCFE is in the initial stages of developing the Craft and Design T Level, and is looking to ensure it lines up with the skills and employment needs of those sectors. NCFE wants sector leaders, practitioners, and experts from across the craft and design industries to get in touch and share their thoughts on what the qualification needs to include and how it should work. This is an exciting opportunity to shape the upcoming workforce, and future-proof the sector by ensuring any current and future skills gaps are addressed. Anyone interested should get in touch. Be part of a once-in-a-lifetime revolution in education which will impact and improve your industry!




New to beds? The National Bed Federation’s Introduction to Beds course is ideal for anyone joining the bed industry – whether in retail or manufacturing – in sales, buying, customer services or production. Download the free course from the NBF’s website to get a better understanding of the size of the UK bed market and other key facts and figures, and the major groups and their brands, plus develop a good working knowledge of the different types of products available. There is also an A-Z of common terms, and information on what the NBF is, and its Code of Practice – including the importance of UK bed manufacturers being NBF approved – and more.

Sleep comes easy when you buy beds made by an approved NBF member

Our vision for the bed industry in 2022 and beyond is clear – we want to make it right. How? By setting standards and driving ethics, transparency and responsibility. By championing excellence in bed-making and selling. By supporting sustainability through the NBF Pledge for the Planet and an ecodesign framework for mattresses. And by educating consumers on how to improve their sleep.

To find out more and for a list of NBF Approved members visit BEDFED.ORG.UK

In other words, we’ll keep on making sure our members do the right thing.

Because when we do, everyone sleeps better at night.



CONVERSATIONAL COMMERCE 101 Conversational commerce, which takes place via mobile messaging, has been steadily growing over the last decade. Now, 25 billion mobile messages are sent every day, and over three billion people use texting and mobile messaging apps every day – this massive phenomenon is what conversational commerce taps into, and is why every business needs to get to grips with conversational commerce, explains Dario Betti, CEO of Mobile Ecosystem Forum …



Conversational commerce is about ongoing engagement and deep interactivity with brands. It allows customers to speak to brands as if they are real people, building individual relationships that stick. From the simple text message, to WhatsApp, to a variety of in-app one-toone messaging opportunities, we use our mobiles for conversations in a wide range of ways. We tend to use these platforms for personal conversations with friends, and, until now, they haven’t been fully leveraged by marketeers and brands. This is about to change. So far, brands have been sending single messages – the ‘I am here’ message – but with true conversational commerce, brands ask you what you want, not tell you what they want. Conversational commerce is an evolution of the app economy, representing the third wave of marketing strategy. The first wave was broadcast. Advertisers broadcast a single message to all potential customers via selected magazines, radio shows, billboards and TV placements. The internet changed things by allowing for more personalised broadcast messaging via email and targeted ads. This was the second wave, which also started some interactivity through inbound marketing – customers could visit your website, browse your product selection and sign up for emails and offers. Unfortunately, interactivity via simple websites has been limited, and both email and digital advertising are oversaturated. The third wave is conversational commerce, which elevates the interactivity offered by websites, apps and email to a new level, building lasting relationships through two-way individualised messaging via a unique mix of channels – the channels we use every day in our personal lives. In doing so, conversational commerce brings customer service full circle back to the

level of individual customer service and engagement offered by traditional, family-run shops. As yet, not all companies have managed to understand the full potential of conversational commerce – but at MEF (the Mobile Ecosystem Forum) we anticipate the market will grow rapidly over the few years as more businesses register the benefits. And this is the tip of the iceberg. Conversational commerce will fundamentally change the way we buy, sell, and serve our customers. To help you get ahead of the game, here are five things you need to know about conversational commerce if your business is to grow over the next five years: 1. B2C broadcast messaging is out Broadcast messaging is about sending the same message to everyone. It works extremely well to build and establish a consistent brand, but is terrible when it comes to interaction. People now expect to have a meaningful conversation about products and services. They want to know what the experience of the brand is like, to really feel it. That’s why influencer marketing is so popular – there is an opportunity to engage with a real person and understand the brand experience. A number of challenges are also leading to the rapid decline of B2C broadcast messaging – people skip ads by watching more streaming services, podcasts are on the rise, and email is so full of spam that it’s almost impossible to get noticed. 2. Understand the new messaging channels Conversational commerce will be delivered over a variety of messaging solutions, and the landscape continues to change – it is important for you to be familiar with the tools of this new trade. Some of the messaging solutions are


3. Persona marketing is in To elevate their marketing and meet the needs of modern consumers, brands need to become personas. Through conversational commerce, brands can now both sound and behave like a person. They can be their own influencer. They can describe and explain products, engage potential users and discover their needs, convert people into loyal customers, and provide a fantastic ongoing service. Take, for example, a retailer selling barbeques in bricks-and-mortar stores. Typically, they will sell lots of products in June and, if they’re lucky, see customers again in a year.

