Furniture News #398

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BED INDUSTRY AWARDS SUPPLEMENT BED SHOW | LIVING | TRADE SERVICES BEDS AHEAD Celebrating this year’s Bed Industry Awards Growing glam with Rowen Homes’ Alice Hall Rethinking shopper segmentation #398 November 2022 www.furniturenews.net ZERO COMPROMISE Hypnos guarantees comfort with integrity
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It may have nothing on the Westminster circus, but our sector’s not without its drama.

Last month saw the woes of two D2C giants writ large, as Made.com edged nearer to the precipice, while eve Sleep finally succumbed to financial starvation, its brand assets quickly snapped up by Bensons.

“Despite monumental efforts to restructure the business and reshape the cost base, the scale of eve was simply insufficient to withstand the economic tsunami that has gathered momentum over the past six months,” read CEO Cheryl Calverley’s heartfelt announcement.

As I write this, it’s been confirmed that Sunak will be next to take the mantle of PM. If he sticks to the pitch he made this summer (vindicated, for now, thanks to the epic failures of his rival), we can expect a more measured, ‘conservative’ approach to recovery (as well as the short-term costs that come with it).

While there are plenty of success stories in furniture’s D2C arena, the well-publicised tribulations of those major players remind us – as Sunak’s predecessor discovered – that while disruption is exciting, it’s inherently risky. Slow and steady may not always win the race, but it can give you a better chance of seeing the finish line.

On to this month’s issue, and we’ve a bumper stack of accounts from

progressive players and heritage heroes alike (with many of the best falling into both camps). First up, Alice Hall, entrepreneur par excellence and the co-founder of Rowen Homes, introduces her blossoming glam luxe brand, which she describes as “somewhere between interior designer and ecommerce store” (p10). Then we get personal with Tetrad’s Chris Fletcher, who talks challenges, opportunities and dealmaking (p16).

As well as advice on modern-day audience segmentation (p84), the future of buy now, pay later (p86), and selling sleep (p87), you’ll find a very special feature after our coverage of this year’s NBF Bed Show (p22), as we turn our attention to its associated Bed Industry Awards, in a huge supplement that celebrates this year’s winners and finalists, and explores the programme’s history (from p33).

We’ve worked closely with the National Bed Federation to deliver this exclusive and comprehensive record of the awards’ biggest edition to date, and it’s packed with achievements, best-practice approaches and telling testimonials – plus personal accounts from NBF executive director Jessica Alexander and myself – which clearly illustrate the calibre of our world-class bed industry. If you’re tired of the circus and want a reminder of how things really should be done, I thoroughly recommend spending some time with it.

Paul Farley

Editor-in-chief 01424 776101 paul@gearingmediagroup.com

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INFORMATION
AS SUNAK’S PREDECESSOR DISCOVERED, WHILE DISRUPTION IS EXCITING, IT’S INHERENTLY RISKY
@FurnitureNewsED @Furniture News

Jones - with deep-fill cushions, a high back, and full chaise leg rests, relaxing is easy with Jones. Available as a power recliner, manual latch recliner, static three seat & two seat sofa or chair with a storage or standard footstool completing your room.

www.la-z-boy.co.ukSpectator
CONTENTS 24 HYPNOS (COVER FEATURE) 6 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Rowen Homes / 16 Getting personal 18 EVENTS 18 Brussels Furniture Fair / 19 VIFA-EXPO / 19 Spring Fair 20 January Furniture Show / 22 Bed Show 33 BED INDUSTRY AWARDS 35 Introductions / 38 Winners / 53 Finalists 66 Hall of fame / 68 Gala dinner drinks reception 73 PRODUCTS 76 Living / 80 Trade services 84 OPINION 84 Rethinking audience segmentation 86 The future of BNPL / 87 Selling sleep 89 NBF / 58 Feedback BED INDUSTRY AWARDS SUPPLEMENT BED SHOW | LIVING | TRADE SERVICES BEDS AHEAD Celebrating this year’s Bed Industry Awards Growing glam with Rowen Homes’ Alice Hall Rethinking shopper segmentation #398 November 2022 www.furniturenews.net ZERO COMPROMISE Hypnos guarantees comfort with integrity FN398.3.indd 26/10/2022 15:30 10 SPEED TO MARKET IS A HUGE FACTOR, AND THE HOMEWARE INDUSTRY JUST ISN’T QUITE THERE YET CONTRIBUTORS
Harry
Hanson-Smith, regional VP, Dynamic Yield
Adam
Kirby, head of sales, Etika Jessica Alexander, executive director, National Bed Federation (NBF) 84 86 36 5

AIS PREPARES FOR WINTER SHOW

INDX Furniture is preparing to return to Cranmore Park, Shirley, from 20th-23rd January, and visitor registration is open now at www.indxshows.co.uk/ indx-home/furniture/registration.

The exhibition, which is organised by leading UK buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS), promises to showcase an expertly edited product selection, and – aside from the first show day, which is reserved for AIS members – will again be open to the general trade.

ADMINISTRATORS APPOINTED AT EVE SLEEP

D2C sleep wellness brand eve Sleep went into administration last month. On 6th June, eve’s board commenced a review of the company’s strategic and financing options, with a view to delivering additional funding, conducted under the auspices of a formal sale process. A number of indicative offers were received, yet, says eve, discussions with respect to a sale of the company or in relation to an equity or other such fundraising transaction were not successful.

In order to “preserve value for creditors”, the board therefore signalled the appointment of Matthew Ingram and James Saunders of Kroll Advisory as joint administrators.

CEO Cheryl Calverley says: “Having seen the year start so brightly, with the efforts of the team over the past three years in rebuilding eve into a business fit for profitable growth coming to fruition,

the frustration at the unprecedented downturn in the market over February and March was felt all the more keenly. Despite monumental efforts to restructure the business and reshape the cost base, the scale of eve was simply insufficient to withstand the economic tsunami that has gathered momentum over the past six months, and allow it to continue as an independent business. Whilst it may be scant succor in the face of the current situation, we have moved heaven and earth to seek a way forward as an independent or acquired business, but ultimately prevailing market conditions just do not support that.”

Bensons for Beds subsequently purchased the eve Sleep brand, website and related assets. It says it intends to retain eve Sleep as a standalone brand, and that the move will widen Bensons’ appeal with “a different demographic of younger consumers”.

Furniture Village’s commercial director Charlie Harrison has been presented with a Next Generation Award by Family Business United. The award recognises members of the next generation who have made significant contributions to their own family business

The BFM has issued a warning over the availability of foam used in upholstered furniture and mattresses. The trade body says TDI chemical shortages pose a threat to the supply of foam across Europe throughout autumn, so retailers and customers should be prepared for delays

Dreams, together with its luxury brand Feather and Black, has returned to Taunton after a 10year absence. The store, on Riverside Retail Park, created five new jobs

Inter IKEA Group has shared the IKEA retail sales for FY22, ended 31st August.Total IKEA retail sales amounted to €44.6b, a YoY increase of +6.5% (+3.5% when adjusted for currency impact), as rising inflation and squeezed consumer purses drove more customers to shop from the value brand.

“This year’s challenges continue to give us perspective into people’s life at home, our business and our priorities,” says Inter IKEA Group CEO, Jon Abrahamsson Ring. “Homes now fulfil more functions and solve more problems than ever before. That means people need home furnishings and solutions at an affordable price.”

IKEA store sales grew by +13% compared to FY21, when many stores were closed due to the pandemic. Overall, the stores welcomed 822 million visitors in FY22 compared to 775 million in FY21, says the retailer.

Store sales in FY22 grew mainly in Europe, where FY21 lockdowns were most severe. At the same time, online sales were -10% lower YoY, though they stabilised at a higher level this spring. IKEA’s online channels hosted 4.3 billion visitors, down from 5 billion last year.

The retailer says the pandemic limited growth

in FY21, and that IKEA retail sales benefited as the world reopened. On the other hand, inflation and supply chain issues impacted FY22 sales, and led to rising costs and higher prices. That means sales have grown in value, but sales volumes have not kept up. In addition, supply chain shortages made it difficult to keep the shelves full.

“IKEA prices remained relatively stable for several years,” Jon continues. “That gave us an advantage when competitors raised prices early in the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we can’t ignore surging raw material and transport costs. Long term, we remain committed to affordability for the many people around the world.”

The continuing war in Ukraine has also affected IKEA’s customers and the business. IKEA continues to scale down its presence in Russia, with “full consideration” for the many co-workers, partners and suppliers there. In contrast to these scaleddown activities, IKEA opened retail operations in new markets, including the first IKEA store and online channel in South America. In total, 38 new IKEA sales locations opened around the world in FY22.

IKEA and Tesco are trialling an expanded Collect Near You service in Blackburn, giving customers the option to collect their IKEA order from their local Tesco car park. Six more Collect Near You points are planned this year – in Doncaster, Dereham, Stockport, Bolton, Liverpool, and Cambridge

Fowler & Co’s founder Ben Fowler, a freeman of The Furniture Makers’ Company, has raised £1766 for the charity by rowing 22 miles of the River Thames in this year’s Great River Race (the Queen Elizabeth Memorial Pageant)

The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Northern Big Shots event, which took place in September, raised £8000 for the charity

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IKEA SEES GROWTH AS CONSUMERS FEEL THE PINCH

The BFM has partnered with sustainability and net-zero group Planet Mark to help its members and the national furniture industry meet its netzero goals

The Belfield Group, whose brands include Westbridge and Tetrad, has appointed Rachael Nevins as CEO, replacing Gary Lasham

THE FURNITURE AWARDS RETURN

Each year, The Furniture Awards are bestowed upon the January Furniture Show’s most inspiring suppliers – exhibitors leading the way in everything from eco-friendly achievement to daring design.

In 2023, Furniture News and January Furniture Show will deliver the eighth edition of this prestigious programme, and exhibiting suppliers are invited to apply online in one of five categories: Sustainability; Best of British; Design Innovation; Global Player; and a new category, Superior Service.

“Each year, The Furniture Awards celebrate some of the best our industry has to offer,” says Paul. “Given the ongoing challenges the trade faces, I’m particularly eager to discover which suppliers are setting the pace, and how they’re doing it.”

XXXLutz KG of Austria has commenced plans to acquire leading European ecommerce platform home24 SE. It plans to retain the business’ existing structure, management team, HQ and brands

French Bedroom (formerly The French Bedroom Company) received the Gold Tier Award for Best eCommerce Customer Service at this year’s eCommerce Awards

Sleep.8 has opened a newly upsized and refurbished flagship store at 362-368 King’s Road, Chelsea. The technology-led smart sleep brand now occupies a 2950ft2 space

ScS has joined the Furniture & Home Improvement Ombudsman (FHIO), signalling its commitment to raising customer service standards

Barclaycard Payments says that, 200 days on from the mandatory introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), non-compliant businesses are missing out on sales totalling £2.07m every day

The entrants will be shortlisted and assessed by an expert judging panel chaired by Furniture News’ Paul Farley. The finalists will be announced ahead of the show, and the winners revealed on-site.

Last year’s winners were: Signature Kauri (Sustainability); Shire Beds (Best of British); Gallery Direct (Design Innovation); and Bluebone Imports (Global Player). “We heard some great stories of adaptability and long-term strategy from last year’s entrants,” Paul adds. “Why not share yours?”

The January Furniture Show is returning to its traditional winter timeline in 2023, and will take place at the Birmingham NEC from 22nd-25th January. Entrants can find further details of the entry guidelines on the January Furniture Show website. Entries must be submitted no later than Wednesday 7th December.

BREASLEY APPOINTS EX-MILLBROOK SALES DIRECTOR

Breasley (UK) has appointed Mark Hughes (pictured) as its sales director for the UK. Mark will lead the sales development and growth of the UK market as Breasley (UK) continues to build on recent investments in infrastructure and product development.

The business, based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, is responsible for one of the most diverse ranges of vacuum-packed mattresses in the UK, and is a specialist manufacturer of ownlabel mattress and pillow brands.

Mark was previously sales

director for Millbrook Beds, and brings over 32 years of experience to Breasley – 10 of them with the Breasley brand.

“Mark brings a solid foundation of experience across business development and sales growth within the mattress industry,” says Breasley (UK) COO, Bob Badman. “Mark’s ambition and skillset is a perfect fit for us at Breasley as we look to further develop our customer-focused approach and continue to upscale the business.”

At Millbrook, Mark trebled the volume of independent

SCS PRELIMINARIES REFLECT “STRATEGIC PROGRESS”

In its audited preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 30th July 2022, ScS reported “strong results and strategic progress”.

The year saw record sales delivered (revenue hit £331.6m, up +8.6% YoY), while gross margin was maintained at pre-pandemic levels, despite inflationary cost pressures. Underlying profit before tax, excluding business rates relief, was £13.8m (£5.6m higher than in FY21), and the retailer finished the year with a strong balance sheet, with cash of £70.8m. One-year LFL order growth stood at +3.9%.

Strategic aims achieved during the year included strengthened leadership in key teams, an improved Trustpilot rating (to the maximum of five stars), and the implementation of a new concept design in three stores.

CEO Steve Carson comments: “We are pleased to be announcing results that are ahead of market

sector business over a four-year period. He comments: “The role represents a challenge that I am greatly looking forward to and comes at an exciting time for the brand as it continues widespread investment.”

expectations. The year saw the group deliver record sales, maintain its strong gross margin and manage costs effectively, resulting in a +68% increase in underlying profit before tax, excluding business rates relief. We also saw excellent progress in year one of our refreshed strategy, including strengthening our teams as we look to drive the business forward in the coming years.

“Trading since the start of the new financial year has been subdued, with the challenges of high inflation impacting consumers’ disposable income.

“We are pleased with the strategic progress we have made which, coupled with the strength of the group’s balance sheet, places the business in a strong position to deal with current headwinds. Whilst we expect the coming months to be challenging, we are confident in the longer-term growth prospects of the business.”

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MBS PARTNERS WITH FIRST INSTALL

Leighton Buzzard-based MBS Workplace Environments has been acquired for an undisclosed sum, and a new business, The First Interior’s Group, created. The deal sees MBS Workplace Environments joining forces with Salford-based First Install and Ipswich-based Apex Joinery, forming a new multimillion-pound partnership.

A family business with over 20 years’ industry experience, MBS Workplace Environments supplies furniture to all sectors, including retail, hospitality, offices and schools, as well as furniture installation and interior fit-out. With strong relationships with some of Europe’s leading furniture manufacturers, and working with partners at the forefront of current interior trends, MBS Workplace Environments has forged a reputation for delivering sophisticated and stylish solutions. The combined service offering, experienced management team and industry expertise of all the companies puts The First Interior’s Group in a leading position, providing a totally national and competitive operation.

Mike McVey, head of group sales and operations (pictured), says: “The creation of The First Interior’s Group is great news for the four businesses involved – First Install, its sister company Specialist Interiors Division, Apex Joinery and MBS Workplace Environments. Each individual company brings a

wealth of experience and knowledge as well as strong client base to the table, so by joining forces, we are forging a fantastic multimillion-pound nationwide operator.”

Retaining regional offices in Leighton Buzzard, Ipswich and Salford, The First Interior’s Group currently employs 58 people. The group will now embark upon a large recruitment drive, with plans to recruit a further 20 individuals in the coming year. It also forecasts an annual turnover of £7m.

Mike concludes: “As a new national operator providing a turnkey operation for design, manufacturing, installation and interior fit-out, covering all sectors, we are in a strong position to disrupt the industry and accelerate the group’s future expansion plans.”

EPR SCHEME NECESSARY TO HIT MATTRESS RECYCLING TARGETS, SAYS NBF

The National Bed Federation’s fourth report on the rate of mattress recycling in the UK has revealed a +5% increase in the number of mattresses being sent for recycling between 2017-21, to 24% of the estimated 6.4 million mattresses reaching End of Life (EoL).

However, the ‘real’ rate of recycling - the fate of the mattresses or their components and materials after sorting and processing - is rather lower (an estimated 14%). And since the most common means of managing the 76% of EoL mattresses not going for recycling is still landfill, the NBF’s target of 75% diversion from landfill by 2028 looks set to be missed – without significant intervention in the form of an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme.

Simon Spinks, chairman of the Harrison Spinks Group and the NBF’s Circular Economy Committee, says: “The positive take from this new report is that, in the eight years since we have been looking at the data, the proportion of EoL mattresses sent for recycling has more than doubled – from just 10% to around 24%.

“Less-good news is that the real rate of recycling is significantly lower, and we are still a long way short of our target of 75% diversion from landfill in the next six years. It is clear to us that intervention in the form of an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme is required.”

The 2022 End of Life (EoL) Mattress Report, produced on behalf of the NBF by environmental consultant Oakdene Hollins, sets out not only to report the numbers, but also to identify the opportunities and challenges involved in accelerating the pace of change to achieve the NBF’s 75% diversion from landfill goal in the next six years. Based on detailed analysis of published data plus surveys and interviews carried out with local authorities, manufacturers, retailers and recyclers, the report identifies key areas for improvement include collection, reprocessing, developing end markets for recovered materials and designing with EoL in mind.

The report also aims to show how an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for mattresses would facilitate a more comprehensive and harmonised approach to the management of mattress EoL, providing the revenue and incentives to develop the collection and reprocessing infrastructure, achieve a more environmentally sound treatment of collected products and increased material recovery rates for all materials, and drive product design improvements.

The NBF has already worked closely with Zero Waste Scotland on an outline business case for EPR for mattresses, which has recommended a UKwide, industry-led, mandatory scheme as being the most viable option.

La-Z-Boy has promoted former La-Z-Boy UK MD Mark Draper to the role of VP of international, replacing him with former sales director –national accounts UK Richard Greenwood. Both were present for La-Z-Boy Inc president and CEO Melinda D Whittington’s recent visit to the brand’s UK operation

The Furniture Makers’ Company 300+ mile bike ride from St Albans to Morecambe, organised by the livery company’s master Tony Attard, has raised £27,000 for the industry charity

Hydeline Furniture has announced a 10% reduction to its UK delivered prices across its Hydeline and At The Helm ranges

Bazaar Group has opened a distribution centre in Germany focused on fulfilling European consumers’ growing online requirements

Spinks, the pocket spring manufacturer and components supplier, has been awarded a grant totalling £670,000 by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

JYSK opened a new store in Barnsley in September. The store is located on Wombwell Lane Retail Park, boasts approximately 1200m2 of floorspace and is managed by Matt White

Next has reported a H1 performance ahead of expectations, yet due to a slow start to H2 and an uncertain outlook, has reduced its forecast for full price sales in the half from +1% to -1.5% YoY, and its profit guidance for the full year from £860m to £840m

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*20 JAN open to AIS members only Curated by buyers for buyers 20-23 JANUARY 2023* Register now: indxshows.co.uk For exhibitor enquiries visit indxshows.co.uk or email info@indxshows.co.uk Cranmore Park Conference and Event Centre, Cranmore Avenue, Shirley, Solihull, B90 4LF. An AIS trade show.
Having taken her fashion start-up to a turnover of £25m, Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Alice Hall turned her attention to interiors, and in September 2020, with husband Andrew’s help, Rowen Homes was born. Already, it seems Alice, who describes the venture as “somewhere between an interior designer and ecommerce store”, is already well on her way to creating another high-growth success story … www.rowenhomes.com INSTA HIT 10 INSIGHT WE’LL BE HERE FOR THE GLAM LUXE CUSTOMER!

