Furniture News #400

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JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX FURNITURE | SPRING FAIR | BEDROOM DELIVERY FULFILMENT | TRADE SERVICES BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS CAN’T GET THE STAFF? The industry’s recruitment and retention challenge Arighi Bianchi’s family values How to get on trend in 2023 JANUARY 2023 ISSUE 400th The voyage continues …

Editor's Comment

‘Make hay while the sun shines’, goes the proverb … but ever since the pandemic tore up our established trading patterns, it feels like the mantra has shifted to simply ‘Make hay’. It’s exhausting, but you have to drive sales and profit when you can, because you never know what’s around the corner.

Despite the curveballs (and there’s been plenty), most would nonetheless agree that January remains a prime time for haymaking – and here we are again, with a chance to kick off the new year firmly in the black.

Alongside those all-important winter sales, a bevy of sourcing opportunities loom, promising to satisfy every conceivable demand for newness (something that’s been in relatively short supply in recent years), and everything points to this season’s trade events reflecting a true return to form in the supplier base.

You’ll find a wealth of tantalising product teasers in our big show previews this month, from INDX Furniture (p62) and Spring Fair (p76) to our colossal January Furniture Show special (p82). There’s no excuse not to throw yourself headlong into these invaluable sourcing and networking opportunities, and the Furniture News team will be out and about too, taking it all in (you’ll find us on stand 5-D6 at JFS). Welcome to the trade’s shop window!

Anyone looking to get ahead of the curve and add some drama to their displays should turn to p165, where several top tastemakers share their predictions for the coming year (if you’re serious about implementing trend forecasts in your sales, it’s also worth seeking out the relevant specialists at this month’s events, and reading Nicola Snell’s PR planning tips on p228).

And that brings me to our lead feature. Given this month’s massive potential, now’s definitely the time to get to your best people on the job – but can you honestly say you’re working with the best?

Our industry, like most, is experiencing the chronic effects of an escalating staffing crisis (good salespeople and specialised manufacturing roles are particular bugbears) that threatens to derail even the most determined players. This month, Furniture News goes all in on the challenges of recruitment and retention, quizzing everyone from retailers and recruitment agents to manufacturers and machinery suppliers on their situations and solutions (p12).

Other highlights include: an exclusive report from Airsprung’s factory in Trowbridge (p38); a Q&A with Arighi Bianchi’s MD (p28); and personal insights from Kettle Interiors (p42), La-Z-Boy UK (p34), The Libra Company (p78), Tetrad (p92), Simba Sleep (p182) and many, many more.

Further on in, you’ll find features dedicated to delivery fulfilment, and the buying groups and associations behind the trade (including an exclusive profile of AIS, courtesy of MD Sue Kemp, on p220).

Hopefully, after getting through this month’s bumper, new-look issue, you’ll still have some time left to make that all-important hay …

Paul Farley

Editor-in-chief 01424 776101 paul@gearingmediagroup.com @FurnitureNewsED @Furniture News www.furniturenews.net
“Despite all the curveballs, January remains a prime time for haymaking
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7 NEWS 12 INSIGHT 12 Staffing 28 Arighi Bianchi 34 La-Z-Boy UK 38 Airsprung Beds 42 Getting personal 44 Devonshire Living 48 EVENTS 62 INDX Furniture 76 Spring Fair 82 JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW 86 Hall 1 102 Hall 2 110 Hall 4 130 Hall 5 164 PRODUCTS 165 Trends 2023 182 Bedroom 190 Trade services 204 Delivery fulfilment 220 Buying groups and associations 228 OPINION 228 PR pipeline planning 230 Mindful selling 233 Partner comment 234 Feedback Contents EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Farley 01424 776101 paul@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsED SALES SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR (FURNITURE NEWS PORTFOLIO) Sam Horscroft 07764 650655 sam@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsAD OVERSEAS AGENT Casey Loo (Asia) +65
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Sarah Bianchi
28 38 168 182
Arighi Bianchi Paul Little Airsprung Beds Nadia McCowan Hill Wayfair
5 COVER FEATURE 64 At The Helm
Steve Reid Simba Sleep
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EgoItaliano has opened its second (and flagship) UK showroom, on Park Street in Camberley, Surrey

All Sofas Ltd, based in Stratfordupon-Avon, is now trading as Fina Furniture Ltd following a pre-pack administration which safeguarded 19 jobs. The company’s director, Anna Lundgren, remains in place

Next acquires Joules

Next has partnered with Tom Joule to acquire the majority of Joules’ assets out of administration, via a newly formed company for £34m (to be settled in cash). The retailer has also acquired Joules’ current head office for £7m in cash.

Next says it intends to continue to operate a significant number of Joules stores (around 100 of 124) in the UK and Ireland, subject to agreeing terms with landlords. A total of 19 stores have been closed by the administrator.

Lovelace Furniture’s founder Charles Lovelace passed away aged 80 on 19th November. Charles started his pine furnituremanufacturing business in Cambridge in 1973, where it operated until 2000

Arighi Bianchi has appointed Susie Harding (ex-Tetrad) as FD. It is the first time a non-family member of the fifth-generation family-owned (and run) business has become a board member

MattressTek has been recognised with a trio of awards: the machinery manufacturer was a finalist in the Made in Rossendale and Large Business categories at the Rossendale Business Awards, and came away with the former; and was also named Company of the Year (up to £20m) at Insider North West’s International Trade Awards

Next will own 74% of the equity, with the remaining 26% owned by Tom Joule. Joules is to retain its management autonomy and creative independence – the company will have its own board of directors, and will continue to be based in Market Harborough. Next says that most Joules staff will remain with the business, which will migrate onto the Next Total Platform by early 2024.

Tom Joule intends to take the lead in re-establishing the identity of both brand and product. Jonathon

Brown was appointed CEO of Joules in 2022, and will remain in that role.

Tom says: “After three years away from the operational side, I’m truly looking forward to inspiring teams with clear direction to excite and recapture the imagination of the customer again. Our customers have always trusted us to lead, not follow, with products that reflect their lifestyle.”

The acquisiton follows Next’s purchase of Made. com Design’s brand assets in November, for £3.4m.

Department store to close London property and invest

Premium department store Fenwick has agreed to sell its store and adjoining property on New Bond Street in central London to Lazari Investments “in order to strengthen financial foundations for the future and make significant investments in its stores and online for long-term success”.

The transaction is expected to complete early this year. Fenwick will continue to trade from the store until 2024. Fenwick says the proceeds from the sale will go towards: making major investments in stores across the country, including the flagship in Newcastle, and Kingston (Fenwick has already announced a major investment programme in its Newcastle store); investing in its digital presence; contributing to the pension fund; repaying debt and further securing its financial position; and sharing a portion of the proceeds with staff. The surplus will be

Ekornes’ (Stressless) CEO Roger Lunde has stepped down, and has been temporarily replaced by fromer CFO Fredrik Ødegård Nilsen

Bensons for Beds opened new stores in Romford and Cannock last month, and relaunched its store on Cardiff Gate Retail Park

returned to shareholders, states the retailer.

Simon Calver, chair of Fenwick, says: “Last year Fenwick marked 140 years as a successful British retailer, and this deal will enable the business to continue to serve communities in stores and online for many years to come. The sale has been a difficult decision for the Fenwick family, who are committed to providing the business with the means to thrive for the long term. Their support will enable the next stage of the journey for the Fenwick family business.”

Fenwick will open a new central London office for management and functional staff, and plans to support staff through the transition.

Fenwick opened its Bond Street store in 1891. The current store is made up of six composite buildings acquired between 1887-1961 and unified in the 1980s.

JYSK delivers record results

For the financial year 2021/22, JYSK reached its highest EBIT result to date of DKK4.56b (€612m) and increased turnover by +11% to DKK36.2b (€4.87b).

“It has been yet another very challenging year, but everyone in JYSK can be very proud of our results. Whether in stores, distribution centres or offices, all colleagues have contributed to our continued success,” says JYSK’s president and CEO, Jan Bøgh.

Despite the closure of stores in Russia, Belarus and (temporarily) Ukraine, plus rrising costs, material and staff shortages, JYSK says it remains on track with its fundamental business model of continued expansions. In 2021/22 JYSK opened a total of 135 new stores across Europe, and welcomed an additional 7.7 million customers, both in stores and online. This spring, JYSK will also open its first stores in Turkey.

“With all that is going on in the world today, I did consider for a moment if we should postpone our plans,” says Jan. “But that is not the spirit of JYSK or of our founder.”

Jan admits that the retail chain saw the first signs of a slowdown in sales during the summer months. “Customer buying power is under pressure,” he says, “and they are no longer forward buying as they were during the last couple of years, as they are having to prioritise even more where they spend their money in the coming months. Therefore, I expect to see a slowdown in our sales that will be reflected in our results for our financial year 2022/23.”

Roni Tuominen, country manager, JYSK Ireland and UK, adds that growth in his markets has been strong, with a turnover of €97m (+40.1%), and eight new stores, serving a customer base of 1.76 million.

NEWS 7 READ MORE ONLINE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET
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Furniture Village cements independence

Capital investor BGF has successfully exited its investment in Furniture Village, following a share buyback by the business.

BGF invested £12m in the retailer across two successive funding rounds in 2014 and 2015. During the partnership, Furniture Village has used the growth capital to increase its store footprint from 40 to 55, and to bolster its logistics, IT and digital infrastructure.

The exit has yielded strong returns on BGF’s original investment and follows a period of consistent, profitable growth for Furniture Village.

Aside from a substantial holding by the company’s employee benefit trust, the Harrison family is now the sole shareholder of the business. Chief executive Peter Harrison says: “It has always been a lifelong ambition that the business would be wholly owned by the family. We have now realised that dream thanks to our fantastic people and our principle partners who have all contributed to our journey – my original business partner David Imrie, Peter Grant of Cadogan Estates, Jane Vinson at BGF and Jim Hodkinson, our longstanding chairman.

“[Son] Charlie and I have a very strong vision for where we would like to take the business next. It is based on a highly collaborative and loyal relationship

with our people, excellence in customer service and always being able to offer the highest-quality product at good-value prices to our customers nationwide.”

Charlie Harrison, commercial director of Furniture Village, adds: “In recognition of our team, their strength and success, Furniture Village has also decided to introduce an Employee Benefit Family Partnership, which will be a means of sharing the results of great performance with everyone in our special business.”

The news came ahead of the opening of the retailer’s 55th UK store in Colchester (pictured) on Boxing Day.

ScS takes tried-and-tested approach to winter sales

ScS issued an “encouraging” trading update ahead of its November AGM, as it continued to trade “resiliently through what continues to be a challenging period”, says the group’s chair, Alan Smith.

LFL order intake saw an improvement later in the year, with total LFL order intake for the 16 weeks to 19th November down -9.1% due to a reduction in orders in the first 10 weeks to 6th October, when the comparative period benefitted from strong pent-up demand following the last national lockdown. The group says it also continued to gain market share over the period.

“The board is encouraged by the group’s recent performance, and current trading is in line with its expectations for the full year,” says Alan. “The group is preparing for the important winter sales trading period and, as always, its success will be a key factor in the results for the full year. The business is planning to approach the winter sales period in a manner consistent with that which has proved successful in prior years.”

ScS recently received certification to the Kitemark for Domestic Furniture for its upholstered furniture, following an audit from BSI, while CFO Chris Muir announced plans to step down.

JFS organiser to introduce interiors show to key events

Clarion Retail, the organiser of the January Furniture Show, Top Drawer, Home & Gift and digital marketplace Reveal, says it plans to launch a new event, the Home Interiors Show, in Hall 2 at this month’s JFS, before a second edition joins London’s Top Drawer in September.

“We were approached by a number of exhibitors within the furniture interiors and accessories space some months back, with regards to dissatisfaction with the current event landscape for their particular sector within the industry,” says Zoe Bonser, portfolio director, Clarion Retail. “The general consensus from key players was that the market was becoming too fragmented, and they wanted one core event offering for the busiest buying seasons, spring and autumn.

“After months of research, analysing data and

insight and conversing with the industry, we will be introducing a new brand to our portfolio – the Home Interiors Show, launching as a rebrand of Hall 2. This will be followed by an autumn edition taking place in September at the stunning Olympia venue in London. The September edition will be a premium and curated showcase of home interior, accessories and lighting products, with some exciting new features.

“This has no impact on JFS, other than a beautiful rebrand of our Hall 2, and actually presents an opportunity to attract a new audience of buyers, as well as welcoming back previous exhibitors and new international brands.”

JFS will take place from 22nd-25th this month –turn to p82 for an in-depth preview.

Frasers Group, which owns House of Fraser and Sofa.com, has acquired luxury online homewares and furniture brand Amara in a restructuring deal

KING has opened its second UK showroom, in The Bentall Centre in Kingston. The opening of the 2500ft2 unit in November follows the launch of the Australian brand’s Tottenham Court Road store in December 2021

Koelnmesse, the organiser of imm cologne, says it plans to “reorient” the event, and has appointed the show’s former creative director Dick Spierenburg, and Bernd Sanden, previously director of LivingKitchen and Pure Architects, to lead this year’s spring edition

Latexco is to be acquired by entrepreneur Luc Tack, who has reached an agreement in principle to acquire all the activities and employees of the Belgian latex bedding specialist, to be realised via Harmony Industries

Loaf has appointed In The Style’s Sam Perkins (ex-Very) as its new CEO. Founder Charlie Marshall has stepped aside, but will remain on the board to focus on product, brand and marketing

AIS

The Sleep Geek James Wilson has partnered with Mattress Online to educate its staff around the benefits of quality sleep has appointed Ulster Stores MD Neville Moore as its chair, and W J Aldiss MD Darryl Simpson as deputy chair
READ MORE ONLINE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET
8 NEWS
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Can't get the staff?

Is staffing the biggest challenge facing your business? Prices and products wax and wane, but people are perhaps the most important (and most taxing) piece of the puzzle. This month, Furniture News’ Paul Farley takes a deep dive into the employment crisis facing the UK furniture industry, and asks the experts to suggest better approaches to recruitment and retention …

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From the short-term pressure of hiring seasonal retail workers and delivery staff, to the ongoing skills shortage across vital areas of UK manufacture, it’s increasingly clear that ‘the right people for the job’ are a dwindling resource, and that every business needs to prioritise staff recruitment and retention if it is to succeed.

As far back as 2015, in their report entitled Mind the Gap, The Furniture Makers’ Company and Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) warned of a growing skills shortage and lack of adequate training provision, and urged the development of closer working relationships with schools, alongside apprenticeships and specialist skills delivery.

Despite laudable efforts and several success stories, the looming crisis was repeatedly forced to take a back seat to more pressing concerns, exacerbating the problem, and the furniture sector is now dangerously lacking in both people and proficiency.

In September, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that “the tightest labour market in decades” and a shrinking pool of available labour meant more vacancies than there are workers to fill them: “In absolute terms, the retail sector accounts for one of the largest number of vacancies, at 100,000, around 10,000 higher than prior to the pandemic,” stated economist Harvir Dhillon. Further up the supply chain, a survey carried out by the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) in November saw 77% of its members report a ‘moderate to severe’ skills shortage.

While every business will have its own staffing challenges and solutions, the problem is industrywide.

SNAPSHOT: SCS

ScS significantly overhauled its hiring and onboarding process last year. The retailer introduced a new digital welcome pack to and is in the process of investing in a new careers website and application tracking system to improve efficiencies in the hiring process. Staff focus groups have been held throughout the year to help the business shape its approach.

“As we seek ways to improve retention, a key focus of our people strategy is to review and benchmark our reward offering,” states ScS. “During the year we enhanced reward for our distribution teams who operate in a highly competitive job market and we are currently benchmarking remuneration across the business. We also relaunched our share incentive plan with a new provider with the aim to encourage colleagues to share in the success of the business. Additionally, we introduced the ability for our employees to salary sacrifice their pension contributions, which will result in an increase to many of our colleagues’ net pay.

“We are delighted to see that our retention rates are improving, with a decrease in staff turnover of -2.4% compared to FY21.”

Looking ahead, ScS plans to develop its diversity and flexible workforce policies and implement a new learning management system.

“At ScS our aim is to ‘create a workplace people love to work’, where colleagues feel they belong, are listened to and are given the opportunity to develop. Our people are what makes our business successful and developing an outstanding team is at the forefront of our business strategy. Attracting, developing and retaining colleagues with the appropriate skills, behaviours and attitudes and from a variety of backgrounds is the focus of the colleague element of our social strategy,” the retailer concludes.

Looking for answers

In a market seemingly so full of opportunity for jobseekers, what might make them consider a career in the – traditionally unglamorous – furniture sector? What’s the best way to reach out to candidates, and to retain those already in place?

Furniture News has enlisted a formidable panel –from retailers and recruitment agents to manufacturers and machinery suppliers – to explore this pressing issue. With their help, we look at how the industry tackles recruitment, and how it might make itself more appealing to younger generations – while exploring how businesses ensure their valuable recruits do not leave to work elsewhere, the various paths of training and advancement, and some of the more innovative approaches from across the sector.

You’re hired!

Forget simply placing a card in a newsagent’s window or an ad in the local paper. While there’s a chance traditional approaches can bear fruit locally, today’s recruitment drives are typically an online affair, building on established methods to span dedicated job sites, social media and multiple channels.

“When we recruit, we use word of mouth within the industry, plus LinkedIn and Indeed, to try to find the right candidates,” says Toons Furnishers’ Huw Williams. According to new data from marketing agency The Social Shepherd, 57% of jobseekers use LinkedIn to find new jobs, and 62% use Indeed.

Yet, admits Barkers Furniture’s Neil Barker, the success of multichannel recruitment campaigns can come down to luck as much as judgement. The wider the net is cast – and the easier it is to apply for the position – the greater the number of unsuitable applicants to filter out, says Fairway Furniture’s Peter Harding: “The retail recruitment landscape is in chaos. Finding the right talent, particularly in sales roles, has never been more difficult.

“Vacancies attract lots of interest, but that is primarily because of the change in the way businesses recruit. We use, in the main, online recruitment models – but the minimal time it takes to put yourself forward for a role means people may apply for a dozen or more in an evening. Go back even five years, and that was far less of an issue.

“Even shortlisting candidates who meet all your criteria is no guarantee you’ll find the right person. In the past few months, we’ve tried to recruit for sales roles several times, and had none of a shortlist of six even attend for interview. Applicants often simply never respond to interview requests – or commit to attend, then don’t show up.”

Collier & Clark Group’s Royce Clark concurs: “It’s not a quick or easy process anymore – more quantity than quality.” This is partly due to a disconnect between established hiring practices and what younger jobseekers are looking for. A job ad’s appeal can vary massively from generation to generation, which means the offer must be framed correctly, says AIS’ Emma Rackley: “The promise of a good work/life balance is so high up the list of employee priorities that it must be front and centre if you want to recruit talent.”

“Finding the right talent has never been more difficult
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14 INSIGHT STAFFING

VIEWPOINT

LYNN JONES ON RECRUITMENT

Dr Lynn Jones developed a passion for employability while working at Bucks New University, and today operates her own recruitment service dedicated to matching candidates with their perfect furniture industry jobs. Here, Lynn offers her take and tips on tackling an increasingly challenging marketplace …

In which areas of furniture industry recruitment do you specialise?

All areas, from junior furnituremaker roles to senior management-level positions.

How did you come to work in this role?

I never intended to get into recruitment, but in my last role as head of the furniture department at Buckinghamshire New University, I had an ‘additional responsibility’ for employability, which entailed connecting with a great many employers across the UK, with the aim of improving the employability statistics for the department by matching graduates to roles.

LYNN'S TOP RECRUITMENT TIPS

* Be respectful. Employees are choosing employers now for a great many different reasons, so recruitment is much more of a two-way process

* Offer incentives – anything from simply collecting applicants from a train station to offering to put them up in a hotel if they are travelling far, or relocation costs if relevant. Another big incentive is aspirational – people generally want to feel psychologically that they are moving forwards or upwards in the company. The appraisal process is therefore very important

Then, when the university closed the furniture department in 2016, an employer I knew suggested

I continue to help employers find good people, as he felt that no-one was doing that in a specialist furniture industry way. So, that’s what I continued to do, and I love it.

How has the recruitment landscape changed over the past decade?

Having only been doing this for the last six years or so, I would say that the main changes from my point of view have happened since Covid. These would include people requesting more flexible working, changes to commute time or method (such as cycling to work), and increased salaries due to the scarcity of skilled people.

Do you find new technologies and social media help or hinder the process?

Social media as a tool is fantastic if used in a controlled, well-managed, very conscious way. Conversations can be started so quickly with people who need help on both sides – employers and potential employees. I really enjoy the connections that can be made very quickly and easily. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and share stories.

What does an effective job ad comprise? Succinct, short, well-edited text, without any waffle, and a great image!

What skills and qualifications are generally sought by employers?

All sorts – depending on the role, obviously. But most often, employers are most interested in finding the

best personality fit. Everything else tends to follow that.

Can you comment on the success rate of your placements?

Yes – my success rate is very high. I think because it’s more like a dating or matchmaking service, focused on very carefully matching the person to the role, and vice versa. I don’t send out hundreds of CVs to employers – usually just two or three, along with my own personal recommendation of the person.

Do you advise on retention at all?

I do confidentially advise employers on retention, yes, in a common sense kind of way. I keep in contact with employees, too – I find out why they stay in roles, and sometimes why they start to think about leaving, and then collect their thoughts to build a generic advice tool.

Do you feel there’s a disconnect between industry and training bodies?

I don’t know much at all about training bodies. Many organisations, though, can be over complex and heavily administrative, which can become onerous for employers to navigate, and can be off-putting to all involved.

How might UK furniture businesses in general make themselves more attractive and accessible to new recruits?

By making themselves/their companies as attractive as possible. As there is a severe shortage of furniture industry people (particularly furnituremakers) right now, potential employees usually have more than one job offer, so employers have to offer a range of incentives, together with pleasant environments in which to work.

www.lynnjonesassociates.com

“Employers are most interested in finding the best personality fit. Everything else tends to follow
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• Emphasise the honest benefits of working for the company –share positive stories!
“Right now, potential employees usually have more than one job offer

VIEWPOINT PICK OF THE PERKS

Reward is integral to retention – but what perks do the staff working for/with Furniture News’ regular contributors value most highly?

The employees love a bonus. I also give out chocolate eggs at Easter and a bottle of wine at Christmas, but, more importantly, we allow a good work/life balance

I think full healthcare cover. It might not be glamorous, but hopefully it provides some peace of mind if ever it’s needed

At Heal’s the staff discount was welcome, but there was a lot more excitement about the sample sales

WFA – Work From Anywhere. We genuinely live by the belief that work is a thing you do, not a place you go

Free pizza, beer, and company cars (no yellow Lambos though!) always work well, plus we are a very relaxed company with minimal hierarchy –we all muck in and do what needs to be done

We have a flexible overtime structure. If someone wants to stay to finish something, or earn more to save for something, they can. We also offer the option to travel to customers’ sites across the world (if that’s a perk?)

16 INSIGHT STAFFING
Remote working is a popular option for staff whose roles permit doing so (photo courtesy iStock/francisblack)
George Sinclair (Nimbus Beds)
Having their birthday off
Mark Gannon (Sofa Source)
Furniture at low cost, bonuses/ rewards for a job well done
Jade Farthing (Haskins Furniture)
The flexibility we offer – I believe in a little give and take
Neil Barker (Barkers Furniture)
I feel there is a lot of satisfaction in the autonomy we give people
Keiran Hewkin (Swyft)
Probably our remote working and flexible working hours
Martin Seeley (MattressNextDay)
Shaun Peel (MattressTek) Steve Reid (Simba Sleep) David Kohn (The Multichannel Expert)
“Work is a thing you do, not a place you go

We’re spreading our wings...

You know Airsprung, right? We are leaders in volume, value supply. Not on the high street, not in the middle ground. Well, guess what, we’re back and back with a flourish.

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Culture club

No matter how well constructed the ad campaign, effective recruitment comes down to personal qualities – is the candidate a good fit for the business?

In retail, mindset is even more than skillset, argues Sussex Beds’ Steve Pickering: “Over the past 12 months we’ve increased team numbers from 51 to 66, and thus far have not found issue with attracting or retaining great talent.

“Doing so is centred around a strong culture. Building culture includes formal and informal systems, behaviours and values, your ‘why’ and your ‘purpose’. This needs to be communicated and highlighted within the full recruitment process.

“Ultimately, you’re looking for like-minded individuals who ‘get it’ and ‘get you’, which will ensure they will thrive in your working environment. A key recruitment policy of ours is to recruit on attitude. You can train and upskill people on processes and skills –but, once a bad attitude, always a bad attitude.”