Lacking in data co-ordination, sales support calls are often a frustrating journey for customers (photo credit

familiar – millions of businesses already rely on SMS for simple communications with consumers, WhatsApp is known for personal messaging, and is also now joining the business communication with new features. Different markets show different take up – the US prefers Facebook Messenger, WeChat dominates in China, Line in Japan. The list is long. One messaging channel that should be known by many is RCS (Rich Communication Services). You can think of RCS as an evolution of SMS. Over 1.2 billion smartphones are already RCS enabled, so the potential is huge – and growing. RCS is supported by big tech companies like Google and the mobile operators that created the SMS texting in the first place. RCS is now replacing the SMS inbox in Android phones. RCS has also been designed to facilitate a host of new opportunities for businesses and brands to engage with their customers, build relationships and increase sales. RCS offers an upgraded experience with unique features to enable rich and meaningful engagements among users and businesses. What will make RCS so popular is that it brings new benefits to consumers – you can send larger, higher-quality images, stream audio and video, provide better group chat capabilities, enjoy greater security than found with most apps, and make use of a number of incall and post-call features. And with this popularity and growth among consumers comes opportunities for business for engage in true conversational commerce that will build lasting relationships with customers.

With conversational commerce, this retailer can understand their customers’ needs (such as having a garden party), can service those needs (by informing customers when the weather is likely to be sunny or sharing recipes, for example), and provide ongoing support (like how to effectively clean and service the barbeque). RCS allows the retailer to deliver a tailored mix of video instructionals, personalised messaging and two-way interaction. This can elevate a simple sale into an ongoing relationship with their customers. The retailer can better understand their customers and their needs and thereby provide the very best service, which in turn leads to recommendations and repeat business. 4. Data needs orchestration To make conversational commerce work, companies need data. They need to understand what their customers want, need, and expect. And that data needs to break out of the rigid siloes in which they’re so often confined. A typical support journey might start with web support articles. A customer clicks through various options to find the most useful article. If that doesn’t help, they may escalate to a chatbot or phone support, where they are often greeted by robots asking many of the same questions. Finally, they will reach a human who then asks them all the same questions for the third time. It’s a frustrating and time-consuming journey for customers, and an inefficient use of support staff for companies. It’s like having three different shop windows – there is no co-ordination. Brands need to drastically rethink their communication and orchestrate their

data to help. Omnichannel orchestration is incredibly important. At RCS, when we interact with people, we automatically choose the right channel for the job and can switch task, tone, and register at ease. We drop a message to a colleague via Slack, jump on a quick video call, and share a Google Doc to efficiently and effectively complete tasks. With conversational commerce, brands can do the same. By bringing the customer data along with them on their journey, you make the customer feel truly heard and service their needs in the way they want. Ultimately, that is what conversational commerce is all about. 5. People are lazier than ever Traditional transactional commerce is all about getting the sale as quickly as possible. The aim is to get the customer to do one thing fast. But people become bombarded with sales messages, reducing the efficacy of calls to action. When you are told 20 times in a day to “buy now”, you start to tune it out. Even worse, customers will begin to actively avoid your brand, feeling burnt by pushy sales techniques when what they need is support. People no longer want simple transactions – they value conversation, being heard, and an understanding of who they are and what they’ve done. They have a wealth of information at their fingertips and don’t have time for pushy marketing or waiting on hold. They’re better informed, yet lazier than ever. Imagine, however, being able to bring the personal service of bricks-andmortar shops, where assistants can help you achieve your aims, together



with the efficiency of digital services and the functionality of RCS, allowing you to be helpful and engaging at scale. You could make every interaction count, make messaging stick, and provide a great customer experience that gets you noticed for all the right reasons. 6. Robots are our friends But how much will all this cost?! It’s a fair question. Providing an orchestrated omnichannel conversation commerce strategy that looks after every customer’s individual needs would be prohibitively expensive for most businesses. Fortunately, the robots are here to save us. AI can guide customers in the right direction and quickly learn what they need. While chatbots have,

historically, been unpopular due to their frustrating limitations, many of us are now speaking to chatbots without even realising. And they’re getting smarter every day! It’s important not to outsource the entire process to robots, however. There is still an essential role humans play in conversational commerce. While the AI could help and guide customers, it may get to the point where they need to speak to a human being. And this is key to conversational commerce – giving people what they want and need at the right time in the most helpful way. By bringing all the data the AI has already gathered along on the journey, the human operator can quickly and effectively deal with the issue, allowing call centre staff to get on with the job of