Tell us a bit about your background and entrepreneurial spirit … I founded my first company at the age of 23, while working as a teaching assistant. My fashion business, Pink Boutique, which I set up with my mum, was born out of not being able to find what I wanted on the market.

I was creative director for eight years, in which time I learned everything there was to learn about HR, operations, buying, QC, warehousing and marketing! I exited that business just before the pandemic, when we had reached a staff team of 70 and £25m turnover.

I’ve applied everything I learnt in fashion to Rowen Homes, the homeware business I share with my husband [MD Andrew Hall]. My role is very broad, but generally I oversee all of the creative elements of the business – from trend forecasting and product development, social organic and ad content, to studio and brand tone of voice. I have a keen involvement in digital marketing, too.

Of course, I have an incredible team who delivers it all. My role is really to guide and ask the right questions at the right time, encouraging innovation.

GENERATING GROWTH INVOLVES CONSTANTLY REVIEWING, AND PIVOTING WHERE NEEDED TO DELIVER THE BEST ROI

Rowen Homes creates a new room look each month to inspire its followers Online customers can shop looks, products or rooms 11

You founded Rowen in late 2020, when furniture and furnishings were seeing huge demand – what did you think you could bring to the table that was different?

At the time, we had recently moved home and I had undertaken an online interior design course to help me with my own home design. I started my own home account, and started to get people approaching, asking me to design their homes.

I struggled to get the products I was looking for, to fit with the real WOW glam aesthetic – it took a lot of trawling! I was turning business away, so I hired a few interior designers to work as part of the team and we took on more projects. All of our followers wanted to know where the items were from that we had put into the designs, but of course we had to keep the product lists confidential.

Before long, I realised that rather than doing singular projects which were never to be seen again, we could come up with room designs and stock the products behind them. So we decided to stock all of the items and become a ‘onestop shop’ to get the designed look –somewhere between an interior designer and ecommerce store.

For about a year, we shot everything in my house. It was crazy – our days were spent running the business, and nights were spent unpacking furniture. We staged full rooms in our home before we moved from our 5000ft2 warehouse to a 30,000ft2 space. We then built a 5-room studio and started shooting there. Now, we release new rooms every month – and customers can shop everything they see in the design.

Aside from you, who are the key people in the business, and what do they contribute?

My husband is MD, and oversees the real nuts and bolts of things. From finance to operations to HR, he’s a safe pair of hands, and can work out how to deliver most things! He’s also a dab hand at design – and covers me [as creative director] when I’m out. And vice versa – I cover as MD when he’s not in.

We have a very competent head of digital, Darren, who oversees all of our digital ads and website. We do most of our digital in-house, as we’re experienced in it, and Darren is very good at working with devs and external partners alongside our in-house delivery team.

We recently recruited Rob, our head of buying, who was formerly at Made.com for eight years. Not only does he have a

wealth of manufacturing connections, his range planning and technical awareness is second to none. He has experience in furniture design, planning, sourcing and budgeting, and we’re already learning so much from him.

Sarah, our people and process manager, keeps us right when it comes to recruiting and all of the admin side of HR. We’ve been doing lots of recruitment lately to support our growth, and Sarah’s kept us super organised!

Then we have our junior management team, who joined us at the very beginning of our journey and have been promoted. Rosie, our senior interior designer, oversees the studio and all of the interior design process – and Ellisha, our buyer, leads the buying team under the supervision of Rob.

Jamie-Lee, our customer experience supervisor, ensures we’re delivering the very best in customer service through all of our channels, and creating beautiful personal shopping experiences, too. The junior managers really care about the brand, and we trust them implicitly –something I think is very important in a start-up.

Then we have all of the rest of our frontline people who deliver brilliant results every single day. From our

SOCIAL MEDIA IS CORE TO OUR BRAND

Husband and wife team Andrew and Alice are able to cover most areas of the business in each other’s absence
Recent hire Robert Hudson brings buying expertise from Made.com and elsewhere 12 INSIGHT

warehouse staff to studio and customer services, they all do an incredible job of growing the business and ensuring our wonderful customers are happy.

We plan to bring more amazing talent into the business going forward – we won’t achieve our dreams for the brand without the right expertise in-house.

I’ve heard Rowen Homes described as a ‘disruptor’ – what’s disruptive about what you do?

We’re somewhere between interior design and retail – and we hand-pick absolutely everything that we bring in, so our customers know that we have quality-checked and matched everything as if we were having it in our own home. This attention to detail is core to the brand, as it enables our customer to trust our choices. They can shop from eight key looks that we’ve put together –rather than trawling around and getting lost in a sea of thousands of products. Everything in each look goes together.

Our aesthetic is quite unique – it’s our brand handwriting, and those who love it absolutely adore it, and want to decorate their whole home in the style. Of course, as with every niche, it’s not for everyone – and that’s OK, because there are some other fantastic options on the market for other aesthetics. We’ll be here for the glam luxe customer!

What characteristics does a product need to make it suitable for your platform?

Each product needs to be good quality and fit into one of our eight key looks –whether that’s Cream & Cosy, Cafe Au Lait, Kensington or another option.

How do you feel the demand for luxury home furnishings has changed since Rowen Homes’ launch?

Demand is just going up and up. Trends are cycling much faster than ever before in interiors, and we’re seeing the market still opt for quality, long-lasting core pieces, but change up accessories and soft furnishings to give a ‘fresh’ lease of life to their rooms.

Can you outline your sourcing process? How do your buyers stay ahead of demand?

We source from trusted wholesalers and manufacturers within the UK and abroad. Some of our key lines – like our made-to-order headboards and sofas –are made in the UK, which we’re really proud of.

We have two core buying operations: one is for trend-based, WOW room designs, which includes all of the key lines to make a room look amazing –from accessories to furniture, these are all sourced in one swift process; the

other is solely to build the ranges and replace lines that have sold out – so we are constantly sourcing newness and repeats for our core categories (like bedspreads and metal accessories).

Do you approach ecommerce growth in much the same way as any other business – or do you do things a little differently?

We have very big ambitions and high growth targets. Investing in growth in homeware is a bit different to fashion as it has a larger cash requirement to hold stock (which we do on 95% of our lines).

So we’ve been learning all about raising investment – which is new to us, as the previous business was funded completely from an initial investment of £90.

Generating growth is a really interesting journey, and involves constantly reviewing, and pivoting where needed to deliver the best ROI. There are many levers to growth, from building our SKU count, to investing more in topof-the-funnel activity and optimising our processes to build efficiency and reduce overhead, to invest more in stock again!

Can you share any figures that demonstrate how far you’ve come, and your ambitions for further growth?

We’ve grown from zero to £10m turnover in two years, and hope to achieve £30m

Alice decribes Rowen Homes as “somewhere between an interior designer and ecommerce store”
13

in turnover by 2025. In the future, we have ambitions to list or gain substantial investment, so the brand can invest in the infrastructure to go global. We’d really love to have created a brand that’s around for a long time.

How significant is social media in achieving growth? Can you provide some examples of your campaigns/ work in this area?

Social media isn’t important to all businesses, but it is core to our brand. We launch new videos every working day of the week – all filmed in our studio –and have achieved over 350 million views on our content since launching two years ago. This is important in driving traffic and building brand awareness, but does carry a cost, and should be measured in ROI terms just like any marketing.

Each month we launch a new room that customers can see revealed on our social – and it’s perfect if they are looking to redecorate their next room. This helps us retain returning customers.

As with anything creative, it’s only a matter of time before content is copied, so it’s super important that we stay ahead of the curve and constantly generate newness.

We understand you were planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign …?

Due to the strong reaction to our campaign with private investors, we’ve chosen not to go live on the crowdfunding platform, and instead tap into venture capital funding. The money raised will enable us to appoint a few key members of staff, and also invest further into our stockholding, which is crucial for our growth.

Is there a limit to the prices shoppers are willing to pay for luxury goods online? If so, are you looking to take the business into the physical arena?

We haven’t seen a limit in terms of pricing, but we do get lots of requests for a physical store where people can sit on sofas and feel the fabrics! We’d absolutely love to launch stores, but this

will require investment and expertise in physical retail – maybe this will be one for the future!

How do features like personal shoppers translate online?

Our customers love our personal shopping service! It really takes the stress out of the process for the customer. We create moodboards of products grouped together according to the customer’s brief, and then send pre-filled baskets over on email. The customer can then just take out what they don’t want, and check out! It’s a nice personal touch, and our team love getting creative, putting the lists together.

Which ecommerce and traditional retail businesses do you look up to? Does Rowen Homes share any of their characteristics?

We are big fans of experiential retail that really wows. In the UK, stores like Harrods and the new JD stores. Further afield, over in the States and Japan there are some really interesting concepts like smart screens, and this is something we’d love to be able to offer in the future for room designs.

I am personally a massive fan of traditional department stores –Bainbridges, the first department store in the world, was first launched in my

home city of Newcastle – and I really hope we can continue to see these stores thrive. Concession models give a more accessible route into bricks-andmortar, so perhaps this could be a good route for Rowen Homes in the not-sodistant future.

What can the furniture sector learn from the fashion industry – and vice versa?

Most fashion companies have all functions in-house, and that’s something I’d expect to see more of in furniture in coming years. Speed to market is a huge factor, and the homeware industry just isn’t quite there yet – this is one of our key KPIs.

Social media and content creation is huge in fashion, and you have to be at the top of your game in terms of website and category choice. Many furniture websites don’t adopt the latest tech and take advantage of AI for search and product recommendations, which makes for a poor experience for the consumer. I think we’ll see this change in the next couple of years – but finding the talent to implement best-in-class tech may be challenging.

Can you reveal any new directions the business is likely to take in the coming year?

We are really focused on doing more of what’s working well for us and building a robust range, ready to scale. We’ll be staying ahead of the curve by launching really exciting new designs and collaborations – there’s always newness when it comes to Rowen Homes! Come and follow us to make sure you don’t miss it

SPEED TO MARKET IS A HUGE FACTOR, AND THE HOMEWARE INDUSTRY JUST ISN’T QUITE THERE YET 14 INSIGHT

Come on in

Showcasing

Organised
Find out more at springfair.com
the most stylish furniture, textiles and interior décor, we’re home to your next best-seller.

How might a child describe what you do?

I’m a proud father of two boys, and they would say their dad’s a “sofa man”.

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

One of the biggest for our business –and indeed the industry as a whole – is skilled labour, particularly in sewing and upholstery. Whilst many of our operations (cutting and woodmachining, for example) have developed with technology to become more automated over the years with the introduction of various CAD/CAM packages, the core skills of sewing and upholstery remain very much craft bases, having not changed much over time.

It takes years to develop the skills to manufacture a high-quality, hand-tufted Chesterfield, and through our continual apprenticeship schemes we are trying to ensure continuity for years to come.

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

With my background and years of experience in design and product development, I’d love to really push the boundaries of what’s possible – exploring and developing new sustainable and ecologically friendly materials, techniques and technology, to accompany great design aesthetics

etting Personal

CHRIS FLETCHER

Chris is the sales director at heritage upholstery manufacturer Tetrad. Founded in 1968 in Preston, Lancashire, Tetrad prides itself on delivering the best possible design, quality and sit, and the brand remains comfortably ahead of the trend curve to this day.

www.tetrad.co.uk

and comfort, would be a major focus. Creativity is the lifeblood of this business, and you can never create enough new and innovative products!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Best Seat in the House …

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

It’s very important to me to maintain a good work/life balance, and spending time with family is a real focus. Whilst this can be challenging, with business commitments, as a family we love to travel, and sunshine holidays are an essential chance to recharge the batteries!

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

Having joined the business in the late 90s, I spent almost 20 years working very closely with Tetrad’s founder and former chairman, Bob Cooper. Bob was a true pioneer of the industry, who had an insatiable passion for design and originality, and was a key influence in

creating the style that the business has become synonymous with. Whilst he could also be a hard taskmaster, his pursuit of success and design innovation had a big influence on me.

What’s been your best day in business to date?

Wow … there’s been many good days (and some not so good!) along the way, but I think that my best to date would be the day we completed the MBO to take over the business back in 2014. The last few years leading up to it had been a really difficult trading period for the business, and that change in management gave us the opportunity to make the necessary changes.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

The deal of the century! In my experience, when it looks too good to be true, it generally is! I firmly believe that you do genuinely get what you pay for in this industry, and that if you spend a little more to purchase a quality handcrafted sofa, over time it will prove to be a better value investment in the end!

16 INSIGHT I’D LOVE TO REALLY PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF WHAT’S POSSIBLE The shortage of skilled labour is an industry-wide problem

BURSTING WITH POTENTIAL

Brussels Furniture Fair (Meubelbeurs) returns to Brussels Expo from 6-9th November, and promises to mark a return to normality for buyers seeking some of the top European suppliers …

www.furniturefairbrussels.be

Brussels Furniture Fair was one of the first international trade fairs to open its doors in the wake of the pandemic – and, despite an anxious trade and having numerous safety measures in place, last year’s edition “barely saw a drop in attendance”, says the fair’s director of sales and business development, Glenn De Maeseneer.

“Exhibitors and visitors left the halls of Brussels Expo without masks, and with visible smiles … as if all the bubbles had suddenly burst. The 2022 slogan, ‘Bubble up your business’, is a clear nod to this.

“Today, we are still closely monitoring recent developments regarding Covid-19, and look forward to the upcoming fair with confidence. We are ready to welcome everyone back in Brussels with well-filled halls, and in a festive atmosphere with champagne (back to the bubbles that really matter!).”

Glenn says this month’s event will feature +20% more exhibitors YoY, and across an additional 5000m² – which will be most noticeable in Hall 6, which will welcome 12 new bed suppliers including M-Line, Van Os slaapkamers, Kreamat, Colmol, Bijnen, Ultima and Velfont.

Meanwhile, the show is making a concerted effort to highlight its contract offer, with a dedicated route highlighting the players present. “A fifth (20%) of our exhibitors are active in the hospitality world, the care sector and the office segment,” says Glenn, while interior architects and project designers are a growing visitor group.”

To retain greater relevance around the show’s open days, the fair has ramped up its social and direct media activities – the printed BE Magazine, for example, has been replaced with a fresh newsletter and blog, informing wouldbe visitors about the available products months in advance, and after the fair has concluded.

There is a similar focus on changing consumer behaviours, and their consequence for the industry. “In the long term, Brussels wants to offer a strong platform to every furniture professional,” Glenn explains, and to become a “must-attend meeting point” for stakeholders across the trade, from young designers to environmentally conscious projects. With that in mind, it is launching ‘Bubble up your store’, a representation of the furniture shop of tomorrow, in Hall 3.

“In these exciting times, Brussels wants to symbolise certainty on the one hand, and efficiency for both visitors and exhibitors on the other,” Glenn concludes

18 EVENTS

VIFA-EXPO’S COMEBACK

www.vifafair.com

After being postponed for two years, the Vietnam International Furniture & Home Accessories Fair (VIFA EXPO) made its successfully comeback in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from 31st August to 3rd September.

Traditionally held each March, VIFA EXPO achieved “very impressive results” despite the temporary new timeline and the uncertain global trading backdrop, says the show’s organiser.

The show comprised 175 exhibitors, with 975 booths, across a total area of 15,000m2. Among those were 34 foreign exhibitors from 12 countries. VIFA EXPO says it welcomed a total of 11,156 visitors.

Among these were 4652 interantional visitors, from 89 countries and territories.

The fair programme also featured two seminars: Canadian Wood: Exceptional Design Flexibility, held by Canadian Wood Vietnam and Lien Minh Company; and Digital Application for Export, held by

Vayana, Lean Supply Chain, Datasean and Lien Minh Company.

March 2023 will see the 14th edition of VIFA EXPO take place, staged by Alliance Handicraft Wooden Fine Art Corporation (Lien Minh Company), from 8–11th March at Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center (SECC). The event promises to be “bigger, better and bolder in scale, brand and service”, and is set to welcome more than 600 exhibitors across a total area of more than 44,000m2

THE JOYS OF SPRING

www.springfair.com

Spring Fair – where bestsellers are found, relationships are forged, and curiosity is piqued, and the largest marketplace for newness and innovation.

There are four key buying destinations: Home which includes Home, Living & Décor and The Summerhouse; Gift, including Christmas, Floral and Seasonal Decorations; Moda Fashion; and the newly launched responsible sourcing show, Source Home & Gift.

Offering a personable, accessible experience and unparalleled cross-buying opportunities, Spring Fair creates a compelling platform for buyers to touch,

feel and experience the latest products from the UK and overseas.

Within Home, Living & Décor and The Summerhouse, buyers will discover stylish furniture, textiles, housewares, art and decorative interior accessories, from brands including Coach House, The Libra Company, Bloomingville, Gallery Direct, Mint Interiors by Kettle, Art Marketing, Ascalon, Malini, Chic Antique and Hill Interiors. Visitors will also discover a unique array of Christmas, floral and

seasonal decorations.

Spring Fair 2023 will also see the return of home lifestyle brands including Glasgow’s Fifty Five South, Denmark’s VanillaFly, and sustainable product expert Native Natural, while Matt Buckley, the designer at Edge Sculptures, will present a striking collection of animal and mythical creature figures.

This one-stop marketplace will run from 5-8th February 2023 at the NEC Birmingham.

19

ALL EYES ON BRUM

As the only dedicated European furniture event of its kind taking place at the start of 2023, next year’s January Furniture Show is set to more in demand than ever, says organiser Clarion …

www.thefurnitureshows.com

Buyers will be able to source the newest furniture solutions and interior accessories when the show returns to its traditional slot at the Birmingham NEC from 22nd-25th January.

Brands from around the world will come together at the event to launch their new collections, while visitors will also be able to discover industry insights, emerging trends and much more, all under one roof.

Buyers will have the opportunity to explore four halls split into distinctively defined sectors: Premium Design; Interior Accessories & Furniture; Living, Dining & Bedroom; and Upholstery & Beds. They will be able to discover everything from beds and cabinet furniture to home decor and accessories from leading suppliers.

With over 10,000 new products and exclusive launches from some 350 exhibitors, there promises to be a huge choice of products and inspiration from some of the best brands in the industry.

The January Furniture Show attracts a dedicated international audience across both the buyer and seller sides, so it is set to offer the perfect place to visit international players at the start of the new buying season – while the introduction of new international pavilions will give visitors the opportunity to meet furniture companies from Poland, Portugal, Vietnam and beyond.

This January’s line-up includes ALF, Accadueo Design, Bontempi, Kind Leather, Incanto, Italia Living, Mini Davini, New Trend Concepts, San Martino, Stone Italia, Abbeylands Furniture, Forte Furniture, Gwinner, IFD, Julian Bowen and Tancredi Salotti, to name just a few.