Mattress Online’s Steve Adams takes a similar view: “Recruitment is challenging. At our core we are a technology company, and employing digital and development skills is both expensive, and an employee market. Likewise, hiring good salespeople for front-of-house retail is equally as hard. Importantly, we take our time to find the right people, and hire on culture fit as much as skillset.”

Of course, it can take some time for a the suitability of a new hire to truly become clear. For employers experiencing ‘buyer’s remorse’, Toons Furnishers’ Huw Williams recommends restarting the process as soon as possible: “If someone hasn’t made the grade after three months and their monthly reviews, it’s probably time to let them go. It’s always wrong to hang on to the wrong people – you’re better off waiting for the right candidate to come along.”

SNAPSHOT: CHIPPENDALE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF FURNITURE

Now in its 37th year, the Chippendale International School of Furniture has seen a surge in demand for its woodworking courses since the pandemic – and says that, despite the rising cost of living, there are no signs of applications slowing.

The East Lothian-based, not-for-profit school reports that, since 2019, places on both the professional furnituremaking course and shorter complementary courses have continuously sold out “as more people leave corporate jobs in pursuit of creative careers”.

Tom Fraser, school principal, says demand from people seeking to change careers is “unrelenting”, with many incoming students having swapped professional roles to carve a new path this year: “In recent years we have seen a spike in applications from people rethinking their priorities and seeking fulfilment from alternative career paths. The pandemic was a real catalyst for this, but the enduring demand for courses proves that the ‘Great Resignation’ is still ongoing.

“Our courses appeal to those seeking the flexibility of a career that fits around their lifestyle, and that allows them to take control of their income. We are also still seeing the after-effects of the pandemic, with some students mentioning burnout as a driver for change.”

Fairway Furniture’s Peter Harding comments: “We have become faster at weeding out those who are clearly not going to make it.”

And sometimes the opportunity arises naturally, adds Barkers Furniture’s Neil Barker: “Tough times lead to any time-wasters losing out.”

Don’t let go

Yet recruitment is only part of the battle. Any businessperson knows that the cost of acquiring a new customer vastly exceeds that of retaining an existing one, and the same holds true for staffing.

The costs and time involved in recruitment, onboarding and development all add up – agency charges are typically 20-30% of the applicant’s final salary, suggests Wellers Accountants, while the Chartered Institute for Personal Development (CIPD) estimates the average cost of filling a vacancy, including labour costs, to be £6125 (rising to £19,000 and more for managerial roles) – and the hiring process does not always get it right first time.

Mattress Online’s Steve Adams comments: “We strive to create a happy, rewarding and exciting place to work, helping us to retain our skilled team for the long term, and minimising our exposure to the recruitment market.”

Businesses will go about doing so in various ways, but a good staff retention strategy starts with assessment, says Sussex Beds’ Steve Pickering: “We perform quarterly performance reviews and team satisfaction surveys. We will integrate cultural and value questioning and evaluation to ensure our team continue to live and align with our company culture.”

Reborn Marketing and Design’s Adam Ashborn agrees that close monitoring is key to understanding how employees are feeling, enabling managers to recognise the need for action before it is too late: “Hiring is not the issue – the issue is relating to retaining good, talented employees who want to progress in their careers. Companies need to look inward and monitor the trend of staff turnover and the reasons for leaving.

“Understanding the pattern and identifying the causes could help towards creating an employee retention programme that can predict roughly when someone will start to look for new employment and how, as an employer, we can stop this individual from leaving – whether that’s a pay rise, or other benefits. Understanding the pattern also allows businesses to hire new staff and have them trained before the current member of staff decides to either move into a new role within the company, or leave.

“Good morale in any business is a sign of success – allowing employees to feel part of the family and learn new things, and giving them realistic goals and a career path, will only increase the retention of skilled workers.”

Julian Bowen’s Rob King agrees, and adds that taking such an approach is even more important across a large team: “A wholesale business like ours has staff focusing on a massively wide range of roles, here in the UK and abroad – shipping, finance, sales, operations, buying, delivery and warehousing – and

18 INSIGHT STAFFING
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“We take our time to find the right people, and hire on culture fit as much as skillset

CASE STUDY WOLF COMPONENTS

How large is your workforce, and what kind of job roles are involved?

Our workforce currently stands at around 60 employees across the company. Job roles range from entry-level production through to experienced machine operators, maintenance and team leaders. They are supported by a team of supply chain, finance and administration managers and staff.

Is recruitment a challenge?

Recruitment has been a challenge in this postpandemic world, in addition to identifying talented potential employees who are looking to commit to a long-term career instead of just short-term working. Increased time and fresh approaches have been required.

Why might a job searcher choose Wolf over another local employer?

We pride ourselves on being a true family business, and as a small team actively work to create an atmosphere of every employee feeling valued and never just a number. We’ve been pleased to see many of our team recommending friends and family members to join us, and have often seen employees return to Wolf.

What measures have you put in place to increase worker satisfaction and ensure minimal churn?

The directors have been active in increasing benefits for staff as the business has grown. A health plan was introduced, which has been well received, and this has been extended to include employees’ families. This year, further benefits such as enhanced sick pay are being introduced for employees with longer service, therefore rewarding commitment. We also quickly recognised the coming impact of the cost of living crisis, and implemented a company-wide salary increase back in the spring.

Have you weighed up the costs against the likely benefits of doing so?

In every instance we have found the costs of these measures – ensuring every employee feels valued and supported at work – to be minimal compared to the benefits. Of course, retaining an excellent and happy team is significantly less costly than continuous recruitment and the employment of temporary staff.

What do you think your employees value most about working for Wolf?

All employees are given the opportunity to take ownership of their career development. Our production employees, for example, are encouraged to work through a multi-tier training plan, to develop their skills in addition to increasing their salary – while our other staff are actively encouraged to grow their own career within the company through training and multi-skilling. In addition, we now have employees pursuing finance apprenticeships and further health and safety training, as well as wellbeing and mental health.

We believe our employees value these opportunities to progress, and all our managers have been promoted and grown through the company.

How do you think your approach stacks up compared to the wider industry (and other sectors)?

We have always been keen to focus on long-term careers at Wolf instead of short-term employment. We believe this approach makes our employees feel part of the growth and success of the business, in addition to developing strong relationships and communication across all levels.

Our ethos has been to recognise and value skills and experience and, unusually across the industry, we were proud to retain all our employees through the pandemic.

Do you feel there’s a disconnect between industry and training bodies?

In our experience, training bodies generally deliver generic skills, and the majority of valuable training in our industry is still undertaken ‘on the job’. The availability of more furniture- and manufacturingspecific training would certainly be welcomed.

How might the industry make itself more attractive and accessible to new recruits?

More information and promotion of the career diversity and opportunities of working in the furniture industry needs to be undertaken. It is truly an industry where talented employees can start at any level and, with the right support, can progress to senior positions and rewarding careers.

www.wolfcomponents.com

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ANTHONY'S TOP RETENTION TIPS • Listen to your employees and make them feel heard • Find out what benefits would truly be useful for them, and invest accordingly • Create real opportunities for career development
Anthony Joyce co-founded Wolf Components in 2017, and the bed industry specialist supplier has gone from strength to strength ever since, now employing over 60 members of staff across its two sites in Rotherham – and going to great lengths to retain them …
time
fresh approaches
“Increased
and
have been required

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Our business continues to grow as we expand our range and provide our customers with total support all the way. There has never been greater customer choice from Highgrove. Each of our beds has clear benefits for better sleep and is backed up by high quality in-store point of sale supplied free of charge to our appointed stockists.

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requires constant communication between the teams to achieve great results. Every department affects the next, so it’s vital all staff members feedback their ideas and issues.

“We run regular after-work staff events to promote the team ethic, and are seeing incredible investment not just in human resource at all levels, but in upgrading offices and systems to ensure a better environment and working conditions. Your business is as good as the sum of its parts – the products, pricing and stockholding are all key aspects for Julian Bowen, but without the human resource behind it, delivering the physical aspects, we achieve nothing.”

Rewarding behaviour

What makes an employee happy? Does a clean, comfortable working environment keep them satisfied, or do they seek greater financial reward? Would a flexible working arrangement make all the difference, or is it simply enough to know they are valued?

The answer, of course, is as varied as the individuals themselves. Everyone is motivated by their own specific desires and needs. A successful employer will identify how they can meet those demands while fulfilling the requirements of the business.

According to Toons Furnishers’ Huw Williams, offering a good working environment can be more effective than financial reward: “We have a great work/life balance at Toons and try to make it a friendly and fun place to work, and to a lot of employees that sometimes means more than money. It’s best to try to hang on to your staff, if possible. A lot of time, effort and expense has gone into training them, and it takes time for new staff to become effective.”

Arighi Bianchi’s Sarah Bianchi comments: “Making our team feel valued and recognised is so important, and we’re proud to have very a low turnover of staff (1.3% in 2021). We’re fortunate to have colleagues with long-standing service in our family business, and they set the tone perfectly for helping new members settle in. Our business is based on family values, and giving autonomy to team members, allowing them to be the best versions of themselves.”

The retail and manufacturing sectors usually demand that staff are physically present, but some areas of the industry offer greater flexibility. In

SNAPSHOT: DREAMS

As part of its ‘People-First’ strategy, Dreams provided an enhanced £5m package of financial and wellbeing support for its teams before Christmas.

Dreams advanced its annual pay increase from April 2023 to December 2022. The increase ranged from +4.3-8.6%, with the majority receiving the higher pay boost.

Other initiatives introduced include: discounts for high street food retailers; free outof-hours GP service and medical appointments; and free financial support, budgeting guidance and debt management advice via The Retail Trust.

CEO Jonathan Hirst said: “We know that the rising cost of living and recent interest rate spikes means that life is getting harder, not easier for lots of people, including our colleagues. Our absolute focus is making sure that Dreams continues to be marketleading and here for the long-term. Looking after our fantastic colleagues and putting them first is our priority – they are what makes our business what it is.”

keeping with more general working trends prompted by the pandemic, Simba Sleep takes that promise of autonomy even further, says Steve Reid: “In any industry or sector, you have to adapt, be nimble, but, most of all, put people first. At Simba we do an enormous amount for our employees, focusing on creating a dynamic, fast-moving but very supportive environment. We may work too much sometimes, but we balance it with flexibility and a culture of trust.

“Central to that is our ‘WFA’ policy – allowing employees to work from anywhere they like, confident in the belief that work is a thing they do, not a place they’re in. We’ve had people work as far as Thailand, the lakes of Ontario and the idylls of the Lake District, Scotland and Cornwall. Three years ago this would never have been the case, but as a brand and business that has embraced it to help employees (and ourselves!) balance work and life, we’re now reaping the benefits as we attract talent away from others who are asking their employees back into the office.

“We’re finding we have access to a much more diverse range of talent now – the world is our oyster!”

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

A particularly sensitive challenge of long-term staff retention is ensuring the headcount can weather the ups and downs of trade. During particularly tough times, savings must be made – but, informed by his lockdown experiences, Toons Furnishers’ Huw Williams suggests: “If things get bad, it’s probably better to try and enter into some mutual agreement with your staff to take reductions in hours to see the business through the worst, and then step them back up as trade dictates.”

Simba Sleep’s Steve Reid advocates a measured approach throughout: “The key is maintaining lean – avoiding bloat or growing too much into increased sales, and the same if sales are challenged. Don’t slim down your workforce too much. Lean is better than fat or skinny!”

Train to gain

As well as being vital to a business’ success, training is integral to staff retention. The impact of combined wage potential and growth on employee satisfaction should not be underestimated, and alongside in-house delivery, various sales and technical training options are available to retailers and manufacturers, while more specialised routes – such as apprenticeships, further education study programmes, and the new T-levels – enable the delivery of sector-specific skills.

Training is another significant expense, but it can also offer serious ROI when deployed effectively, nurturing vital skills and keeping employees engaged for the long term. Given the staff shortages facing many businesses, it has also become common practice to multi-skill employees to fulfil a variety of roles – giving the business greater flexibility, and providing staff with enrichment, variety, and a broader range of career paths.

Fairway Furniture’s Peter Harding says: “Our approach over the past 10 years has been to

22 INSIGHT STAFFING
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“We really should be showcasing what the industry has to offer

VIEWPOINT BRITISH FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS (BFM)

Collaboration and communication are key to ensuring the pathways into the industry – and within it – are maintained, says Sean Holt, MD of the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) trade association.

How does the BFM assist with staff recruitment, retention and training across the industry?

Under the umbrella of FIESTA (the Furniture, Interiors, Education, Skills & Training Alliance), BFM works with colleagues from other trade associations such as the National Bed Federation (NBF), The Furniture Makers’ Company and Commercial Interiors UK to set standards for apprenticeships, promote the industry as a career choice, and lobby Government to invest in training and skills for the sector.

How does the furniture industry’s approach to recruitment and retention compare to other sectors in which you’ve worked?

Very similar. I previously worked in the printing and leisure industry and, like my colleagues now in the furniture industry, they are all chasing the best talent to encourage them to work in their sector. I do think it’s a case of ‘recruit for attitude, and train for skills’. Employers need to be flexible and innovative if they are to achieve their recruitment goals.

What were your biggest training takeaways from the networking event you held last May?

It was interesting to learn that not all employers are aware of how to recruit and put in place an apprenticeship scheme to encourage people to apply for roles and then subsequently support them to attain the appropriate skills and qualifications. This was the main reason we ran the Workforce of Tomorrow event at Ercol’s factory – for some people,

an apprenticeship is a gateway into an industry, and I would encourage more companies to use this mechanism to recruit and retain staff.

Can you share any examples of innovative staffing techniques you’ve noticed in our industry?

Some employers are breaking tradition by offering more flexible terms, improved benefits, bonuses, and career pathways which allow employees to work in different areas of the business. Some are setting up their own training schools, and others are reaching out to communities in their respective locations with open days and recruitment fairs to promote the variety of opportunities there are in the furniture industry.

It is a competitive market, but the industry has so much to offer and needs to continually promote itself to ensure its voice is heard.

How else might the industry make itself more attractive and accessible to new recruits?

Image and perception are always difficult barriers to break down. At BFM, we are trying to support our members and challenge this, via the Future of Furniture campaign, which we are using to promote opportunities within the sector by filming and interviewing real people working in the industry – who are best placed to articulate why they work in the industry, and what it can offer them, both now and in the future.

www.bfm.org.uk

for attitude, and train for skills 23
“Recruit
Derek Williams, quality director at Achieve + Partners, was the guest speaker at a regional meeting hosted by BFM at Ercol’s HQ this summer

VIEWPOINT THE FURNITURE MAKERS' COMPANY

The Furniture Makers’ Company –the City of London livery company and dedicated industry charity – has long played a leading role in developing the sector’s workforce, paying particular attention to engaging school leavers and graduates through shows, awards, seminars, scholarships and mentor programmes. Here, Alex Crofts and Chris Hyde, who co-chair the organisation’s education and training committee – together with education and training manager Rebecca Bertram-Smith – tell Furniture News about the challenges and training opportunities in their sights …

What’s the biggest recruitment challenge facing the UK furniture industry?

Alex: As an industry we have struggled to take a more centralised approach to tackle industrywide recruitment issues. Some companies, such as DFS and Silentnight, are very good at tackling their recruitment, and have strong apprenticeship programmes. However, we have received feedback from smaller firms that recruitment can be challenging for them with regards to how they best source talent in the most efficient and beneficial way.

As an industry, we have many proactive trade bodies, such as Commercial Interiors UK, the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) and the National Bed Federation (NBF), that have worked to bring a more centralised system with regards to the recruitment of talent. A successful example of this is the creation of FIESTA (Furniture, Interiors, Education, Skills & Training Alliance), which has successfully launched and continues to actively promote Level 2 & 3 apprenticeship programmes in furniture.

We recognise that we need to expand on this into wider general recruitment in areas such as graduate recruitment, T-Levels, mature entry recruitment and general recruitment.

Is there any anecdotal or hard evidence you can share regarding these challenges?

Alex: Like most industries, we do have challenges regarding workers for specific skills – an example of this is in attracting sewing specialists for the upholstery industry. This field within the industry is made up of an aging workforce, and we need to attract talent into this area. One company has even acted by setting up a wider educational programme to tackle this issue.

Chris: Companies need young people who can problem-solve, make things and have attributes such as being enterprising, professional, confident,

resilient and aware. These soft skills should also be considered when looking at developing teams.

Can you share any good examples of innovative solutions in our industry?

Alex: Retention issues are always ongoing, and like most companies, those in our industry are competing with all sectors to attract and retain talent.

Feedback from within the industry has highlighted that we are a nice sector to work in. Decent wages, positive working environment, wider company employee support (when required) and the opportunity for employee development (be it skills training/career progression) within the working establishment all go a long way to retaining talent.

What training initiatives is The Furniture Makers’ Company involved in?

Rebecca: Since emerging from the pandemic, we have been reviewing our education and training offer and have been creating a long-term strategy to support entry into the industry and talent retention. This includes developing our current core activities such as the School Design Prize, the Young Furniture Makers Awards, the Young Furniture Makers exhibition, and our Young Professional Industry Experience.

We’ll be creating additional opportunities which we will start to roll out over the next few years, targeting all entry points into our industry, as well ensuring that our activities take place across the UK and are accessible to as many people as possible.

How effective a stepping stone to industry is the Young Furniture Makers exhibition?

Rebecca: The Young Furniture Makers exhibition – an annual event taking place at Furniture Makers’ Hall and the Dutch Church in London every October, which is open to all in our industry and those interested in joining it – is a fantastic opportunity to

24 INSIGHT STAFFING
“Our new strategy will focus on creating opportunities for students and employers to connect
From left: Rebecca BertramSmith; Alex Crofts; and Chris Hyde
“Ours is a nice sector to work in

connect talented budding furnituremakers with the industry.

We invite the most outstanding entries to the Young Furniture Makers Awards to exhibit their work at the exhibition, and announce the winners in the evening. The event brings together emerging talent with members of industry to create a perfect melting pot for emerging designer/makers – exhibitors and guests – to develop their networks and provide an opportunity for industry to scout talent.

Many exhibitors have been offered jobs and mentoring experiences at the exhibition. All the exhibitors surveyed after the event indicated that they will be pursuing a career in the industry.

What’s on FIESTA’s agenda right now?

Rebecca: FIESTA and The Furniture Makers’ Company are currently collaborating to introduce a new joint role to help support employers and education providers to get more people into exciting apprenticeship opportunities, and scope out the employer landscape ahead of the new Furniture Making T-Levels due to be introduced this year.

Does your scope touch on the retail sector, or purely manufacturing/design?

Alex: Moving forward, we plan to touch on all sectors of the industry, both manufacturing and retail.

Do you feel there’s a disconnect between the industry and training bodies?

Alex: I don’t believe there is. We work very closely when we can. For example, we have a strong relationship with several educational establishments/ training providers and run an annual award programme for both school and higher-level students. Key partners at this level include (but are not limited to) Rycotewood, Chichester College, Burnley College, Didac, Wendy Shorter Interiors and many others. This is one area where we have strong roots in place from which to grow. Our new strategy will focus on creating opportunities for students and employers to connect – whether that is at a face-to-face event or through a virtual site.

www.furnituremakers.org.uk www.fiestalearning.com

CHRIS AND REBECCA'S TOP TRAINING TIPS

Chris: Good training needs analysis, and it is essential to communicate to your team who you want to train and why, to ensure all staff buy into your training plans. Once this is done, talk to your provider, or contact us to find one, so that your needs are fully understood to ensure the best solution can be delivered.

By investing in training and taking on this responsibility, you help strengthen the whole industry. Apprenticeships are a fantastic option for training staff in our industry. If you’re considering apprenticeships, there’s good advice on apprenticeships.gov.uk.

Rebecca: For smaller businesses, the cost of training staff can seem daunting. However, not all training requires outsourcing. Depending on your workforce and the type of upskilling needed, you may be able to facilitate staff skillssharing sessions or find mentoring opportunities for staff within your business or wider network. This could look like weekly sessions with a designated in-house expert, or regular meetings with a mentor to develop a specific skillset.

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The Young Furniture Makers exhibition showcases fresh talent Education is integral to the livery company’s efforts The Furniture Makers’ Company delivers opportunities to engage directly with the industry

multi-skill people where we see they have the ability, so they can work across multiple roles in-store. This helps cover for any leavers and sickness, as well as allowing us to flex teams when business levels drop. Smaller teams during these periods means we can maintain earnings and retain the best talent.”

Multi-skilling is even more attractive to manufacturing production managers, giving them an opportunity to deploy labour when and where it is needed.

And although it is perhaps a discussion for another day, there is also a case for investing in automation “in place of (often futile) efforts to recruit”, says MattressTek’s Shaun Peel: “Automating processes and production lines caters for the lag of labour and staff to operate the machines and do the jobs required at various points in the manufacturing process.”

Closing the skills gap

In 2015’s Mind the Gap report, the authors warned of a dwindling manufacturing skills base (particularly upholstering, sewing, machine operating and programming, finishing and production management). Machinery operation, like many manufacturing processes, still requires skilled hands.

“Industry can’t rely on luck to deliver such a workforce,” read the report, “and a concerted, collaborative effort across the whole sector is essential to ensure that Government, and the wide range of training and skills providers, from schools through to universities, understand what is needed.”

In 2017, key industry associations came together to establish FIESTA (Furniture, Interiors, Education, Skills & Training Alliance), with the aim of encouraging talented new workers to join the industry, and ensuring relevant training and qualifications are in place to support them. Its stakeholders have since made gains through numerous initiatives.

Others have responded to the dwindling pool of skilled craftspeople by stepping up their own training programmes and engaging untapped resources. In 2018, Nottinghamshire manufacturer Whitemeadow expanded its training strategy by launching its own sewing school. It now encourages local schoolchildren to consider a career via its sewing and upholstery academies – as well as working with job centres, parole services and the armed forces community to broaden the pathways into work.

Radical reinvention

But it is not just the skilled craftspeople that are lacking. The furniture industry has experienced such upheaval in more recent times that many have been forced to rethink their approach to staffing.

Some businesses have remodelled themselves to ensure long-term succession and staff satisfaction – take Scunthorpe’s Lebus Upholstery, which became an Employee Owned Trust (EoT) in 2021. “It was evident that recruitment and labour retention was going to be a serious challenge,” said Lebus’ Karl Walker. “We’d already implemented our apprenticeship academy and looked locally – and aggressively – to train the next generation of workers

rather than relying on skilled EU labour, which was diminishing rapidly.

“The EoT ensured the continuity and integrity of the business, while fully engaging a committed workforce in the knowledge that they will all share in the future success of the company.”

Other organisations have adapted where they can, skewing production schedules and opening hours to reduce burnout and restore that all-important work/life balance – M&S, for example, has offered over 3000 retail managers the option to work a fourday compressed week (an idea prompted by staff returning from maternity leave).

Across the board, furniture businesses are delivering better wages, enhanced benefits packages, free healthcare and more to ensure happy, loyal staff.

Opening the door

In many ways, these retention measures are the easy wins – safeguarding the industry’s future against an employee drought will require a more concerted effort. Notable examples aside, few businesses are able to implement significant change on their own, so all will have to play their part in removing the industry’s various barriers to entry.

AIS’ Emma Rackley proposes the following: “How can we start to encourage younger people into the industry? We need a collective effort – the challenge is greater than one person – but we really should be showcasing what the industry has to offer, and proactively talking to the next wave of possible furniture experts.” The buying group has also partnered with Diversity in Retail to help ensure a more diverse and inclusive approach within the sector.

Fairway Furniture’s Peter Harding doesn’t feel the need to sugar-coat the industry’s appeal to would-be applicants, reiterating that the rewards are there for the taking: “The furniture industry is not for everyone – particularly if you like a constant ‘buzz’ in the workplace – but it can be very rewarding, as witnessed over the past two years, when sales commission earnings have been at record levels.”

No doubt, finding the right person for the job will be an ongoing challenge. But by deploying more effective recruitment and retention strategies, every furniture business can make a convincing case to children, students, jobseekers and beyond that a career in this unique industry is a wholly worthwhile endeavour.

26 INSIGHT STAFFING
“In any industry or sector, you have to adapt, be nimble, but, most of all, put people first
“Companies need to look inward and monitor the trend of staff turnover and the reasons for leaving
Formal training opportunities help manufacturers build skills in key areas (photo courtesy 123RF/bialasiewicz)

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Getting from A to B

Walt Disney once said, “A man should never neglect his family for business” – but what if these are one and the same? Furniture News asks Sarah Bianchi how she balances ambition and appreciation in a family business that’s striving to become much more than the sum of its parts …

With a heritage dating back to 1854, Arighi Bianchi is one of the UK’s longest-running furniture businesses. Perhaps best known for its iconic glass-fronted Macclesfield store, the business was established by Antonio Arighi, an entrepreneur on the run from civil war in Italy, and his brother in law, Antonio Bianchi, a cabinetmaker.