ERP>Retail has achieved Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD) status

Complete stock management, costings & traceability

ERP>Retail is a certified Microsoft Dynamics industry add-on developed to Microsoft’s own stringent standards. Giving a seamless user experience and best of breed industry specific solution. With ongoing upgrades so your system never becomes out of date. This is the last ERP System you will ever have to buy!

Sci-Net Ltd A solution to run your ERP House, entire furniture & flooring Duns Tew Grangeretail business Duns Tew Road, From your master Product and SKU structure through to the showroom Chipping Norton floor tablet sales app designed for Oxon OX7 7DQ speed, accuracy, upsell & insurance opportunities and onto the integrated finance application & payment handling. If a customer changes their mind, no problem, efficient order re-write capabilities giving ease, speed & traceability throughout.

customer care rather than focusing on admin and call time targets. It’s all about finding a holistic approach than brings information together to find the best way to help. It may be a simple SMS reminder, how-to videos, a quick call-back, or an ongoing text conversation. Sometimes we need immediate help, sometimes we want to peruse information at our own pace. Conversational commerce is about listening, hearing, and helping. By understanding what your customers want and need, how and when they consume information, and opening the process up to two-way communication, you can create lasting relationships that transform simple sales into a complete service. It may sound futuristic, but companies already implementing a conversational commerce strategy, and are seeing 10 x the efficacy of their marketing communications. This competitive advantage won’t last long, however. In the next five YOUR BUSINESScommerce will years, conversational smarter faster become the new paradigm in marketing communications – so make sure you’re not left behind

Selling from stock as well as back-to-back supplier ordering and the complete supply chain management, ERP>Retail can benefit your business. Keeping your customer informed throughout the whole journey with automated SMS and e-mail communications.



With full barcoded warehouse management to customer delivery and on-going ERP Retail is the complete end-to-end ERP Retail is the complete end-to-end solution for solution for aspiring Big Ticket, Furniture customer service management. aspiring Big Ticket, Furniture & Flooring Retailers. & Flooring Retailers. Built within the world’s Built within mid-market the world’s popular mid-market ERP most popular ERPmost system, system, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. analysis & Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Real-time • ERP>Retail has achieved Certifi management ed for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD) status


Monitor sales performance, predict

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even • Complete stock management, costings & individual SKU’s. traceability Report on each store, channel

• Real-time analysis & management reporting or salesperson P&L. The last ERP System you will ever have to invest in!

Sci-Net Ltd, ERP House, Duns Tew Grange, Duns Tew Road, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 7DQ

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16/06/2022 12:42

Has your old retail system seen better days?

It’s time to upgrade to a new, unified commerce & digital operations platform

by Visit



COMPETITION TIME New competition laws in both the UK and the EU came into force last month, which will affect many distributorship agreements as well as other supply chain agreements. Stephen Sidkin considers the implications for suppliers and distributors …



On 1st June, there was a change in competition law with implications for suppliers and their distributors. Although the UK has ceased to be a member state of the EU, it had retained EU competition law so far as suppliers and distributors were concerned. As EU competition law in this area changed on 1st June 2022, so too did UK competition law. The new UK law (the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (VABEO) is concerned with exposing those distributorship and other supply chain agreements where the anti-competitive elements of the agreement are substantial enough to affect competition within the UK. Where, however, the elements are not substantial enough, an agreement will be exempted from this part of UK competition law. The VABEO achieves this objective by providing a ‘safe harbour’ – a block exemption – for certain distributorship and other supply chain agreements. So, what’s changed? Suppliers operating an exclusive distribution network at both the wholesale and retail levels are permitted under the VABEO to combine exclusive and selective distribution in the same or different geographical areas. The VABEO introduces the concept of shared exclusivity. This allows a geographical area or customer group to be allocated to more than one ‘exclusive’ distributor. The number of appointed distributors, however, needs to be in proportion. Dual distribution occurs where a supplier sells through independent distributors (such as retailers), and also directly to end-customers in competition with its distributors. Under the VABEO, dual distribution extends to cover importers as well as wholesalers, provided neither compete with the supplier at the level at which it purchases the goods. Dual pricing means that suppliers will be able to charge different (possibly higher) prices for goods to be resold online than for goods intended to be sold in-store by the same distributor. The VABEO allows the criteria for a