Returning for a second year, the Furniture Talks stage will be the home of masterclasses, panel discussions and interviews with renowned makers and designers from all corners of the industry. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn from the experts, listen to industry trailblazers and look ahead with insight from recognised thought leaders, who will share advice on how to overcome the potential challenges that may arise in coming months and years.

The show will again feature The Furniture Awards, delivered in association with Furniture News. Once again, an esteemed panel of judges will crown the best in the industry across various thematic categories. Meanwhile, visitors will be able to meet the rising stars of the industry at the Young Furniture Makers presentation, presented in collaboration with The Furniture Makers’ Company, which will celebrate the creatives already making waves in the industry.

Find out more about the UK’s biggest furniture and home interiors show on the January Furniture Show website

20 EVENTS

OPTIMISE YOUR NEXT BIG SALE…

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James Fraser, M.D., Blackbridge Furnishings. Inverness, Elgin and Fort William.

“This [2022] Greenwood Sale surpassed the last one! We are Really Happy! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!”

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“IT’S A RECORD! Our 2022 Greenwood Sale (Our 8th) beat the previous seven sales by a good margin. REMARKABLE!”

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GUARANTEE

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SUCCESS… Generate record-breaking sales and profits, build your order book, clear stock and win market share. It’s fun and exciting too for you, your company and your customers! Find out more about Greenwood Sales. Call or e mail Bernard Eaton now on 07771 700247, and I’ll explain the exciting options and possibilities for your Greenwood Sale without obligation. BOOKING 2023 EVENTS NOW CALL 07771 700247 GreenwoodRetail_NOV2022.indd 1 13/10/2022 15:44 21 NEXT MONTH’S ISSUE December’s issue will contain the following special features: CGI MARKETING – the latest from the product visualisation revolution JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW – our preliminary preview, sharing a taste of what’s ahead THE 2023 YEARPLANNER – our invaluable calendar guide to the year’s fixtures We’ll also present our monthly look at the latest in BEDROOM, DINING, LIVING ROOM and TRADE SERVICES. Want to be part of the furniture trade’s favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email sam@gearingmediagroup.com BOOK BY FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER STAND UP, STAND OUT! Maintain visibility and product awareness in DECEMBER’S FURNITURE NEWS. With the approach of a new year (and the January shows), now’s the time to make headlines!

BED SHOW BUOYANT

The National Bed Federation (NBF) team would like to thank everyone who visited and exhibited at this year’s Bed Show at the Telford International Centre from 20th-21st September, with a special thanks to all of its NBF member sponsors – but how well did the exhibition perform, given the trading backdrop?

www.bedshow.co.uk

The Bed Show celebrates the coming together of many of the best in British and Irish bed manufacturing and their component suppliers. It is a place where they can showcase their latest innovations, offers, promotions and sales support for the UK market.

Show organiser, the NBF, says it received positive feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike, many of whom made the most of the opportunity to meet up and network after an extraordinary year – economically, politically and historically.

Jessica Alexander, NBF executive director, says: “This was our 12th Bed

Show – and what an amazing event it turned out to be! The buzz we felt in the halls is backed up by the numbers, too – we were really pleased with the visitor numbers, in a year when many exhibitions are seeing a -20% downturn. Our numbers were on par with the last few years, with well over 1200 attendees over the two days. Most of our exhibitors were reporting plenty of interest and buying going on.

“The Bed Show is now well established as the preferred launchpad of new collections, innovations and marketing plans for the majority of companies in the sector.”

The NBF also congratulates all of this year’s NBF Bed Industry Awards finalists and winners across retail, supply and manufacturing. The annual gala dinner and awards ceremony saw newcomers scoop top accolades and previous winners come up trumps for another year running. This year’s compere, TV and radio host, and current Countdown quiz master, Colin Murray, kept the crowd entertained and engaged as the 11 companies and individuals that won the 2022 trophies were announced – disocver much more about them all in the special Bed Industry Awards supplement in this month’s issue (p33).

The team is already looking forward to returning to Telford next year, from 2627th September. The official Bed Show film and photo gallery can be viewed on the event’s website

THE BED SHOW IS NOW WELL ESTABLISHED AS THE SECTOR’S PREFERRED LAUNCHPAD 22 EVENTS BED SHOW
Find out more about all of this year’s winners and finalists at bedshow.co.uk/2022-bed-industry-awards Congratulations to the 2022 NBF Bed Industry Awards winners! Small NBF Retail Champion of the Year Now to Bed Large NBF Retail Champion of the Year Glasswells National Bed Retailer of the Year Dreams Online Bed Retailer of the Year Mattress Online Best Marketing Campaign Dreams Outstanding Bed Store of the Year Glasswells of Bury St. Edmunds NBF Member Sales Agent/Rep of the Year Neil Steed at Shire Beds Bed Product of the Year Sealy UK Component Product of the Year Hypnos Bed Manufacturer of the Year Harrison Spinks Component Supplier of the Year John Cotton Nonwovens @TheBedFed

COMFORT WITH INTEGRITY

Industry innovator Hypnos revealed its vision for sustainable bed design at the Bed Show, with its carbon-negative concept mattress, Project Zero – as well as launching two collections that feature uniquely traceable, naturalbased, award-winning materials …

www.hypnosbeds.com

Hypnos’ Origins Pillow Top and Luxury No Turn Collections were developed to enhance greater sleep comfort, and feature new sustainable initiatives and fibres ideal for mattresses thanks to their natural, breathable and temperature-regulating qualities. Both collections will be supported with dedicated marketing and PoS.

In a pioneering move by Hypnos, both collections feature traceable British wool certified by the internationally recognised Responsible Wool Standard. New to British farming, the standard promises to drive forward expertise and improvements for the textiles industry, and Hypnos is the first brand in any sector to support British farmers and the standard.

Hypnos says a luxurious and responsive feel is achieved with a careful combination of fillings and pocket springs. All of its mattresses are free from any chemical-based foams, and these new models feature responsive and breathable Talalay latex layers – 100% natural, chemical-free, and derived from rubber trees.

Also new to the four Pillow Top mattresses is the addition of the innovative plant fibre layer developed by Hypnos – which was nd awarded Component Product of the Year in this year’s Bed Industry Awards. Nettle fibres, also known as allo, are wild-

harvested by the Himalayan Wild Fibers social enterprise, which supports indigenous farmers in the foothills of Nepal and protects this unique environment.

These strong and absorbent fibres are combined with tree-grown kapok and responsibly sourced cotton fibres from the CottonConnect farmer programme. By successfully working with social initiatives, fibres derived from nature can add real value, says Hypnos – not just to the comfort of a mattress, but to the local communities and the planet.

Group MD David Baldry comments: “The Bed Show is a fantastic platform to introduce new collections and garner feedback. For me, it provided an excellent opportunity to meet many of our customers in person.

“Our new collections have been well received by the industry, thanks to their great luxury feels and handcrafted details. As one of the most searched-for mattress brands on Google, Hypnos is in a unique position to offer retailers a strong portfolio of sleep solutions. It’s clear that our strategy of comfort with integrity is hitting the right notes with consumers and retailers alike, with retailers fascinated to find out about Project Zero, and intrigued to learn more about our approach to reducing carbon”

HYPNOS IS IN A UNIQUE POSITION A range
of natural components
go into Hypnos’ Origins
models
Project Zero –Hypnos’ carbon-negative mattress concept COVER STORY24 EVENTS BED SHOW
Comfort with Integrity™ hypnosbeds.com Carbon Neutral | Inspired by Nature | 100% Recyclable Handcrafting the ultimate in luxury mattresses and bed collections since 1904. Discover Hypnos’ new Pillow Top and Luxury No Turn collections, sustainably made, with uniquely traceable, award winning fibres. Because great sleep shouldn’t cost the Earth. In partnership with

SLEEPEEZEE ON SHOW

Bed Manufacturer of the Year finalist Sleepeezee enjoyed “a great show” this year, and says it saw a positive response to its whole range of new products – as well as to the refreshments available on its stand!

www.sleepeezee.com

Sleepeezee’s stand featured 12 beds, all of which were new launches. The brand showcased a new and upgraded Cooler Collection, a refreshed Backcare range, and three additional ranges.

Comprising three models, the Cool Rest range features a Cool Touch cover and unique TemperatureSmart technology – both proven to reduce body temperature during the night. Situated just under the cover, the technology helps to conduct excess heat away from the body naturally and continuously. The cooling strips work across the entire

mattress, helping the sleeper maintain that ‘just right’ temperature all night long.

Meanwhile, Sleepeezee’s refreshed, three-bed Backcare collection, Ortho Bespoke, features natural fillings and offers a firmer level of comfort for those who prefer extra support.

Also on show were three new ranges based on memory foam and natural latex fillings, which were designed exclusively for the brand’s independent retail partners. This wide range of products, which is only available in-store, promises to help retailers differentiate their ranges from their online competitors’.

After working hard over the last 12 months to ensure the highest standards of service, product and support for its retail partners, Sleepeezee was pleased to have achieved finalist status in the Bed Manufacturer of the Year category.

Amy Curtis, head of marketing, comments: “It was fantastic to be back at the NBF show at Telford, and we’re pleased to have been recognised as a finalist in this category.

“We were grateful to have the opportunity to meet up with our retail partners, old friends and colleagues at the industry’s biggest trade show. The Sleepeezee team worked extremely hard in presenting a truly excellent stand, which remained busy throughout, and we received great feedback on all our new product launches”

The Cool Rest range features a Cool Touch cover and unique TemperatureSmart technology
Ortho Bronze Sleepeezee’s stand proved a popular destination for visiting buyers throughout the show 26 EVENTS BED SHOW
LEAVE THE REST TO US Quality comfort, naturally

a

Over the last few years, GNG Group has made major inroads in becoming recognised as a leader in its field. It was proud to be one of three finalists in the Bed Manufacturer of the Year category of the 2022 Bed Industry Awards, and says the Bed Show was a real success.

There, the manufacturer welcomed existing and new customers to its stand, which showcased its three popular mattress brands – Komfi, Sonlevo and Nectar Sleep.

Seeking environmentally friendly solutions is a focus for GNG, which recycles foam offcuts and uses reconditioned Ecofoam where possible.

Having achieved carbon-neutral certification in 2019, GNG says it was the first UK manufacturer to produce a carbon-neutral mattress.

With a reputation for quality and service, GNG has proved able to meet demand from UK companies seeking British supplies following global supply chain issues. Given its progress, the company is in a strong position to work with retailers over the coming months, continuing to provide fast and efficient lead times, strengthened by the additional capacity of its new factory.

BEDS

At the Bed Show, Shire Beds launched the Spectrum range, to address the company’s wide ranging and distinct markets.

Within the range, there are two selections of six eye-catching and comfortable mattresses– one exclusively for the bricks and-mortar retailer, and the other uniquely designed for online only. Both ranges start with 13.5 and 12.5 Bonnell-sprung mattresses, and move up to a wide range of pocket-sprung mattresses which include 1000, 1500, 2000 and 3000 pockets.

Shire Beds strives to continually improve its output in terms of both quality and sustainability – the business has joined the limited number of UK bedmakers which can boast full FSC certification accreditation.

Shire was also extremely proud to have its sales agent Neil Steed win Sales Agent of the Year – and Louise Hardy declared a finalist – in this year’s Bed Industry Awards.

Nectar
Sleep is
fast-growing
GNG’s Yorkshire factory Komfi’s Rhea Seaqual
GNG GROUP www.gnggroup.co.uk SHIRE
www.shirebeds.co.uk
28 EVENTS BED SHOW

At the Bed Show, Siesta Beds presented its Mulliners handmade bed collection, which, consists of 8000-, 6000-, 5000and 3000-pocket spring, hand sidestitched models.

It also presented the ZoneX range, which boasts zoned latex, offering a tighter zoning in the area where more support is required. These are encapsulated, and offered as 1400-, 1800- and 2800-spring versions.

Finally, there was Siesta’s Hybrid Essential, a traditional pocket-spring mattress with butterfly springs for additional edge support, and gel, memory foam and kinetic foam layers for rigidity. These are offered in 1000-, 2000- and 3000-pocket spring models.

SIESTA BEDS

Creating an award-winning, sustainable and luxurious night’s sleep, fifthgeneration British family bedmaker, Harrison Spinks, has created mattresses in the heart of Yorkshire since 1840.

Each mattress starts its life at Harrison Spinks’ 300-acre farm in North Yorkshire, then goes on to its manufacturing facility, where nature and technology blend to create “unrivalled

sleeping comfort”. Each mattress is 100% foam-, glue- and FR chemical treatment-free, meaning a better night’s sleep that is also better for the planet.

The iconic bedmaker scooped the coveted Bed Manufacturer of the Year award at this year’s Bed Industry Awards, and was commended for its product innovation, developments in sustainability and growth, both domestically and internationally.

HARRISON SPINKS www.harrisonspinks.co.uk
Hvar 16,000 Harrison Spinks rears sheep and tends fields of hemp and flax crops on its farm
www.siestabeds.co.uk 29

A WELCOME ADDITION

Continuously building success takes focus, hard work and drive – and these are qualities Bed Show exhibitor Protect-A-Bed says it has demonstrated time and again in its well-documented success in helping retail partners significantly grow sales … www.protectabed.co.uk

Gowsh Shan, Protect-A-Bed’s national sales manager, comments: “Our focus on helping retailers improve sales within this category is dedicated and well proven.

“Given this year has seen footfall decrease in volume comparative to 2021, we are extremely proud to be such an important partner for retailers, helping increase AOVs in-store through our reward and training programmes. The foundation of our success lies in the fact we are unique specialists in the category, with methods of growing sales that outperform the competition.

“We can see this from our successes at the recent AIS, Minerva and NBF trade shows in September and October, with many new customers taking advantage of our TV displays, and both existing and new customers signing up to the rewards programme, ProtectA-Bed Platinum Club. All of these

customers recognise the importance of driving sales together, which we’re experts in!

“We are specialists in the mattress protection category. Nobody else in the category has the same passion, drive and focus to grow sales, and that’s why we are the leading global brand in healthy sleep. We continuously build frameworks that are simple for retailers to implement in order to achieve extremely high attachment rates. We know we can help any store reach a 50% attachment rate (one protector sold for every two beds sold) or higher.

“We provide specialist training, which is vital to unlock the sales potential, and our Protect-A-Bed team are incredibly adaptive to support this in any retail environment.”

Protect-A-Bed’s Platinum Club has been designed to build, recognise and reward success with unique promotional and discount opportunities, sponsored incentives, tailored POS solutions, and membership rewards.”

Gowsh adds: “Protect-A-Bed’s ability to upskill your team and increase your sales revenue by maximising every sales opportunity has been well documented. We can manage every step of the process for you, and build a reward scheme that works for every store.

“There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained – why would you not act now, and see how Protect-A-Bed can help grow sales for your store?”

30 EVENTS BED SHOW
Mattress protection can prove an invaluable investment
Contact Protect-A-Bed ® to start increasing your profit: sales@protectabed.co.uk | 02087 310020 • Professional Sales Training & Motivational Programme • Best in Class Product Innovation and Cooling Technology • Genuine 15 Year Guarantee Programme • State of the Art Dynamic Display Bays • Award Winning Customer Service & Claims Resolution Market Leading Mattress Protector Brand, Featuring Cutting-Edge Materials Including Copper, Graphene, Charcoal and Bamboo!
It’s time to upgrade to a new, unified commerce & digital operations platform
Has your old retail system seen better days?
by Visit iconography.co.uk/omnis

BED INDUSTRY

AWARDS 2022-23 A Furniture News supplement delivered in partnership with the NBF

are

to

We
proud
be awarded Bed Manufacturer of the Year 2022/23. Every member of our fantastic team has made this possible. From our farmers to our weavers, from our wire drawers to our spring makers, our fillings teams to our bed makers, from our designers to our innovators, our support teams and everyone in between…. We are proud to be recognised as The True Bedmakers. www.harrisonspinks.co.uk

THE UK BED INDUSTRY IS WORLDCLASS, AHEAD OF THE CURVE, AND READY TO TAKE ON ALL COMERS

My earliest memory of the Bed Industry Awards is one of pride, apprehension and a bald man.

Furniture News and our sister publication had sponsored two of the debut awards’ categories, so, as editor, yours truly was duly called upon to take the stage (see p66 for proof) and say a few words about each.

Even back in 2010, I was hardly new to the bed industry – but to be confronted with so much of it in one place was somewhat overwhelming. I remember the walk from table to stage being very long indeed … and praying that the host, comedian Lee Hurst, wouldn’t take any cheap shots at me while I was up there!

I’ve since had the honour of participating in all but one of the awards’ judging processes, as they transitioned from earnest debates over a table in Furniture Makers’ Hall with my trade press peers to hitting the show floor with eminent buyers and designers on the eve of each show.

I may be a little less fresh faced and nervy these days, but each awards evening still holds a certain degree of trepidation. Will everything go to plan? How will the winners react? And, perhaps more importantly, how might the losers?! That so many take the awards so seriously is testament to the esteem in which they’re held in this sector. In the stores, showrooms and marketing campaigns of the winners that make the most of the accolade, these awards matter.

Having played a part in their delivery over the years, I’m still heartened when I see the awards logo on the side of a delivery truck, or on a TV ad. However, I think my biggest takeaway from the experience is having such privileged access to so many stories of progress and success.

No matter the volatility of the

trading environment – and it’s been plenty volatile of late – the accounts that come across the judges’ desks are often truly inspiring, and proof of the sector’s will and ability to evolve, no matter what’s thrown at it.

Across the past decade, we’ve seen the rise of online, and its (sometimes begrudging) acceptance from the more traditional quarters. In turn, we’ve seen the same online leaders adopt more traditional approaches to retail, reminding us that, in business, nothing is ever clear-cut.

I’ve witnessed fierce competition between bed and component suppliers that echo the trends of the day, or reflect the ongoing pressure to behave more sustainably (an area in which the bed industry continues to raise the bar). It’s been an education – and a pleasure.

This year saw a host of new categories introduced, widening the field and giving more businesses the chance to shine. I particularly welcomed the launch of the NBF Member Sales Agent/Rep of the Year category – the more that’s done to celebrate the individuals making a difference right across this rich industry, the better.

In short, the Bed Industry Awards are important – perhaps essential – to the industry, and it’s been a privilege to play my part over the years. It’s a privilege, too, to be asked by the NBF to work with them to deliver this special celebration of the 2022-23 awards. Thanks to a combination of exclusive insight, some very deserving finalists, and Furniture News’ already-high standing in the trade, I’m certain this supplement will help convey the awards’ message to an even broader section of the industry, both at home and abroad – that the UK bed industry is world-class, ahead of the curve, and ready to take on all comers.

NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS 35
Paul Farley, editor-in-chief, Furniture News

This year (2022) saw the 13th edition of our Bed Industry Awards – 12 of them presented by celebrity hosts at glittering occasions held during the Bed Show at Telford (the 13th took place online in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in November 2020, presented by myself and our head of marketing and membership, Simon Williams!).