Five generations later, Arighi Bianchi continues to set high standards in independent retail, demonstrating its prowess both in-store and online.

Sarah joined the family business at the age of 23, and fulfilled a range of roles, from managing the carpet division, to HR and buying, before her appointment as MD in summer 2021 – a promotion that coincided with a concerted ecommerce development drive, building on record sales delivered during the pandemic.

Sarah outlined her ambition to take Arighi Bianchi far beyond the North West and its existing customer demographic, and the momentum continues to build, she tells Furniture News …

What’s been the hardest part of settling into your new role?

Recent years have been unprecedented in terms of external events impacting the business, and I’ve been presented with challenges that few of us would have anticipated, so I’ve had to hit the ground running.

But I’ve been with the business for a long time and have a great team around me, which has mitigated many challenges that someone without my experience within our business might have faced.

Being not afraid to change things has been challenging. I’ve had to realise that I’m not changing for change’s sake – you have to adapt a business to survive. This is quite daunting, when the way things have been done by my predecessors have worked so well for many, many years.

My fresh approach and the impact of external pressures have encouraged us to completely

reassess the business strategy across all areas, from ramping up our digital capabilities to reviewing our suppliers and internal systems. I’ve had to be flexible to navigate the changing demands and buying habits of our customers.

Having worked in the family business for many years, what was the most surprising discovery upon seeing it from the top?

I have a greater appreciation of even the smallest factors that go into making a successful business, and the importance of nurturing a happy team. My door is always open, which means I now support many more colleagues in their decision-making, and have been much more involved in championing our culture.

It’s not just managing supplier relationships and ensuring we excel in customer service – ensuring our team is cared for is paramount.

›› INSIGHT 29
“I’ve had to realise that I’m not changing for change’s sake

What are the pros and cons to working so closely with your family?

There is a real sense that we all care deeply about the business, and our open and honest conversations mean nothing is hidden. Being called “Mum” at work can sometimes feel a little strange … but you have to accept that we know a lot about each other, including what we were like as kids!

Last year, you set out to challenge the online giants and reach audiences further afield. How have you gone about doing so?

We have invested heavily in our digital strategy, constantly improving the useability of our ecommerce site and increasing our stock levels online. We’ve upskilled in key areas that mean we can offer a multichannel experience, which has become the expectation from customers.

Whilst our bricks-and-mortar store is hugely well known and respected in Cheshire, we have worked hard to take our brand beyond regional boundaries, to appeal to a national audience – via PR, affiliate marketing, social media and influencer outreach. Bringing in the right partner agencies has been important in reaching relevant audiences.

Competitive pricing has also helped to ensure we offer consumers something a little bit different than the chain stores, but within their budget expectations. Internet shopping means consumers can easily shop around, so pricing is important, but we back this with

service, a more personal customer experience and exceptional delivery service. Our premium delivery team will set up furniture within the home, which is extremely attractive to many customers who don’t want the inconvenience of manoeuvring or building products.

How significant a role has social media played in this process?

Social media is a core part of our marketing activity. The benefit here is that it can be well targeted, reactive, and measurable. We can effectively track traffic and sales, which is vital to know it’s working.

We have a highly engaged Instagram community, and it has played a key role in increasing brand awareness on a national level. Our online audience is somewhat younger than our in-store shoppers, and we have worked with a number of key influencers to help reach this demographic.

As the pandemic recedes, is more of your focus returning to the bricks-and-mortar business?

We’re fortunate that our store has such a strong reputation in the North West, and our store sales have remain buoyant since restrictions were eased last year.

We continue to work hard to bring in new customers, as well as to meet the needs of our loyal following. We use the store for events and inspiration, and have a strong presence within the community to maintain awareness. It will always be the core of our offering, and the in-store experience will continue to be something we invest in.

Having a store is beneficial to us versus being a pureplay online retailer, as it provides an opportunity to ‘experience’ how the furniture looks and feels that online shopping can’t match. We also have highly experienced teams within the store, experts in their field – whether that’s helping customer choose carpets and rugs, or sofas. Being a destination store is something we’ll continue to invest in, alongside our other channels to market.

The beauty of Arighi Bianchi is that we’ve been able to strike a really good balance between people coming to shop in-store with the ecommerce side of our business, which is growing steadily.

30 INSIGHT

Has the way in which you work with your suppliers changed in recent years?

Since Covid, we’ve had to reassess our supply base and work with suppliers who are able to fulfil reasonable lead times. We’ve stopped buying containers directly from China due to the lengthy production delays and the cost of shipping the containers, which has forced us to look elsewhere. New, dynamic suppliers have emerged who we are enjoying positive relationships with.

In what other ways is Arighi Bianchi evolving?

We have recently appointed a new FD, Susie Harding, who also sits on the board of directors. This is the first time in the business’ history a non-family member has been part of the board.

We have ambitious targets for the coming years, set against a very difficult economic backdrop. Susie’s appointment is helping us to continue to evolve with new systems and ways of working, and to focus on financial security.

Our range of products is also evolving. Due to the size of our store, we’re able to merge more traditional styles with trend-led pieces to curate a retail experience that is well known for offering choice, high quality and value for money.

… and how are you ensuring the brand retains its heritage?

We have a great story to tell, and family members are active in helping us to effectively communicate this –both internally and externally. Our values are evident across all touchpoints and we know our heritage sets us apart, so we ensure this flows through our communications.

What do you think Arighi Bianchi’s founders would make of the business if they could see it now?

I think they would be hugely impressed with the business today. We have navigated (and are

navigating) extremely difficult trading times, yet we continue to stay true to the core values of Arighi Bianchi, whilst evolving and moving with the world around us.

What’s the biggest challenge facing you as a retailer right now? And how do you propose to tackle it?

Of course, the wider economic landscape has changed dramatically in the past 12 months, and we are certain to see reports of major players struggling to stay afloat as consumer spending decreases. That said, we are happy that we are on the right trajectory to meet the ambition we have set out to achieve.

You spent some time working in the House of Commons before joining the family business. Do you think you’d be able to handle the Westminster of today?

Since Brexit, the political landscape has become very turbulent, with five PMs in six years. In my time working in the private office of the late Sir Edward Heath, it was much more stable, but equally fast paced. It was fascinating to learn of the goings on within the corridors of Westminster (and in the House of Commons bar!), and it was an amazing experience!

www.arighibianchi.co.uk

“We’ve worked hard to take our brand beyond regional boundaries
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A whole new ballgame

How easy is it to juggle a global brand, show preparations, and a newly acquired manufacturing facility? Furniture News asked Richard Greenwood – who replaced Mark Draper as La-Z-Boy UK’s MD in October – for the lowdown on his market-leading proposition …

What might a typical working week entail?

It’s imperative that I understand and manage all aspects of the business, whether that be the commercial side, based in Maidenhead, or the production facility, which is based in Colne, Lancashire. Although I try to split my time equally between the two, I am led by the projects and priorities we are focused on, as to where I need to be that particular week.

My background has been sales focused, so I do especially enjoy meeting customers and visiting stores and sales staff as part of my working week, which also gives me a great insight of how the market and our brand is performing.

What’s been your most pressing challenge since becoming MD?

At around the time I was promoted, we, as well as other UK manufacturers, experienced a marketwide shortage of fire-resistant foam, significantly affecting our production facility and manufacturing capabilities.

This shortage required intensive monitoring to ensure workflow and staff resource within the factory

was evaluated and managed on a daily basis to coincide with foam deliveries. Despite this shortage, our UK and global procurement teams have worked together to ensure we now have contingency plans in place for the future.

How have you incorporated the Furnico brand within the La-Z-Boy UK business?

When we purchased Furnico Furniture Ltd in 2021 it was always part of our business plan to continue manufacture of the own-label product as we transitioned the business to La-Z-Boy Manufacturing Ltd.

The Furnico-labelled product line is hugely important to our overall strategy, and we know that the products are valued by our retail customers and consumers. Across the La-Z-Boy brand and our ownlabel offering, we continue to have strong order books and are looking forward to one of the most important promotional periods of the year (winter sale). To keep a strong product offering across both areas of the business, we will continue to ensure that product development and innovation are at the forefront of all new launches.

34 INSIGHT
Bartelli
“Product development and innovation are at the forefront of all new launches

Give us your elevator pitch for the January Furniture Show – what can visitors expect to see from both brands?

An industry-leading brand partnership, a new recline mechanism and a new product line on our largestever stand.

As we enter our second year as the official furniture partner to the NFL London Games, we’ll be showcasing our Spectator sporting chair – which was featured in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at this year’s games – and revealing our plans to further involve retailers in our partnership for 2023.

Along with a taster of fresh brand assets, we’ll also reveal new sofa ranges and mechanisms from the La-Z-Boy brand.

From a La-Z-Boy perspective, we will be launching our first product range with a zero-gravity mechanism. The zero-gravity position, where the knees are positioned higher than the heart, is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of our consumer groups, and is something we have developed in response to market demand.

We are also looking forward to showcasing our first sofabed for the UK, which we expect to be extremely popular.

On the own-label side of the business, half of this area will contain new products that we will showcase to the market. There will be a combination of off-thefloor and to-the-floor models, to maintain the broad appeal of these products through our retail partners.

From a longer-term perspective, where do you want to take the La-Z-Boy UK brand in 2023 – and how do you plan to do so?

I want to strengthen our position of being the brand leader in motion upholstery in the UK and Ireland, by continuing to develop and launch more contemporary designs while adding innovative features. We are building our capabilities in sales, marketing and

manufacturing to ensure we have the best product range possible to support our consumer proposition across all channels of the market.

The cornerstone of our business is the La-Z-Boy brand, and to further promote the brand and create demand for our retailers, we secured a three-year deal in 2022 to become the official furniture partner of the NFL London Games. The NFL deal will elevate our brand in the UK and Ireland by reaching a consumer group which is in keeping with our strategic vision, as we approach the 100-year anniversary of La-Z-Boy in 2027.

We are planning other experiential brand activations, plus a calendar of competitions to reward fans of La-Z-Boy with the chance to win money-can’tbuy prizes. These will be rolled out across our social media platforms and our growing end-user database, which is one of our key communication tools to interact with consumers who are keen to hear about our brand and products.

… and the same question, but regarding Furnico’s offer?

The own-label proposition that we offer is a strategic part of our business that we want to grow through increased distribution channels. Whilst Furnico isn’t a consumer-facing brand, there is certainly a requirement for continued new products and covers

››

35
What models/initiatives are you most excited to be taking to market in January?
Autograph
Townley

to keep our retailers’ shopfloors fresh and appealing. Our presence again at JFS, with 50% of this range being new, shows how important this side of the business is to us and our retailers.

What benefits has the Furnico acquisition delivered?

The acquisition of the UK factory has been hugely significant for us. Production capacity and distribution improvements, as well as our own controls on quality and aftercare, have been key areas that we now operate in-house.

Personally, the most pleasing aspect of the acquisition has been product development, and what that enables us to do. We have a team in place to really drive the brand forward through new product designs and innovative features.

As a relative newcomer to the furniture sector, are there any areas of the business in which your experience has helped you identify a need for change?

Something that I have always tried to implement in my career, and is key to creating a successful relationship between supplier and customer, is open and honest lines of communication.

Over the last 18 months La-Z-Boy and ScS, our largest retail partner, have developed an enhanced communication strategy between commercial, logistics, marketing, product development and quality, and we have both reaped the rewards because of it. Over the next 12 months, my team in the UK will implement similar strategies with all our retail partners, which will ultimately benefit the consumer.

Can you summarise any new business developments from an ethical/sustainability perspective?

As an ongoing project we are working with all our supply chains to identify ways we can make changes to both our product and packaging to make it more sustainable. All our packaging from our Far East factories is already free of plastic.

… and regarding your charitable work?

We continue to support the Ronald McDonald House Charity, which is the partner charity of La-Z-Boy Incorporated. We also support the Air Ambulance charities nationwide by providing furniture for their crew rooms when required, and we have provided funding to local foodbanks in the Berkshire area, surrounding our head office.

… and when it comes to your marketing strategy?

Now, more than ever, we have the platforms to communicate news about the products that we produce. When there are beneficial changes to the products that address ethical and sustainable issues, we can inform the purchasing public about these initiatives.

Where do you see the opportunities to increase your share of the market?

We are using consumer research metrics to track the success of our marketing campaigns and brand partnerships, as well as exploring new opportunities. Ecommerce is certainly in the pipeline, but we need to do this in a way that will also grow the businesses of our brick-and-mortar retail partners. We also need to maximise the frequency of sell-through of shopfloor models through our ever-growing list of interested consumers.

Finally, what would you say to any prospective customer thinking of visiting your stand at the NEC this month?

As one of the most recognised names in the worldwide furniture industry, we’re very much focused on reinvigorating our consumer-facing brand presence, enabling us to shine through during times of economic uncertainty. Combined with our new product collections, we are confident that retailers will find numerous excellent reasons to visit the La-Z-Boy stand (5-E35).

www.la-z-boy.co.uk

Baxter 36 INSIGHT
“I want to strengthen our position of being the brand leader in motion upholstery

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AIR MAX

One of the UK’s biggest bedmakers is at a turning point. Keen to meet emerging demand, Airsprung Group has embarked on a far-reaching transformation programme, starting with its eponymous bed brand, Airsprung Beds. Leading the charge is the brand’s MD, Paul Little – who shares his thinking with Furniture News’ Paul Farley in this exclusive report …

Airsprung Beds’ new independent retail range promises broad appeal

From its 24-acre site in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, the Airsprung Group manufactures a phenomenal volume of mattresses and upholstery for retail and contract customers at every level. With a stable bursting with recognised trade brands (Airsprung Beds, Gainsborough, Cavendish, Swanglen and more), the group is an industry giant.

Changing customer demand means the group, which is capable of producing an astounding 8500 mattresses each week, has increasingly pursued a strategy of diversification, its dedicated production lines giving way to more specialised cells for the manufacture of everything from rolled-and-boxed mattresses to mid-market handcrafted models. And, although a number of major nationals still account for much of Airsprung Beds’ custom, the independents are calling.

Keen to seize emerging opportunities, and recognising the need for further in-house development to do so, the group’s principals identified the perfect candidate to implement the changes required.

Progress report

Paul Little entered the Airsprung arena in August 2021, having spent 15 of the preceding years with Steinhoff UK, where he came to oversee sales and marketing for bed brands including Slumberland and Relyon. Inspirational, capable, and with a progressive outlook, Paul quickly grasped the challenge – and the opportunities.

“This is one of the biggest mattress factories in the UK,” he explains, “and although we’ve earned a reputation for high-volume value lines over the years, we’re able to rival anything our competitors do. There’s much more to Airsprung Beds than many people may realise.

“But there’s still a good deal that needs to change. As the nation’s largest single-site mattress manufacturer, our factory is always hungry. That’s why we identified the need for a broader customer base going forward.”

Having already benefitted from a £250,000 capital investment early last year, and buoyed by new

manufacturing partnerships with the Mammoth brand of healthcare and performance mattresses, and emerging bedding supplier Sleepsense International – not to mention the new business the team has already secured – Airsprung Beds is on a firm footing from which to pursue further growth.

“I’ve seen what capital investment can do to a business, but that’s just the start of our work here,” says Paul. “I’ve been tasked with transforming Airsprung Beds – and, by extension, working with the wider group to become a more efficient, more profitable, and more proficient business. Where to start?”

Little by little

Businesses are often at risk of overlooking the flaws staring them in the face on a day-to-day basis, so Paul, as a relative newcomer, was glad to approach the project with an outsider’s perspective. Taking a holistic view of the necessary changes, he focused his attention on three areas – process, people, and product.

Overseen by operations director Kevin Cullen (another newcomer, and also ex-Relyon), the factory floor has already seen the first of these changes. Thanks to the fresh capital, new machinery is having a significant impact on production. New wrapping and quilting capabilities mean greater opportunity to innovate, while Airofreem, the group’s in-house foam converter, continues to deliver valuable economies of scale.

Sustainability is front of mind, with newly installed LED lighting supporting the existing recycling processes and zero-to-landfill approach (the longerterm goal being a lean, net-zero process). “We’re developing in line with our key retail customers and the National Bed Federation’s Pledge for Our Planet standard,” says Paul.

Much of his thought has gone into how the existing space is utilised. Given the operation’s ebb and flow over the decades, some areas of the extensive site were either crowded or underutilised, making consolidation a sensible option.

Airsprung Beds

Paul Little
››
New machinery investment has helped boost capacity
INSIGHT 39
“There’s much more to
than many realise

“Does a factory really need to use all the space it has? The layout was creating a number of inefficiencies, which could impact production,” explains Paul, who set to relocating departments, removing walls and optimising production lines. “We looked at the flow of materials and people through the space, and quickly realised it was less than optimum. On top of that, we were heating large areas of the factory that were underused.”

Once complete, the reorganisation will result in a space saving of some 40%. As well as opening up the potential for new operations, the consolidation will serve to bring staff together, which is vital to the next part of the plan.

Team player

The transformation at Airsprung is as much cultural as it is physical. “So much comes down to people,” says Paul. “If you can get your staff to come to work fired up and passionate about the change, that’s half the battle. Get the right people to do the right things at the right time – and make sure they actually want to do it – and you’re onto a winner.”

The first task was ensuring the team worked in closer proximity – another benefit of the new factory layout. “Out of sight can mean out of mind, which is a problem if you’re trying to encourage closer collaboration,” he says. “By bringing the operations of the hushabye factory into the main factory, we’ve replaced echoes with a healthy buzz!”

Other developments include revamping staff facilities, and the introduction of a staff feedback forum, the ‘joint consultative committee’. The more considered approach also means greater interaction from management, addressing hybrid working requests from office staff, and a plan to install screens across the site, to convey messages in a similar manner to a staff newsletter.

With some 260 members of staff on the Trowbridge site alone, cultural change will take time to take effect, even with the backing of the group’s management, says Paul: “It’s difficult for a business to transition to new ways of working, and it can be even harder for the individuals and teams directly involved.

“But I have huge aspirations to realise this businesses’ full potential, and can already see the green shoots of change. It’ll take some time, and I’ll need to be consistent but, to date, everything I said I’d do, I’ve done – which goes a long way.”

Retail rollout

Airsprung Beds is a giant in the volume market, yet much potential remains. Concurrent with the steps already described, and fuelled by a fresh marketing drive encompassing an Airsprung brand refresh, new website and a closer working relationship with sales (all of which was warmly received by visitors at last year’s NBF Bed Show), Airsprung Beds has embarked on a mission to engage the independent trade.

The result is a range of nine mattresses for general retail (available in nine fabrics, with four headboard options and the promise of 48-hour delivery on models held in stock), supported by a vast library of marketing assets and imagery.

“We’re also working more closely with AIS and Minerva, and are considering expanding and refocusing the Airsprung Beds sales team,” says Paul, who is looking forward to making a splash at the INDX Beds & Bedroom show in Solihull this April.

Fit for the future

Paul has merely described the initial stages of a three-year transformation strategy – which will be underpinned by a complete upgrade of the group’s IT infrastructure. This will ensure that the business’ IT systems are not only suitable for today, but will be at the forefront tomorrow.

“Any major investment drive starts with IT and process,” says Paul. “That’s a given. Many retailers’ systems (especially the pureplays’) are so advanced these days, you can only succeed if yours is up to speed. There’s lots of equipment that we will be looking at in the next 12 months …”

Paul is under no illusion about the scale of the task ahead. Changing the course of a leviathan like Airsprung Beds will take significant and sustained effort – as well as a good deal of friendly persuasion. But change it will. Some may view Airsprung Beds as a sleeping giant, but its prowess will soon become clear for all to see.

www.airsprungbeds.co.uk

Factory fl oor consolidation has yielded an impressive amount of free space
“So much comes down to people
The group’s Trowbridge showroom was recently overhauled 40 INSIGHT
to better display the wide product range to visitors

Tom Bayliss

Tom is the UK sales director at leading cabinet furniture supplier, Kettle Interiors Agencies, where he has worked since 2011. The supplier is one of the industry’s most dynamic, offering an ever-evolving product portfolio to suit various price levels, available through a range of buying and delivery options.

How might a child describe what you do?

Driving, talking, helping and selling!

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

Trying to stay ahead of an ever-changing market. It has often been said over the last two years that if you’re standing still, you’re actually moving backwards. Consumer attitudes are changing at such a fast pace that it’s always going to be a challenge to ensure your product and services are relevant and ahead of the demand.

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

IT system improvements and automation.

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

I live and breathe the job, but ensuring I spend as much quality time with my wife and children as practically possible is key. Outside of work, 95% of my time is for them, but it’s also important to leave just a little bit for the hobbies I enjoy.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

I have never really had a mentor as such, however I think my uncle’s approach to business has certainly rubbed off on me over the years – especially when it comes to negotiation and mediation! Listening to some of the stories from when he was helping to run bluechip companies, you realise that while each industry is different, the fundamental basics remain the same.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t force a bad decision in busy or challenging times. Take a step back, take a breather, and often you will make a different choice.

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

One day in 2019 stands out in my mind. Myself and a team within the business had been working on multiple long-term projects across a number of accounts. A huge amount of work had gone into each project, and in reality, until sign-off, it could have been all for nothing. Thankfully, each deal landed simultaneously on that day, so it was a real cause for celebration.

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

In a lighthearted way, our industry seem to be experts in blaming slower periods on the weather, a bank holiday, the football, etc, etc. If we could stop looking for the excuses and replace the effort with real changes, I think we would all achieve far more productive results.

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

I think the reality is that, post-Covid, we are entering a period where the industry will need to rebalance. There is no doubt that challenging times are ahead –however, as we saw during the pandemic, times like these force improvements and open the mind to new opportunities.

I see the industry modernising at a much faster rate, while striking a new balance between traditional and digital trading much more in line with other industries.

www.kettleinteriorsagencies.com

PERSONAL
“If you’re standing still, you’re actually moving backwards
GETTING
42 INSIGHT

GUARANTEE YOUR SALES SUCCESS IN 2023

~ YOUR INVITATION ~

Come and see us on Stand A1 in Hall 1 at THE JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW from 22nd to 25th January 2023

DON’T MISS OUT

Don’t hire a sales company until you have spoken to Greenwood.

Discover why you can trust Greenwood – the UK & Ireland’s Leading Experts in Retail Sales Promotion - to help you optimise your next big sales event.

Come and see us at the NEC JFS to find out more. We can usually outline your sales projections and costs from a brief discussion. We’d love to see you there. Or, call Bernard Eaton directly on 07771 700247 to find out more or, to arrange your free, confidential, noobligation on-site business consultation.

GREENWOOD RETAIL LTD

UK & Ireland’s Leading Experts in Retail Sales Promotion sales@greenwoodretail.com www.greenwoodretail.com

43
GreenwoodRetail_JAN2023.indd 1 02/12/2022 19:55 IN THE WAKE OF JANUARY’S BIG ISSUE, FEBRUARY’S FURNITURE NEWS WILL FOLLOW UP ON 2023’S HOT PRODUCT LAUNCHES, WHILE REVISITING TWO KEY AREAS:
Our popular Eco Conscious feature returns in February, with a look at the latest in sustainable strategy and product
In line with our London Fabric Show Preview, we’ll present notable new lines in Textiles and Fabrics We’ll also present our monthly coverage of the latest in Bedroom, Dining, Living and Trade Services Find your voice in February's issue Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email sam@gearingmediagroup.com BOOK BY MONDAY 16TH JANUARY TAKE YOUR SEAT World Furniture’s clarity vision COMPROMISE INDX BEDS BEDROOM DINING Get ahead with predictive SEO Illuminating approaches from Chilli Pepper Designs Negotiating the cost of living crisis 400th FN Nxt Month Advert vertical.indd 1 21/12/2022 16:08

Devonshire shows its own way

Instead of exhibiting at this year’s January Furniture Show, Devonshire Living has decided to do things a little differently, explains the supplier …

It has been a tumultuous year for the industry, with many furniture businesses still navigating volatile shipping and exchange rates, plus the added global challenges of the war in Ukraine, fuel and electricity costs, the rising cost of living, a likely recession, and other consequences outside of anyone’s control.

Devonshire is no stranger to adapting to its environment. In 2005, the long-established business began to import product, and it ceased manufacturing altogether in 2019 to fully concentrate on those more competitive lines. Even in the last six months, when Devonshire’s long-time MD chose to step back from the business, the supplier “regrouped and bounced back stronger than ever” within months.