selective distribution system to differ for online and offline sales. Non-compete obligations are often included in agreements to prevent the purchaser from competing with the supplier. Previously, competition law made clear that if the obligation was for a period of not more than five years it did not fall foul of competition law. This was extended to agreements where the non-compete obligation was tacitly renewable beyond the five-year period. This, however, has changed, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has made clear that a noncompete obligation which is tacitly renewable beyond the five-year period will be treated as being an obligation of indefinite duration, and therefore will not benefit from the block exemption. Parity obligations are contractual provisions concerning the terms on which goods or services are offered. Under the VABEO, wide parity obligations become hardcore restrictions. Typically, wide retail parity obligations are found in agreements with online marketplaces. Usually, they specify that goods or services may not be offered on better terms (including price) on any other sales channels, including the supplier’s own website, or online platforms or by other distributors. This change in the law comes after the CMA imposed a £17m fine in 2020 on Compare the Market for imposing wide parity clauses in its agreements with home insurance companies. However, it is worth noting that wide parity obligations that apply to wholesale B2B will not be hardcore restrictions. In addition, ‘narrow’ parity obligations that provide for goods or services not to be offered on better terms on the supplier’s own website only will continue to be block exempted under the VABEO. The VABEO provides a one-year transition period which will end on 31st May 2023. However, parties to distributorship and other supply chain agreements need to be giving thought now to what the changes brought about by it mean for them and their agreements


MERCHANDISING, LICKED Nothing beats an ice cream on a hot summer’s day, writes US bed industry consultant Gordon Hecht – but when it comes to picking a flavour, how much choice is too much? And what can bed retailers learn about merchandising from the frozen dessert specialists?



I didn’t realise it at the time, but I may have grown up in a rough neighbourhood. When we heard the ice cream truck ringing its bells, we’d stand on the corner and sing: “I scream, you scream, we all scream, the police show up and we get arrested …” Purchasing choices were easy as a kid. There was a half-dozen choices on the truck, priced from a dime to a quarter. Most decisions were financially based, depending on the coins in your pocket. I’m still an ice cream fan. Our town has three national chains – Baskin & Robbins, Hershey, and Dairy Queen. In the cause of marketing research, I feel it mandatory to visit each one several times a month. It seems that the line at DQ moves about three times as quickly as Baskin & Robbins or Hershey. That means three times more customers being served and triple the cash register rings. The people at DQ have made it an easier choice! While all three shops have multiple dessert options, DQ has limited their ice cream flavours to three choices. Our Baskins features their 31 flavour choices, and Hershey’s one-ups them with a whopping 40 flavours on their wall-mounted menu. Chances are good that each of the members of the junior rugby team (whom hip-checked their way in front of you in the queue) will want to read all the flavour names and taste three or four samples before making their cone decision. There’s no best choice. When it comes to ice cream, the worst I’ve ever had was pretty good! It’s just too overwhelming to decide. It’s probably not a lot different in your shop. When it comes to merchandising, you need to offer choices – you can’t just have chocolate and vanilla products. People expect to see a wide selection in your store. But unlike your local scoop shop, you can have a selling process to slim the selection to a manageable level, easing the stress of decision making for your shopper. Part of that process means reducing your entire catalogue to a three-choice selection – just like DQ – creating an

easier pathway from showroom to cash register. It’s fairly easy in our mattress world. A typical 30-bed selection provides a myriad of triple-choice selection options: memory foam, innerspring, hybrid (technology); soft, medium, hard (comfort); foundation, adjustable or no base (base); adult king or queen, youth full or twin (size); premium, mid-price, budget (price); and bank card, finance, or cash (payment). The choices become a selling process when you develop discovery questions to help the shopper understand their needs. Explaining that memory foam provides a passive (sink-in) support feel, and innerspring provides active (pushup) support, and hybrid is the best of both, makes it an easier choice. Asking about their sleeping and waking position along with their pain points helps you recommend the comfort level that will suit your shopper. When you find out if there’s a TV or laptop in the room, or if reading helps your shopper wind down, it can lead to a decision from the three base choices. Mattress size is a given – most shoppers will purchase to their headboard and room size. Most likely, your shop displays comfort and support feels in multiple price ranges. Once you determine your shoppers’ comfort level, you can have them test-rest the three price point levels (start with the premium – it’s like a super banana split, and far less calories). Don’t forget the extras – just like a sundae, they offer more satisfaction for your shopper. Protectors, pillows, and sheets are the sprinkles, hot fudge and whipped cream toppings of our industry. Payment terms are the cherry on top. Offer all three choices, and their selection means the purchase decision has been made. Oh, and here’s the scoop on those 31 Baskins flavours. Nearly half (48%) of Baskin-Robbins’ sales are made from four flavours.The remaining 52% were split between the other 27 flavours. I’ll bet you a triple-decker cone that sales in your shop aren’t much off that ratio!