In the first year, we didn’t have any company or product awards – our judges picked three industry giants for lifetime achievement awards, namely Mike Clare (Dreams), Peter Spinks (Harrison Spinks) and John Cotton (John Cotton Group). A couple of years later, we awarded another Lifetime Achievement award to Peter Keen (Hypnos).

But, since then, we have had a mix of awards for manufacturers, component suppliers and retailers – large and small, online or store-based – and for products, innovations, marketing campaigns, stores, agents/reps, sustainability, our Covid community award back in 2020, and of course, overall company performance.

We have sifted through hundreds of brilliant entries, helped dozens of different judges make difficult choices after heated debates, and watched a

stream of delighted winners come on stage to collect their awards, Oscars style, from a stellar line up of hosts – some of whom have been great, others somewhat cringeworthy!

One of the reasons we wanted to work on this supplement was to give a wider audience the chance to hear more of the stories behind all these terrific entries –although of course we can’t cover more than this year’s winners and finalists.

It never ceases to amaze us just how fabulous our bed industry is – what great companies and people there are out there, working so hard to be the best they can be. Our awards shine a light on the companies we should all look up to, leading the way with their hard work, culture, performance and innovations.

There are many unsung heroes, too – excellent businesses who don’t enter awards, and the many others who are just pipped to the post. We are all part of a vibrant, forward-thinking, varied, exciting, innovative, resilient sector, and the Bed Industry Awards give us a glimpse into its heart.

So, well done all our award winners and finalists, past and present – you have a lot of which to be proud! And well done, bed industry – so do you!

36 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
WE’RE ALL PART OF A VIBRANT, FORWARDTHINKING, VARIED, EXCITING, INNOVATIVE, RESILIENT SECTOR, AND THE BED INDUSTRY AWARDS GIVE US A GLIMPSE INTO ITS HEART
Jessica Alexander, executive director, National Bed Federation (NBF)

SLEEPING GIANTS

This

Hosted by renowned TV and radio personality, Colin Murray, the event took place at the NBF’s annual trade exhibition, the Bed Show, in Telford International Centre’s Ludlow Suite. Dedicated to the federation’s members of UK and Irish bed manufacturers, component suppliers and retailers, this year saw a bumper awards programme, with 11 categories in total – seven of them new.

NBF member awards included: Bed Manufacturer of the Year, judged by Tony Attard (The Furniture Makers’ Company), David Fitzsimons (Oakdene Hollins and European Remanufacturing Council) and Richard de Melim (The Furnishing Report); Component Supplier of the Year, judged by Paul Farley (Furniture News), David Fitzsimons and Tony Attard;

Bed Product of the Year and Component Product of the Year, judged by Steve Adams (Mattress Online), Jerry Cheshire (former owner of Surrey Beds), Sue Davies (Sue Davies Design Solutions), Rebecca Maloy (AIS) and

Paul Farley; and NBF Agent/Rep of the Year, judged by Rebecca Maloy, Steve Adams and Jerry Cheshire.

The retailer awards comprised: Small NBF Retail Champion of the Year, Large NBF Retail Champion of the Year, Online Bed Retailer of the Year and National Bed Retailer of the Year, judged by Andrew Kidd (Interiors Monthly), Bernard Eaton (Greenwood Retail) and Richard de Melim;

Outstanding Bed Store, assessed by a mystery shopping agency based on a shortlist provided by the NBF’s marketing committee; and Best Marketing Campaign, judged by Phil Bennett (PIP Creative) and Richard McMurrough (The Propaganda Agency).

“It seems the bed industry is an unstoppable beast, with neither pandemic nor economic crisis slowing it down,” sattes the NBF. “A high calibre of entries, finalists and winners showcased what innovative, passionate, forward-thinking players there are on the field – making it an exciting sport to watch!

“With sustainability a clear driving force in creating new initiatives, technology and projects, the bed industry has grabbed its CSR by the horns to contribute to a better environment, globally. With many companies not stopping until they are carbon neutral, it is a catalyst that’s forging inventive, modern ways to do business. Following on this path, the 2023 Bed Industry Awards are going to be very interesting indeed.”

In the meantime, read on to discover much more about this year’s stars of the show

year’s National Bed Federation (NBF) brought many of the bed industry’s finest together in Telford on 20th September for an expanded crop of Bed Industry Awards. Read on to discover this year’s winners and finalists, and the reasons behind their achievements … A HIGH CALIBRE OF ENTRIES, FINALISTS AND WINNERS SHOWCASED WHAT INNOVATIVE, PASSIONATE, FORWARDTHINKING PLAYERS THERE ARE ON THE FIELD 37

Bed Manufacturer of the Year

WINNER: HARRISON SPINKS

Never one to rest on its laurels, the West Yorkshire-based Harrison Spinks made enormous gains over the past 12 months and, thanks to its vertical structure, easily navigated significant industry and economic challenges –coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever.

www.harrisonspinks.co.uk

STRONG

Harrison Spinks celebrated new product launches, international partnerships, new market streams, investments in sustainability, and significant charitable donations. Its independent business also grew by +35% – no mean feat during difficult times.

The manufacturer partnered with some of the world’s biggest brands including M&S and Zara Home. The M&S dual-branded proposition sees its products available in-store and online, and, on a global level, saw significant growth through its US export venture in the luxury market, and opened nine new stores, with an ambition to at least double that over the next year.

In the UK, the company partnered with British furniture icon, Ercol, creating a dual-branded collection targeting 30 top-performing independent retailers. It also introduced new ranges featuring its state-of-the-art Quad spring technology into some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Dreams, Furniture Village and John Lewis.

Signing up to the UN Global Compact, Harrison Spinks kept sustainability at the forefront, heavily investing in its award-winning strategy to be

more environmentally aware. It has implemented a team dedicated to tackling these issues which has rapidly grown from one to four people, including sustainability expert and non-executive director, Dr Louise Ellis-Jones – and the company joined the Science Based Targets initiative, enabling it to track and reduce emissions. With an established baseline, it aims to meet the minimum reductions of 2048 tCO2e annually.

Having completed a pilot scheme, Harrison Spinks’ recycling centre is now operational. The project proved to be scalable, so it can repurpose natural and synthetic fillings from its old mattresses. Pocket cloth is being baled and sent to Don & Low, with 40% recycled-content cloth coming back for reuse.

Demonstrating vertical manufacture at its best, Harrison Spinks plants new crops to replace less sustainable and ethical fillings – supporting a reduction in carbon emissions. Increasing its landholding, the manufacturer is now one the largest growers of industrial hemp in the UK, and its partnership with British Wool is fully integrated across all ranges.

These systems enabled Harrison Spinks to weather the past two years of supply shortages across the industry, capitalising on its ability to quickly turn products around.

Charitable donations include providing mattresses to Ukrainian refugees, and supporting three local charities and a local community-based youth football team.

The manufacturer showcased an original brand, New Dawn, at the Bed Show. The foam-, glue- and FR chemical-free mattress is aimed at the luxury end of the bed market, and was launched with John Lewis.

The judges said: “Harrison Spinks’ sustainability credentials are well established, and it has built further on those in the past year with initiatives ranging from product-related innovation to tangible EoL processes. From a high base, it has also found growth with key independent retailers in the UK and successfully expanded its international horizons. A very strong performance”

38 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS B e dManufactureroftheY ea r Winner
From left: host Colin Murray; Harrison Spinks MD Nick Booth and chairman Simon Spinks; and David Miller, commercial director at awards sponsor Sleepeezee
A VERY
PERFORMANCE

Component Supplier of the Year

WINNER: JOHN COTTON NONWOVENS

www.johncotton-nonwovens.co.uk

A well-established supplier and true supporter of the bed industry, John Cotton Nonwovens delayed recent price increases for customers and absorbed the cost itself – a much-appreciated gesture that ultimately paid off, giving it a competitive edge and an unparalleled financial year.

New product designs with environmental benefits culminated in the launch of the next generation in John Cotton’s platinum-brand series, Platinum 3D. A unique blend allows fibres to manoeuvre in a threedimensional formation, providing enhanced support, comfort, and resilience. This put the company a step closer in its quest to create a product that performs as well as foam yet is eco-friendly.

John Cotton has adopted a closedloop strategy, whereby industrial waste generated from pillows and duvets is refibrised in-house and upcycled into components for mattresses such as comfort layers and insulators. The company upcycles 10 tons of waste per week – which originally went to landfill.

Streamlining components for customers and eliminating the risk of needle contamination, John Cotton Nonwovens also launched Actiflex. This product innovatively removes the mechanism of needling from the production process and can be used in three areas of the mattress – a border felt, an insulator, and corner protectors. The company has also introduced a track-and-trace system – a huge timesaver for customers.

Further investments included the extension of its UK Accredited Services (UKAS) scope to include the European Standards BS EN 1957:2012 Bed and Mattresses – a determination of functional characteristics and assessment criteria, allowing products to be tested and verified independently.

The company’s technical training programme on furniture testing and NBF requirements also expanded to offering bespoke, on-site consultations and general administrative help.

Showing support for victims of the war in Ukraine, John Cotton Nonwovens sent a significant amount of pillows and duvets to those in need, and joined forces with Airsprung to provide components for mattresses sent to the relief.

The judges said: “John Cotton is no stranger to the Bed Industry Awards leaderboard, and clearly never content to rest on its laurels! With impressive advances made to help its customers and the environment – alongside a truly next-level foam replacement product – West Yorkshire’s finest continues to demonstrate a world-class approach to developing the filling solutions of tomorrow”

A WORLD-CLASS

TO DEVELOPING

FILLING

OF

The
family-owned, West
Yorkshirebased John Cotton Nonwovens used a multi-pronged approach to drive its recent success and walk away with gold in this category …
APPROACH
THE
SOLUTIONS
TOMORROW
From
left: host Colin
Murray; John Cotton Group sales director Mark Baron and deputy chairman Mark Cotton; and David Miller, commercial director at
awards sponsor
Sleepeezee
39 C o mponentSupplierofth e Y e a r Winner

MATERIAL GAINS

John Cotton Nonwovens is a leading supplier of bed mattress components, winning multiple awards for its innovative and forward-thinking solutions over many years – including Component Supplier of the Year 2022 … www.johncotton-nonwovens.co.uk

John Cotton Nonwovens won this award based on its continuous success over the 12 months leading up to the Bed Show, demonstrated by a raft of achievements.

The business launched Platinum 3D, the next generation in its Platinum brand series. With a three-dimensional supportive structure, it was engineered to provide “unparalleled comfort and support” due to its unique and technically advanced blend of spiral crimped conjugate fibres. It provides support in a multi-directional orientation, making it the “only” foam alternative for bed mattress and upholstery, says John Cotton Nonwovens.

Platinum 3D has all the added benefits of Platinum Eco (which won Component Product of the Year in 2021) – long-lasting performance, a favourable microclimate, free from FR chemicals and made from recycled fibres, and it can also be recycled at its EOL into an alternative product.

Also launched this year was Actiflex, a product that not only removes the mechanism of needling from the production process, but acts as a component that can be placed in three areas within a mattress – a border felt, an insulator and corner protectors – enabling John Cotton Nonwovens’ customers to streamline the number of components ordered and eliminate the risk of needle contamination.

In the sustainability arena, John Cotton introduced a closed-loop strategy in partnership with its sister company, whereby industrial waste generated from producing pillows and duvets is refibrised in-house and upcycled into components for bed mattresses such as insulators and comfort layers. The business is currently upcycling 10 tons per week, which would have previously been disposed of.

Recently, the John Cotton laboratory extended its UKAS scope to include BS EN 1957:2012 - BEDS AND MATTRESSES (determination of functional characteristics and assessment criteria), providing additional value to customers that need their products testing and verifying independently. Secondly, technical training on all aspects of furniture testing and NBF requirements are now available either as bespoke in-house training, at the customer’s premises, or via general administrative help.

Finally, during the spring and summer, John Cotton was very supportive in its donations to Ukraine, sending a significant number of pillows and duvets to those in need. The business also teamed up with Airsprung Group to provide the components for mattresses the latter sent to Ukraine for those who have lost their homes

40 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
C o mponentSupplierofth e Y e a r Winner
WANT T O KNOW MORE? +44 (0)1924 496571 NWSales@johncotton.co.uk johncotton-nonwovens.co.uk WANT T O KNOW MORE? +44 (0)1924 496571 NWSales@johncotton.co.uk johncotton-nonwovens.co.uk WANT T O KNOW MORE? +44 (0)1924 496571 NWSales@johncotton.co.uk johncotton-nonwovens.co.uk

Bed Product of the Year

WINNER: SEALY UK

This category is judged at the Bed Show, making it one of the most competitive awards. Sealy UK caught the judges’ attention through a complex number of small innovations, combined to make a class-leading mattress.

The manufacturer’s approach to its Sealy Posturepedic collection is based on simple skeletal symmetry – keeping the body’s posture parallel to the sleep surface so the hips and shoulders are aligned and the spine straight, yet the body relaxed.

The Elevate Ultra Turing Plush mattress is developed with brand-new exclusive sleep technology. It features a patented AlignSupport coil – a senseand-respond spring system which senses the shape of the body, allowing it to relax into the mattress. The unique geometry of the spring offers consistent support that does not diminish over time – it is twice tempered for added durability, and unique to Sealy UK.

Working collaboratively with the spring system is the patented UniCased XT edge support. This encompasses the entire edge, and tailored keys lock into the AlignSupport system for greater stability, extending the sleep surface.

Coil-inspired air channels offer greater breathability and a secure seating edge.

The UniCased XT is supported by BasePlank, a firm foundation and an integral part of the mattress that provides improved support and durability.

The centre-third of the mattress is made up of MemorySense ComfortCore, targeting hips and lower back for pressure relief. This is followed by InfiniLux, a premium foam that creates a sumptuous feel. A double layer of Geltex foam completes the comfort architecture, providing breathability and long-lasting comfort.

Rounding off in style, the textiles have been expertly designed to stand out, creating a look that is notably Sealy –complete with SmarTex (designed to wick away moisture and regulate sleep climate) and ProShield (endorsed by Allergy UK) technology for a clean, comfortable night’s rest.

The judges said: “This product draws on the heritage of this brand, using a lot of small innovations that come together to make a mattress that doesn’t just feel great, but looks truly fantastic, and is sure to be a huge success”

42 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
Sealy UK took
home gold in
the
Bed Product
of the
Year category for
its
innovative Elevate Ultra
Turing
Plush
mattress – which sits
proudly
at the
top
of the
company’s Sealy Posturepedic
range.
www.sealy.co.uk A
MATTRESS THAT DOESN’T JUST FEEL GREAT, BUT LOOKS TRULY FANTASTIC
From left: host Colin Murray; Sealy UK sales director Mark Tuley and product and brand manager Natalie Armstrong; and David Miller, commercial director at awards sponsor Sleepeezee BedProduct oftheYear Winner

Bed Product of the Year

NBF AWARDS 2022-2023 Elevate Ultra Turing Plush Packed with Sealy’s brand new and exclusive sleep technology, the Turing Plush stands proudly at the top of the Sealy Posturepedic range, offering a first class feeling night after night. The judging panel hailed the product for drawing on the heritage of Sealy UK, using a lot of small innovations that come together to make a bed that does not just feel great, but looks truly fantastic and is sure to be a huge success.

Component Product of the Year

WINNER: HYPNOS

In a concerted drive towards sourcing ‘natural-capital’ solutions, Hypnos unlocked the potential of a unique plant-based solution as fibre layers within its mattress construction.

Following a visit to The Eden Project to discuss how plant-based innovations can help reverse climate change, Hypnos’ sustainable development director, Richard Naylor, was introduced to girardinia diversifolia – more commonly known as Himalayan nettle (or ‘allo’ to the Nepalese).

GOOD FOR COMFORT, BUT ALSO GOOD FOR THE PLANET

Richard discovered that this wildgrowing plant is similar to hemp and flax but is physically much longer. He began developing supply chains. Through the help of Advantage Fibres and John Cotton, the manufacturer was introduced to Ellie Skeele, founder of Himalaya Wild Fibres, who runs a community-driven project to harvest naturally organic Allo plants and process them into commercial fibres. Believing in Ellie’s passion and commitment to the Nepalese hillside

subsistence farmers, Hypnos formed a partnership with Himalaya to develop fibre use within its mattress ticking and comfort layers.

Not without its challenges, developing the fibres was a huge effort and resource – but Hypnos has been rewarded with a 100% natural, plantbased layer, comprising Himalayan nettle fibres, CottonConnect sustainable cotton and naturally organic kapok. These are thermally bonded together during the production process using polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from non-genetically modified maize. The result is suitable for vegan product construction or for mixing with other protein-based natural fibres such as wool.

Bensons for Beds successfully launched its new Luxurious Earth collection using the material, which was also endorsed by The Eden Project for its sustainable credentials. Hypnos showcased its new Origins Pillowtop collection made with the filling at the Bed Show, demonstrating that comfort layers can be derived effectively and sustainably from natural capital.

The judges said: “This product is completely new to the bedding market, and demonstrates that comfort layers can be derived really effectively and sustainably from the natural capital that surrounds us. Good for comfort, but also good for the planet, this product drives value for the community that produces it, for the manufacturer, and for retail partners that invest in this unique comfort story”

44 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS C o mponentProductofth e Y e a r Winner
A discovery of a truly eco-friendly, value-added solution to natural fibre fillings – the Himalaya Nettle, Cotton and Kapok Fibre Comfort Layer –brought home gold for Hypnos in this ambitious group.
www.hypnosbeds.com
From left: host Colin Murray; Hypnos group sustainable development director Richard Naylor and CEO James Keen; and David Miller, commercial director at awards sponsor Sleepeezee
Hypnos’ stand at the Bed Show, displaying the Himalaya Nettle, Cotton and Kapok Fibre Comfort Layer

NBF Sales Agent/Rep of the Year WINNER: NEIL STEED

Considered by some as ‘the father’ of the bed industry agents’ community, Neil has racked up some impressive figures, including driving in excess of 1.5 million miles, booking over £100m worth of orders, and being one of the highest earners at Shire Beds.

Having started out at the age of 23, Neil has vast experience and knowledge of the bed industry. He fully understands the objectives of the business, ensuring the ratio of sales is well distributed between contract and retail.

His achievements are a testament to Neil’s character – he is well respected by his peers, with many colleagues, agents, and directors calling on him for advice. His reputation extends to his customers, who trust and rely on Neil to provide an honest, reliable and quality service that goes above and beyond.

He is well known for his view on the

Winner

importance of a good mattress, one of his favourite quotes being: “One always needs a good mattress and a good pair of shoes, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other!”

Despite battling cancer over the past few years, Neil’s indomitable spirit keeps him keen to learn about the latest industry issues – one of which is sustainability, and Neil is heavily involved internally in looking at ways to address the issue at product and industry levels.