And this is set to be another exciting year for the business. A selection of fresh product arrived in early December, available for 2023 – including new painted kitchen items, a table selection, and brand-new chair models.

Late last year, MD Nicolle Hockin visited factories in Vietnam with Devonshire’s QC manager to view the full pre-production samples of two new ranges, as well as samples of further ongoing developments scheduled to land later this year. With a clear pipeline of products and ranges ahead, the team is confident that the groundwork is in place to add some truly successful products to its portfolio.

So, why not showcase the new lines at this year’s January Furniture Show? In truth, Devonshire is known to attend the NEC sporadically, rarely being present for two consecutive years. For 2023, the company has chosen to take that budget and instead use it to benefit customers more directly, allocating it to projects such as new CGI images, improving PoS materials, building a custom trade portal, developing its add-on services (such as direct home delivery), and more.

Part of the budget is being used for print and digital advertising, to showcase particular ranges and items when they arrive in stock. Many suppliers choose to preview models at shows for feedback before they go into mass production, and, says Devonshire, these rarely arrive within the next six months – if at all. By getting that feedback on an individual basis, Devonshire plans to only announce ranges when they are in stock and available, so retailers know exactly what they are getting, and when.

44 INSIGHT
“Devonshire plans to only announce ranges when they are in stock, so retailers know exactly what they are getting, and when
Devonshire’s showroom is situated in Bideford, Devon
Dorset rustic dining New painted kitchen items are now available

To facilitate this, the business has its own purposebuilt show lorry (and separate show van for smaller presentations), which is available to visit stores, and means retailers do not have to take time away to attend (and potentially be overwhelmed by) the trade shows, says Devonshire. The customer can discuss the finer details of products and services on a one-toone basis, without the hustle and bustle of the show environment. Currently, the show lorry is being taken out to existing customers by Devonshire’s MD herself.

Devonshire is also proud of its dedicated showroom, which houses all its current ranges and is the first point of call for customer feedback on new additions. Located in the quaint seaside town of Bideford, North Devon, the 24,000ft2 showroom is always worth a visit, if nothing else than for inspiration and an excuse to visit the beautiful surrounding countryside, says Devonshire.

As well as seeing product, customers are welcome to visit the adjoining offices, meet the team they speak to on a daily basis, and see the paint shop in action –where Devonshire recolours its three popular painted ranges in nine impressive finishes. While there, Devonshire’s four fully stocked warehouses are also worth a look, just to appreciate the sheer volume of product kept in stock (and available immediately).

Devonshire does plan to return to trade shows, stating that there are times in which they are the most effective model of presentation – but it feels that, in the current climate, and with so many opportunities to explore, it makes more sense to try new and innovative approaches right now.

To request a visit from the show lorry, or book an appointment at the showroom, contact Devonshire on 01237 471872, or email enquiries@devonshireliving. co.uk.

45
bedroom
“The team is confident that the groundwork is in place to add some truly successful products to its portfolio
New Oak
Dorset dining with Ashbury chairs
Huge UK Stock Holding Vast Product Selection Dedicated Show Lorry
Customer Support Team Fast & Efficient Delivery Exclusive Trade Portal T: 01237 471872 E: enquiries@devonshireliving.co.uk

FABRIC FAIR RETURNS TO LONDON

www.bfmfabricshow.uk

The organiser of the London Fabric Show has built a reputation for delivering a high-quality event over many years, developing it into a must-attend show for fabric buyers.

The show continues to grow and evolve, with new exhibitors in 2023 reflecting the changing needs of BFM members. The BFM is committed to reinvesting in the show for the future, and looks forward to

delivering growth, attracting more exhibitors and a wider audience of international buyers, with any profit reinvested into the industry to develop and grow business and talent for the future.

The 2023 show will take place at the ILEC Conference Centre in Earls Court on 28th February and 1st March, and will offer private showrooms and catering on the exhibition floor.

SOURCE EUROPEAN IN POZNAN

www.meblepolska.pl

From 21st-24th February 2023, the next edition of the Meble Polska fair – the largest furniture-sourcing fair in Central and Eastern Europe – will take place in Poznan.

The show’s organiser reports that furniture buyers from 60 countries have already signed up to participate, while the majority of Poland’s leading furniture manufacturers will present their latest offers there.

The thematic scope of the exhibition covers products from all price segments, across upholstered furniture, cabinet furniture made from panelboard and solid wood, and mattresses. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see foreign exhibitors from Ukraine, Turkey, Cyprus, Denmark, Uzbekistan, Serbia and Germany.

As to be expected, the furniture trade fair will be accompanied by the Home Decor interior trade fair in hall 5A.

Furniture industry representatives registering online before the fair will be granted free admission.

48 EVENTS

First stop, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Export Furniture Fair (HawaExpo) 2023, taking place at SECC from 22nd-25th February, will be the first formal opportunity to explore new product from the Far East this year.

With a mission to promote the long-term and sustainable growth of Vietnam’s wood and handicraft industry, HawaExpo has been organised by the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA) in collaboration with Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Industry and Trade – endorsed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and supported by five key furniture associations.

Nguyen Quoc Khanh, chairman of HAWA, comments: “Possessing good production capacity, effective management, a strong workforce and available raw materials, Vietnam’s wood and furniture industry takes a deserved spot as the world’s second exporter in this segment – and HawaExpo 2023 will showcase Vietnam’s diversification and the strength of its local manufacturers. The fair will present indoor and outdoor furniture and furnishings, as well as handicraft products –and it aims to break out of the outsourcing model and join the higher segments in the value chain.”

HawaExpo promises to be a one-stop furniture sourcing exhibition, meeting growing demand from all over the world in a strong location – Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding area boasts more than 600 factories and is the country’s economic centre.

Additional benefits include sourcing services, seminars, networking cocktails and factory visits. Following the fair, an extended sourcing week, HawaExpo After Dark, will offer showroom visits, cultural exploration and more, while all exhibitors will participate in the online Hopefairs.com exhibition to promote effective trade connections during and after the show.

HawaExpo also invites visitors through its Organizer Support Buyer (OSB) policy, in addition to Organizer Support Exhibitor (OSE). The former promises benefits for visitors pre-registering through HawaExpo’s website before 15th January, including networking passes, buyer lounge access and buyer kit, a shuttle bus and fast airport check-in, plus sourcing services and factory visits.

“With a series of diverse and attractive activities, HawaExpo will be a large-scale fair, helping buyers easily meet quality manufacturers, and suppliers,” concludes HAWA.

www.hawaexpo.com

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“Vietnam’s wood and furniture industry takes a deserved spot as the world’s second exporter in this segment
Growth through diversifi cation One-stop Furniture Sourcing B2B Matching Factories visit HawaExpo After Dark Exclusive Furniture Pav i li ons Website: www.hawaexpo.com Email: hawaexpo@hawa.org.vn HochiminhCity Department of Industry and Trade Hochiminh City 22-25/02/2023 SECC - 799 Nguyen Van Linh Tan Phu W , D7, HCMC Co-organizer Handicraft & Wood Industry Association of HCMC VIETNAM Ho Chi Minh Export FurnitureFair2023

MIFF INVITES GLOBAL BUYERS TO RETURN

www.miff.com.my

The Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) 2023 is set to welcome global buyers from 1st4th March, with leading Malaysian exporters and manufacturers promising global buyers fresh opportunities to rebuild inventory.

MIFF, which will take place at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) and Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC], remains Southeast Asia’s largest B2B furniture and furnishings event, and 2023’s edition will showcase over 500 exhibitors including wellknown suppliers such as Poh Huat, Ecomate,

Favourite Design, Latitude Tree, Luxury Sleep, Mobilia International, SWS, Oasis and Wegmans, plus a host of foreign exhibitors from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and more.

“MIFF is very excited to resume its traditional annual cycle,” says the show’s founder and chairman, Dato’ Dr Tan Chin Huat. “It marks a milestone for international furniture trade, and signals our commitment to support the recovery of the global furniture ecosystem and future growth.”

Traditionally frequented by buyers from as many as 140 countries and regions, MIFF expects to again see strong global demand. There promises to be no pandemic restrictions for international arrivals.

Visit MIFF’s website to learn more about the exhibitors, products, exclusive hotel rates and free shuttle service on offer.

CRANMORE PARK WELCOMES INDX FURNITURE

www.indxshows.co.uk/indx-home/furniture/furniture

INDX Furniture returns to West Midlands event venue Cranmore Park on 20th-23rd January. While admission on 20th January is reserved for AIS members only, the general trade is welcome to attend on subsequent days.

Part of the INDX brand of trade shows, which just celebrated its 10year anniversary, INDX Furniture is organised by Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying group for fashion, home, and leisure.

INDX Furniture is curated by a team of retail experts whose knowledge and experience combine to deliver a trend-driven showcase, featuring some of the best names in upholstery, living room, dining room and garden furniture and accessory suppy. Find out more in the big show preview starting on p62.

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Registration now open! Register now at www.bfmfabricshow.uk/register London Fabric Show 2023 (bfmfabricshow.uk) There’s still time to book a stand. Visit Book a Stand – London Fabric Show 2023 (www.bfmfabricshow.uk/book-a-stand) to find out more and secure your place on the floorplan. ILEC Conference Centre, Earls Court, London We’ve got it covered 28 February and 1 March 2023 Re-connect with suppliers you know and love See new collections from some of the world’s most prestigious fabric suppliers Meet NEW suppliers in 2023

EFE promises bigger, better buying platform

Buyers from across the globe recognise Export Furniture Exhibition (EFE) as one of Southeast Asia’s top furniture fairs, and the show – taking place from 7-10th March, 2023 – continues to attract more and more trade visitors each year.

An exhibition delivered “by the industry for the industry”, EFE has created business and networking opportunities for thousands of participants. Held annually in March at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), exhibitors from Malaysia and the surrounding region come together with buyers from all over the world on a global stage.

This year’s edition is set to attract even more footfall, bolstered by a bold new look and a larger exhibition space. The fair’s organiser says the annual show is already creating an air of excitement among exhibitors keen to be among the first to showcase their latest innovative products to global buyers when the trade show returns to the international furniture exhibition circuit this March.

EFE 2023 will be +28% bigger than the previous edition (45,000m2 as opposed to 35,000m2), and promises to feature more than 400 exhibitors from Malaysia and the ASEAN region, welcoming the

buyers from over 140 countries and regions that regularly attend.

EFE’s last show attracted a reported 8639 international buyers (up +10% on 2018) and 5198 local visitors (up +15% ) – an overall increase of +15%.

However, EFE 2023 is expected to attract more, says the show’s organiser: “The stage is set for yet another successful trade event”.

The exhibition is the signature event of the Malaysian Furniture Council (MFC), the national body representing all of Malaysia’s 13 states furniture associations, which plays an active role in the development and betterment of the industry. Working closely with the Malaysian government, MFC’s mission is to drive the industry to greater heights and increase the nation’s furniture exports.

www.efe.my

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“The stage is set for yet another successful event
C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

VIFA promises a wooden wonderland

Building on the success of its previous edition, the 14th edition of the Vietnam International Home Furniture & Accessories Fair (VIFA Expo) is scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in March, with the theme ‘Bigger, Better, Bolder’.

Given historical demand for wooden furniture, VIFA Expo has become a familiar destination for many industry stakeholders. As a result of these partnerships, VIFA Expo has become a leading event that is highly appreciated for its professionalism and reach – providing a bridge between manufacturers, suppliers and potential customers looking for highquality wooden furniture for distribution.

Each year, VIFA’s exhibitors are given the opportunity to meet directly with customers from around the world, creating the potential for cooperation with partners not only in Vietnam, but in major markets including the EU, the US, Japan, Korea,

New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada, Mexico and Germany. “Therefore, for buyers, Vietnam is the best choice when it comes to Asia’s furniture resources,” says the show’s organiser.

This year’s exhibition promises to deliver “a grandiose space”, with professional displays and thousands of impressive designs covering wooden furniture, indoor and outdoor furniture (sofas, tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, shelves and kitchen furniture), home decor products, handicrafts, gifts and souvenirs, hardware and fittings, timber, and woodworking machinery.

Visitors will also be able to participate in

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“For buyers, Vietnam is the best choice when it comes to Asia’s furniture resources

seminars and professional conferences related to the wood industry, as well as workshops. “Buyers can meet in person, discussing and beginning business partnerships with leading Vietnamese and international furniture manufacturers,” says the show’s organiser. “The exhibitors will also offer tours to buyers for factories in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An Provinces (which take 1-3 hours to reach).”

Alongside the physical exhibition, the organiser also plans to set up business-matching sessions to help international buyers who are unable to attend in person.

VIFA Expo 2023 runs from 8-11th March at Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center (SECC). Offering

more than 44,000m2 of floorspace and in excess of 600 Vietnamese and international exhibitors (in some 2500 booths), VIFA is set to prove that the demand for Vietnam’s furniture and associated wooden product is recovering well in the wake of the pandemic.

Vietnam has now fully reopened its borders, and VISA exemption has been resumed for citizens of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus, plus 10 ASEAN countries.

Register to visit the show at www.vifafair.com/ home/visitor-registration.

www.vifafair.com

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“VIFA is set to prove that the demand for Vietnam’s furniture is recovering well

Innovative solutions to new challenges

China International Furniture Fair (CIFF) is preparing to return to Guangzhou this spring, where its organiser promises to deliver new formats for domestic and international visitors …

The 51st CIFF aims to provide “a concrete response to the major changes and new challenges at play in the global furniture market, creating a new business model to innovatively conceive and manage a major international exhibition event.

“This model is based on promoting the value of design, the synergy between the extraordinary domestic market and the continuing growth of exports, and the integration of offline and online promotion to optimise and complement the exhibition offering, giving a fuller representation of the entire furniture industry while still supporting the needs of exhibitors and visitors”.

As usual, CIFF Guangzhou 2023 will take place in two phases, reorganised by product sector to reflect the new exhibition concept and layout.

The first phase, from 18th-21st March, is dedicated to the living space. The Home Furniture sector will showcase the latest home furnishing products from leading Chinese and international companies, and there will be an area dedicated to companies offering the OEM/ODM services and one-stop solutions

required by international buyers. Homedecor & Hometextile will focus on new trends in interior decoration, while Outdoor Furniture, Sunshade and Leisure will focus on the garden.

The second phase, from 28th-31st March, will feature Office and Commercial Space, while CIFM/interzum Guangzhou 2023 will present the technologies, machinery, materials, surfaces and components behind the increasingly innovative development of the furniture industry.

Under the heading ‘Design trend, global trade, entire supply chain’, CIFF will promote companies and products of interest to both the fast-developing domestic market and ever-increasing export demands, including a large number of design exhibitions, seminars and conferences that promise to enrich the fair with cultural content, as well as B2B meetings and matchmaking activities at the fair and online.

The integration and synergy between the traditional trade fair and its online activities is enshrined in 8+365, a project launched by CIFF in 2022, which has already enabled hundreds of international buyers to meet virtually with Chinese manufacturers, creating business relationships that would otherwise have been impossible during the pandemic.

This year, 8+365 will reach a new level, enriched by meetings finally held in person over the eight days of the 51st CIFF Guangzhou, and a service that will be available online 365 days a year. An online matching platform is also being launched on CIFF’s website that will field specific requests from international buyers. These requests will be processed by CIFF’s export-oriented exhibitors, effectively creating a business relationship facilitated and supported by the event.

www.ciff.furniture

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Ireland’s people-first product showcase

The Irish Furniture & Homewares Show (IFHS) is Ireland’s premier furniture and homewares trade event, offering Irish and UK furniture businesses the opportunity to do business in a relaxed environment.

Moving to a new location – the state-of-the-art National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin –has not only brought a fresh look to the show, but has helped take how the furniture industry does business to the next level, says the event’s organiser: “This is the ideal event for everyone in the industry to see new products and innovative ideas, and avail of exclusive deals and discounts from the companies on show, all under one roof.”

The spectrum of exhibitors at IFHS reflects the wide variety of furniture and homewares available in Ireland. With the show being the only one of its kind in the country, and attended by top furniture suppliers and retailers, it is an event that anyone wishing to meet others within the industry will not want to miss, states the organiser.

IFHS brings together major suppliers of upholstery, dining, bedding, cabinet and accessories, giving visiting buyers the chance to plan for the year ahead:

“Get great advice and an in-depth view of the trends and what’s available in the furniture and furnishings industry from the large variety of suppliers on show,” states IFHS.

“Exhibiting at the IFHS will give your business exclusive access to a large number of customers under one roof, with the opportunity to build relationships, showcase your products and increase your sales. Our key focus is to support and boost the industry in which we work – be a part of that, and grow with us.

“We are delighted to announce that in this, the IFHS’ eighth year, we have the top Irish suppliers in the market committed to showcasing their new and innovative furniture and homeware products.

“Exhibiting at the IFHS will give your business exclusive access to an eager audience of serious buyers who are looking to discover new products and innovations. Our remaining spaces are filling up fast, but if you want to showcase your furniture or homeware products to over 1000 Irish trade buyer attendees this August, contact event manager

Aisling on 00353 8385 76794, or email aisling@ifhstradeshow.ie.”

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“Our philosophy is that people do business with people

The 2023 event will also see the return of the Irish Furniture & Home Awards – another opportunity for trade professionals to come together in a relaxed environment. Established in 2016 to celebrate and recognise the efforts made by exhibitors in the industry, the awards are an opportunity for suppliers to enjoy industry recognition for bringing the freshest innovation, the biggest trends and the most engaging styles to the show.

A range of awards are up for grabs, including two Retailer Choice Awards for Best Wholesale Supplier and Best Sales Rep. “Sales reps are the face of our industry, the people on the ground, and the difference between success and failure,” states IFHS. “This award celebrates and acknowledges the hard work and drive of these people that work rain or shine each day, building relationships with customers and propelling companies onward and upward.”

The Retailer Choice Awards are voted for by

retailers during the registration process, and are announced at the event. Visit the show’s website to find out more about last year’s winners.

The show organiser is committed to making this year’s IFHS – which will take place from 2nd-4th July – bigger and better than ever: “The focus is to continue to support the industry in which we operate, and bringing the right people together under one roof. Our philosophy is that people do business with people – and that continues to be our driving force today. It is this philosophy, along with our targeted marketing efforts, that put the right people together, ensuring good-quality business is done YoY.”

www.ifhs-tradeshow.ie

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INDX Furniture promises to impress

As part of the INDX umbrella brand of trade shows, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2023, INDX Furniture is brought to market by Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying and services group for fashion, home and leisure.

While admission to INDX Furniture on Friday 20th January is reserved as an exclusive preview for AIS members, general trade visitors are welcome to attend the show on Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd January.

With the brand strapline ‘by Buyers, for Buyers’, and unique to the market, INDX Furniture is thoughtfully curated by a team of retail experts based at AIS, whose plethora of product knowledge and retail sector experience combine to ensure visitors to the show enjoy the latest ranges and innovations from a commercially edited selection of exhibitors.

Attendees can expect a trend-driven showcase, bringing together some of the best names in the business across product categories including upholstery, living room, dining room, garden and accessories.

“We’ve been busy working with our key suppliers to select the best ranges for the show, and the team has also been busy sourcing lots of new suppliers, whose ranges have been chosen to strengthen and broaden our existing product offer,” says Emma Rackley, director of Furniture and Home, AIS. “Our members and visiting retailers can look forward to discovering an inspiring, trend-led and commercially sound product showcase at the upcoming show, and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Cranmore Park once again.”

Alongside an impressive roster of returning brands including Actona, At The Helm (see p64), Classic Furniture, Corium, Digio by Sofitalia, G Plan, Hill & Hunter, himolla (see p70), Hydeline (see p66), HTL, Parker Knoll, Primavera, TCH, Unique and Wood Bros, the organising team have also secured a number of exhibitors for whom the January 2023 show will represent their INDX Furniture debut.

To date, the list of confirmed newcomers includes Bell & Stocchero, Calia Italia, Celtic Spas, Connubia, Encore, Kesterport, Mattsons (see p68) and Siren.

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INDX Furniture is preparing to return to its West Midlands event venue, Cranmore Park, on 20th-23rd January, and visitor registration is open now …

Attracting an enviable footfall, which includes AIS members, department stores, leading retailers, high street specialists and quality garden centres, INDX Furniture is a proven trade show for all furniture stockists. Committed to providing a visitor-vetted, order-taking show and a friendly, business- and buyer-focused environment, INDX Furniture is an “unmissable” opportunity for retailers to find new products, source new suppliers, and to meet and network with industry colleagues.

INDX Furniture is free to attend, and on-site parking is free. Visitors can also enjoy complimentary barista coffee and refreshments throughout, plus free morning pastries.

Cranmore Park Conference and Event Centre is home to all INDX trade shows, and is located in Solihull, West Midlands, close to major rail and road links, and just minutes from J4, M42. Other shows within the INDX Home portfolio include Homewares, which will take place on 21st-22nd February 2023, and Beds & Bedroom, which will take place on 2526th April 2023.

Read on to discover some of the highlights at this month’s show …

www.indxshows.co.uk/indx-home/furniture/ furniture

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“Visitors can look forward to an inspiring, trend-led and commercially sound product showcase

The voyage continues

At January’s INDX Furniture, this month’s cover star At The Helm will present a wide range of new and existing models in rich, bold colours – while 2023 will also see the introduction of an extensive softcover collection to complement the fine-quality leather offering for which the brand is known.

The development of At The Helm as a lifestyle brand continues apace, with the launch of an exclusive rug collection, specifically designed to complement both the Signature Heritage and Modern Explorer collections.

With nature and the elements leading the trend throughout 2022, bringing the outdoors in plays a great role in homes and interiors, states the brand: “Expect to see earthy, muted tones inspired by the greens found in olive groves and surroundings of luscious leaves. Green is the tried-and-tested colour to help reduce anxiety, create calm, and heal the body and mind.”

“Bringing every living space to life

At The Helm has focused on adapting these colours to its stylish, modern ranges, creating an Elegance Collection made up of Olive Branch, Night Jewel and Smoky Quartz – “irresistible” velvets which add a soft, luxurious feel to any living space.

Not only does the muted palette of the Elegance

Collection complement the leading trend of green, but it also promises to work well alongside the use of natural materials and rustic elements.

From whitewashed walls and softly draped throws, to natural wood sculptures adding texture and warmth, and artfully braided hemp rugs, the Louvre in Night Jewel covers forms “the perfect contrast, almost giving you that feeling of being in Mykonos”, says At The Helm. Louvre is a contemporary, sleek design, with compact, padded arms which maximise the seating area, creating support and comfort.

Having launching at John Lewis & Partners last year, Leo, from the Modern Explorer Collection, boasts soft curves and generous proportions, radiating style, comfort and character in any room it is placed, says At The Helm. Hand-buffed natural leathers, which change and charm over time, give this avant-garde collection a cool, modern twist on the traditional chesterfield.

Livingstone 3.5-seater and Kate wing chair in Elegance Olive Branch 64 EVENTS INDX FURNITURE

Alongside this collection, and making its debut at INDX Furniture, will be the Theo Collection. A brand-new, compact design, encompassing a softer, more relaxed sit, this piece provides “that homely feel everyone desires”, states the brand.

Carrying on into 2023, earthy tones, muted greens, the blues of warm skies and summer seas, plus sun-kissed terracottas, will be seen in soft wovens and textures, says At The Helm, continuing to bring warmth and comfort.

Finally, an inspiring statement, and not to missed, is At The Helm’s Olivia Print. A bespoke, hand-painted design inspired by British heritage, with a nod to the Arts & Crafts movement, which has a symbiotic relationship with the travel-inspired collections and traditional craftsmanship throughout At The Helm.

Explore At The Helm at this year’s January INDX Furniture on stand D1, where the brand promises to deliver a collection that reinforces its mission of “bringing every living space to life”.

At the Helm can also be reached on 01908 968228 or by email at info@atthehelm.com.

www.atthehelm.com
Leo 1-seater and 3-seater in Explorer Sandstone
2-seater
Louvre
in Elegance Night Jewel
65
“Providing that homely feel everyone desires

Cascade boasts health-improving zero-gravity technology, plus a host of high-quality touches

Comfort, plus zero-gravity

Hydeline Furniture, the winner of Best Leather/Leather-look Upholstery Supplier in last year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards, believes that recliners should offer more than exceptional comfort and inspiring design –they should also be thoughtfully constructed for modern-day living, enabling “connection and the enjoyment of life’s precious commodities” …

and

“A style to best suit not only a modern living space, but also an individual’s lifestyle,” states Hydeline Furniture, which is coming to INDX Furniture (stand D1) this month. Suitable for relaxing and unwinding, or working from the comfort of home, Hydeline’s recliner collections offer a range of impressive optional features which complement everyday life, “taking comfortable from weekday to weekend”.