COMPANY NAME: Buoyant Upholstery Ltd

SALARY: Negotiable depending on experience


JOB DESCRIPTION: Buoyant Upholstery is one of the largest upholstery manufacturers of Sofas and Chairs in the UK based in Nelson, Lancashire.

COMPANY ADDRESS: Buoyant Upholstery Ltd Oak Bank Mill, Hallam Road, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 8AJ

We are looking for a highly creative individual to join and help lead our design team, the successful individual will have a proven background in Product and/ or Fabric design.


DUTIES WILL INCLUDE: • Creative Sales – Meeting with our Customers in our factory showroom and presenting new designs and fabrics

SALARY: Negotiable depending on experience. JOB DESCRIPTION: We are looking for an Experienced Upholsterer to join our busy Development Department.

• Fabric Selection – Meeting with Fabric Agents and attending Fabric International Exhibitions

Buoyant upholstery is based in Nelson, Lancashire and our development department is at the forefront of our business, constantly working on new and exciting designs to show our wide range of customers.

• Product Design - Identifying gaps in both our range and customer ranges/overseeing designs from concept to production

The successful candidate must be a competent upholsterer with a ‘can do’ attitude who is able to work to strict deadlines.

• Product Development – offering Design Support to our Development Dept • Trends – Identifying up and coming Trends and executing in a commercial way

APPLICATION CONTACT DETAILS: If you would like to apply or request more details please contact:

• Trade Shows – Helping with Stand Design, from concept through to set up Applicants must have previous experience in a similar role and be able to work to strict deadlines. APPLICATION CONTACT DETAILS: If you would like to apply or request more details please contact:

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15/07/2022 14:48


POSITION: Buyer [12 month fixed term contract with potential to become permanent]

Hydeline Furniture Ltd is currently the talk of the upholstery industry since the launch of its lifestyle brand At The Helm in January 2019 and rapid growth over the last 4 years.

Established in 1975, Pineapple are a family run, rapidly growing, global company with headquarters in Kent (UK). We are market leaders in the field of healthcare furniture, with all of our products being unique to us and all designed in house. Due to this continued growth both in the UK and internationally we are seeking an

Its unique approach to supply chain options for customers, high-quality manufacturing and material sourcing and the finest levels of comfort set it apart from some of the most established and reputable companies in the industry.

experienced Buyer to support the next stages of our development strategy.


The role is truly cross-functional and will require excellent relationship management and negotiation skills. Your responsibilities will include negotiating deals with suppliers, sourcing components and fully assembled items, researching alternatives, as well as taking stock of current products & suppliers.

We require a creative and driven textile designer to provide support to the product design team and be an integral member of a small and busy team. You will be responsible for the selection, design and development of textiles in our ranges, and oversee manufacturing to ensure it reaches our customers’ high standards.

You will be required to ensure our suppliers and our supplier processes are efficient, sustainable and profitable, implementing improvements where necessary. The ideal candidate will be from a manufacturing background, be a strong,

The successful candidate will be creative, organised and pro-active, with experience of textile production, techniques and selection processes. You love to work in a growing, inspiring team, to strict deadlines, and be dedicated to advancing the company’s profile within a fast paced and professional industry. Salary negotiable depending on experience.

tenacious communicator and effective negotiator. The ability to build excellent relationships with new and existing suppliers will be essential to success in the role.