The judges said: “Neil contributes strongly to company goals and strategies, with in-depth knowledge of his products and his customers’ business. He is passionate and dedicated, valued equally by his colleagues, peers and customers with a reputation for really going the extra mile”

45 Sales Agent/Rep oftheYea r
With a solid 50 years’ industry experience under his belt, Neil Steed has a record to contend with, making him a worthy winner in this new category.
A REPUTATION FOR REALLY GOING THE EXTRA MILE
From left: host Colin Murray; Shire Beds’ Neil Steed; and David Miller, commercial director at awards sponsor Sleepeezee

Small NBF Retail Champion of the Year WINNER: NOW TO BED

Utilising

Wales’

With 770 five-star reviews and a Trustpilot rating of 4.9, family-run Now to Bed’s strategy of placing the customer journey first has been actualised. A modern approach to customer interaction makes the company extremely accessible via online chats, social media, email, direct telephone, as well as face-to-face interaction in-store.

The retailer’s in-house IT team is 12 months into the making of a new website to further enhance the shopping experience. The site will offer capabilities such as being able to select a delivery date.

The company recently rebranded to sit comfortably next to big retail players in its new 8000ft2 flagship store on Clwyd Retail Park in Wales. The opening was supported by a solid social media, local press and website campaign, driving footfall in-store.

Other investments include expanding the delivery fleet with two new Mercedes vehicles for a more efficient service, and

sending staff on factory visits to enhance product knowledge.

The company’s YoY sales show substantial growth, with sales up by +45% and an increased margin of +2%. Its own-label products in the new store have been a positive contributing factor to increased profits and, demonstrating its commitment to the NBF, Now to Bed’s offering is 95% supportive of NBF brands.

Profits made have been reinvested in stock, new IT equipment, uniforms and further storage. The company now has a total of 6000ft2 of warehousing to sustain business growth.

Giving back to its hometown community in Prestatyn Denbighshire, the retailer also sponsors a local tennis club and youth football team.

The judges said: “A deserving winner, for the brand-new store and great improvement in margins (not just sales growth), plus their Trustpilot reviews, which are strong evidence that they’re really delivering for their customers”

46 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
FBN S mallRetail Championof th e raeY Winner
modern methods of communication to deliver top customer service, North
Now to Bed topped this extremely competitive category. www.nowtobed.co.uk
THEY’RE REALLY DELIVERING FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS
From left: host Colin Murray; Now to Bed owners Paul and Susan Burnet; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

Now to Bed are so proud to receive the award for the Small NBF Retailer of the Year

Already this has made a

We are confident

Thank you to the NBF

positive impact on both our online Business and In-store footfall
this will assist us greatly in our growth in the future A big
for there continued support in our Industry www.nowtobed.co.uk FBN S mallRetail Championof th e raeY Winner Now To Bed.indd 1 20/10/2022 12:53 47 O n lineBedRetailerofth e Y e a r Finalist With over 50 years of experience, we’re one of the UK’s leading online mattress retailers – and it’s great that the industry is recognising our achievements! www.mattressnextday.co.uk MND_JA.indd 1 25/10/2022 15:05

Large NBF Retail Champion of the Year

WINNER: GLASSWELLS

Glasswells received NBF Retail Champion status earlier this year, and has used it to maximise sales, driving the business forward. The accreditation is promoted across marketing material and staff certifications in-store, and all bedding sales advisors have to complete the NBF Introduction to Beds training course.

The company also recently increased its commitment to NBF suppliers, adding Millbrook Beds to its growing list of stockists.

ONE OF THE

With changes in customer buying patterns, Glasswells adapted its marketing resources and programme and expanded the web and digital team to support a multichannel, full-funnel strategy – increasing the opportunities to get in front of customers at various stages in the purchase journey.

FURNITURE RETAILERS

This digital expertise allowed the retailer to maximise advertising capabilities, tailoring messages to individual users, at scale, to promote the right product to the right person at the

right time. This level of personalisation saw conversion rates and customer engagement increase. Methods included Google shopping, social media, e-shots, radio, brochures, magazines, local press, and in-store PoS. The digital team also modified the website to increase accessory sales, steering customers towards add-ons such as pillows and headboards, and increasing AOV.

Glasswells prides itself on quick and efficient responses through two customer service departments, located in each of its larger stores (Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich).

Staff development and job satisfaction were heavily promoted, with the belief that good training is key to achieving both. The retailer is committed to an ongoing programme of sales training run by Adam Hankinson at Furntiure Sales Solutions, and an apprenticeship scheme enables members to join the ranks to develop their future.

Appreciation for hard work is regularly shown by MD, Paul Glasswell, through social activities and tickets to events. The company boasts a high number of long-serving employees, with many members of staff from the same families.

The retailer’s commitment to sustainability is a key focus, with various initiatives implemented in the past year: solar panels attached to the roof of its Haverhill branch, reducing grid energy usage by over two-thirds; a large, 410kW solar panel system added to two existing systems of 250kW and 150kW on its Bury store roof; the heating system changed from gas to electric; electric vehicle charging points installed at the Bury store; light bulbs have been changed to LED energyefficient bulbs in all stores; and carrier bags used are 100% recycled plastic and fully recyclable, with paper bags used in gift departments. The company also partnered with Clearabee for the collection of customers’ old beds and mattresses, to reduce landfill.

The judges said: “Glasswells is one of the UK’s (maybe even Europe’s) finest independent furniture retailers, and they’ve had some notable successes in the

category this year”

48 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS FBN L argeRetail Champion o f th e raeY Winner
bed
One of Europe’s greatest independent furniture retailers, Glasswells demonstrated its ability to adjust to ever-changing economic landscapes, securing it the win in this category. www.glasswells.co.uk
UK’S (MAYBE EVEN EUROPE’S) FINEST INDEPENDENT
From left: host Colin Murray; Glasswells beds and bedroom cabinet buyer Julie Valentine; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

WINNER: MATTRESS ONLINE

Against a backdrop of a tough financial period across the industry, Mattress Online has embarked on an unprecedented programme of investment in its operations. May 2022 saw the launch of a new website, +14% team growth, and the acquisition of two bricks-and-mortar stores – all of which support the retailer in maintaining a strong market presence.

Mattress Online’s level of investment was possible thanks to a strong financial performance – a reported turnover of £28m, profits of £1.7m, and a YoYincrease in AOV.

Strengthening the team brought in invaluable expertise and experience, enabling the retailer to adapt with greater agility and speed. A new website, launched following four years of extensive analysis of market feedback and customer service data, offers much-improved functionality and greater user experience. The returns spoke for themselves, with an +8% increase in

conversion rate. Mattress Online’s digital acumen also saw the company clinch runner-up at this year’s Northern Tech Awards.

With the opening of two stores – in Skipton and Sheffield – the retailer put to test its hybrid retail approach, giving store customers access to online reviews via scannable labels. Data collected online was shared with the shopfloor experts to influence layout and product decisions.

Believing in a quality product offering, four out of five mattresses sold are from NBF member suppliers, and the retailer saw a continued TrustPilot rating of 4.8, with 94% of customers saying they would come back.

With a strong sense of giving back, Mattress Online’s green credentials included using 100% recyclable mattress bags, ethically sourced uniforms, and a cycle-to-work scheme. Its charitable arm gave significant donations to the NHS, £20,000 to national charities, and provided paid volunteer places for staff. It showcased a well-rounded programme of activities for employees, to promote health and wellbeing.

The judges said: “It’s not the first time Mattress Online has come out on top in this category, but they were again a worthy winner again, with the launch of a brand new website, increase in AOV, increased conversions (which is obviously important, with online not having quite so much traction as it did during the height of the pandemic), and the launch of their omnichannel strategy with the acquisition of their first stores”

49 O n lineBedRetailerofth e Y e a r Winner Online Bed Retailer of the Year
Taking gold for a second year running in this category, Mattress Online’s investment and omnichannel strategy once again made it a worthy winner.
www.mattressonline.co.uk THEY WERE AGAIN A WORTHY WINNER
The Mattress Online team at its headquarters in Rotherham, Yorkshire From
left:
host Colin Murray; Mattress Online CEO Steve Adams and COO Martin Eastwood; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

National Bed Retailer of the Year

WINNER: DREAMS

One of the UK’s most renowned bed retailers, Dreams, cites eight years of consecutive profit growth. In 2021, Dreams was acquired by the world’s largest bed provider, Tempur Sealy – and that year, the company enjoyed a +18% rise in sales, its ecommerce business nearly tripled and its market share grew to its highest level ever, at 18.5%.

With an unprecedented focus on marketing, Dreams became the firstever official sleep partner to Team GB and ParalympicsGB. Capitalising on this union, the retailer launched a multiaward-winning campaign, The Power of Sleep, which was fully integrated across all communication channels. It covered pre-, during-, and postOlympic games activities.

Recognising the importance of NBF brands, Dreams concentrated on building close relationships with member suppliers, which resulted in a huge sales increase of +29% on NBF-branded products. The retailer launched new ranges with member suppliers including Silentnight and Sleepeezee, and worked closely with John Cotton, Reticel and

Carpenter regarding raw materials.

Committed to reducing its carbon footprint, Dreams has a zero-to-landfill policy, and announced in July 2021 that it had recycled over a million mattresses and beds with recycling partner Circom. With the appointment of Ben Whittle, head of ESG, Dreams is creating a clear CSR roadmap to reduce its environmental impact as much as possible.

The judges said: “Dreams faces a different set of challenges today, but there was evidence of some excellent work supporting NBF brands and building relationships with them – all the more important now, given the change of ownership. There was some great work on marketing, supporting the British Teams during the Olympics and Paralympics, and there was continued excellent performance from a top- and bottom-line perspective – arguably a bigger achievement when you’re already operating at a very high level”

50 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS N a t ionalBedRetailerofth e Y e a r Winner
www.dreams.co.uk CONTINUED EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE FROM A TOP- AND BOTTOM-LINE PERSPECTIVE From left: host Colin Murray; Dreams CEO Jonathan Hirst; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

BURY ST EDMUNDS

The judge’s report cited an easily accessible, well-kept car park, good shop signage, and an inviting entrance. It was clear what the store sold, and the calibre of products on display.

“Everything was immaculate, and the wide aisles, layout, and PoS material made browsing easy and informative,” read the report. “The honest, friendly

and approachable shop assistant was enthusiastic and very informed – proving eager to impart his wisdom.

“There was a large display of beds and mattresses. The main displays in the centre had associated branded pillows, full bedlinen, throws and cushions. There were full bedroom setups with wardrobes, dressing tables, bedside tables and lamps to give a feel of what the product would look like in the home.

“With an understanding of the budget, the assistant made it clear that buying a mattress was a personal decision – he explained that spending as much as possible would gain better quality, but that a good protector would prolong the life of any mattress. He also explained the importance of a good base, and checked delivery times for the products of choice.”

The shopper left very happy with the experience. In summary, Glasswells of Bury St Edmunds was described as being “a truly outstanding store”. The whole experience was excellent, everything was well laid out, clearly priced, immaculately clean and showcased the products to their maximum potential. The staff were a pleasure to talk to, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, without being pushy

51 O u tstandingBed Storeofth e Y e ra Winner Outstanding Bed Store of the Year WINNER: GLASSWELLS,
A professional layout, outstanding displays and PoS, and excellent service – the mystery shopper judging this category described an enjoyable experience, saying they would happily purchase a bed from this store and member of staff. www.glasswells.co.uk A TRULY OUTSTANDING STORE
The bed department at Glasswells’ Bury St Edmunds store
From left: host Colin Murray; Glasswells beds and bedroom cabinet buyer Julie Valentine; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

Best Marketing Campaign

WINNER: DREAMS

With Team GB and ParalympicsGB ranked by Nielsen (a data and market measurement company) as the numberone most loved sports team in the UK, Dreams set out on a mission to unite all four home nations that it operates in through people’s passion for sport.

With a very clear and measurable strategy, the retailer launched its Power of Sleep campaign to achieve its goal of providing “better sleep for all”.

In an increasingly competitive market, with new entrants and brands all vying to own ‘sleep health’, the company needed to: retain and grow market share; drive customer affinity and consideration; strengthen and differentiate its brand and sleep expert positioning, and extend its position as ‘most recommended’ to become Britain’s ‘most loved’.

BestMarketing

Achieving an industry first, Dreams became the official sleep partner to Team GB and ParalympicsGB, and the Power of Sleep campaign was born. With an understanding that every athlete considered good sleep as part of their physical and mental preparations for the Olympic Games, the retailer supported the team showcasing its products, expertise and position as a performance partner. The fully integrated, multichannel campaign comprised pre-, during-, and post-games activity.

Supplying 600 mattress toppers, blankets, and pillows for athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Village to create a home from home, the retailer launched the Dream Team product range, built to provide Olympic-standard sleep, and made Team GB athletes the stars of a new TV campaign, ‘Because Sleep Matters’.

To further engage the target audience of young families, Dreams brought four of its ambassadors’ journeys to life in a series of bedtime stories made available across audio platforms, which achieved 2.5 million impressions, as well as 11.5 million coverage reach.

When the Games arrived, Dreams utilised social media to: help fans manage the Tokyo time difference by scheduling their sleep around athletes’ medal events; celebrated success moments reiterating the Power of Sleep; used bird’s-eye view images captured throughout the summer at an official kitting-out event; and celebrated 45+ athletes sleeping in their sporting poses with the caption ‘Someone Slept Well’.

The campaign brought home impressive results. In less than a year, Dreams went from a brand new sponsor, to being the brand most associated with ParalympicsGB by its target audience, and the second-most associated with Team GB. A quarter of UK adults and a third of bed buyers associated Dreams with Team GB and ParalympicsGB.

It reached 35.5 million people organically on social media, and 81% of people aware of the campaign believed Dreams to be a sleep expert (versus 58% of the general population). The Dream Team range now accounts for 37% of the company’s mattress sales volume

52 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
Campaign Winner
An Olympic concept brought home gold for national retailer, Dreams, in this new awards category.
www.dreams.co.uk
Dreams’ ambassadors from its partnership with Team GB and ParalympicsGB From left: host Colin Murray; Dreams CMO Jo Martin and head of internal and corporate communications Kelly Davis; and NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety

ManufactureroftheY

Finalist

Bed Manufacturer of the Year

FINALIST: GNG GROUP

Highlighting its worthy position as Bed Manufacturer of the Year runner-up, Wakefield-based GNG Group has had a successful 12 months, with a +20% rise in turnover YoY, major investments, relaunches, and implementing sustainabile solutions and an enhanced CSR strategy.

The company invested heavily in a 40,000ft2 factory dedicated to its fastgrowing mattress division– which will create up to 50 jobs over the next two years – and has furthermore invested in the latest foam design and production equipment supported by its own product development team. In 2020, new automated manufacturing lines increased production by up to +400%.

With the relaunch of its champion Komfi brand, the company had a +70% uplift in sales, and replaced traditional foam with eco-friendly fillings made from reused mattresses.

As an NHS supplier, GNG Group took

Finalist

pride in its loyal, 100-strong team, which worked throughout the pandemic to meet the needs of the health service. Earlier this year, the business joined forces with customer Drive DeVilbiss to donate beds and mattresses to MEDAID_4KIDS for

Bed Manufacturer of the Year

FINALIST: SLEEPEEZEE

Proving a worthy runner-up in this prominent category, Sleepeezee reported two record-breaking years of turnover, demonstrating strong and considerable growth within the industry.

With a +34% increase in turnover from July 2021 to July 2022, the manufacturer’s sound financials were a testament to its multi-award-winning products and services.

With a considered focus on marketing, the company invested in bespoke PoS material to help retailers create eyecatching displays in-store – ultimately driving footfall and sales. It featured in an ad campaign hosted by TV presenter Alison Hammond, which highlighted the ways in which it has invested thanks to business banking with Natwest/ Lombard – creating huge exposure for the bedmaker.

The business also demonstrated excellent sustainability credentials, having been carbon neutral for the past

five years, and supported charities close to its heart, donating £85,000 to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and £38,000 to the British Heart Foundation.

The judges said: “Sleepeezee has been a big marketing success story in

Ukrainian war victims.

The judges said: “It’s been a huge year for GNG, which invested in a new factory and is ready with a product range suited to customers with less money to spend in 2023.”

recent years, raising an already-high profile and winning new business and space on retailers’ floors.

“Its investment above and below the line has resulted in record sales for the company.”

53 B e d
ea r
GNG Group director Stuart Hibbert and the NBF’s head of marketing and membership, Simon Williams NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety, and Sleepeezee marketing executive Ellie Amodio
B

COOL CONTENDER

The figures are impressive, to say the least. Sleepeezee achieved its highest turnover to date in 2021 – £36.8m – while its turnover for the period assessed (July 2021 to June 2022) was a record 41.25m. Indeed, the company achieved no less than five months of record-breaking turnover in that time, which was up some +20% YoY and +34% higher than 2019-20.

Total floor models increased by +21% during the 12-month period, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing increasing market share with retailers nationwide – indeed, the business was voted Best Mattress Supplier in Furniture News’ 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, in no small part thanks to it maintaining its 2-4 week lead times.

The year really saw the brand come to the fore through numerous marketing initiatives. An investment of more than £160,000 in retailer PoS resulted in unique, eye-catching displays, tailored to each retailer, on top of a £44,700 investment in overhauling the showroom at the end of 2021. Sleepeezee also took part in a TV campaign with Natwest featuring Alisson Hammond.

Sleepeezee’s sustainability journey continued with the installation of 591 solar panels across the factory roof, while its continuous improvement programme for waste segregation enabled it to recycle +40.53% more plastic and +36.32% more cardboard per unit produced than in 2020. Measured against its baseline year of 2018, Sleepeezee has reported a -27.6% reduction in its carbon footprint.

Alongside doing more for the planet, Sleepeezee supported various charitable causes, donating £85,000 to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and £38,000 to the British Heart Foundation during the 12 months assessed by the awards. In the meantime, the business continued to invest in new technology and machinery, including £264,000 in tape edgers and iQuilt machinery.

“Retailers want to see innovation,” says commercial director David Miller. “They want that point of difference. They want to know if we’ve identified a gap in the market – and we’re ready to deliver on all fronts”

54 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
As
well as sponsoring this year’s awards, Strood’s finest made a strong pitch for 2022’s Bed Manufacturer of the Year accolade, having gone from strength to strength in the 12 months
preceding
the show … www.sleepeezee.com Cool Rest 1000 WE’RE READY TO DELIVER ON ALL FRONTS B e dManufactureroftheY ea r Finalist

comfort,

LEAVE THE REST TO US Quality
naturally

Component Supplier of the Year

FINALIST: WOLF COMPONENTS

Forward-thinking newcomer Wolf Components proved a deserving runner-up in this category, having made giant strides since its entry into the marketplace in 2018 – with a +30% growth in turnover in the past financial year, while securing a large (and local) second site.

The South Yorkshire-based business successfully weaved together innovation, sustainability and staff welfare. It invested in new coil machinery, enabling the launch of two fully recyclable products – the 1000 and 2500 series –while redesigning existing products to reduce carbon impact.