One of the biggest benefits is found in the zerogravity recliner with extended leg support – a feature designed by scientists to help improve wellbeing, reduce stress, and alleviate pressure throughout the body.

A zero-gravity position promotes better circulation, sooths swelling and reduces varicose veins, says Hydeline, not only making the heart work more effectively, but helping lungs expand further. The zero-gravity recline feature with extended leg support is available on Hydeline’s Power and Comfort Plus (power-adjustable headrest) options, which also feature an ergonomic rocker switch.

Most of Hydeline’s recliner collections are constructed with individually pocketed coil springs, layers of foam of varying density, with memory foam toppers wrapped in a durable Dacron layer.

All collections are finished with fine top-grain leather. Responsibly sourced from trusted suppliers, Hydeline says its leathers are enduring and soft to

the touch. A protective topcoat enhances durability, preserves colour and enriches longevity, so a longlasting, uniform colour across the sofa is guaranteed.

On selected ranges, powered recliners include USB and USB-C ports as a standard, while drop-down tables, wireless charging, Bluetooth audio and power points are optional extras.

“With a Hydeline recliner, you are only one touch away from connecting with what is important – with no compromise on quality and comfort,” concludes the supplier. “Enjoy all the health benefits, and more, from our zero-gravity recliners.”

www.hydeline.co.uk

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“Enjoy all the health benefits, and more, from our zero-gravity recliners
Cascade
3.5-seater in
INDX FURNITURE
Power
Classic Haze

First to market

Committing to delivering above and beyond is extremely important to Hydeline Furniture, which is why taking time to understand how to create comfort is key ...

“Our goal is perfectly made sofas designed for contemporary living – whilst ensuring the latest reclining technology best supports your body,” states Hydeline.

This year’s INDX Furniture heralds the launch of Hydeline’s Lounge Chair Collection. Featuring the latest technology, and the comfort Hydeline’s customers have come to expect from the brand, the collection perfectly complements the current offering, says MD Jonathan Burrage: “As our Hydeline brand continues to develop product that offers the utmost in comfort and innovation, we are delighted to announce the launch of six new lounge chairs to our Hydeline offering.

“Combining the latest technology with fresh, modern designs, these recliners prove comfort and elegance can go hand in hand – once you sit down, relaxation is the only possible outcome!

“Over the years, we have taken pride in ensuring comfort and innovation remain at the forefront of everything we do, and this compact recliner range really reflects that. The new collection provides a recliner for every home.”

recliner for every home

The six new lounge chairs – Alva, Ebro, Mira, Otra, Reno and Saar – offer a two- or three-motor reclining mechanism option. Adjustable backrests and footrests, manually adjustable headrests, plus that all-important zero-gravity position to help blood circulation, relax the heart and ease the day-to-day pressures on the body, says Hydeline – and all of this is achieved with effortlessly using the integrated

remote control to find the ultimate comfort position.

The user-friendly charging points are designed for optimum convenience, and each turning base has an automatic stopping function of 270°

The Lounge Chair Collection will be available to view in a range of leathers and fabrics at INDX Furniture (stand D1).

www.hydeline.co.uk

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“A
Clockwise from top left –Alva, Ebro, Mira, Saar, Reno and Otra
Alva in Discovery Driftwood

Make a date with Mattsons

Scandic success story Mattsons is coming to INDX Furniture this month, where its UK principals are keen to show the trade just why their opulent beds are a cut above the rest …

“There are no UK-made beds that look and feel quite like these,” says Mattsons’ UK agent, Colin Boyce, who, together with James Leach, has led the brand’s entry to the national market since last summer. “They definitely sit at the top end of the market – and we ensure our retailers achieve a high margin.”

With a history stretching back to 1851, luxury handmade bed brand Mattsons is an exemplar of Sweden’s conscientious craft. Each bed is handcrafted in Falkenberg, utilising only local materials, and, having established itself as a household name in Scandinavia, Mattsons is on a mission to introduce its luxury sleep solutions to the world.

“I’ve operated in the UK bed sector for some time, and I can honestly say that these models represent a whole new level of quality,” says Colin. “The sheer quality of this range is making a lot of retailers reevaluate their notion of luxury.”

Globally, Mattsons operates through 16 showrooms – 11 of them in Europe. Colin has already established the brand’s presence in a showroom in Topsham, near Exeter, so prospective customers can see the brand’s quality for themselves – and INDX Furniture represents another good opportunity to find out more about the brand, the range of models available, and the manufacturer’s comprehensive bespoke programme.

“Visit Cranmore Park Conference and Exhibition Centre from 20th- 23rd this month (the first day is reserved for AIS members) to discover Mattsons’ unique charms for yourself,” Colin concludes. “We’re looking forward to meeting visitors in the Platinum Suite (stand P11).”

www.mattsonsbeds.com

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“They definitely sit at the top end of the market – and we ensure our retailers achieve a high margin
Contact – uk@mattsonsbeds.com & Trade Showroom in Topsham, Devon AIS Platinum Suite showrooms STAND NUMBER P11 www.mattsonsbeds.com Hand made in Sweden since 1851

himolla’s new design-led debut

Design is a key differentiator in the marketplace, while being “a conduit to communicate what a brand stands for”, says himolla, as it prepares to deliver its latest creation at INDX Furniture …

Irrespective of new technologies, design is what a product represents, and it defines its relevance in a modern context, continues the German recliner specialist: “As manufacturers and designers, it’s our job to make that all-important emotional connection with our customers.”

To help ensure this connection, himolla has appointed a new sales team, led by international sales director Markus Lutz. “They are competent, energetic and well mannered,” says himolla. “As a professional business, it’s critical to earn and maintain the trust of those we work with – our customers. You can trust us to fulfil your needs.”

The new team has an exciting prospect before it –the delivery of Seine, a model tailored specifically for British customers. Upon the UK launch of himolla’s S-Lounger series, it became an instant bestseller, attracting a whole new generation of British customers to the brand, says himolla – which has now followed it up with the bold, progressive and award-winning Seine.

Distinctive floating lines give the sofa a unique personality, combined with a solid stance, high seating comfort and numerous functions, in a variety of fabrics and leathers. The new model’s design is distinctive,

“light and petit, has plenty of ground clearance but never loses its stance”, says himolla, adding that Seine has already won the German Design Award. “Its personality is unique, but Seine also moves our design approach on in terms of modernity, sophistication and refinement,” says himolla.

The relax function is electrically or manually adjustable. Seine is available with electric-powered foot rest and reclining functionality, as well as electric adjustable headrests. Specially tailored upholstery support is integrated, says himolla: “Sitting in it is being cocooned by it, and embraced by it.”

A great variety of other options are available to customers. The recamier model, for example, has an electric-powered tray and is turnable.Other features include wooden shelves, numerous variations, addons, accentuations, trapezoid undergirding, small tables between seats – plus extra comfort and even a portable battery.

“The variety of options and variations is simply amazing,” says himolla. “We are confident that when people see the new Seine, their emotions will be stirred – especially when it’s fashionably dressed. It’s simply a perfect fit for every living room!”

New fabrics and leathers in fresh, bold colours round off proceedings. himolla says the range boasts surfaces, materials and new colour palettes to fulfill every customer need – the new himolla beige, nude and cognac palettes a particular stand-out.

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www.himolla.com
Seine
“It’s our job to make that all-important emotional connection with our customers

himolla is one of the UK’s leading upholstered furniture manufacturers and their recliners are packed with market-leading innovation such as independent headrests, backrests and footrests so your perfect seating position is only a button press away. A 5 year guarantee gives you confidence in the quality and durability of their recliners and they only select the finest leathers, fabrics and woods so we guarantee you will not sit in anything as comfortable as a himolla chair. Bestsellers and also novelties are available as manual or electric armchairs and the Winter Sale has begun!

AZURE | www.himolla.com
GmbH | GERMANY
himolla Polstermöbel

Unveiling Furmanac’s new look

Furmanac is coming to INDX Furniture this month, giving the trade its first look at a vastly refreshed and renewed offer. Furniture News asked the innovative West Midlands manufacturer to further outline its rebrand, aspirations and new directions …

What’s keeping you busy right now?

Finalising our Hestia living rebrand, PoS, AIS INDX Furniture preparation, and product launches across our new sofabeds.

There will also be exciting changes to the MiBed mattress range. This will be simplified too, as over time we had feedback from customers saying there was no easy way of finding the right mattress – so we listened.

Why did you decide to bring your entire range under the Hestia Living umbrella?

We wanted to simplify the ranges we offer while unifying products under one brand. Hestia upholstered beds and our (formerly) MiSofa models are all lifestyle products, so it made sense to clarify the offer.

How exactly does streamlining your range/brand offer benefit your customers?

To put it simply, it makes things easier. Our product portfolio is ever-growing, and we needed to make sure everybody could stay on top of our new and existing products. The customers can also take full advantage of the seven-year guarantee offered under all Hestia Living products.

Are your marketing materials and retail PoS changing to suit?

They are, and we will have a range of semi-universal PoS across the brand, including boards/wall art for customers’ showrooms.

Has much else changed at Furmanac since last year’s restructure?

Internally we are working on a few brand-new projects, our staff are getting continuous training, and we are expanding our workforce, becoming stronger and more efficient than ever.

Has the experience dulled your directors’ ambitions, or heightened them?

It has definitely heightened our ambitions. The outlook on the market hasn’t changed, but we are working really hard on increasing the growth of Furmanac within it.

Nebula Sleigh 72 EVENTS INDX FURNITURE
“We’re expanding our workforce, becoming stronger and more efficient than ever

Do you think the adjustable beds sector experiencing something of a renaissance? If so, why? And how is Furmanac responding?

I would say so, yes. Adjustable beds are no longer something based just on need. It’s rather something that people want.

Luxury adjustable bed trends are strong across the pond, and the UK is slowly but surely leaning that way as well, so we are anticipating much higher demand – which leads us to the development of new lifestyle adjustable beds.

Can you share any component developments/ innovations in this area?

There will be a new platform-adjustable bed going under our Hestia Living brand. I can’t say much more at the moment, it is still in development.

… and are you looking at any new furniture materials/styles?

We always try to follow the latest trends, which will be reflected in our newest products in the coming months – something to do with beds, as mentioned above, and something to do with our sofas. Hestia Living will have a few new additions soon that will help us define the brand even more.

How has the pandemic affected how your customers view Furmanac’s models versus their imported counterparts?

Everyone in the industry can probably relate to the shortage of materials and the rising cost of them, but we have been quite fortunate on the manufacturing side, as everything is made in the UK. We haven’t got any huge delays in terms of manufacturing, so we are really lucky to be one of the few who make everything here.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the business right now, and how are you planning to tackle it?

TDI (toluene diisocyanate) chemical shortages. It’s one of the key ingredients that goes into foam – but we are currently using more fibre to compensate for this, which is also more environmentally friendly.

Is there anything else you can share regarding how Furmanac plans to move ahead in 2023?

We expect it to be a good year for Furmanac –attending more shows, really getting out there, and stepping up on the advertising front and new product development.

The latest material and colour trends will be reflected in Furmanac’s upcoming lines
www.furmanacgroup.com Velvet sofabed in mustard Furmanac specialises in flexible solutions
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“Adjustable beds are no longer something based just on need
Upholstered Powered Ottoman RETRO Our 6 second Sofa Bed Available as 2 seater or 3 seater. NEBULA Upholstered Bed Frame WWW.FURMANACGROUP.COM

Welcoming back the “shop for shops”

Spring Fair, the UK’s leading marketplace for wholesale home, gift and fashion, returns to the NEC Birmingham NEC from 5-8th February, and promising an even more dynamic and inspirational offering …

Fair majors in discovery and

As the UK’s “shop for shops”, Spring Fair majors in discovery and innovation, putting sought-after products, bright new finds and industry-leading thinkers under one, easy-to-navigate roof, while giving retailers countless cross-buying opportunities.

Spring Fair encompasses 14 sectors within four destinations, across 8 halls: Home, which includes Living & Décor, Housewares, Everyday, and The Summerhouse; Gift, including Beauty & Wellbeing, Christmas, Floral and Seasonal Decorations, Greetings & Stationery, Gift, Kids, Toys & Play and Party & Celebrations; Moda fashion, featuring its own catwalk as well as Jewellery & Watch, Womenswear, Fashion Accessories, and Footwear; and the newly launched responsible sourcing show, Source Home & Gift.

Within Home, Living & Décor and The Summerhouse, buyers will discover new and on-trend furniture, textiles, housewares, art, and decorative interior and outdoor accessories from the UK and

around the world. The Summerhouse welcomes back Bloomingville, MyGiftsTrade (including Urban Nature Culture), Hot Tomato, The Libra Company (see p78), Terrace & Garden/Casa Verde, Jellycat, Stone Glow Candles, RoseHill, Biggie Best, Morgan Wright brands (including Also Home and Rain & Humble), DeluxeHomeart, Gallery Direct and VanillaFly, New exhibitors include Wikholm Form, Villeroy & Boch, Storefactory and Bioo Lux, while Luxa will introduce Sompex of Germany.

Spring Fair will also welcome back an array of home and outdoor lifestyle brands for the 2023 event, including Coach House, Kaemingk, Mint Interiors by Kettle (also featuring Mambo Outdoor Living), London Ornaments, Bakers, Ascalon, Ivyline, Minster Stylish Living, Dutch Import & Daughters, Waltons of Yorkshire, Malini, Lows of Dundee, Sparta Decor, Tweedmill, Chic Antique, Fifty Five South, Hanlin, and Hill Interiors. Voyage Maison rejoins the line-up, plus Searchlight – and Hunter Price and its new Billie Faiers range can also now be found in this show sector.

The Small Business Sunday Village, Inspiring Retail Stage and numerous other special features round off what is set to be an impressive return to form for the event.

www.springfair.com

76 EVENTS SPRING FAIR
“Spring
innovation
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interiors, fabulous furniture and on-trend textiles.
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Libra scales up this spring

Hot on the heels of a 50th anniversary year packed with new developments, interiors supplier extraordinaire The Libra Company is forging ahead with even more plans in 2023 – starting with an unmissable appearance at Spring Fair, says owner Paul McLaughlin …

What’s keeping you busy right now?

We are serving our retailers, who have mostly been busy, despite the obvious pressure on households and gloom and doom in the press!

We’ve just completed a photoshoot for our Spring ‘22 launch, which we are all really excited about.

Any big plans for 2023?

Lots! We’ve signed an agreement with Laura Ashley to design and source their home accessories collection launching in the autumn. It will feature furniture, lighting, wall decor and home accessories, which will be available to purchase from Libra starting in September. It’s been really exciting working alongside such an iconic brand and talented team.

We are very much looking forward to our return to Spring Fair in February on stand 7A50, The Summerhouse.

And we have new representation in Scotland in the form of The Interior Collection run by David and Emily Johnson, the dynamic father-and-daughter duo! David and Emily already have an impressive collection of brands and will be selling Libra to independents and interior designers in Scotland from this month. We have a brand-new showroom opening in Edinburgh in collaboration with them later this year, and we will be exhibiting at the Scottish Interiors Showcase on 21st-22nd February.

How is demand for accessories and interior decor looking at the moment?

It is holding up surprisingly well. We are seeing some natural price sensitivity, but I feel that as long as we’re able to offer our customers a point of difference, they’ll continue to buy.

Can you give us an idea of your newest lines?

We have about 150 new products to launch, debuting at Spring Fair. These are across our usual categories of furniture, lighting and accessories. It’s top secret, so come and see us at the fair to find out more!

Have you established any interesting new sourcing partnerships?

We had an extremely successful buying trip to India in October, and we cannot wait to show customers the latest developments from our visit. These will come online during Libra’s May open week in our Newmarket showrooms.

The rate of development in India is staggering at present. Our strength is in the longevity of our supplier relationships, with whom we are working ever-more closely. In addition, we found two phenomenal new suppliers who I believe will give us the edge this summer.

How did last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations go?

Very well indeed! We have had lots of different celebrations, but the highlight was the party in a hotel in Cambridge during June open week. Two hundred friends, family and customers joined us, and it was fantastic to bring everyone together. People travelled from far and wide, and I was really touched by how many former colleagues attended. There were several sore heads the following morning!

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The breadth of product offered by The Libra Conmpany is breathtaking
“Our strength is in the longevity of our supplier relationships

Did autumn’s at-home show influence your direction this year at all?

We launched less newness during September’s open week, but what we did have was very well received. We launched a new study theme which went down well, and as a result we will be showcasing it at Spring Fair.

How are [former sales director] Alistair’s replacements doing?

Hilary and Tara are absolute superstars! They had enormous shoes to fill following our dear friend Alistair’s retirement after 40 years, but they have both risen to the challenge incredibly well and I am proud to have them as part of the sales team.

Have any other key developments taken place in the business in the past 12 months?

We’ve recruited some strong new talent into our sales, finance and supply chain teams. There were some big anniversary milestones within the business, and I know we are very lucky to have such great continuity and support.

Last year marked customer service co-ordinator Delia’s 22nd year with us, and warehouse legends Mark (30 years) and Maggie (38 years). Our business is stronger because of them. And we have no less than four babies due at head office in the next five months!

www.thelibracompany.co.uk

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“We’ve recruited some strong new talent into our sales, finance and supply chain teams
See us next at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 5-8 February STAND 7A50-B51 www.thelibracompany.co.uk +44 (0) 1223 895800 sales@thelibracompany.co.uk

Get back to buying at JFS

Back in its traditional timeslot, the January Furniture Show (JFS) is set to return in force to the Birmingham NEC from 22nd-25th this month, promising more than 350 brands and over 50,000 products. Over the following pages, Furniture News presents reason after reason why JFS is an unmissable event for anyone involved in the UK furniture trade …

With last April’s edition getting the post-pandemic ball rolling, this month’s exhibition is set to be a further return to form, with four halls packed with the latest lines from many of the best in the business.

Exhibitors will be arrayed across the following sectors: Premium Design (Hall 1); the Home Interiors Show (a rebranded Hall 2); Living, Dining & Bedroom (Hall 4); and Upholstery & Beds (Hall 5). As well as many of the UK’s best homegrown furniture businesses, the show will welcome exhibitors from more than 18 countries, including Australia, the

US, Italy and Germany, plus international pavilions representing Vietnam, Portugal and Poland.

Organiser Clarion has gone all out to deliver an enhanced programme of special features this year, including another showcase of emerging talent from the Young Furniture Makers, and a new partnership with trend expert, The Better Trends Company, which will offer tangible and adaptable trends advice alongside on-site trend installations.

The Furniture Awards (see overleaf) will again seek to identify the suppliers leading the sector, while the event’s VIP programme has been remodelled with a special focus on international buyers.

An experimental live workshop, developed in partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Creative Making (CECM), will showcase the craft skills behind the sector, and the Furniture Talks stage will host a number of engaging topics across the event, with a focus on sustainability, innovation, trends and insights, including masterclasses, panel discussions and interviews.

Show manager James Howard says: “The 2023 show promises to be one of our biggest and best yet, with exciting new launches, fresh brands, industry insights and emerging trends. JFS’ strong heritage – and the reputation it has forged – has made it the only destination for industry colleagues and suppliers to come together to discuss their upcoming year and recent challenges, or to simply just mingle and connect with one another.”

Anyone attending should feel free to visit the Furniture News team on stand 5-D6. In the meantime, read on to discover the event’s many highlights in the trade’s biggest preview …

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www.thefurnitureshows.com/january
“The 2023 show promises to be one of the biggest and best yet
WWW.MERIDIANUPHOLSTERY.CO.UK | 01325 319569 HANDMADE IN BRITAINCUSTOMISABLE PRODUCTSSHORT LEAD TIMES
VISIT US AT THE January Furniture Show 22ND - 25TH JANUARY 2023 HALL 1, STAND C60
It’s the way we make it that makes it Meridian

The Furniture Awards finalists revealed

The Furniture Awards are returning to JFS to single out the show’s top suppliers. Before the winners are revealed on the opening day of the show, here’s a summary of this year’s finalists …

As the UK’s principal showcase of suppliers working in the domestic furniture market, JFS is the perfect forum in which to identify the players leading the field – and The Furniture Awards have celebrated the industry’s stand-out performers since 2015.

Established by Furniture News in partnership with the event, The Furniture Awards asks JFS exhibitors to explain why their business excels in one of several themed categories.

Evaluating the entries, and chaired by awards coordinator Paul Farley, this year’s judges are: Malcolm Walker (owner, FIRST MW); Suzy McMahon (CCO, Oak Furnitureland); Sheetal Sachdev (founder, Treniq); and Andy Stockwell (senior retail manager, Gardiner Haskins).

Having assessed all the entries, the judges have shortlisted the following finalists in each category:

Sustainability

This category is for any business that champions sustainable practices and demonstrates the will to make the world a better place.

• Think Rugs (stand 2-C25)

• Westbridge Furniture Designs (stand 1-F20)

Best of British

This category is for businesses that principally manufacture in the UK, and demonstrate high standards of output, with regard for its place in the local economy and industry.

• GNG Group (stand 5-H55)

• Shire Beds (stand 5-G20)

• RH45 (PIK Associates), stand 2-F30)

Design Innovation

This category is for any business that puts original design at the heart of its strategy – entries should include visual evidence of these directions, plus detail of their route to market.

• Citibed (stand 5-J55)

• Gallery Direct (stands 2-E20, 2-E22)

Global Player

This category is for any business that majors in imports, and their entry should reflect their strengths in product development, pricing and fulfilment, plus details of how their offer is tailored to the UK marketplace.

• Tomasella Industria Mobili (stand 1-D70)

• Wiemann (stand 4-C50)

• Tokyo Fabrics Int (stand 5-C20)

• Incanto Italia (stand 5-C10)

Superior Service

This category gives the industry’s service providers – from software and CGI specialists to sales and logistics providers – an opportunity to highlight why their offer could be a game-changer in today’s market.

• Iconography (stand 1-G25)

• Sci-Net (stand 2-A14)

The winners will be announced at the show’s exhibitor party, taking place from 6pm on Sunday 22nd January at the Furniture Talks stage in Hall 1.

www.thefurnitureshows.com/furniture-awards

84 JFS
The 2023 judging panel – Malcolm Walker, Suzy McMahon, Sheetal Sachdev and Andy Stockwell
“The Furniture Awards have celebrated the industry’s standout performers since 2015

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Meridian makes a name for itself

Meridian Upholstery made its stellar JFS debut last year, and promises to exude no less ambition at 2023’s event, says MD Jonathan Eager …

“Learning and listening over the months since our inaugural JFS has been one of the driving forces behind everything we’ll present at this year’s show,” says Jonathan, keen to cement the County Durhambased manufacturer’s place in the UK’s domestic furniture trade.

“We asked ourselves whether we, as a supplier, add real and true value, and help our customers win more business … and although the answer was ‘yes’, we felt there was even more we could bring to the table.

“After narrowing down our thoughts, we came up with a simple ethos, of better product, better lead time, and better price. If we could nail those three points without any compromise on quality, we could certainly make a big difference to every customer and consumer.”

Such introspection is typical of Jonathan’s passion for quality upholstery. Jonathan started out on the bench at Darlington’s Ideal Upholstery in 2000, before setting up his own business in 2007, aged just 22. Initially offering reupholstery and outsource manufacturing, a succession of timely commercial contracts gave Meridian its big break – before the business turned its guns on the domestic sector.

In a short space of time, Meridian has made quite an impact. Indeed, the business was voted Best Newcomer in last year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards, and Jonathan says that JFS 2022 played a huge role in the brand’s growth – yet he is not content to rest on his laurels.

“Our passion and care for each and every one of our products pushes us to make them better,” he continues. “Our dedication to create a win for everyone propels us to find even better ways to manufacture, and our desire to improve lead times by eliminating waste at every turn keeps us focused.

“Having recognised where we’ve gone wrong, and having made improvements and tweaks following all the feedback, we are certain that our offering at this year’s show will put us firmly on the map as a trusted supplier.

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“Our passion and care for each and every one of our products pushes us to make them better

Meridian will present two brand-new designs, a new leather offering, improved versions of its existing models, and even price reductions from last year’s levels on some of them – all made possible through a mindset of continuous improvement.

“Creating a consistent set of production parameters enables us to make products that can sit in various price points in the market, with very distinct differences, yet consistent in quality,” Jonathan explains. “Our brand-new Chicago model is a luxury product with a sprung edge, sprung back and high levels of detail, from the intricate piped arms, facings and borders, and luxuriously soft seats, to the generous proportions – put all this together, and you have a product of unique quality that’s one of a kind in the market.” Jonathan hints that Chicago will be the first model in a completely new line.