Competitive salary + benefits

This is a flexible and growing role suited to both consultants or employees. To apply, please send your CV to

To apply, please send your CV to


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15/07/2022 16:14


STANDARD PROCEDURE This month, Levent Caglar, head of consultancy and senior ergonomist at FIRA International, and leading figure on many standards committees, offers an insight into standards …




I’ve been involved in standards for over 30 years, and whilst I view them as being critical to safety, we never want to see them stifle innovation – which is so critical in our sector, and something I will touch on in more detail shortly. Whilst safety is at the heart of the development of many standards, it’s not the only key driver. The purpose of ‘standardisation’ has a wider reach. Standards help guide the design, development and manufacture of furniture products which are fit for purpose and durable – which has an impact on sustainability. They also ensure a level of quality and give companies a criteria, enabling them to comply with standards. They can also give a marketing advantage – if you test to a standard, then why not tell your potential customers?! A common query I am often asked concerns the relationship between standards legislation and standards. Mandated standards are cited in legislation – stating that the standard in question must be adhered to in order to sell a specific product or service (for example, upholstery used as part of a domestic sofa must fully comply with standards set out in the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended), andf failure to comply can lead to prosecution). There are, however, voluntary standards, which do not form part of legislation, but they do show due diligence on your part if you meet them. An example here could be:

‘BS EN 1957:2012 Furniture. Beds and mattresses. Test methods for the determination of functional characteristics and assessment criteria.’ This standard would help assess product quality and durability, giving insight into the potential lifecycle of a product, and possibly customer satisfaction post-purchase. When it comes to the development of standards, voices are key. There must be a balance of all stakeholders involved, from technical to safety to design. This ensures that standards do not restrain design innovation, but that design works in partnership with form and function instead. This is where the furniture industry can play a major role in developing standards. When you see a standard committee is calling for industry feedback, get involved and give your voice. My work with the Furniture Industry Research Association places a heavy emphasis on all facets of standards, from developing new ones, to reviewing current ones and working to update or replace those that no longer reflect the innovation we’re seeing across the sector. A main aim within this work is to assist members on developments to support them in planning changes to their design/manufacture for forthcoming changes in standards. We also look to improve member participation in standards development in terms of trialling new proposals, preparation of comments on draft standards, and enabling them to offer their expertise by working with us




THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING … Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins) Succession planning in small businesses is difficult, and is part of the reason so many small independent businesses eventually close down – there just isn’t anyone able or willing to take them on. It’s often down to the mindset of the leaders within the business, and the ambition and drive of the employees. I personally believe in giving responsibility to your staff. It engages them in the business, encourages growth and generation of ideas, motivates them to move forwards and grows confidence. Of course, some employees aren’t interested in progression, but those that are can be the driving force every business needs Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture) We’ve been actively working to ensure that no-one in the business is irreplaceable. Everyone in key roles works with at least one other who shares their core skills and understanding, and as a senior management team we meet regularly to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s going on in all the other areas. We have a policy of looking to promote from within where individuals show the skills needed, which helps with maintaining the overall business’ performance Mike Murray (Land of Beds) Last year we introduced a graduate scheme, which enables our business to keep hiring fresh talent, whilst also giving graduates the chance to start their career

Royce Clark (Grampian Furnishers) I’ve found it difficult to delegate, but after 25 years in the trade, I’m finally doing that!


Steve Pickering (Sussex Beds) Another great process we’ve implemented from the book Traction is accountability planning, which maps out the role or seat structure of your organisation. Each year this is updated and revised. Mapping out the accountability charts allows us to prepare and insert shadow teams to transfer skill sets, readying individuals to take on additional responsibilities and eventually new roles Paul Wray (Modern Outlook Furniture) Training is essential for staff in my business as there’s no school for this type of work – it’s on-the-job training from the bottom up Mike Whitman (Iconography) Iconography has a habit of investing in young talent, providing them with training and development within the business. As a result, we’ve got incredibly low staff turnover and a very well-motivated team

#395 August 2022


RESPONSE AND RESPONSIBILITY Uncovering Simba’s sustainable vision

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Sterling Home’s £2m Aberdeen makeover Why conversational commerce matters

26/07/2022 15:05

Steve Adams (Mattress Online) I’ve bolstered my leadership team to a point where all facets of the business are accountable to one of the senior management team. To support our growth there is a structured programme of training and development at all levels. We’re not only empowering the existing team with in-house training and knowledge sharing, but also developing new skillsets Huw Williams (Toons Furnishers) We’re actively encouraging younger staff to develop themselves, with a view to taking the reins in the future as us older people retire. We take them on buying trips and give them the opportunity to make choices about the ranges we stock and how they are displayed Wendy Martin Green (Peter Green) We like to employ new staff with a diverse skillset so our team can cover each other if needed. We’ve worked with the sales team, ensuring everyone can sell everything, even if it’s not their area of expertise. We’ve even trained a few of our office staff to step forward at busier times. If you’re asking who would replace me, that’s a different question. The business can work very well without me right now, and I have a daughter who has expressed an interest in becoming the figurehead in the future …




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