Providing quality customer service coupled with agile manufacturing, Wolf Components moved away from exclusive salesperson-led contact to working cross-functionally with all customer departments, liaising directly for maximum effect, while the recruitment of a dedicated customer service

administrator enhanced communication. Wolf also worked with industry partners to find innovative manufacturing solutions, while enhancing staff welfare with improved salaries, health plans, mental health first aid, wellbeing support and social events.

The judges said: “It’s not just due to favourable circumstance that theis

spring innovator is fast finding favour with bedmakers across the nation. Wolf demonstrated comprehensive evidence of evolution, with particular reference to sustainability, product evolution and staff welfare – all crucial areas in which progress could mean the difference between make or break for suppliers in coming years.”

Moving away from a traditional Harrison Spinks product portfolio, the New Dawn collection, launched at the Bed Show, comprises three mattresses, and aims to address a gap in the UK market for a foam-free, luxury ‘waterfall’ mattress with a contemporary look.

The manufacturer carried out market research which revealed the downfalls of foam being overheating, lack of mobility/a feeling of being stuck, lack of material provenance, and poor recyclability. From this, it seized the opportunity to create New Dawn, a collection comprising its NBF awardwinning Coretec Quad spring system for support and breathability, layers of fine microsprings for comfort, and 100% recyclable, British-made FibreLux, which is part of the Springbond family, and creates dust- and VOC-free filling layers.

New Dawn also features a unique,

patent-pending border design to support breathability, help remove the potential for ‘crowning’ or roll-off, and ensures edge-to-edge support without compromising on comfort. It is finished with a removable and washable luxury cover with a zip-off top and unique tuck-

away handles for easy movement.

The judges said: “A departure from their core traditional mattress designs, this foam-, glue- and FR chemical treatment-free mattress is fully recyclable, and came so close to winning.”

56 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS C o mponentSupplierofth e Y e a r Finalist
From left: Wolf Components director and co-owner Stephen Baul; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Wolf’s production manager, George Joyce Pictured: Harrison Spinks chairman Simon Spinks; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Harrison Spinks director of sustainability and innovation David Essery and MD Nick Booth
BedProduct oftheYear Finalist Bed Product of the Year FINALIST: HARRISON SPINKS

Truly independent British pocket spring manufacturing

www.wolfcomponents.com

AHEAD OF THE PACK

“We are very excited by the new business,” said Wolf Components’ co-founder Anthony Joyce in April 2017. “It’s going to be very special.” It certainly does take something special to go from being a greenfield manufacturing start-up to a Bed Industry Awards finalist in just five years (while navigating a global pandemic), but that’s exactly what the Rotherham-based pocket spring manufacturer has done …

Wolf Components was created in early 2017 by experienced bedding industry professionals Anthony Joyce and Stephen Baul, both former executives at Steinhoff and Leggett & Platt. They were joined by Rob Shuttleworth as technical sales director, who brought with him a further 20 years’ experience in the production of spring products.

The trio set out with a simple vision – to combine their extensive industry and management experience with the customer’s desire for a professional and truly independent local spring producer, focused solely on the bedding industry. With most competitors now being vertically integrated mattress manufacturers with spring production, or importers, they planned to supply a British-made product locally to British mattress manufacturers on a JIT service basis.

The project involved establishing a factory with all-new machinery, and a multi-million-pound investment in South Yorkshire backed from the outset by HSBC. New fully automated, high-speed pocket coiling and assembly machines from leading machine suppliers were installed, making Wolf the first company in the UK to use such high-speed automated equipment.

The recruitment of 12 skilled employees meant that by October 2017 machines were running, the first orders were being fulfilled, and Wolf Components was born.

Fast-forward to 2022, and the Wolf Components team has grown to over 60 employees, working across two sites in Rotherham – but the company ethos remains unchanged, focusing still on investment and exceptional levels of customer service.

The strong relationship established with HSBC enabled Wolf to continue its investment programme even through the pandemic, and most recently with new VSS mini-coil energy-efficient machinery, leading to the launch of two new fully recyclable products.

When it comes to customer service, Wolf was always keen to do something different. Working closely and in complete confidence with its customers right through the product development and testing process delivers a truly

58 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
www.wolfcomponents.com Team Wolf at this year’s Bed Show EXTENSIVE SUPPLY CHAIN KNOWLEDGE HAS PROVED ESSENTIAL
Wolf Components’ co-founder, Anthony Joyce
C o mponentSupplierofth e Y e a r Finalist

individual service in bringing products to market. Moving away from salespersonexclusive contact, the whole team communicates across all customer departments, and Wolf’s customer service administrator always ensures a proactive response.

Extensive supply chain knowledge and a dedicated supply chain manager has also proved essential in ensuring Wolf is not confined to any one supplier or source, and can truly shop the global market for increased competitiveness and resilience of supply.

This collaborative working has also resulted in several industry partnerships to innovate in areas such as paper use, gluing technology and the redesign of existing products, all moving the company closer to its sustainability goals.

As an early adopter of the NBF Pledge for Our Planet, along with taking the SME Climate Hub pledge, Wolf is pushing boundaries within the mattress industry to offer its customers competitive and sustainable solutions. Through these collaborations with customers and highly optimised manufacturing processes, the manufacturer is already achieving a 96% material efficiently rate.

As a true independent family business, Wolf’s focus has been on building long-term careers in South Yorkshire manufacturing, and progression is encouraged through structured training plans. Over a third of employees have now been with the company for four or more years. The overall social welfare of employees is a continuous journey, and in the last

THE OVERALL SOCIAL WELFARE OF EMPLOYEES IS A CONTINUOUS JOURNEY

year alone the business has introduced improved terms, increased salaries, a cash health plan and wellbeing support, in addition to a trained on-site mental health first aider. Regular team social activities, along with charity donations and the sponsorship of the local girls’ football team, really add to the family feel.

The Wolf team is rightly delighted at being named a finalist in the Component Supplier of the Year category at this year’s Bed Industry Awards, and is proud to have its significant achievements over the last five years recognised –especially after only joining the NBF in 2021.

As one employee says: “We truly are a family business, and I am proud to be a part of it. We have all worked so hard to get our business to be the success we are today, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us all!”

59

Sales Agent/Rep

Finalist

NBF Sales Agent/Rep of the Year

FINALIST: GRAHAM RIGGALL

Deluxe Beds’ Graham Riggall is a stalwart of the contract beds market, boasting over 35 years in the industry. He ran his own company, Tower Sleep Beds, then worked as a sales agent for Vogue Beds and Mattressman before joining Deluxe as contract manager.

Sales Agent/Rep oftheYea r

Finalist

Throughout his career, he has amassed many invaluable contacts, enabling him to build a solid contract division for Deluxe Beds. Since he joined in 2018, contract sales have grown from £100,000 to over £1m – a triumph in such a niche area.

NBF Sales Agent/Rep of the Year

FINALIST: JOHN SAUNDERS

A much-respected agent, John, who joined Sleepeezee 30 years ago (in 1992) and covers the South West and South Wales, consistently performs above target.

The first six months of 2022 are a testament to that, with figures up +16%

Sales Agent/Rep oftheYea r

Finalist

on his area budget – commendable, in a tough climate.

John has built close relationships with retail partners, and is recognised for his loyalty, dedication and hard work. He is renowned for taking the lead on refreshing ranges in-store, and

NBF Sales Agent/Rep of the Year

FINALIST: LOUISE HARDY

It was a big night for Shire Beds, with a second agent, Louise Hardy, clinching a finalist spot in this category.

Celebrating 10 years with the retailer, Louise made a bold career change in 2018 from being an in-house sales executive to a self-employed agent enabling her to focus her energy on driving sales in North East England and Northern Ireland.

A triumph over adversity, Louise demonstrated her determination and dedication to the industry when the Covid-19 pandemic hit along with a third diagnosis of cancer – both potentially ending her business. However, it did not stop her, and she was taking calls, enquiries and orders just days after treatment. Jumping on the pandemic as an opportunity, she helped her customers diversify by driving online sales and implementing Covid-safe initiatives.

Louise’s focus has been to further the Shire brand through increased products

in-store, better customer engagement, encouraging customers to join the NBF Retail Champions Scheme, and ensuring Shire Beds’ products fit the demographics of her sales areas.

Graham’s knowledge and relentless work ethic guarantee his clients always receive the right products, sound advice, and quality service. He worked tirelessly through the pandemic, ensuring Deluxe was in the best position to sell once everything was back up and running.

is always the first to install new PoS, ensuring the brand is always presented at its best.

John’s market experience also makes him a valuable guide in product development – which Sleepeezee describes as its “lifeblood”.

With a friendly but fair ethos, she has built strong, reliable and trusting relationships. She fully understands that hers is not a 9-5 role, and makes herself available any time, any day of the week.

60 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
oftheYea r
NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety and Shire Beds agent Louise Hardy

mallRetail

Small NBF Retail Champion of the Year

FINALIST: LINTHORPE BEDS

With an invest-and-adapt philosophy, the County Durham-based retailer demonstrated its modern approach to success, with an emphasis on digital strategy and employee empowerment.

Stating that its service is not just about “selling a bed”, the company places a high value on the entire sales journey, with an aim to retain customer loyalty and gain positive online reviews.

Linthorpe is a committed supporter of the NBF – 27 of its 29 mattress

suppliers are NBF members, and the retailer understands the credibility and quality assurance this adds to its offering.

The company has even encouraged one of its non-NBF member suppliers to join the association, in a step towards making it an essential requirement of all stock.

Embracing the online world, Linthorpe Beds invested in an in-house digital marketing team to maximise

alternative communication lines, adapting its sales strategy to drive traffic via the website, blog, social media, influencers, and local celebrities and events.

It is through these channels that the team supports charities and awareness days such as: The Dementia Society; a Christmas Toy appeal in conjunction with local hospitals; homeless charities; Earth Day; Blue Monday’ and Time to Talk.

Small NBF Retail Champion of the Year

FINALIST: PRESTIGE BEDS

Family-run Prestige Beds created a customer journey to be applauded, giving it a top spot in this category.

The Lancashire-based retailer goes the extra mile to provide service –free delivery and assembly, and old bed recycling, are just a couple of aspects that help make buying simple and stress-free. With an intelligent routing system, Prestige Beds can give consumers a one-hour time slot for delivery, and offers flexible financing to make buying a good bed affordable.

A large investment in the retailer’s website is now focused on usability, to simplify the often complicated online bed-buying process.

Through a British-made excellence campaign, the company endorses leading NBF manufacturers to showcase handmade brands that utilise natural and ethical resources and support British craftsmanship and sustainability, while significant investment in its Whitebirk store has improved floor space to better display products and

improve visibility, and the team has been expanded, bringing in new sales, warehousing and logistics recruits. Long-serving employees have been recognised with internal promotions.

With many charity commitments, Prestige Beds has also developed a designated Relax Hub within its website, offering a space to aid wellbeing and mindfulness, and addressing the cost of living crisis, promoting value package deals, stock clearances and weekly instore offers.

61 FBN S
Championof th e raeY Finalist
From left: Prestige Beds MD Joe Dunne and store manager Richard Griffith; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Prestige Beds store manager Ben Lysons and sales manager Matthew Dunne
FBN S mallRetail Championof th e raeY Finalist

Large NBF Retail Champion of the Year

FINALIST: SUSSEX BEDS

It has been a year of celebrations for Sussex Beds, with a 40th birthday, ground-breaking achievements, and now this finalist accolade.

Using the milestone to cement its dreams of reaching greater heights, Sussex Beds implemented its “Bigger, Hairier, more Audacious Goal” – the aim to double a 10-year store target from 40 to 80, to bring in revenues in excess of £100m, and to deliver a quality night’s sleep to over 120,000 people.

Alongside a record-breaking YoY revenue increase of +51% in 2021, Sussex Beds expanded its management and leadership team, opened Canterbury and Dover stores, agreed terms on two more sites, commissioned an overhaul of its entire IT system, created an internal management academy for employees to track potential positions and move up the ladder, and was a finalist for both Retailer of the Year and Best Marketing

Campaign at European BizX 2022.

Sussex Beds’ strategy focused on increasing AOV, combined with measured and sustainable marketing and advertising investment, which delivered a 375% ROI.The company also invested heavily in team development, with all employees attending ongoing

Outstanding Bed Store of the Year

training provided externally by insight6, which is tailored to the challenges faced by individual members.

In celebration of its birthday, the company laid out a bumper calendar of fundraising events. To date, it has raised £5500 for local charities, with a target of £10,000.

FINALIST: BRADFORDS, EVESHAM

A traditional high street experience and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere put Bradford’s of Evesham in the top three in this category.

Enjoying the personal attention that one would expect from an independent, the shopper described the experience as “lovely and nice – somewhere you would return to for many years”. They reported

an eye-catching double-sided window display, good, well-maintained signage stating what was in-store, ample choice of beds, and knowledgeable staff.

The second floor was dedicated to beds, comprising two rows with headboards to the wall and a large aisle to wander down, making it easy to view the collection. Each product had good

FINALIST: HOUSING

While eye-catching signage and kerbside appeal put this store on the map, the mystery shopper enjoyed its homely, well-maintained atmosphere, and reported clean displays, and diffused lighting in the bedrooms creating a cosy atmosphere.

Displays were arranged into rooms and dressed with accessories to give customers a feel of what the furniture and accessories would look like in situ, while the external signage was consistent with the Housing Units brand – professional-looking, easy to read, and

branding and PoS.

With a very clear brief, the member of staff asked the right questions and provided good advice, yet stated the importance of it being a personal decision, and suggested lying down and testing the models. He made the shopper feel at ease and in no rush to decide.

MANCHESTER

always attractive.

In the bed department, the product and technical information attached to mattresses was clear and understandable, and presented in sealed branded folders. Pricing was clearly displayed on every product.

62 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
From left: Sussex Beds buying administrator Grace Pickering; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Sussex Beds sales and buying director Sue Skinner
Outstanding Bed Store of the Year
UNITS,
FBN L argeRetail Champion o f th e raeY Finalist O u tstandingBed Storeofth e Y e ra Finalist O u tstandingBed Storeofth e Y e ra Finalist

Online Bed Retailer of the Year

FINALIST: SIMBA

Passion, purpose, growth – Simba’s ethos served it well this year. Founded in 2016, the sleep brand boasted some extraordinary achievements considering the short space of time it has been in the industry.

Aiming to improve the world’s sleep via innovative sleep technology, in just six years Simba has sold over two million mattresses and sleep products, as well as winning 50 awards last year alone. In 2020, Simba became the

world’s top-rated sleep brand, with over 200,000 5-star reviews.

In 2021, the company saw a YoY sales uplift of +50%, “accounting for 10% of all UK mattress sales”. Thanks to the introduction of premium products and bundles, in 2021, its AOV increased by +7.5% YoY, and by +30% compared with 2019.

Simba uses innovative, patented technology to solve sleep problems, while brand assets are focused on

Online Bed Retailer of the Year

an ‘engineered for sleep’ concept, highlighting its creative, technological expertise – which is reflected across its new website, TV advertisements and digital strategy. Simba was also a founding member of the BRC Climate Action Roadmap, initiated carbonneutral delivery and business status in 2021, and has applied to become a certified B Corp, making it one of the first UK sleep brands to take this step towards global corporate responsibility.

Finalist

FINALIST: MATTRESSNEXTDAY

Maximising the tools to hand, MattressNextDay’s forward-thinking use of resources placed it in a top spot in this category.

Reporting an impressive +50% turnover YoY, MattressNextDay’s AOV increased by +30%. Thanks to this, it invested in a £5m, 45,000ft2 warehouse and showroom.

Central to the online retailer’s success is a digital experience created for customers. The company uses all

possible tools to draw data and analytics to drive its website forward. A focus in Q4 will see developments in: website speed and ease across all devices, particularly for mobile, which has a 65% share; the introduction of an interactive mattress-finder and bed-builder tool; imagery online to be clear, sharp, and quick to load; and CGI images to provide a 3D view to show the mattress in a bedroom setting. The company reported one of the fastest website load times

compared to most other online retailers, including national chains.

Working closely with brands to ensure marketing materials are up to date, MattressNextDay created a series of YouTube and Spotify adverts showcasing products, various brands, and content on how mattresses are made. Other marketing activity included PPC, SEO optimisation on webpages, content marketing, social media, email campaigns, earned media, and PR.

63
From left: MattressNextDay business development manager Lewis Wills and CTO Jamie Latham; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and MattressNextDay marketing executive Ryan Thaker O n lineBedRetailerofth e Y e a r Finalist O n lineBedRetailerofth e Y e a r

Finalist

National Bed Retailer of the Year

FINALIST: FABB FURNITURE

This innovative, modern organisation firmly placed its mark on the industry with an impressive +50% growth in bed sales from July 2021 to July 2022, opening six stores over the past 18 months with two new stores coming, while boasting of having the highest Trustpilot rating within the category.

With strong commitment to the NBF, Fabb Furniture prides itself on being the only NBF Premier Retail Champion national bed retailer, and

Finalist

has a policy that all mattresses must be sourced from NBF-approved suppliers. Customer-facing staff have to complete NBF training within their probation period to ensure they can confidently advise on the range. The company also sits on the NBF Retail Advisory Forum.

A ‘bed manager’ position was created in-store, demonstrating a large investment in cost and improved customer service. When fully recruited (currently at 60%), the salary investment

National Bed Retailer of the Year

will be over £500,000 per annum.

Using a ‘store-to-door’ sales policy, every member of staff, from floor sales to delivery driver, completed the same standard of training and, to further enhance the customer experience, the company overhauled its website to implement a ‘bed builder’ function, enabling shoppers to create their perfect bed. The retailer also continues to work hard to bring lead times down to 1-2 days on stocked products.

FINALIST: FURNITURE VILLAGE

Getting to the heart of British bed sales, the family-run Furniture Village carried out a landmark survey of 2000 customers to gain insight into bedbuying behaviours. It was through this that the company found sustainability to be a key selling point.

As a result, it is working with suppliers to focus on ‘Earth-kind’ products – for example, the launch of its exclusive Harrison Spinks Yorkshire range, a fully recycled, no-foam, no-

glue, chemical fire retardant-free, all-natural pocket-sprung mattress collection.

Committed to reducing its environmental impact, the retailer consolidated its two northernmost warehouses with a move to a smart facility. This helped reduce its carbon footprint and increased stocking capabilities, while creating 25 jobs. The move allows the company to scale up with fewer miles travelled, and new EV

charging points have also been installed across the retailer’s estate.

The retailer launched its National Sleep Helpline in partnership with The Sleep Charity, offering guidance for over 1200 sleepless callers and supporting the NHS with a free service. With a ‘grow your own’ ethos, it also launched a Future Leaders Programme, which has already passed 25 employees to become the ‘stars of tomorrow’, while earning numerous industry awards.