“Then we have our new Kentucky model, again made to an exceptionally high quality, super comfortable, with standard sprung seats and high-quality webbed backs, which will sit within our Advantage range.”

Meanwhile, Meridian’s Alabama and New Jersey models have been developed into full 100% British handmade leather offerings, with an “exceptional” price and lead time, says Jonathan – while the Michigan has also had an upgrade, with a new-style corner and more refined cushion comfort and fabric offering. “All of our models have been improved in some way in order to hold or even reduce prices,” says Jonathan.

The business has also been building a stronger staff base with which to deliver on these ambitious promises, and continues to reach out for suitable recruits.

“People are one of our biggest assets, and attitude is the key characteristic within our beliefs,” says Jonathan. “We want our people to work together as a team – we encourage them to always think about the person after them in the process, and ultimately the end-consumer … but more importantly, we encourage them to work for each other, as teams win, teams achieve, and teams share in the rewards.

“So, bringing enthusiastic men and women into our team is a key principle. From there we can help mould and create the next generation of upholsterers,

sewing machinists, cutters and framemakers – all of whom can be part of something special.”

Visit Meridian Upholstery on stand 1-C60 to discover exactly how far the business has come since last April. “We really do hope we can help every retailer we work with over the coming year – which will be a difficult trading period – by being true to our word, offering better product, better prices and better lead times, which in turn should encourage continued sales for our customers.”

www.meridianupholstery.co.uk

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“Our offering at this year’s show will put us firmly on the map

Whitemeadow will be unveiling six brand-new product ranges at JFS, and promises that, with its focus on key interior trends – from calm comfort to monochromatic elegance and muted earthy tones – its display will be more inspirational than ever this year.

Several new fabric collections are also set to be released in trend-led soft textures and luxurious

tonal colours, to reimagine bestselling collections, offering Whitemeadow’s retail customers a new take to consider.

“We look forward to welcoming you to what will be our most exciting launch of new collections in recent years,” states the sofamaker, which will exhibit on stands 1-E40 and 1-F40.

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WHITEMEADOW www.whitemeadow.com Manhattan SINCE 1984 Official Media Partner Enjoy the show! www.furniturenews.net Find us on stand 5-D6 this year JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW SHOWTIME | BEDROOM | TRADE SERVICES The Hastings Sofa Company eyes expansion TAKE YOUR SEAT Lebus set to impress at JFS AUSSIE RULES King’s CEO on design from down under World Furniture’s clarity of vision Fresh formats from inspirational indies #393 www.furniturenews.net SPOILT FOR CHOICE FN393_Pages.2.indd BED INDUSTRY AWARDS SUPPLEMENT BED SHOW | LIVING | TRADE SERVICES Celebrating this year’s Bed Industry Awards Growing glam with Rowen Homes’ Alice Hall COMPROMISE Hypnos guarantees comfort with integrity JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX BEDS & BEDROOM | DINING LIVING | BEDROOM | TRADE SERVICES SOMEWHERE THAT’S GREEN Hypnos’ new group MD beds in Get ahead with predictive SEO Haskins’ Jade Farthing talks shop #397 October 2022 www.furniturenews.net Illuminating approaches from Chilli Pepper Designs THE PRICE IS RIGHT? Negotiating the cost of living crisis Back in Action’s perfect posture Devonshire’s new directions #396 September 2022 www.furniturenews.net YOUR BEST BEDROOM | TRADE SERVICES JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX FURNITURE SPRING FAIR BEDROOM DELIVERY FULFILMENT TRADE SERVICES BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS CAN’T GET THE STAFF? The industry’s recruitment and retention challenge Arighi Bianchi’s family values How to get on trend in 2023 400th The voyage continues … FN400_Pages_01-81.indd FNJFS Half.indd 1 21/12/2022 18:39
BY January Furniture Show 2023 Hall 1 - F20

Curated with conscience

Progressive sofamaker Alpha Designs is pulling no punches with its latest trend-led collection – and with an industry powerhouse in place to lead sales in 2023, the only way is up, says director Charlotte Floate …

“We’re delighted to be back at JFS, and are looking to excite and invigorate the market with our new Curated collection, along with new additions and fabric options across our core product,” says Charlotte, who promises new models that balance the commercial and the engaging.

“Our Curated range is an edited contemporary collection of aspirational and design-led styles that share a harmonious DNA,” she continues. “Inspired by fashion, the range features a mix of materials and unique detailing, fused with generous proportions and superior comfort. With the core Alpha Designs fabric range also available across it, the range neatly bridges the different sides of our offer.”

As well as new product, visitors to Alpha’s stand (1-C20) can also expect to be greeted by a new face, as affable sales director Barry Webb begins his retirement. He says: “After 40 years in the furniture industry – the last six of them with Alpha Designs –I’m looking forward to for some well-deserved rest!”

Barry has worked with “some of the industry’s

best” during his furniture career, including Buoyant Upholstery, Christie Tyler and Furniture Origins. Given his professional approach and enduring work ethic, Barry says the decision to call it a day was not easy, but he feels he has made a positive mark on the trade.

“Working with Alpha has been a breath of fresh air,” he continues. “Thanks to their ‘can do’ attitude, Charlotte, Con, myself and the rest of the team have beat our initial growth plan and established Alpha Designs as a commercial, supportive, customer service-led business.”

Replacing Barry is Nichola Bell, who is excited by the prospect of working with such a “solid, dependable business, with customer service at its heart”.

She says: “I’m looking forward to working with a team who are so committed to their customers – 2023 will be an exciting year for all of us, as we concentrate on new designs, fabrics and trends, cementing Alpha’s DNA for the future.”

Charlotte says she is “thrilled” that Nichola is joining the business, and that her passion, capability and experience will prove invaluable going into another challenging year.

“Like every upholstery business, we’ve faced huge challenges in gaining and retaining staff, dealing with component price increases and supply shortages,” says Charlotte. “We’ve weathered the storm thus far by building strong bonds with our team members, supplier base and customers, and we will to continue to build upon those relationships, as people really are the crux of what we do.

“Obviously, we’re sad to be losing Barry to a life of peace and quiet, as he’s been instrumental to our success – but Nichola will drive the business now, ensuring our key values remain in place. I truly believe there’s a great future ahead for UK upholstery and Alpha Designs.”

The business can be reached on 01902 492937.

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Audrey
looking to excite and invigorate the market with our new Curated collection Montagne
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A L P H A DESIGNS ALPHA DESIGNS UPHOLSTERY LIMITED T: 01902 492937 F: 01902 493700 E: sales@alpha-designs.co.uk Unit 1, Stag Industrial Estate, Oxford Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton WV14 7HZ Clementine 4 seater sofa STAND 1- C20

Timeless designs all set to shine

National treasure Tetrad is looking to deliver more of the magic that saw it shine so brightly at last year’s show, backed up by new models, on-trend looks and a next-level online offering.

Head of brand, Hope Cooper, tells us more …

What can visitors to Tetrad’s stand (1-E20) expect to find?

We’re really excited for JFS. It’s been a great year of being back out and about with the collections and meeting customers again, so we’re looking forward to more of that (hopefully!).

We’re always told how much people love the products that are just ‘typically Tetrad’ – those timeless designs that are made to perfection with uncompromised comfort. So, we’ll be displaying what we do best, in abundance – traditional and modern chesterfields, wingback chairs and statement centerpieces, showcasing a mix of classics reinvented, and new, modern designs too, for a truly eclectic range of styles and shapes that, as ever, offers the consumer something a little different.

Do the new models reflect any changes in direction? Or a refinement?

With some, yes, and with others, no! We’ll certainly be playing homage to our heritage, with reworked classics like the stunning new Liberty chesterfield, inspired by the Tetrad Rumpole of the 90s.

Whilst we’ve always been known for our loosecover collection, after the success of the legendary Havana and the Vivaldi, we felt it was time for a refresh and more modern style for the range, so we’ll be showing some eye-catching new models and cover collections that deliver a look that’s more contemporary and diverse than ever.

We’ll be continuing to hone in on the current favourites, with further developments to the Tetrad x Harris Tweed collection, whilst pushing the boundaries of eclectic styling with the Knole, an exciting new model that carries the typical uniqueness of a Tetrad.

The glamorous, art deco style of the Spink & Edgar collection will also see a broader range, with some exquisite patterned prints that just ooze opulence.

Are there any notable new colour/material trends you’re taking into account?

We’re definitely seeing a resurgence in demand for loose covers, which aligns with the growing trend for relaxed living – people are now really creating spaces in their homes that are comfortable and comforting, that they can actually live in, rather than just showcase. Loose covers have always helped add a laid-back look, and we’ll be bringing a new palette that’s washable and swappable for that life/pet-proof practicality, with deep, rich velvets and softer, more subtle tones for the linens.

Our Bagru range will be expanding, too. It’s a distinct, characterful print that was inspired from the patterns within antique rugs. Each piece is handwoven and printed, before being finished by hand using a traditional stone-wash technique which really elevates its unique and authentic look.

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“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence in demand for loose covers
Hope Cooper Montana MacKenzie

It looks like your new website and enhanced social media activity is taking the brand to a new level. Can you tell us more?

We wanted to really showcase the range online, to show the intricate details, the profiles and textures of the fabrics, whilst empowering the users to explore the true level of customisation that we’re able to offer.

The 3D configurator lets you visualise the products, play about with different fabric choices to make sure it’s just right, and even see how it would look in your own home, with the help of augmented reality (AR)!

It’s proving hugely popular with our stockists and consumers. Some people are super visual, and can imagine what a fabric would look like, drawing images in their heads, and that’s amazing – I wish I was one of those people! – while others, like me, need something a little more literal.

With social, we wanted to start showing our products off a little more – they deserve it! Customers look at our socials for inspiration, and it allows us to talk a little more about our products, too. We’ve been playing around with more reels, better imagery

and behind-the-scenes stuff on stories to give a little insight as to who we are, and what it’s like here at HQ where all our furniture is made – it’s a sight to see, with so much skill and a genuine labour of love that goes into the handcrafting of our products, and social lets us give others a glimpse of that.

What would you say to visiting buyers new to the brand, or in the process of rediscovering Tetrad? Come and sit down with us (literally)! Our products are beautiful – it’s the first thing everyone says when they walk into our showroom. They’re made with meticulous attention to detail, and we refuse to compromise on comfort, using only the finest of materials and time-served techniques, blended with cutting-edge technology, to achieve something that we genuinely believe to be of unrivalled quality.

We’ve been making fine British furniture since 1968, we’re a little quirky, and we play with styles, shapes and textures to create innovative designs that will last for many years to come.

www.tetrad.co.uk

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“We create innovative designs that will last for many years to come
Liberty
Aberlour Lamour (Spink & Edgar) Spink & Edgar promises “exquisite patterned prints that ooze opulence”, says Hope

Timeless designs. Built to last.

Since 1968.

tetrad

tetrad.co.uk

Embrace e ciency with Iconography

Iconography’s integration-free solution, OMNIS, is a uni ed commerce platform which blends ecommerce, RMS, CRM and EPoS to “free retailers of the constraints of their existing platforms”, says director Wayne Robbins, whose team is looking forward to extolling the solution’s many virtues at this year’s JFS …

“Are you really relying on legacy retail software to help you compete and grow in the 2020s?

“We work with independent furniture retailers and believe only the innovative, e cient and agile will thrive in the 2020s,” says Wayne.

“The two essential ingredients for success in the future, in our view, are developing the right mindset – essentially an agile, hybrid approach to online and store-based retail – and deploying the right software to help you achieve it.

“If you’re fed up with integration faultlines which exist between ecommerce and legacy, store-based retail software, and if you’re impacted by the resulting ine ciency, duplication of e ort, mistakes, errors and delays – we have the solution.

“To compete online successfully (if that is a strategic aim), you need to think very di erently. You need to select the right product mix to market to

those ‘online customers’, buy in the right volumes of stock to ensure good margins, availability and lead times, and o er exible web payment options and competitive delivery.

“If you want to be an online player, it’s a totally di erent ballgame to in-store. Simply replicating your physical store online, in our experience, is not the winning formula. If that is your approach, you’ll be very busy managing an extensive product catalogue, all those swatches, all those options, all those price changes, but you won’t necessarily be generating signi cant additional online sales if those products are not a good t for online retail.

“In essence, it’s about picking products to sell online, and products to feature online to drive store footfall and enquiries.

“This is the realisation that many furniture retailers are reaching. The challenge today is that you need to be multifaceted – focused, relevant and clear – both online and in-store. This is much easier said than done.

“Operational e ciency is therefore essential – as there are two retail versions of yourself to manage, and only so any hours in the day. E ciency should be central to everything you do, and it’s why you need to move away from ine cient, store-centric legacy software.

“Many retailers now acknowledge old software is slowing them down and holding them back – in terms of e ectively creating and managing compelling, store-based and online retail propositions.

“We believe success is about new thinking. It is about developing and managing online and in-store versions of yourself with ease – our uni ed commerce platform, OMNIS Retail, points to the future.”

Visit Iconography at the January Furniture Show on stand 1-G25.

www.iconography.co.uk

96 JFS HALL 1
“To
compete online successfully, you need to think very di erently
A new, unified retail ecosystem Enterprise eCommerce + EPoS + CRM + Retail Management by Visit iconography.co.uk/omnis Effective & efficient omnichannel retailing Visit us in Hall 1, Stand G25, January Furniture Show

Core expansions and classic revivals

Last January, Furniture News published an in-depth profile of leading cabinet furniture supplier, Qualita, outlining its impressive expansion and brandbuilding achievements against the challenging backdrop of the pandemic. Since then, the business has faced further challenges – yet it very much remains on top, explains Qualita’s head of sales for the UK and Ireland, Anthony Matthias …

“The world in general has faced exceptional challenges in the past year,” Anthony begins, “but, given Qualita’s proximity to the conflict in Ukraine, we’ve felt those pressures even more acutely. Inflation, and the unforeseen supply issues that arose (we used to purchase materials and components from Ukraine), meant we had to make some difficult commercial decisions to insulate ourselves from the worst effects of it all, and to protect the business.”

Despite this, Qualita enjoyed significant wins last year. “The relaunch of the [former Winsor Furniture mainstay) Stockholm living and dining collection has been a great success,” Anthony continues. “Thanks to a great team effort, we now have more than 70 shopfloor displays across the length and breadth of the UK.

“In line with our stated aims, we now keep stock of the products in our warehouse in Lithuania, enabling us to offer an industry-leading delivery time of just 4-6 weeks in most cases. This, we believe, is playing a crucial role in the collection’s success, and is of huge benefit to retailers (and equally appealing to consumers).

“We’ve also updated the imagery available. We’ve opted for a slightly more contemporary setting, and hope this will help broaden the collection’s appeal, drawing in a younger audience.”

Anthony says last year’s later-than-planned JFS also enabled Qualita to launch its own collections of occasional furniture and shelving – Camden, Fulham

and Regal, which it showcased to great effect in April. “As a result of much hard work, we now offer these ranges on an 2-3-week lead time, with stock of the Camden and Fulham collections held in the UK in our logistics partner’s warehouse,” Anthony continues.

“These collections are great for our established bricks-and-mortar retailer base, but also work well for online retailers.”

As far as Qualita’s core contemporary living and dining offer is concerned, September saw the addition of solid ash alongside the solid oak and walnut collections. The ash tops (on selected table styles) are available in four oiled finishes, and competitively priced.

Bringing the story up to the present day, Qualita plans to build upon these at JFS this month (stand 1-D50) by launching several table designs, complemented by various dining chair styles.

98 JFS HALL 1
Qualita is reviving the popular Shadows range in oak
“We now have more than 70 Stockholm displays across the UK
Stockholm, previously Winsor Furniture’s mainstay, is performing well for Qualita Fulham

“I’m also delighted to announce that we’ll be relaunching the Shadows collection at JFS,” Anthony reveals, excited by the prospect of reviving an industry classic: “Back in the autumn we forged an agreement with CSI to take over the import, supply and distribution of the collection.

“Crucially, we’ll also be looking to stock the collection, thereby offering a very competitive lead time. Shadows will continue to be produced in Indonesia, and by the same manufacturer, with whom we enjoy an excellent relationship – but we’ll only be offering the collection in oak (Shadows was also available in teak beforehand).”

Anthony also explains that, in its role as Laura Ashley’s (LA) cabinet furniture licensee, Qualita continues to expand the distribution of LA’s products by supplying retailers including John Lewis and Next. “Additionally, we’re in active discussions with other selected retailers, and are also looking forward to playing our part in celebrating LA’s 70th anniversary this year.”

Not content to rest on its many laurels, Qualita is also moving a new home (office and warehouse) in Mitcham early this year, which will give it the space and facilities to support its ambitious growth plans –for this year and beyond.

www.qualita.co.uk

be relaunching the Shadows collection at JFS

99
Denver
“We’ll
Fargo table and Helga cabinets
Regal
Montpellier and Eleanor, developed for Laura Ashley
STAND
22-25
1-D50
January 2023
T: 0207 738 2424 - E: info@qualita.co.uk Qualita 557-561 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BL

SCI-NET www.sci-net.co.uk

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

ERP>Retail is a certified Microsoft Dynamics industry add-on, developed to Microsoft’s stringent standards. Sci-Net says retailers can rely on this industry-specific solution to run their entire furniture business, as it takes care of everything from tablet

to PoS, store admin, supply chain, warehouse and financials.

Sci-Net is looking forward to demonstrating its ERP>Retail solution at the January Furniture Show, where its team will be on hand to explain how much the company’s leading software solution can connect the dots across all of a business’ operations.

Find Sci-Net on stand 2-A14 at the show.

GALLERY DIRECT

www.gallerydirect.co.uk

Gallery Direct spent the last few months designing and developing its SS23 Collection to launch at JFS, along with a new mattress range.

Commercial director James Hudson says: “We are really excited about the new lines, all designed to offer quality and affordability, and the show gives customers the perfect chance to ‘touch and feel’ them, whilst enjoying our legendary hospitality.

“Part of the launch includes a new mattress collection, which is ready for customers to preview and order ahead of the show. A great deal of development work has gone into the range from our dedicated team, who have knowledge and expertise in the field. The collection offers a range of models, each with its own features, and is designed to make it easy for our customers and end-users alike to choose the right mattress to suit their requirements. They will all be hand crafted by our experienced team at our Wiltshire manufacturing unit.”

Gallery’s SS23 Collection also features a selection of new furniture ranges, as well as extensions to current collections.

Visit Gallery on stands 2-E20/2-E22.

102 JFS HALL 2
Sci-Net’s solution connects retailers’ processes and people (photo courtesy Getty/andresr)

GET A FIRST LOOK AT

HALL 2 - STAND E20 22-25 JAN

Join us at Stand E20 for an exclusive first look at our stunning new SS23 Collections, launching exclusively at January Furniture Show. We will be Introducing new furniture such as the Brand New Eton Collection, available in a variety of different finishes, this collection contains an exciting array of living and dining furniture.

With an offering of over 6,000 lines in our collection across seven categories, we’re proud to say we’re the complete home and outdoor supplier.

View our full collection online at www.gallerydirect.co.uk

Bluebone – rustic, reclaimed and rejuvenated

“We will all enjoy January this year,” enthuses Bluebone. “The show season is back to normal, and once again the home and interiors market is proving resilient through the challenging economic climate” – not to mention the new lines JFS visitors will find on stands 2-A10 and 2-A20 …

Playing to its strengths, Bluebone will occupy two stands at this year’s show, from which it will present new launches in dining, bar and living room furniture. “Discover our serene Fjord bedroom collection, plus a fabulous display of outdoor furniture and garden accessories,” says Bluebone.

Rustic and reclaimed remains Bluebone’s signature look, but the supplier has added new layers to the collection for 2023, including a fresh white cementtop dining table, a new coal-finish teak bar table, and a host of new homewares and accessories, including the Games Room and Green Cuisine brands.

Of particular note is the addition of four new counter-height stools, while clever design tweaks have transformed some old favourites into fresh new pieces with a commercial edge (“a lower price point!”): “We have listened to your suggestions, and delivered,” says Bluebone. “You’re welcome!”

The supplier also continues to embrace the outdoor living concept that has become a way of life over the past few years, with new teak Olive and Pineapple tables and benches. “They are gorgeous new additions to our indoor/outdoor collections, and will look equally stylish as interior pieces or as weathered outdoor features,” states Bluebone.

“We have great stock already in the UK, so let our ranges inspire your spring displays – much of what you will see at the show can be delivered straight away.

“With excellent UK stocks of our dining chairs, bar and counter stools, it is a great opportunity to stock up and take advantage of our bulk seating offer. Details of this offer, plus some great show specials, will all be available on the stand. We will also have the latest edition of our quarterly magazine – and, of course, the Bluebone tote bag!”

Bluebone’s new show location is at the top of the stairs leading from Hall 1 into Hall 2. “Please come and join us for a drink, and relax at the reclaimed boatwood bar,” concludes Bluebone. “We look forward to seeing you there!”

www.bluebone.co.uk

104 JFS HALL 2
“We have listened to your suggestions, and delivered
Pineapple table Part of Bluebone’s Games Room line White cement-top dining table
FIND US IN HALL 2, STANDS A10 & A20 0161 3308959 • sales@bluebone.co.uk • www.bluebone.co.uk INDOOR | OUTDOOR | HOME ST Y LEBOOK

Think Rugs rolls out expanded range

Think Rugs will be present on stand 2-C25 at this year’s JFS, where the supplier will showcase the product ranges from its 2022/23 brochure.

Think Rugs has been working hard on a selection of brand-new ranges, as well as many additions to several established collections. The new lines include Solace and Bellagio, which will accompany additions to the top-selling Apollo, Boho and Bazaar Jute ranges.

The Solace range is a recycled shaggy, with 100% of the pile made from recycled plastic bottles. Each square metre of product saves over 100 plastic bottles from entering landfill, says Think Rugs (to see the recycling process in action, visit www.repreve.com/ discover).

The ultra-high-quality Bellagio range is the brand’s highest-quality machine-made product to date. Woven with incredibly high-density polypropylene and viscose, the range comprises four unique abstract designs in muted tones.

The popular Apollo is set to be thoroughly expanded, from 10 options to 25. Created with highquality polypropylene and metallic-effect polyester, the Apollo range is set to become Think Rugs’ next top seller, says the supplier: “A must-have for any buyer!”

Boho continues to be the supplier’s most popular range, and is already available in over 20 options.

Think Rugs has now added a selection of six new designs, all available in a multicolour selection.

The stylish and sustainable Bazaar Jute ranges have been expanded to include four new options, taking the range to eight options across multiple sizes. Made from 100% jute or hemp, the range is eminently eco-friendly, says Think Rugs.

“Think Rugs will always remain committed to supporting every one of our valued partners, and will continue to strive to ensure that we provide the best possible service,” states the supplier. “We have committed ourselves to ensuring our stock levels are constantly kept at the highest possible level, and that our lead times are as short as possible.

“To view all these ranges and more, come and visit us at the show, or contact us to request a digital or print brochure. With over 1500 products available, you are sure to find the perfect selection of rugs for your range. We look forward to hearing from you!” www.thinkrugs.co.uk

106 JFS HALL 2
Apollo
Hemp Boho
For E very H ome T: 01782 747 713 E: info@thinkrugs.co.uk www.thinkrugs.co.uk January Furniture Show Hall 2 Stand C25

Winner of the Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier category in Furniture News’ Readers’ Choice Awards last year, Home Junction is back at the show with a plethora of new products.

With 26 years of experience in the retail and supply sector, Home Junction understands its customers’ expectations – commercial, great-quality products, competitively priced with excellent customer service.

There is no minimum order quantity required, and customers (both on- and offline are catered for) can choose to collect their orders from Home Junction’s warehouse in Bilston, West Midlands, or to use one of its home delivery services.

Home Junction offers outdoor furniture, as well as velvet-upholstered collections for indoors.

Specialising in large product photography, Image Rebel Studios is well suited to furniture shoots. Its state-of-theart studio has a 7.32m-wide infinity cove for white cut-out images, and a separate room set for lifestyle images.

Based on the Essex/Hertfordshire border, only 15 minutes from the M25, there is ample car parking space and easy access for delivery lorries. Products can be delivered before the day of the photoshoot and collected afterwards, transforming the logistics from “a nightmare to a breeze”.

The in-house design team also offers graphic design work, digital marketing services, copywriting and website creation.

Meet the team on stand 2-B25.

108 JFS HALL 2
IMAGE REBEL STUDIOS www.imagerebelstudios.co.uk Image Rebel Studios’ state-of-the-art facility
Lifestyle photography by Image Rebel Studios
HOME JUNCTION
www.homejunction.co.uk
Melody Home Junction made its impressive debut at last year’s show
Seconique Furniture For more details call 0121 506 4888 or visit our website www.seconique.co.uk COMPREHENSIVE PRODUCT RANGE - FIRST CLASS SERVICE - OUTSTANDING VALUE 0121 506 4888 Wobaston Road, Wolverhampton, WV9 5EY STAND D20 HALL 4 CODY MARLOW MADRID NAPLES RADLEY

Kettle promises the freshest furniture

With brand-new collections drawing inspiration from the latest trends in global interiors, a visit to Kettle Interiors’ stands at JFS promises to unlock new opportunity.

with Kettle Interiors creates exciting new opportunities

The supplier will launch new collections across its Essentials, Originals and Signature cabinet furniture brands, alongside new addition the Mint Interiors collection. With new options, from the fast-selling value of Essentials through to the premium quality of Signature furniture, visitors to Kettle Interiors’ stands will be the first to take advantage of the ranges – plus exclusive show discounts.

Retailers and designers will also be able to find out more about how Kettle Interiors has worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to ensure that its customers have access to its furniture whenever and however they want it. This is made possible by high stock

levels of over 1900 individual items, each available for quick delivery through the supplier’s Stockist, Wholesale or new-and-improved DHD service.

Simon Ainge, international sales director, says: “For over 30 years we’ve been supplying the trade with the very best in choice, value and design. We’re keen to show retailers visiting the January Furniture Show how partnering with Kettle Interiors creates exciting new opportunities. With cabinet furniture, outdoor furniture and home lifestyle products all available, we give retailers the chance to explore new markets without sacrificing the ease and convenience of multiple supply options from a single source.”

The Kettle Interiors team will be on hand throughout the show to talk retailers through the new collections and demonstrate how its industry-leading 24/7 account management and ordering system gives the freedom of access anytime and anywhere.

Kettle Interiors will be present on stands 4-C24, 4-B20 and 4-D20.

www.kettleinteriorsagencies.com

HALL 4 JFS 111
“Partnering

Join us for the freshest launches

Join us at The January Furniture Show and experience the freshest furniture ranges from our leading brands.

With more trending cabinet styles from across the globe and the latest in home accessories from Mint Interiors, there’s something exciting for everyone.

Book your place with your sales representative to be the first to see our striking new styles and enjoy exclusive show discounts.

The January Furniture Show, 22-25 January, NEC, Birmingham

Our extensive value range features over 600 lines with a brand-new collection launched to bring even more choices in style.

Hall 4 B20 I C24

Originals is where it all began, with cabinet furniture that beautifully blends quality and value. We’ll be releasing a new collection especially at the show.

Crafted to exceptional standards and with over 300 lines, Signature will see another range of premium quality furniture released at JFS.

With

100s of products that will delight and inspire homeowners, every item in The Mint collection has been selected to deliver unique and stylish pieces.
kettleinteriorsagencies.com
Invites you to join us for a showcase like no other at Book an appointment with your Kettle Interiors representative today! NEC Birmingham Hall 4 B20 | C24 22 - 25 January 2023 The January Furniture Show
Join us for the freshest collections and exclusive show deals. Book now! Be the first to: View all our latest launches Access the best exclusive show deals Immerse yourself in all of our brands offering the latest product trends Join us for a drink and refreshments Book an appointment today
Franco North East Liam Wales UK sales manager Sarah Burton National accounts
Gant North West Joe Briffa South West Decor Furniture Ltd Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland info@decorfurniturelits.co.uk 028 38446000
Maria
Phil
& South West
Anthony
Palmer South
Mike
Marshall Scotland

Forte promises visitors valuable insights

This year’s JFS will see leading European ready-to-assemble furniture manufacturer Forte present its top lines, while sharing a glimpse behind the scenes at its unique capabilities …

Alongside a wealth of new product, visitors to stand 4-B45 will have an opportunity to appreciate the capabilities of the Polish manufacturing group – its production potential, quality assurance process, ethos of sustainability and environmental commitment.

Forte’s dedicated team will be on hand to provide an authentic brand experience, highlighting the possibilities customers and business partners can count on in terms of products and collaboration.

“We are delighted to announce that both in-house and external designers will be on hand during the show to bring to life your designs, demonstrate our innovative approach to product development, and show off our co-development capabilities,” states Forte.

“We have designed our stand to be more accessible, to encourage customers to fully explore our furniture ranges, along with displaying our decors and furniture accessories for the first time. We have also introduced new children’s and nursery collections to the UK market, which we are eager to show you.

“As a leading manufacturer that exports to more than 45 countries around the world, we feel it is our duty to create our products in a sustainable manner, and our vision of sustainability centres around three pillars – environmental, social and governance. We devote a great deal of time and resources caring for the planet and our people, while always maintaining the highest quality and safety standards.

“Our team are excited to meet you, in what we are sure will be a busy show,” Forte concludes. “Please take the time to come and see our great products – and explore the great possibilities of working with Forte!”

www.forte.com.pl

116 JFS HALL 4
“In-house and external designers will be on hand during the show
Bohol Calasetta Vankka
WE’RE EXHIBITING AT NEC 22nd - 25th January 2023 SHOW January FURNITURE www.FORTE.com.pl HALL 4 STAND B-45 DISCOVER THE FORTE WAY We are a leading European manufacturer of Ready To Assemble furniture. Our products are created with great care for the environment, while maintaining safety and highest quality. We follow the latest trends and offer a wide range of furniture to meet our customers’ needs and tastes. DESIGNED FOR PLANET , AND PARTNERS PEOPLE

SECONIQUE

www.seconique.co.uk

At JFS, Seconique will introduce the Cody children’s bedroom range, which consists of a house-style bed with storage drawer and seat. The matching two-door, one-drawer wardrobe, two-drawer bedside, 2+2 drawer chest and two-door, four-drawer storage unit are a Seconique exclusive, designed by its in-house team.

The new Madrid bedroom range has a modern industrial look, with a black metal leg frame and handles, and is available in white high gloss with grey drawers and doors. The range includes two-, three- and four-door wardrobes with mirrors, a 3+2 drawer chest, a

VALUE MARK FURNITURE

www.valuemarkfurniture.co.uk

Value Mark Furniture’s sizeable occasional and exclusive dining ranges will once again feature several new introductions, with the former offering retailers a notable point of difference, and all designed to sit well with a variety of upholstery groups.

The team looks forward to welcoming visitors to stand 4-B10 at the January Furniture Show.

five-drawer narrow chest and a three-drawer bedside.

An additional black gloss colour has been added to the popular Nevada collection, along with corner wardrobes to give a fitted look. Also launching is Radley, an entry-level dining set in light oak-effect veneer with black legs, and a frame available with either oat or steelgrey linen fabric seat pads.

These are just a few of the new products available at Seconique for 2023. The supplier’s vast collection of furniture ranges cater for all decor styles, from traditional to modern, and offer impressive value for money.

JAIPUR FURNITURE

www.jaipurfurniture.net

Jaipur Furniture will launch several new lifestyle collections of living and dining pieces at this year’s show.

“We pride ourselves on the style and quality of our products,” states the supplier. “With over 30 years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, we’re bringing our latest collection to the exhibition, comprising unique new materials with handcrafted details, at unmatched prices.”

Find Jaipur Furniture on stand 4-D35.

118 JFS HALL 4
Europa
Madrid
Cody
Bentinck House, Park Lane Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts NG17 9LE tel: (01623) 727374 email: sales@julian-bowen.co.uk web:
All Products are available for Direct Home Delivery Bali Bedroom Collection - In Stock Now Visit Julian Bowen at The Furniture Show Hall 4 Stand E20 JULIAN BOWEN
www.julian-bowen.co.uk

Ordorite introduces Ordoconnect

Today’s software users want easyto-use, visually pleasing product that offers immediate benefits, and furniture and bed retailers are no different, says Ordorite Software’s CEO, Stephen Connolly …

“We have spent 10 years developing our product and listening to our users’ feedback in order to improve both our product and service, and we are so excited to be able to unveil our latest innovation for furniture and bed retailers at this year’s January Furniture Show,” says Stephen.

Ordoconnect is a completely new platform that takes all the benefits from dozens of Ordorite’s modules and centralises them in a single hub, enabling users to view all areas of the business. “It uses a combination of latest-generation technology and advanced algorithms to take the strain,” Stephen explains.

“Our aim is to enable clients to receive the benefits of Ordorite immediately and get a ROI quicker,” he adds.

Ordorite’s Ordoconnect utilises drag-and-drop and graphic visualisation, and apps for warehouse management, distribution, marketing, ecommerce and ticketing.

Scanning products for the movement of goods reduces wasted time and increases efficiency, while automated texting and emailing saves enormous amounts of time – customers can be invited to pay any balance via a secure online link, then book their delivery based on their postcode, size of the product and vehicle capacity.

Ordoconnect gives the retailer a graphic overview of their delivery fleet – whether that is one vehicle or 100, says Stephen: “They can see the percentage of delivery capacity reached by individual vehicle or route.

“They can see whether a load is fully picked, a vehicle is loading, or en route. There is also the ability to click into individual orders via Ordoconnect, to add notes for the delivery team or the customer.

“The customer can then track their order through these processes, further reducing inbound calls.

As an order is delivered and digitally signed for, Ordoconnect invoices and closes that delivery, so no action is required by staff.”

And the story does not end there, says Stephen. “Customer reviews are so important these days,” he explains. “When the goods are delivered, Ordoconnect triggers an email to the customer inviting a service review on Trustpilot, then, a specified number of days later, a further email requests a review for the specific product that the customer received.

“We’re confident that globally there’s no other product for this industry that will deliver the benefits of Ordoconnect.

“But,” adds Stephen, “innovation doesn’t just mean product. Last year, we added Darren Lee to our UK team – he’s very well known in the industry for his integrity and industry knowledge.”

Ordorite looks forward to introducing Ordoconnect, and a plethora of its latest innovations, on stand 4-A12 at this year’s January Furniture Show.

120 JFS HALL 4
www.ordorite.com
“There’s no other product for this industry that will deliver the benefits of Ordoconnect
Ordoconnect brings dozens of modules together in one easy-to-understand view Delivery tracking is clearly conveyed, and the benefits do not end once the customer’s door closes
info@ordorite.com www.ordorite.com Phone: +44 203 2861 202 Easy to use POS Delivery route planning Comprehensive reporting Fully digital warehouse Online customer delivery scheduling & payment Easy web integration THE FUTURE OF FURNITURE RETAIL COMPLEX BUSINESS PROCESS MADE EASY VISIT US AT Hall 4 Stand A12 NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH AT JFS

www.coreproducts.co.uk

Core Products, which topped the Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier category in Furniture News’ 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, will present its award-winning ranges from a new stand location at the top of the stairs leading into Hall 4 – stand 4-A26.

New for 2023 is an extensive collection of casual dining sets in both wood and painted finishes, available as sets or individually.

Real wood continues to be an important part of Core Products’ furniture offer, and there will be new ranges and additional products on show, to further enhance its established collections. Its painted, contemporary and modern living collections will also be available to inspect, along with the traditionally inspired Highland Home ranges.

Core Products’ significant commitment to stockholding in the UK, backed up with direct customer access to stock information, product ordering and order tracking, allows for quick and efficient deliveries to the store, or direct to the customer’s home – all supported by Core’s longestablished customer service team and dedicated after-sales website.

“If you’re looking to enhance your shop floor with great-value products, expand your ecommerce offer, or just want to see how Core Products can help you grow sales, visit us at JFS,” says the supplier.

122 JFS HALL 4
CORE PRODUCTS
Driftwood and Calico medium sideboard Cotswold country-style pine bedroom Dunkeld fi ve-drawer narrow chest CONTEMPORARY PAINTED CORONA AUGUSTA MODERN LIVING HIGHLAND HOME 01738 630 555 sales@coreproducts.co.uk www.coreproducts.co.uk
Augusta
Choose Core. Choose award winning flat packed furniture. Choose quick delivery. Choose 335 price freezes, 82 price reductions and 66 exciting new products for 2023. Choose vast UK stock holdings with no minimum order on trade or direct home delivery. Choose furniture designs perfected over 20 years. Choose first class after sales support. Choose Core. Choose to visit us at the… 22-25 January Hall 4 Stand A26 Core Products

Rauch goes back to its roots – with new ideas

Bedroom and wardrobe specialist

Rauch Moebelwerke has seen many changes over the last few years – but now the German manufacturer is looking forward by going back to its roots …

According to Rauch, adapting to a new environment has been essential to maintaining its focus, quality and service levels, while adhering to the business’ core values..

Rauch’s guiding principle – ‘Back to our roots with new ideas’ – has informed the actions of the brand’s new management team, which was put in place in June last year, and put in “a real sprint” in the run-up to the presentation of new products, says the manufacturer.

Only 10 weeks separated their appointment and the autumn’s key furniture shows – that Rauch managed to present so many new products in such a short period of time says a great deal about the company’s capabilities.

Following on from the stylish redesign of its Freudenberg showroom in the spring, Rauch has

listened to its partners, and has already started to deliver by establishing new products, trends and relationships – and this approach will characterise 2023, too, as Rauch moves ahead while adhering to the principles of quality and service that have served it – and its retail partners – so well for 125 years.

JFS, where Rauch will exhibit on stand 4-D30, will be no exception, with a wealth of new innovations and designs on show for the first time in the UK.

The fact that the company, which currently has around 1500 employees, also has its own chipboard plant, is another advantage that makes its offer even more persuasive – Rauch says it can offer unparalleled delivery reliability in an era of disrupted supply chains.

www.rauchmoebel.de/en

124 JFS HALL 4
Purisma Cottage
“That Rauch presented so many new products in such a short period of time says a great deal about its capabilities
MORE NEW DESIGNS THAN EVER –DON‘T MISS OUT A VISIT HALL 4, STAND D3O since1897 JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW 22 – 25 JAN 2023 HALL 4, STAND D3O SEE YOU IN BIRMINGHAM!

Homestyle GB’s Scandinavian touch

With the post-Covid reopening of many of the Far East shows, Homestyle GB is planning to radically change course this year by adding new ranges to its portfolio and overhauling the chair models on offer …

Although it was reluctant to do so, Homestyle GB has been forced to pursue a strategy of consolidation for the last three years. The well-publicised supply constraints and logistical issues – plus the inability to travel to negotiate new designs – prompted the supplier to focus on its already-proven ranges, ensuring it had sufficient stocks and was able to overcome any unforseen delivery challenges.

“Such uncertainty and fragility in the marketplace meant many retailers were less likely to gamble on new ranges,” states the supplier, which says that doubling down on existing lines enabled it to maintain the high quality standards for which it is known.

“True to our core value of delivering uncompromised quality, we resisted the pressure to compromise on the build quality and materials we use (we’ve almost hit a niche by continuing to offer solid oak products!),” Homestyle continues.

“Much of our recent design cues are taken from Scandinavian influences – the incredibly popular Scandic range continues to thrive, and the lesserknown Nordic (backed up by new CGI illustrations) will be making its debut appearance at JFS. The eagerly anticipated Finlandia will also be introduced this year.”

Homestyle continues to develop and improve existing products in line with customer demand, and is looking for like-minded traditional high street retailers and forward-thinking internet retailers for new partnerships in 2023.

Find Homestyle GB on stand 4-F10.

www.homestylegb.com

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“We resisted the pressure to compromise on build quality and materials

WIEMANN

www.wiemannuk.co.uk

German bedroom manufacturer Wiemann is to launch five new ranges at the show. The award-winning company, known for products which offer a total bedroom solution to suit any home, is also set to reveal updates and additions to at least six of its existing collections.

The new products, coming to stand 4-C50, will complement Wiemann’s premium VIP ranges including Monaco and Quito, which all show commitment to driving increased value for retailers.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “Our stand is not to be missed. All Wiemann products are known for their excellent design, quality and value, and are backed up with our five-star customer support service.”

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Monaco Perfect bedrooms start with Wiemann
made in germany
See our 2023 new and updated ranges at the January Furniture Show, NEC, Birmingham, January 22-25 2023, Stand 4-C50. Bedrooms of distinctive style, quality and value Perfect bedrooms start with Wiemann
made in germany
See our 2023 new and updated ranges at the January Furniture Show, NEC, Birmingham, January 22-25 2023, Stand 4-C50. Bedrooms of distinctive style, quality and value start with Wiemann enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk made in germany
NEC, Birmingham, January 22-25 2023, Stand 4-C50. quality and value Perfect bedrooms start with Wiemann
made See our 2023 new and updated ranges at the January Furniture Show, NEC, Birmingham, January Bedrooms of distinctive style, quality and value Weimann_JA.indd 1 05/12/2022 10:04
Monaco
enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk www.wiemannuk.co.uk
Monaco
enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk www.wiemannuk.co.uk
Monaco
Monaco
enquiries@wiemannuk.co.uk www.wiemannuk.co.uk

New partnerships strengthen Buoyant’s hand

As usual, Buoyant Upholstery is looking to impress at this year’s JFS, where the sofamaker will roll out new collections and updates to longstanding favourites on one of the exhibition’s largest stands.

Buoyant’s sizeable stand will house around 25 product ranges, plus accent chairs and footstools to support each collection.

Buoyant’s team has been hard at work since April’s show, designing and developing new product for this edition. “What we have to offer will certainly broaden our range whilst still providing the same levels of comfort and quality we’re known for,” states the manufacturer.

“Obviously, we don’t want to give too much away, but we have previewed the new Inka model, which can be seen in our full-page ad to the right.” Inka is a fully modular collection that can create many different configurations and offers a deep and low sit.

Throughout 2022, Buoyant built relationships with two suppliers whose materials will feature on some of the products on its stand. Aquaclean’s stainrelease technology offers real peace of mind to the customer when it comes to spillages and marks, while a partnership with Kind Leather signals Buoyant’s return to the world of leather upholstery. Buoyant says Kind Leather goes about leather production in a highly environmentally conscious manner, reducing the amount of water, energy and harmful chemicals used in the process.

“At Buoyant Upholstery, we’re passionate about providing comfort and quality, but we also like to innovate with new designs and products, and we’re incredibly excited to show you what we have in store for 2023 at this year’s show,” the manufacturer concludes. “No appointment will be necessary, but customers will be asked to sign in upon arrival so the most suitable sales agent can be assigned to assist you.”

www.buoyant-upholstery.co.uk

130 JFS HALL 5
Sully
Harlow Ren
MADE IN THE UK www.buoyant-upholstery.co.uk New Collection: Inka We have some incredibly exciting new product to show you at this year’s January Furniture Show. Come and visit our stand to see stunning models like the Inka. 22-25 January 2023 NEC Birmingham Hall 5, Stand F-30

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers, Lebus Upholstery offers luxury sofas with quality and value in mind.

Lebus is looking forward to returning to the January Furniture Show, where it will welcome new and familiar faces at its stand (5-E10). This year, Lebus will occupy a large, open-plan stand, where customers can walk through and view its impressive range of new sofa collections.

All the sofas have been carefully handcrafted in the UK by Lebus’ dedicated design and development team over the last few months.

132 JFS HALL 5
LEBUS
www.lebus.co.uk Sunset Clive COME SAY HELLO. We look forward to seeing you at the January Furniture Show 2023 22nd - 25th January at the NEC Birmingham Hall 5 stand E10 WWW.LEBUS.CO.UK
UPHOLSTERY

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

Contact: (0141) 632 1025 sales@torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

137 Shawbridge St, Glasgow, G43 1QQ www.torelli.co.uk

NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant design & craftmanship come together!
Where
NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant design &
together!
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craftmanship come
NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant
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design
craftmanship come together!
22-25 January 2023 Hall 5 Stand 5-H40 NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant
& craftmanship
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NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant design & craftmanship come together!
Where
NEC FURNITURE January SHOW 19-22 JAN 2020 Stand: 5-H47
elegant design & craftmanship come together!
Where

World Furniture goes above and beyond

Despite the many challenges arrayed against the industry, World Furniture has enjoyed continual growth, and is looking forward to 2023 just as much as any other year – as visitors to stand 5-H35 will discover …

World Furniture is now entering its 24th year of business, and remains one of Ireland’s leading wholesalers, delivering throughout the UK and Ireland, on top of an ever-growing direct container programme reaching many countries across the globe.

This year’s JFS will see a significant development of new ranges in sintered stone from the company. Having already established a strong foothold with its impressive Pura range, the progression continues for the company, which considers its products to be “innovative, of exceptional quality, and price sensitive”.

“Pura sintered stone is full of incredible benefits which make it one of the best materials you can buy for dining tables and other home products,” states World Furniture.

The benefits include: resistance to scratching; resistance to UV rays; resistance to high

temperatures; waterproof; recyclable, and 100% natural. “These attributes are extremely beneficial to the retailer (and ultimately the end-consumer),” explains the supplier, “and the current range of colours will be further extended using colours such as Senna brown and matt Shakespeare black, wonderfully finished with brush brass legs (which play a big part in new product developments). There are 13 new table designs and 27 different colour/size options, so lots of options.”

Alongside this significant dining table launch, World Furniture has developed an extensive range of chairs in an array of designs and colours. The emphasis this year remains very much on textures and colours, with attractive two-tone contrasting mixes.

In addition, the company has added several new models to its established and successful electric recliner range. Using new moss green, sea blue and herringbone fabrics, the level of choice in both leather and fabric is now extensive throughout the ranges, delivering “design and quality beyond expectations”.

134 JFS HALL 5
www.world-furniture.biz
World-Furniture-Show-Advert-FINAL-Mar2022.indd
“We’re delivering design and quality beyond expectations
BEAUTIFULLY ENGINEERED INTERIORS POP-BY AND SEE US AT HALL 5, STAND H35 028 9182 8202 paul@world-furniture.biz world-furniture.biz 2 Ballyharry Business Park, Donaghadee Road, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, BT23 7ET EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTORS BEAUTIFULLY ENGINEERED INTERIORS POP-BY AND SEE US AT HALL 5, STAND H35 028 9182 8202 paul@world-furniture.biz world-furniture.biz 2 Ballyharry Business Park, Donaghadee Road, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, BT23 7ET EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTORS World-Furniture-Show-Advert-FINAL-Mar2022.indd 2 03/03/2022 20:19 BEAUTIFULLY ENGINEERED INTERIORS POP-BY AND SEE US AT HALL 5, STAND H35 028 9182 8202 paul@world-furniture.biz world-furniture.biz 2 Ballyharry Business Park, Donaghadee Road, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, BT23 7ET BEAUTIFULLY ENGINEERED INTERIORS POP-BY AND SEE US AT HALL 5, STAND 028 9182 8202 paul@world-furniture.biz world-furniture.biz 2 Ballyharry Business Park, Donaghadee Road, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, BT23 7ET HALL 5 STAND H35

TFW reinforces its return to the market

Having made its triumphant return to the scene at last year’s JFS, popular supplier TFW is “back with a bang” at the NEC again this month, to reinforce its position with new lines and fresh ideas …

“As good as the April 2022 show was, we know retailers feel reassured to see a supplier return for a second year (and beyond!),” says MD Dean Lovett.

This year’s show will see TFW add several extending tables options to its successful sintered stone (ceramic) ranges, with the aim of providing options for all households by covering table sizes ranging from 1.2m up to an impressive 2.8m – plus round table options, too.

In response to customer demand, TFW is also adding matching dining bench (benches with backs) options to its strongest dining chair lines. “Other dining chair lines are backed up with a largely universal option of a bench with no back, which allows retailers to offer a cost-effective seating solution to their customers, as the three-person bench will cost around the same as two dining chairs,” says Dean.

Cabinet enhanced with sintered stone is also a new launch for TFW. “Apart from dining chairs being sold with a dining table, we noticed that there’s

often not much a retailer can add on further to the sale … which seems nuts when you think of the relentless wooden cabinet options that can be sold with a traditional wooden table,” Dean explains. “At TFW, we see the answer being in the form of several contemporary cabinet pieces with sintered stone tops that match the table the customer has opted for.”

Finally, TFW will return with its tried-and-tested recliner offer, but these have been enhanced with the option of manual or electric controls (the latter including a USB charger).