From left: Furniture Village commercial director Charlie Harrison; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Furniture Village beds and cabinet buyer Tom St Quinton and CEO Peter Harrison 64 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS N a t ionalBedRetailerofth e Y e a r
N a t ionalBedRetailerofth e Y e a r

Best Marketing Campaign

FINALIST: LINTHORPE BEDS

With clear aims and objectives, the independent retailer’s strategy set out to: increase footfall into the Darlington store/create awareness of the shop’s location; invite a new age bracket of customer into the stores; raise its presence on social media; increase community engagement; and increase sales/orders.

Targeting a young audience of 1830 year-olds and new homeowners, Linthorpe Beds embraced social media and invited a group of home interior influencers to an event to makeover a bed in-store and promote it on their channel. This generated a positive ROI, a low outlay and the identification of a market currently being neglected. Just one reaction to the event saw a 14-yearold purchase an entire set featured on an influencer’s profile. As a result, the retailer extended this campaign, inviting home influencers in-store from December 2021 to March 2022.

Maximising online tools, Linthorpe Beds set up a community Facebook page to increase networking opportunities for local organisations, supporting the region’s business community as a whole. At Christmas,

Best Marketing Campaign

it forged links with local food banks, to which staff and customers donated advent calendars. Results showed sales from the 6-month campaign period increased from 319 to 580 orders in the Darlington store.

FINALIST: MATTRESS ONLINE

During a challenging economic period, Mattress Online devised and launched a TV advertising campaign aimed at driving traffic to its website. The results spoke volumes, with a +47% increase in revenue and a +25% rise in conversions against pre-Covid figures. The advert ultimately conveyed the retailer’s key message: “Life’s complicated. Sleep shouldn’t be”.

Mattress Online offers customers products that represent value for money, and wanted to appeal not just to value-conscious customers, but to those who consider quality a key purchasing factor. In a saturated market, it understood that the spend needed to be well targeted, and ran its advert post-Christmas at an ABC1 35–54 audience. It aired on carefully selected channels aimed at older, quality-conscious viewers. Thanks to this, it reached 13 million adults, with 12% of the UK seeing it.

The message of the advert was clearly conveyed, and it was important to the retailer to include reasons why customers choose Mattress Online –ease of purchase, next-day delivery and

a simple buying journey from basket to door. The campaign’s wider effect led to a +27% rise in paid search revenue, with sales running +13% higher than figures for the same period pre-Covid.

65
From left: Linthorpe Beds director Cherelle Curtis; NBF president (and Vispring MD) Jim Gerety; and Linthorpe Beds PR and social media manager Cassie Cooper From left: Mattress Online PR and communications lead Sharon Robson; NBF executive director Jessica Alexander; and Mattress Online CEO Steve Adams
BestMarketing Campaign Finalist BestMarketing Campaign Finalist

Manufacturers

Burgess Beds

Duvalay Harrison Spinks Hypnos Kaymed Millbrook Beds Sealy UK Shire Beds Vispring

Component suppliers

Bekaert Deslee CPS Group Enkev Gateway

J DeWalleg John Cotton Nonwovens

OF

Maes Mattress Tickings The Vita Group

Retailers

Archers Sleepcentre Argos Arighi Bianchi Beaumont Beds Bensons for Beds Dreams Feather & Black Furniture Village Glasswells

John Lewis & Partners Land of Beds Linthorpe Beds Loaf Mattress Online Now to Bed

Newbridge Street Bedding Centre Otty Prestige Beds Surrey Beds Sussex Beds

Sales agent/rep award winners Neil Steed

Lifetime Achievement Award winners Mike Clare John Cotton Peter Keen Peter Spinks

Judges

Steve Adams Jessica Alexander Tony Attard Roy Beagent Phil Bennett Martin Charter Jerry Cheshire George Cooper Sue Davies

Bernard Eastwood Chris Edward-Thomas Paul Farley John Hancock David Fitzsimons Andrew Kidd Richard McMurrough Richard de Melim Peter Mallinson

Amy Peace

Keely Portway

Dan Squires

Paul Stott

Jonny Westbrooke

David Woodward

Celebrity hosts

Lee Hurst

Gyles Brandreth

Jon Culshaw

Jeremy Vine Marcus Brigstocke

Meera Syal

Martin Bayfield

Jo Caulfield

Colin Murray

66 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
HALL
FAME
Furniture News’ Paul Farley, Lifetime Achievement Award winner John Cotton and comedian Lee Hurst on stage at the inaugural Bed Industry Awards in 2010
The
NBF’s Jessica Alexander and Simon Williams
preparing
for 2020’s virtual awards ceremony Gyles Brandreth has hosted
the
gala dinner
on no less than four
occasions
Queen tribute act Flash performed in 2019 With 12 presentations spanning 13 years (2010-22), the Bed Industry Awards have recognised a privileged selection of businesses and individuals from across the trade – with an impressive roll-call of judges and hosts also playing their part …
gnggroup.co.uk Carbon Neutral Organisation

TELFORD TIPPLE

Awards gala

drinks

68 NBF BED INDUSTRY AWARDS
Bed Industry
dinner
reception Telford International Centre / Tuesday 20th September www.bedshow.co.uk Over 400 of the UK bed industry’s best and brightest took the opportunity to catch up with their peers over a drink in the foyer before heading into the Bed Show gala dinner, which was hosted with aplomb this year by TV and radio presenter Colin Murray
69
We offer free delivery and returns, with a 365-night free trial and a 10-year guarantee. You can also shop with 0% finance over 12 months. Introducing our most sustainable mattress ever New from the sleep experts at Simba. The Green Organic mattress features all the comfort we’re famous for, with just half the carbon footprint of traditional hybrid mattresses. simbasleep.com 100% RECYCLABLE OR BIODEGRADABLE 1/2 THE CARBON FOOTPRINT CERTIFIED ORGANIC MATERIALS
WINNER Best of British T A THE FURNITURE AWARDS 2022 THE PROVEN WINNERS

REFURBISHED YET RESTORATIVE

Award-winning sleep-tech firm Simba is on a mission to make a good night’s sleep more accessible to everyone with its “just like new” refurbished collection, made with sustainability in mind and real sleepers at heart …

www.simbasleep.com

Aiming to be the most responsible sleep-tech company in the world and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, Simba’s mattresses are not only 100% recyclable, but reflect one of the brand’s key ambitions – that no Simba mattress ever goes to landfill. And the refurbished collection helps to achieve just that.

So, how does the process work? Basically, states the brand, it is the same Simba experience, but for a fraction of the price. When a customer returns a mattress, Simba works with The Furniture Recycling Group

(TFR Group), where a team of skilled assessors complete an extensive 32-question survey.

This examination involves testing the quality and function of every component and layer – inside and out – from the titanium Aerocoil springs to the Simbatex foam, right down to the stitching. Components that fail the inspection are replaced with genuine Simba parts.

Arriving conveniently rolled in a box, like all Simba mattresses, Simba’s refurbished mattresses promise to feel brand new.

Emma Reid, Simba’s head of sustainability, explains: “Each layer of the mattress goes through a hospitalgrade sanitisation chamber. Every single part is deep cleaned, washed for 45 minutes using NHS-standard detergent, sanitised and thoroughly dried to the point it’s pristine and squeaky clean.”

After this, mattresses are passed through a second round of inspection and quality control before getting the green light to be resold to customers.

The refurbished collection is another step in Simba’s strategy to become more circular by reducing waste and extending the life of returned products.

“Better for the planet – and your wallet”, Simba’s refurbished collection can be found at www.simbasleep.com/ pages/refurbished

Simba works with The Furniture Recycling Group to ensure its mattresses do not go to landfill
Simba Hybrid Essential PRODUCTS 73

Sci-Net’s ERP Retail is a complete endto-end solution designed specifically for aspiring big-ticket furniture and flooring retailers.

ERP Retail is a certified Microsoft Dynamics industry add-on, developed to Microsoft’s stringent standards.

With this best-of-breed, industryspecific solution, retailers can rely on it to run their entire furniture and flooring business, states Sci-Net.

LOUIS

The Mad Men rug series from Louis de Poortere continues to be one of its most popular, and has now been expanded with two designs.

Now featuring Stellar and Dedalo, this bestselling collection blends midcentury feel with abstract designs, and its new introductions are no exception. Stellar’s design was inspired by the flashes of light and gas mists of interstellar journeys, while in Dedalo, Louis de Poortere has looked to the mythological architect of the Labyrinth, in a design inspired by its winding, interconnecting and never-ending passages.

Stellar’s five colourways capture vivid and vibrant contrasts, with lightning turquoise and nebula orange the design’s most intense combinations. Dedalo’s palette is no less captivating, with blue marine, republic green and yellow scarab all bringing richness through the pronounced lustre of their high-pile, maze-like patterns, achieved through a 100% polyester yarn.

Sci-Net helped Tapi achieve impressive
growth
DE POORTERE www.louisdepoortere.com
Mad Men Dedalo in blue marine
SCI-NET www.sci-net.co.uk
74 PRODUCTS
YOTFC Ye Olde Traditional Furniture Company WE ALWAYS TRY HARDER TO GO THE EXTRA MILE! BESPOKE & STANDARD SIZES & STYLES Competitive Quality Products in solid Oak, Pine & Beech Tables, Chairs, Benches & Stools In-house Finishing & Upholstery Contact 01604 890956 , email md@yotfc.co.ukbrd@yotfc.co.uk or visit our website www.yotfc.co.uk

Core Products, voted Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier in this year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards, has added a selection of new bedroom and downstairs pieces to its bestselling Corona White collection.

Made from natural pine, with a white-wash wax finish which reveals the natural grains and textures of the real wood, each piece features antiqueeffect waxed pine tops and real metal hardware.

In addition to the established range of bedroom cabinet, beds, bookcases and casual dining, the expanded collection now includes wardrobes, storage cupboards, sideboards and TV units. All are carried in stock in the UK ready for quick delivery to the store or direct to the end-customer.

BH Made strives to challenge the norms of the current trends of long waiting times and poor customer support – and its 4-6-week delivery times and dedicated customer service team have given it a strong foundation from which to work.

The Blackburn-based upholstery supplier’s designers are working hard to develop new models in time for Christmas, while the business also boasts an extensive amount of stock for immediate delivery, to ensure it will be able to deliver right up to the holidays – so, urges the supplier, “please take a seat with BH Made!”

BH Made can be contacted on 07561 482930, or emailed at dave@bhmade.co.uk.

BH MADE
CORE PRODUCTS www.coreproducts.co.uk Flip 76 PRODUCTS LIVING

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

With Christmas fast approaching, many retailers will be prioritising their gifting lines, and working hard to ensure stock is available up to the last minute –Gallery Direct can help with all this and more, as well as offering a plethora of solutions for those wishing to run a successful winter sale …

www.gallerydirect.co.uk

With a catalogue featuring over 6000 lines, including furniture, home accessories, lighting textiles and wall decor, Gallery Direct is a complete home and outdoor supplier.

Gallery says it offers a huge range of pieces for consumers to buy for themselves, as well as a varied selection of lines which make perfect presents – and it has the vast majority of its stock products in the UK, in its two huge warehouses, available for quick delivery, all ready for the festive season. Customers could even have a new sofa

or sofabed from Gallery’s Sofa in a Box collection in time for Christmas.

All the products are featured on Gallery’s website, where clients can log in to check stock, see prices, place and track orders – and applying for a trade account is easy, says the supplier.

With style and affordability at their core, Gallery’s design-led pieces are always developed to offer value for money. But to help customers even more, the supplier has undertaken a huge, better-buying review, and has managed to drop the prices on over 725 of its lines, on items across all seven of its product categories, including some of its key ranges.

And Gallery has maintained the prices on the majority of its other products, including across five entire categories – furniture, outdoor, wall decor, accessories and textiles, as well as its UK-manufactured Sofa in a Box and House Collection sofas.

“So,” asks Gallery, “why not take advantage of our quick delivery and affordable prices to stock up ready for Christmas and your winter sale?”

To find out more about Gallery and its huge range of products, take a look at the website, or contact the sales team via www.gallerydirect.co.uk/our-salesteam

78 PRODUCTS LIVING
Gallery prides itself on being the complete home and outdoor supplier
Throws are ideal winter warmers Sofa in a Box Model 1, in fabric

Autumn Drops

Scan the QR code for more  www.gallerydirect.co.uk | 01795 439159 There’s a style for every preference and we’re here to help you find the look that’s right for you, whether it’s a curated range or simply an accent piece to complete your room. We are pleased to offer our finest selection across furniture, home accessories, wall décor, soft furnishings and outdoor living, with these design-led pieces all guaranteed to help support your business needs, whether you want to lounge in luxury, or dine in style. Value has never been more important and we are delighted to be able to support our loyal customers by dropping prices on such a substantial assortment of our key ranges.
Rivello Armchair, Available in 3 Velvet Fabrics

DELIVERING DELIGHT

Ash Logistics is an authentic, fastgrowing, quality-driven business, specialising in high-quality twoman, white glove deliveries of premium furniture and furnishings. The business enjoys a customer satisfaction rating of over 99.9% – as one customer comments: “If Carlsberg did deliveries ...”

Ash’s laser-like focus on highend specialism has enabled it to build an enviable reputation, with business growing at an impressive rate. ‘Delivering Delight’ is one of the firm’s core values, and Ash says it has built client trust by ensuring excellence throughout many long-term partnerships.

Supplying some of the top brand names in furniture retail including Harrods, Ralph Lauren, Graham and Green, Cox & Cox, Atkin and Thyme, Rockett St George, Rose & Grey and Noa Home, many of Ash’s clients consider it part of the furniture (both ‘Delivering Delight’ and ‘Part of the Furniture’ have been trademarked).

Ash is obsessive about understanding and ensuring that it represents its clients’ brands and values to the

highest level – allowing them to focus on what they do best – while a bestin-class bespoke industry platform maximises efficiencies at every level, and provides vital management information.

Always thinking outside the box, Ash Logistics prides itself on being a great listener and problem solver, continually working better and smarter to deliver an exceptional service, and ensuring its clients’ reputation and products are always in good hands.

Perfectionists at heart, Ash’s team care passionately about the end-toend customer experience, and strive to leave end-customers with a positive experience of their clients’ brand. And, going the extra mile, Ash offers its customers simplicity – if their requirements do not quite fit the norm, Ash says it is happy to work around them.

Ash Logistics owns an infrastructure of four depots across the UK, with daily internal line haul. Every customer is given the opportunity to provide feedback after receiving their delivery, and all comments are published unedited on the company’s website each quarter.

Finally, Ash Logistics is also an award-winning enterprise – it was recently named Most Enterprising Business and Best Business (overall) in the SME Hertfordshire Business Awards

80 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES
www.ashlogistics.co.uk
Ash Logistics boasts a best-in-class industry platform
‘Delivering Delight’ to customers’ room of choice Stringent checks are made at every stage of the delivery process
ashlogistics.co.ukTWO-MAN WHITE GLOVE DELIVERY SPECIALISTS 01923 800170 NOT JUST FURNITURE WE’RE DELIVERING... IT'S YOUR BRAND YOUR BUSINESS sm ar ter f as te r ww w.s c i- n et. c o.u k Sci-Net Ltd ERP House, DunsTew Grange DunsTew Road, ChippingNorton Oxon OX77DQ ERP Retail sthe complete end-to-end solution for aspiringBigTicket, Furniture & FlooringRetailers Builtwithin the world’s most popular mid-market ERP system, MicrosoftDynamics365 Business Central. THE UK’S LEADING BIG TICKET ERP>RETAIL SOLUTION Sci-Net Ltd, ERP House, Duns Tew Grange, Duns Tew Road, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 7DQ www.sci-net.co.uk ERP>Retail has achieved Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD) status 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! A solution to run your entire furniture & flooring retail business From your master Product and SKU structure through to the showroom floor tablet sales app designed for 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. Complete stock management, costings & traceability 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 customer service management. Real-time analysis & management reporting Monitor sales performance, predict sales trends, analyse store & channel performance, product range or even individual SKU’s. Report on each store, channel or salesperson P&L. Designed and built from the ground up with and for Furniture & Flooring Retailers. THE UK’S LEADING BIG TICKET ERP>RETAIL SOLUTION YOUR BUSINESS sm ar ter f as te r ww w.s c i- n et. c o.u k Sci-Net Ltd ERP House, DunsTew Grange DunsTew Road, ChippingNorton Oxon OX77DQ ERP Retail is the complete end-to-end solution for aspiring Big Ticket, Furniture & Flooring Retailers. Built within the world’s most popular mid-market ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. • ERP>Retail has achieved Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD) status • A solution to run your entire furniture & flooring retail business • Complete stock management, costings & traceability • Real-time analysis & management reporting The last ERP System you will ever have to invest in! SciNet_JA.indd 1 16/06/2022 12:42 81

COST SAVIOUR

With inflation currently sitting at around 12% and energy costs rising quickly, many businesses are preparing for increased overheads. Using a company which provides third-party logistics (3PL) services can help furniture retailers and manufacturers save money by reducing the need to pay for their own warehousing space and staff – says AP+, which provides 3PL services to companies in the furniture and homeware industries, offering storage for stock, order management, picking and packing and distribution to the end-customer …

www.apfulfilment.com

Energy costs are one of the largest ongoing expenses for businesses, and with bills rising steeply, many companies will struggle to justify the expense of operating their own warehouse, says AP+.

The typical energy costs for a warehouse can range from thousands to tens of thousands of pounds each year, without even taking the expense of other utilities like water and insurance coverage into account. Higher bills are also likely to drive up rental rates for warehouse space.

Outsourcing storage and distribution to a company like AP+ enables businesses to operate without warehousing space of their own, and to potentially downsize into smaller premises with lower overheads and fewer employees. Be it an online retailer, a worldwide importer or a manufacturer within the furniture industry, using 3PL services can be an effective way of safeguarding a business against the pressure of rising costs and inflation.

AP+ can take over a company’s supply chain operations, saving it both time and money. With a purpose-built, 300,000ft2 warehouse in a central UK location, AP+ is able to provide secure storage for furniture and homeware stock of all shapes and sizes, including bulky items like sofas, mattresses and carpets, and fragile products which require more care and attention.

With a team of expert staff, and state-of-the-art inventory and order management systems, AP+ can act as an extension of a business’ own operations, offering live stock updates, full traceability and quick and efficient order fulfilment. Intelligent carrier comparison software is then used to compare quotes from more than 80 carriers, finding the most cost-effective way to distribute orders – every single time

82 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES

STATEMENT OF INTENT

In a digital landscape filled with choice, furniture brands must rethink how they engage customers online. Here, Harry Hanson-Smith, regional VP of Dynamic Yield, a Mastercard company, reveals the pitfalls of old-school segmentation when engaging modern furniture buyers – and how to avoid them …

We’re living in the age of consumercentric commerce, where the buyer has seemingly infinite options to choose from. And the expectation from shoppers to see their unique needs and preferences met throughout the buying process is even higher – especially when it comes to big-ticket items such as sofas, beds and dining furniture.

So, how can furniture retailers differentiate themselves within a saturated market and make sure the experiences they deliver resonate with a variety of audiences at different points in the customer journey? The answer lies in how well they are able to personalise, which begins with proper segmentation.

Old habits = outdated segmentation principle

Today, eight out of every 10 consumers have bought furniture on the internet, and over 90% of industry growth is from online sales. That points to a major opportunity for retailers, but only if they prioritise the types of contextualised experiences that elicit sales and drive long-term brand loyalty.

Yet many furniture brands still implement traditional segmentation strategies to personalise experiences, based on outdated factors such as socio/economic status. Even previous interactions and purchase history can no longer accurately predict what a customer will be interested in today.

For example, while a typical sofa could last anywhere between 7-15 years, a customer may want to replace it sooner due to a change in lifestyle, location, or personal taste. This is why there should be no place for antiquated demographics or rigid adherence to historical trends within the online furniture experience, and beyond.

Intent is the new digital currency Each audience has different needs, wants and preferences which furniture brands can capitalise on if they recognise the signals. This can be achieved through intent-based segmentation, which divides shoppers by their demonstrated or understood readiness to buy.

A variation of the classic marketing funnel theory that depicts individuals progressing through clear stages on their (decidedly non-linear) path to making a purchase, intent segmentation seeks to identify the correct buying stage and adjust the site experience, messaging, and navigation accordingly.

In practice, brands can break down these audiences by: low intent (new and exploring users with limited data or site action); medium intent (some buying signals, but users need encouragement); and high intent (there are clear signals, and the users are ready to buy).

Intent segmentation meets customers in the moment they’re in, nudging them down the funnel. And because

not outdated factors, says Harry (image courtesy iStock/alexsl)

Potential buyers should be targeted based on their intent to buy,

INTENT-BASED SEGMENTATION DIVIDES SHOPPERS BY THEIR DEMONSTRATED OR UNDERSTOOD READINESS TO BUY 84 OPINION

this method is driven by user action, it flexes with furniture site visitors as they go through the buying stages, and then restarts after a purchase or time between sessions.

Understand intent, avoid personalisation faux pas Not only does tailoring the digital shopping experience to an audience’s intent level help optimise the purchase funnel, but it can also mean furniture brands don’t mistakenly deliver the wrong content, messages or offers at the wrong time for the inverse effect.

Take a few of these common situations, which can be avoided and rectified with intent segmentation:

* Being overtly pushy with low intent audiences. Low-intent furniture browsers are not ready to make purchase decisions, so avoid marketing messages around urgency, scarcity, or even discounted sale information.

Instead, offer guided selling, with simple-to-use tools at the product category level that help them identify the best product for their needs (for example, product quizzes and guides).

Use plain-speak widget copy to explain why they’re seeing a particular recommendation, and offer incentives as reward for taking actions like a first purchase, as well as a loyalty programme or newsletter signup.

* Distracting medium-intent shoppers. Medium-intent users may have demonstrated some buy signals, but not so many that their buying intent is very clear. They need a push to finalise a buying decision, but can be put off by too much choice or overtly promotional messaging.

Keep them focused with recommendations based on items they’ve demonstrated an interest in, as opposed to the most popular. Use exit intent experiences, inactive tab notifications, recently viewed recommendations and comparison pages to help get them back on site and to their preferred purchase options. Live chat can help seal the deal.

* Over-discounting high-intent browsers.This audience is ready to buy, so make the path as linear as possible from site entry to exit. They’re

also not afraid to spend more than the average site visitor. Secure sales and boost revenue by focusing promotional messages on complementary products and accessories rather than on discounting the primary purchase. Finally, win them over with relationship builders in the form of loyalty points, cards, or rewards messaging.

Whatever the experience, it’s important to validate its impact through proper A/B testing, which can help teams ensure positive results and optimise them over time.

The modern purchase funnel requires a modern segmentation strategy

Furniture brands and online commerce players alike need to guarantee they speak to customers at the right moment, and don’t put too much stock in historical behaviour as a predictor of future transactions.

Thankfully, the signals traced to intent can be incredibly effective, allowing teams to finally say goodbye to ineffective and antiquated approaches to segmentation, and hello to higher engagement, conversions and sales

85

THE PRICE OF BNPL

The UK’s buy now, pay later (BNPL) market grew rapidly during the pandemic, with consumers increasingly turning to retail financing services to make purchases, despite the risks involved in doing so. Given the Government’s plans to better regulate the field, how can furniture retailers ensure they take the right direction with BNPL? Adam Kirby, head of sales at “responsible finance” provider Etika, shares his views …

A report by RFI Global found that customers are highly interested in using BNPL, especially for highervalue items such as electronic goods or household appliances. For furniture retailers, the BNPL option provides customers with greater control over how they choose to pay for items, which helps to boost sales.

However, we are seeing this sector become increasingly volatile and difficult to navigate for homeware retailers and customers alike. News that the UK Government plans to tighten regulations on BNPL lenders, as well as concerns that the cost of living crisis is pushing users into debt, have cast a long shadow of uncertainty over the sector’s future.

For UK retailers, navigating the consumer finance landscape has become precarious, as the future wellbeing of customers comes into sharp focus. It is critical that the industry pivots to make sure that they prioritise reliable and safe long-term finance partnerships.

With the mass migration to online shopping during the pandemic, the ecommerce experience became very important for retailers wishing to stand out and increase conversion rates. Consumers looked for personalised and more flexible payments solutions to make their shopping experiences smoother – that is the context that drove the initial success of BNPL in the UK, which spread to the PoS of furniture stores both online and in-store.

The growth of the ecommerce market and BNPL usage have a strong correlation. Ecommerce growth leapt nearly fivefold when comparing 2020 growth rates to the average growth rate seen from 2015-19, and the BNPL market reported a CAGR of more than +85% from 2019-21. However, continued growth of BNPL has come under question as more governments review their approach to this formerly unregulated space of consumer finance. These announcements also coincide with growing concerns surrounding the possible dangers of using BNPL.

BNPL providers are not required to perform full affordability checks on

consumers, which makes it easier for customers to accumulate debt across multiple lenders. A Citizens Advice report found that 54% of people facing debt collection for BNPL debts turned to another form of borrowing to meet repayment obligations. The same report also showed that in 2021, BNPL users were charged £39m in late fees.

These figures should not be taken lightly by furniture retailers, as partnering with the wrong finance provider can risk harming their customers, as well as their reputation – a survey by the Financial Wellness Group found that 47% of customers who are seeking debt solution services and have had BNPL debt are looking to use a loan on furnishings.

The good news is that the future of BNPL will most likely be regulated, which will make it easier for retailers to find reliable partners. Plans to strengthen regulation for BNPL lenders signal a shift, where the UK Government seeks to establish greater oversight of this space. Increased regulation is an opportunity for the consumer finance market to build better standards and drive safer growth. This will give customers the confidence they need to use BNPL services within safe parameters. Additionally, in response to the cost of living crisis, more finance providers should prioritise consumer wellbeing.

At etika, we expect an immediate change in the way the retail consumer finance ecosystem approaches lending when the rules come into effect. But, seeing as the share of online consumers using BNPL for home improvements is 19%, it is important for homeware retailers to stay ahead of compliance by acting on it now.

Consumer finance is a dynamic sector, and technological advancements are changing the way we shop and how we look at credit. Ultimately, furniture retailers must consider their current BNPL partnerships to ensure that their values align with their third-partner lenders’ approach. With the increased media and regulatory pressures, the stakes are higher than ever

IT IS CRITICAL THAT THE INDUSTRY PIVOTS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY PRIORITISE RELIABLE AND SAFE LONGTERM FINANCE PARTNERSHIPS
86 OPINION

A RUDE AWAKENING

We, the people of the bedding business, are constantly amazed at how little our shoppers are willing to invest in a great sleep surface. Consider that during the month of November your shoppers will spend 10 full days out of the 30-day month in their next bed, and will continue that for the ensuing 119 months.

In many cases, shoppers are only willing to invest an amount equal to two car payments, or 3-4 days’ wages!

Shoppers who visit your store can generally find an acceptable mattress at an unbelievable price that boils down to a buck or two per week for the usable life of the bed. Still shoppers love to ask, “What else can you do for me?”

We have all experienced that shopper who believes you have an extra 25-75% discount that you can offer.

You may have heard me say that people hate to go mattress shopping – it ranks somewhere between root canal and pre-need funeral plan. However, people will spend any amount of money to reduce or eliminate pain! Just watch the unending TV commercials for drugs – curing diseases you didn’t even know you had! When it comes to living a healthier life with more energy and less illness, you just can’t beat the effects of a restorative sleep regimen. That means 7.5- 8 hours a night on average, in a comfortable, supportive bed.

Medical science, physical therapists and even athletic coaches all point to the value of sleep to maximise performance. People may try to get by with 5-6 hours, but there are long- and short-term effects on health and wellbeing.

Sleeping on a worn or wrong mattress can cause you to lose two or more hours (25%) of essential sleep a night.

to your shoppers on why quality sleep is important:

• Repairs body tissues and increases immune system, and helps to combat the effects of stress, pollution, infection and more

• Keeps your heart healthy and strong by lowering levels of stress and inflammation in your body and lowering blood pressure and heart rate

• Lowering levels of stress hormones in your body. High levels of these hormones are believed to increase the aging and degeneration of your organs and cells

• Improves memory and cognitive function. The organisation and storing of memories take place during sleep. If you’re short of sleep, your memory and your productivity suffer

• Helps us to learn new skills. Research done by the Harvard Medical School concluded that REM sleep seems to be essential for learning how to do things. ‘Sleep on it’ takes on a whole new meaning now!

• Helps control body weight by regulating the hormones that affect your appetite

Skilled retail sales associates (RSAs) are wise enough to know that selling mattresses is hard! Everyone has one, and nobody likes to buy them! So instead, those RSAs sell sleep – nobody gets enough, and everybody wants a little more.

Some people call me a ‘Numbers Guy’. I don’t think of myself as a pencil pusher or bean-counter, but I do believe that anything that is measured improves! If eight hours is the benchmark for great sleep, then simple math shows that 25% off that is six hours. That extra two hours often results in one hour of high-quality REM sleep – the most restorative of all.

Here are some facts you can present

Sell and deliver 100% sleep, and you will always get 100% of the price!

How many bed retailers are still putting out the wrong sales message? This month, US bed industry consultant Gordon Hecht explains why consumers need to be reminded that they can’t afford to take 25% off a good night’s sleep …
PEOPLE WILL SPEND ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE PAIN 87 SELL AND DELIVER 100% SLEEP, AND YOU WILL ALWAYS GET 100% OF THE PRICE

We are delighted to be opening up exciting and prosperous roles with in our sales network for the following areas: North West, South East, South West

Our products are born out of passion for our trade, we want to offer the very best products at the very best price and the very best lead time for made to order product, by our continuous improvement approach to manufacturing.

Every item is Hand made in our own factory in the North East of England, they can be found in retailers the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, and we are looking to massively expand our footprint in all areas.

This target driven position will demand a high level of customer engagement and product training, a desire to promote and sell our products in to the retail industries. Buyers and business owners winning new business in your region, increasing sales from current clients, and providing an excellent standard of customer support.

You will use your knowledge of the industry and your extensive sales experience to identify opportunities and increase sales, and you will use your relationship-building and customer service skills to retain and develop existing accounts.

You will be an ambassador of our company, becoming a trusted face to our customers while also adhering to company values and policy.

After the pandemic, the working dynamics of our agents has changed and developed: we believe it requires a focused team effort that attracts customers.

Requirements

Previous and proven experience in sales, preferably in the upholstery industry; extensive experience in selling a luxury product and an existing network of industry contacts will provide a distinct advantage

Self motivated and target driven

• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

• Strong organizational skills

Ability to recognise opportunities that would benefit our customers and the end user

• Solution

• Open minded person who wants to try new ideas and methods

• Desire to help us build and create a prosperous business and that go the extra mile

Please

kayleigh@meridianupholstery.co.uk

first attitude
forward applications to:
Meridian_JA.indd 1 21/10/2022 14:29 Retail Sales Event Manager This exciting and rewarding opportunity would ideally suit an experienced, energetic, management quality person with natural retail sales ability. As an Event Management Contractor you’ll be implementing the most powerful and effective high-volume retail sales strategies available today. Full training given. For this nationwide role you must be available to work away from home for periods of 3 to 5 weeks. Join the leading sales promotion company. Call now on 07771700247 or visit www.greenwoodretail.com GreenwoodJob.indd 1 13/10/2022 15:55 88 JOIN TODAY and gain FULL access to our reports, guides and suite of new business support templates www.fira.co.uk The centre of knowledge for the furniture industry JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX FURNITURE | BEDROOM LIVING | DINING | TRADE SERVICES A man’s world? Evaluating gender equality in the furniture industry Behind the rise and rise of Qualita Forecasting the product trends of 2022 #388 January 2022 www.furniturenews.net VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY Join At The Helm’s bold adventure The International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP) comprises 17 of the world’s leading industry trade publications. As the IAFP’s UK representative, Furniture News can offer exporters and importers market information, contacts and reach through the most effective B2B channels. www.iafp.info MATTRESSES SERVICES hopping takes market Notes crisis trading lockdown PICTURE PERFECT Sit Orbital’s award-winning CGI www.furniturenews.net DIRECTIONS SERVICES The pros going need www.furniturenews.net HOT PROPERTY Sizzling Chilli Designs IAFP_2021_QP.indd 1 20/12/2021 19:51

MAKING IT RIGHT

Each issue, Furniture News shares viewpoints from its industry partners. This month, with the pressure on to maintain quality standards against a difficult economic backdrop, the NBF’s technical adviser Tristine Hargreaves explains how the federation’s Code of Practice works, and why it matters.

The NBF encourages both new and existing members to take a ‘let’s make it right’ approach. The NBF Code of Practice was introduced in 2013, to ensure that members understood the regulations applicable to their products, and could demonstrate ongoing compliance through assessment against a robust auditing programme to a set criteria.

THE NBF CODE OF PRACTICE ENSURES

MEMBERS

Compliance with the NBF Code of Practice is a mandatory requirement for membership of the NBF for manufacturers of finished products, and is a great reason to join and be able to show that the business is open to be assessed and can demonstrate it is indeed ‘making things right’.

Members are provided with full training on the requirements and criteria of the Code of Practice and have access to comprehensive guidance documents. Further technical assistance and support is available to members through the NBF’s technical partnership with SATRA Technology.

Since its introduction, the code’s criteria have been reviewed and expanded several times, to ensure key compliance areas relevant to members’ products are covered. Currently there are 10 key areas assessed, including flammability, cleanliness of fillings, textile labelling, chemical and timber compliance requirements. To satisfy the audit criteria, companies must demonstrate an understanding of the requirements and show what they are doing in order to comply.

Now reaching the end of version four of the audit assessments, 2023 will see the introduction of a fifth iteration, with the requirements currently being defined.

Regular audits ensure ongoing compliance, and this is combined with the NBF Due Diligence Testing Programme – NBF member products are

purchased at random and then tested and assessed against the criteria of the code.

The Due Diligence Testing Programme is also a good indicator of how the market is performing overall, as nonmember products are also selected at random for testing and assessment against the code criteria. Wherever areas for improvement are identified, the NBF will work together with their members to ensure they are supported in their continual improvement.

All the results for the testing and assessment programme are shared with NBF’s Primary Authority, West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Primary Authority is a means for businesses operating in a single sector or across multiple sites to receive consistent assured and tailored advice on meeting regulations such as environmental health, trading standards or fire safety through a single point of contact. This ensures start-ups get it right at the outset, and enables all businesses to invest with confidence in products, practices and procedures, knowing that the resources they devote to compliance are well spent.

The NBF Code of Practice scheme has received assured advice status through the NBF’s Primary Authority partner, West Yorkshire Trading Standards (Wakefield Council), which means that other local authorities must respect their advice even if they interpret the regulations differently.

More broadly, the NBF Primary Authority relationship with West Yorkshire Trading Standards means that the NBF, and its technical support provider SATRA, can be the points of contact with Trading Standards to raise specific issues or make enquiries on behalf of the industry, which is a valuable benefit of being an NBF member

Young Furniture Makers exhibition. INDUSTRY PARTNERS
THAT
UNDERSTAND
THE REGULATIONS
APPLICABLE TO THEIR PRODUCTS OPINION 89

THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING …

Mike Whitman, Iconography Testing. Testing new features, testing old ones. Sometimes both

Martin Seeley, MattressNextDay

We generally do know when the quieter times are now, so I’ve learned to be slightly less concerned and go with it (especially after the last two years)

Wendy Martin Green, Peter Green Furnishers

Personally, I seldom have a slow day, but if and when I have time I like to research national trends in interior design in both the commercial and retail worlds. This information provides us with subject matter for our blogs, things to look out for in the shows, a wishlist for buying trips, inspiration for our in-store displays, ideas to develop with our customers, and it keeps us ahead of the curve

Deirdre Mc Gettrick, ufurnish.com

I generally tend to go to my list of ‘when I have time’ projects. My all-time favourite is searching for furniture to understand the consumer experience (it doesn’t even feel like work!)

Huw Williams, Toons Furnishers

I will carry out competitor visits with my trading managers, and look at their ranging and pricing

George Sinclair, Nimbus Beds Lie on beds!

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A SLOW DAY?

Shane Harding, Highgrove Beds

There’s never a slow day in marketing!

David Kohn, The Multichannel Expert

In ecommerce you’re always searching for actionable insight, but are often too busy to really dig into your analytics. On a slow day I like to look at the tracking tools and statistics that never get enough attention

Shaun Peel, MattressTek

What’s a slow day?

Jade Farthing, Haskins Furniture

As an MD, I don’t think there is such a thing as a slow day. However, I do love to move furniture around and change displays

Neil Barker, Barkers Furniture Head down, work harder

Rob King, Julian Bowen Ha, maybe a slower day, but you spend the day preparing for the busier ones

Steve Reid, Simba Sleep They are rare, but I enjoy and lean into them – often filling time with exercise or having fun with my two boys

Keiran Hewkin, Swyft Review our trade accounts and see what we might be missing in the data – and answer the customer service line when it rings, and find out from our customers what is happening

John Northwood, sales agent

There is always something to do when I’m not on the road – updating customer and data lists, emails, telephone calls, social media postings, watching sales and development videos on YouTube, keeping updated with brands and checking out the competition

Mark Gannon, Sofa Source

Assess our long-term projects – the things that are important, but never urgent

Tom Bayliss, Kettle Interiors Regroup, assess and strategise. Hopefully by doing so it will mean there won’t be many ‘slow days’ in the future

90 OPINION BED INDUSTRY AWARDS SUPPLEMENT BED SHOW | LIVING TRADE SERVICES BEDS AHEAD Celebrating this year’s Bed Industry Awards Growing glam with Rowen Homes’ Alice Hall Rethinking shopper segmentation #398 November 2022 ZERO COMPROMISE Hypnos guarantees comfort with integrity WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! * Follow and message Furniture News on LinkedIn * Join the conversation on Twitter @FurnitureNewsED * Message the editor at paul@gearingmediagroup.com * For advertising and subscription enquiries, see p3
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