Find TFW on stand 5-H30.

www.tfw.co.uk

136 JFS HALL 5
“We know retailers feel reassured to see a supplier return for a second year
Over 20 years of experience insupplying and sourcing furniture. 40,000 sqft warehouse and showroomin WestBromwich (B71) Additional (small)showroom & warehouse inLondon (E10) Direct Home Delivery to your customer Fast 3 day deliverytoyourwarehouse or shop 22-25 January 2023 STAND 5-H30 www.tfw.co.uk WHOLESALE ENQUIRIES: admin@tfw.co.uk - 0208 680 5276 dean@tfw.co.uk – 07867 787894 SOURCING & CONTAINER ENQUIRIES: dean@tfw.co.uk – 07867 787894 MAIN WAREHOUSE & SHOWROOM Units 2 & 3 | 5 & 6 Church Lane Industrial Estate, Church Lane, West Bromwich B71 1AR LONDON (SMALL) SHOWROOM & WAREHOUSE Cobblers Yard, 477a The High Road Leyton, London E10 5EL
ISO 27001 NATIONWIDE REPAIR & RESTORATION SPECIALISTS FABRIC & LEATHER UPHOLSTERY CABINETS & WOODEN FURNITURE BEDS & MATTRESSES ELECTRIC & MOTION FURNITURE FURNITURE E: info@homeserverepairs.co.uk T: 01384 473000 W: www.homeserverepairs.co.uk TECHNICIANS THROUGHOUT THE UK & IRELAND VISITING OVER Over CUSTOMERS EACH MONTH 170 30,000 THE UK’S MOST COMPETITIVE PRICING! Contact us today for more details... info@homeserverepairs.co.uk Full UK & Ireland Coverage Online Portal with Real-time Reporting Independent Comprehensive Reporting 17 Point Mattress Inspection Procedure Full Description & Liability Assessment Report Key Points Illustrated with Images & Video Technician Tracking and SMS ETA Updates for Customers Our aim is to resolve on the first visit in the customer’s home Comprehensive van stock to maximise first call resolution •Selection of our van stock •Stock spray paints for cabinet ranges •Full wood restoration kit •Leather pigment colour range •Springs •Timber rails & castor blocks •Foam & Fibre •T-nuts & Sundries SEEUSAT JFS5-A20 NATIONWIDE REPAIR & RESTORATION SPECIALISTS FABRIC & LEATHER UPHOLSTERY CABINETS & WOODEN FURNITURE BEDS & MATTRESSES ELECTRIC & MOTION FURNITURE FURNITURE E: info@homeserverepairs.co.uk T: 01384 473000 W: www.homeserverepairs.co.uk TECHNICIANS THROUGHOUT THE UK & IRELAND VISITING OVER Over CUSTOMERS EACH MONTH 170 30,000 THE UK’S MOST COMPETITIVE PRICING!
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van stock to maximise first call resolution •Selection
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Contact
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Investment drives choice at Deepsleep

It has been “a brilliant and hectic year” for the business, says UK bed manufacturer Deepsleep Beds (UK), which is eager to reveal its progress at JFS …

Based in West Yorkshire, Deepsleep manufactures a wide range of quality mattresses, bases, bed frame bases and headboards, offering quality, choice and value across its collections.

Last year saw Deepsleep continue to invest in its factory in Ossett, with the installation of a new mezzanine which took the production area to in excess of 150,000ft2. This in turn enabled further investment in new quilting and embroidery machines to facilitate smooth production and meet evergrowing demand.

Indeed, says the business, years of careful and

constant investment in new machine technology means the company is well positioned to meet the demands of today’s consumer, and the company is poised to introduce a raft of innovative new mattress, base and headboard designs this year – all of which will soon be available to view on the business’ new website, which will feature both its Deepsleep and Gilt Edge ranges.

In addition to plant and machinery investment, 2023 will see the delivery of new trucks to expand the fleet, meaning more efficient delivery to Deepsleep’s valued retailers. Further investment this year also includes the installation of a new IT system to streamline sales orders, improve raw material stock control and flow, and improve product flow and logistics.

Last year, Deepsleep Beds became an NBFapproved manufacturer, and exhibited for the first time at the Telford Bed Show, where it enjoyed “great success” – and the business is now looking forward to showcasing it new ranges at JFS, where there will be an emphasis on “style and comfort in the bedroom”.

Deepsleep says this has been achieved by constantly researching new and innovative fillings and fabrics, and using them to emphasise the manufacturer’s strengths in quality, design and comfort, while maintaining durability, giving the consumer “many nights of quality, comfortable sleep”.

Existing and prospective customers are promised a warm welcome on stand 5-C45, where Deepsleep’s directors, managers and sales agents will explain how beneficial the new-for-2023 ranges will be to their business – alongside sharing new PoS materials to help them get the most from the brand.

www.deepsleepbeds.co.uk

HALL 5 JFS 139
Chloe

Shire broadens appeal with new ranges

Shire Beds is returning to JFS on stand 5-G20, where it plans to celebrate over a quarter of a century of innovative British furniture manufacturing …

The winner of the NBF Bed Industry Awards’ Product of the Year 2021-22, and the Best of British accolade in The Furniture Awards 2022, Shire Beds says its bestselling products saw a huge sales uplift last year.

“The Shire Artisan Collection answers the call of retail stockists seeking to maximise margin while still offering their customers a top-quality product,” says Shire, adding that the Picasso mattress has proved to be the range’s top seller.

The Picasso is a selection of handmade mattresses that combine the comfort of memory foam with the temperature-control capabilities of cooling gel. The products are available in pocket spring counts of 1000, 2000 and 3000, and feature “fantastically comfortable layers, to which we add foam encapsulation to both increase the usable sleeping surface and giving the slumbering occupant a feeling of complete safety, even up to the edge of the bed”, says Shire. Differing spring counts offer users a

choice of feels from soft to firm.

The Picasso was developed to achieve high shopfloor margins comfortably with its cost price, while still being considered good value and below the cost of many larger, better-established brands. “In this challenging trading environment, this is exactly what the retailer and end-consumer are looking for – quality products at great value,” says Shire.

The Signature Range – winner of the NBF accolade – is a high-quality, high-specification, handcrafted, hand-stitched mattress collection that also achieved “excellent” sales, says Shire: “These mattresses were a logical development for Shire Beds. As a company, we have seen tremendous success in the mid-market, with the Artisan collection and the award-nominated Constable – while our new Spectrum range offers great value in these very challenging economic times, ensuring everyone gets a good night’s sleep.”

Its quality offering, aligned with its well-established eco-design principles, has seen Shire Beds’ brand elevated, and reaching a wider range of retailers. Shire has now become FSC certified, and has signed the NBF Pledge for the Planet to further its sustainability journey.

“Shire Beds is a multi-award-winning, quality manufacturer, that offers added extras of own-label, exclusive fabrics and extended guarantee on its ecodesigned products – in short, it’s a must-have brand for furniture retailers,” concludes the bedmaker. www.shirebeds.co.uk

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“Shire is a musthave brand for furniture retailers
Warwick 3000
WINNER Best of British T A THE FURNITURE AWARDS 2022 AWARD WINNING SIGNATURE RANGE BEST SELLER - Picasso 3000 BEST SELLER - Sphere 2000

Look forward to more from Mlily

Mlily says it feels good to be returning to the NEC for the January Furniture Show – “in January!” Furniture News reveals the products and partnerships visitors can expect from the global mattressmaker …

“Since the last show in April, we have been working hard to develop some new and exciting additions to our collection,” states Mlily. “With a continued focus on providing a range of products which are both profitable for our retailers and exciting to consumers, we have incorporated quilted gel covers into more than 96% of our mattress range to further improve the comfort and quality that we pride ourselves on.

“Our 2023 range will also see the introduction of three new in-store collections for retailers to focus on. The Memory Gel Series incorporates the new Memory Gel 700 with our innovative Air-Adapt Foam at the core of the mattress, providing increased support and enhanced breathability.

“At the top end of our range, we see the introduction of the new Supreme Gel Series, which includes two new mattresses. We have used our global expertise in R&D to introduce a range of mattresses that focus on supreme comfort and technology. The Supreme Gel Series does need to be seen to be believed.

“We also continue to focus on our customers who sell online, and are introducing the 2023 Inspired Collection, a range of eight mattresses available in hybrid and non-hybrid models. The collection, named Bamboo Refresh, comes with quilted gel covers and is designed to help regulate moisture and temperature, while also focusing on comfort and affordability.

“To add to the stellar line-up of products at JFS,

we’ll also be bringing alive our partnership with Manchester United. You’ll be able to view a unique football memorabilia collection throughout the show, and have a photo and chat with a special Manchester United legend on the 23rd and 24th of January.

“Along with our focus on developing innovative products, we continue to enhance the business and relationships with our customers. Plans for 2023 include a new website and further support for retailers through marketing collateral.

“We look forward to welcoming both our existing and new customers at the show,” Mlily concludes. “Find us on stand 5-H10.”

www.mlily.uk

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“The Supreme Gel Series needs to be seen to be believed

SATRA TECHNOLOGY

www.satra.com

SATRA has considerable expertise in the testing, evaluation and compliance of adults’ and children’s furniture products, as well as flammability tests for furniture and textiles.

Its experts sit on various BSI, European and international standards committees, and can help businesses understand the correct testing for their products, and how to consider other risks that may be present.

For support with any furniture and flammability testing requirements, and to receive technical advice, visit the SATRA team on stand 5-A37 at this month’s show.

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Testing
seating Flammability testing
Twenty10 Design is a leading furniture supplier that specialises in “the essentials”. Its affordable, on-trend pieces are suitable for interior designers, wholesalers and property developers, and the Uxbridge-based supplier stocks a variety of furnishings, from classic to statement pieces, so “there is something for every customer to enjoy”.
TWENTY10 DESIGN www.twenty10design.com
Find Twenty10 Design on stand 5-G15.

Breasley promises to exceed expectations

Following on from a “whirlwind” 2022, with new product launches and the key appointment of Mark Hughes as its UK sales director, Breasley is all set to come out fighting at JFS this year …

This month sees the opening of a new, fully equipped 45,000ft2 space that will run alongside Breasley’s current manufacturing and storage facility, which will enable the bedmaker to increase capacity for its growing customer base.

COO Bob Badman says: “Our objective has always been to further increase our production efficiency so we can continue to exceed customer expectations. January 2023 sees us doing just that with the facilities, to increase capacity and the speed at which we can turn orders around.”

Meanwhile, JFS will see the highly anticipated launch of a new collection of mattresses from one of Breasley’s most illustrious brands, Salus. The Devine Collection comprises exclusively innovative and premium materials, and “oozes comfort and class” says Breasley. The collection has been designed to give consumers a feeling of luxury, and will be available for delivery straight after the show. Breasley will also be showing an updated range of its recently launched Uno Deluxe and Uno Cushion collections, as well as the popular EcoBrease range, which it says has proved a success since its launch in September.

“It’s been a busy three months, and the direction we’re growing the business in has already started to prove fruitful,” confirms Mark Hughes. “I’m looking forward to further enhancing our product portfolio, and have had some positive conversations around this with current and new customers. Our new Salus Devine Collection is a further step in the right direction, and will be an exciting proposition for the brand and our customers.”

Mark adds: “The January Furniture Show is a great way for us to kick off 2023 and push on with our plans to grow the business. I’m looking forward to meeting our existing and new customers at the show.”

To discover what Breasley has to offer, and to see its new range, visit stand 5-G10.

www.breasley.co.uk

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EcoBrease Uno
“The direction we’re growing the business in has already started to prove fruitful

Sweet Dreams are made of this

Burnley manufacturer Sweet Dreams has added new upholstered frames and hybrid storage beds to its portfolio, and is looking forwards to showcasing these on stand 5-H10 …

Last year saw Sweet Dreams up its game with a raft of new developments, including: an impressive range of upholstered bed frames; three styles of TV bed (with standard or adjustable slat systems); five styles of hybrid bed, offering frame styling with matching head and foot ends plus drawer and ottoman storage options; and the Opulence range, which, like the rest of the manufacturer’s frames, comes with a choice of 10 luxury upholstery fabrics.

“If you want to relax and enjoy TV in the bedroom, then our Vision range completes the offer, with a TV foot end option in all 10 fabric choices,” says Sweet Dreams, which plans to continue the successful rollout of its new upholstery ranges this month –these include one- and two-seater options, and some eye-catching corner configurations (all made in Sweet Dreams’ factory in Burnley, with a variety of action and mattress choices on offer).

Sweet Dreams plans to launch a range of accent pieces for the beds in time for JFS, including accent chairs and ottoman storage boxes.

“At Sweet Dreams, we’ve always been proud of our delivery times,” the manufacturer continues. “Our own-manufactured frames are made to order and delivered within 10 working days to most parts of mainland Britain, while sofas take a little longer, but are generally delivered in 20 working days.

“Sweet Dreams can also offer a premium home delivery service, which includes room of choice, assembly, and mattress removal.”

A full range of the manufacturer’s impressive British-made furniture will be on show at JFS, plus a stocked range of wooden and upholstered frames –all available for quick delivery.

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www.sweetdreamsuk.com
“We’ve always been proud of our delivery times
Griffin
Chatsworth Regal

Unwind weightless with La-Z-Boy

Among the new products unveiled by La-Z-Boy UK on stand 5-E35 at this year’s JFS will be a UK-manufactured, zero gravity-style recliner …

The model in question – Lennox – is manufactured at the brand’s factory in Colne, Lancashire, and will form part of the company’s Made in Britain range.

Indeed, La-Z-Boy has been steadily increasing the number of products it manufactures in the UK, and is a member of the Made in Britain campaign, created to make it easier for customers to identify British-made products.

One of the key features of the new Lennox collection is a zero gravity-style mechanism, which allows the recliner to distribute the user’s weight evenly so they can fully relax without the force of gravity focusing on one particular part of the body.

This is the first La-Z-Boy UK product to use zero gravity-style technology, and the reclined position mimics the neutral body posture used by NASA to make sure astronauts remain comfortable during rocket launches, states the brand: “Zero gravity-style recliners reduce the pressure placed on the body and offer customers a more relaxing and comfortable reclining experience. When fully reclined, the user’s legs will be higher than their heart, increasing blood flow around the body.

“This zero gravity-style position relieves tension in the body by allowing muscles to relax, and as there is less pressure placed on the spine, it can help alleviate back and neck pain. And it can help improve posture

in general, as it gives people the opportunity to lay back in complete comfort without any slouching.”

Visitors to JFS will be able to get their first glimpse of the Lennox, alongside two other new product ranges, Paris and Harrison. The Paris is the first range to be offered in two new competitively priced upholstery collections – a new leather (12 swatches) and a fabric (six swatches). Designed to look and feel like more premium finishes, the materials will give retailers greater flexibility over price points – and if the new upholstery options prove popular with customers, they will be offered on La-Z-Boy UK’s existing ranges.

The Harrison, meanwhile, is an off-the-floor power recliner range, with a stylish contemporary design and a low silhouette. It comes with a hidden footrest and adjustable headrest for comfort, plus the option of a chaise end.

www.la-z-boy.co.uk

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Paris
Lennox Harrison Harrison
“Lennox is the first La-Z-Boy UK product to use zero gravity-style technology
Luxurious British wool, horsehair, mohair, alpaca, bamboo and flax. We’ve created a hand-tailored sanctuary. Crafted by expert hands right here in the UK using the very finest natural materials, Sanctum is the epitome of luxury and comfort in a premium bed brand. Luxurious viscose damask covers, an engineered pocket spring system for total body support, plus an extensive range of base options with enhanced drawers and exceptionally stylish headboards. All supported by stunning in-store POS and unrivalled delivery service. Sanctum really does represent excellent value for money. Headlands Road, Liversedge WF15 6QA T: +44(0)1924 406 600 sanctumbeds.co.uk We look forward to you visiting our Stands E20, F20 and G22 in Hall 5

Off-the-floor sofas lead the way at Furnico

Back at JFS once more (on stand 5-E35), Furnico will unveil four new sofa ranges – and eight ranges in all …

The brand, which will be present alongside La-Z-Boy, plans to unveil a first look at four new products –Kinsley, Longton, Buxton and Cantwell.

All the Furnico sofas are made in Lancashire at the same factory as La-Z-Boy’s Made in Britain collections, and the new products “showcase what Furnico does best and is renowned for throughout the UK and Ireland”, states the manufacturer.

All four ranges feature motion actions – two have both power recline and footrest, while the other two come with a powered footrest.

Three of the new products from Furnico will be off-the-floor fabric-upholstered sofas, with the fourth being a new addition to the company’s well-known Synergy range.

Kinsley has an elegant, vintage appearance, with attractive curved lines, rolled arms and a buttoned back. The sofa combines style with comfort, and is ideal for sinking into at the end of a busy day, states Furnico. Kinsley is available in the new fabric collections of Kobe and Surrey.

Longton comes with cushions in contrasting and complementary colours, with the option of gold or chrome trim, which will look at home in properties with a contemporary interior. This sofa range will be available in Surrey and Perlada fabric collections.

The Cantwell scatterback sofa range, meanwhile, features power footrest or static options, and is available in a new fabric collection.

Also being launched is the Buxton, which has a classic design and a curved appearance, and will form part of the Synergy range. Customers can choose between static, manual recline and power recline options.

All four of the new sofa ranges from Furnico will come with their own unique collection of fabric swatches, so each product will have its own distinct individual look and style. Visitors to JFS will also be able to see four existing ranges produced by Furnico, which are already proving popular with customers in the UK.

Furnico Furniture Ltd was acquired by La-Z-Boy in October 2021, and became the first European manufacturing site for the world-famous recliner brand. Ever since, La-Z-Boy has continued to produce the Furnico B2B brand for furniture retailers in the UK and Ireland. Call 01282 869888 for details.

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Kingsley Longton Buxton Cantwell
“The new products showcase what Furnico does best
info@hyderbedsltd.com 01924 462 616 Advanced Foam Sleepaedic Care Hydro-Gel Technology Natural Organic Visit us at January Furniture Show 2023 NEC, Birmingham Hall: 5 / Stand 5-E62 22nd - 25th January We are excited to announce that Hyder Beds will be exhibiting in the January Furniture Show. We will be featuring our latest product range and a chance for you to view our latest additions and meet our team. " HB is more than unique bedroom design. We're a lifestyle. We're a statement " hyderbedsltd.com

Promoting unrivalled mattress protection

Award-winning mattress protection specialist Protect-A-Bed is returning to JFS this month, and a visit to its stand (5-J50) could pay dividends throughout the year, says national sales manager Gowsh Shan …

Although Protect-A-Bed helped numerous retailers significantly grow sales this winter, January is the perfect time to join the brand’s Platinum Club rewards programme, says Gowsh: “The Platinum Club has been extremely successful since its creation. We continuously build frameworks that are simple for retailers to implement in order to achieve extremely high sales within the category.

“The Platinum Club is an in-store rewards programme designed to build, recognise and reward this success. We create energy and excitement in an often-overlooked category, and our ability to turn this into sales growth is phenomenal.”

But the Platinum Club is only one element of Protect-A-Bed’s offer, adds Gowsh: “There are some significant differences between Protect-A-Bed and other inferior mattress protectors.Every Protect-ABed protector also includes a 10-15-year product guarantee and, when bought with a mattress, a 1015-year anti-stain guarantee. Protect-A-Bed will have the mattress professionally cleaned to the customer’s satisfaction, or buy the customer a new one if it fails and the mattress was bought with the protector. This promise is significantly powerful, and is at the core of our philosophy.

“It’s in both the store’s and the customer’s interest to purchase Protect-A-Bed mattress protectors. Our speciality is driving in-store performance, so linked mattress and mattress protector sales are extremely high.

“The customer benefits from a healthy and hygienic sleep zone, while the store benefits from increased sales revenue. Every customer who walks through the door, if buying a mattress, needs to buy a mattress protector – it’s in their interest to do so for so many reasons.

“Protect-A-Bed’s ability to upskill your team and increase your sales revenue by maximising every

sales opportunity has been well documented,” Gowsh concludes. “We can manage every step of the process for you, and build a reward scheme through the Protect-A-Bed Platinum Club.

“Visit our stand at JFS 2023 to find out how we can significantly grow sales for your store.”

www.protectabed.co.uk

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Mattress protectors are available in various materials
“We create energy and excitement in an often-overlooked category
In-store displays help convey Protect-A-Bed’s off er

HYDER BEDS

www.hyderbedsltd.com

Over the years, Hyder’s proficiency in manufacturing beds and mattresses has evolved in line with emerging technology, yet remains rooted in proven traditional craftsmanship techniques.

“Time costs nothing,” states Hyder Beds, “but choosing the right mattress is an investment in your health, happiness and wellbeing. We understand our customers have different preferences, so, as well as manufacturing various models of furniture, we also provide tonnes of customisation options. Whether you

want a bright interior, or darker colours are more your vibe, we’re confident our selection of fabrics has something to suit everyone’s tastes.

“Are you a local business? A national chain? Or a contract-style agency? If so, good. You’re in the right place. We accept orders from brands of all sizes and industries to manufacture beds.

Whether you’re a tiny B&B or a well-established hotel chain, we’ll provide precisely what you need. You name it, we’ll create it.”

Hyder Beds will be present on stand 5-E62 at the January Furniture Show, where it will present its latest product range and a chance to meet the team.

KYOTO

www.kyoto.co.uk

With over 25 years’ experience in manufacturing and sourcing furniture, Kyoto believes that great design and superb quality go hand in hand – and the supplier prides itself on providing something different. From trend-led to classic pieces, Kyoto is confident that it has something for everyone.

Find Kyoto on stand 5-D3 at this year’s JFS.

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Ely
Inca (ribbed) Inca (natural)

At Kyoto, developing long term relationships is invaluable to us. That’s why we are more than just a supplier – from design and manufacturing to sourcing and wholesale, we guide you through it all. Your success is our success. Visit

DEEPING
JAMESENGLAND ®
ST
Our Website www.kyoto.co.uk T: 01778 380555 E: sales@kyoto.co.uk
www.newtrendconcepts.it 22-25 January 2023 STAND 5-D20

Espoir Beds is set to impress

Deepsleep’s Espoir Beds collection comprises “luxurious, handcrafted mattresses” that contain natural fillings including cashmere, silk, wool, cotton, bamboo and alpaca.

Each mattress features two or three rows of traditional hand side stitching, creating a superior support right to the edge of the mattress, states Espoir Beds.

The mattresses are complemented by superior base options and an extensive range of headboards – including showpiece 6ft-tall designs – all of which are available in a exclusive range of luxury fabrics, including offerings from Aquaclean.

Much of the ongoing success of Espoir Beds has been down to its two-week lead time, from order to delivery – making the range very attractive to retailers, states the manufacturer.

Espoir will present its latest offerings and designs, including a new mattress collection and headboards, on stand 5-C45 at this year’s JFS. In the meantime, interested parties can find out more about the new lines by contacting sales@infinitysprings.co.uk.

HALL 5 JFS 161
Eminence 3000 Luxury Comfort 1000 Ortho 2000

A good nights sleep starts with the right materials.

Our luxury, handcrafted mattresses use the finest natural fillings, providing you with a restful sleep night after night.

Sleep Naturally

Find us in Hall 5, Stand C-45 EMINENCE 3000 NATURAL
T – 01924 635634 | E – sales@infinitysprings.co.uk ORTHO NATURAL 2000 ALLURE 5000 ETERNITY 3000 PILLOWTOP INFINITY 7000 HANDMADE LUXURY

Tomorrow’s trends

Trend forecasts are a valuable resource for anyone wishing to anticipate and shape consumer buying habits – and Furniture News has enlisted four of the leaders in the field to share their predictions concerning the colours, forms, styles and materials that are set to dominate 2023 … ››

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Stacey Sheppard for ufurnish.com

Stacey Sheppard is a ufurnish.com content creator, freelance writer and award-winning interior design blogger. She started her blog (The Design Sheppard) in 2009, which now ranks among the UK’s most popular.

Architectural arches

Arches also play into the macro trend of curves. Arches help to soften the space by removing hard, angular corners, and can be in the form of architectural details – but also in home accessories. Arch mirrors are an obvious way to jump on this 2023 interior trend, but if you are looking for something a little more exciting, try painting archways on the wall, artwork featuring arches, arches on rugs, archshaped wardrobes, and any smaller accessories shaped like an arch.

Curved sofas and convivial seating

Curved sofas have been brought to life by a number of high-end furniture retailers recently. We are yet to see the curved sofa trend be fully embraced by high street retailers, but 2023 could certainly be the year it happens. Curved sofas are softer due to their organic lines, as well as being more conducive to socialising. However, they can take up quite a bit of space in our homes, so for those of us who are short on space, a curved chair can be a great substitute that’s much easier to integrate into a smaller space.

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“The current direction of our home interiors is heading towards curves, organic shapes and biomorphic forms
TREND FORECAST 2023

Irregular rugs and mirrors

For 2023, forget straight lines and harsh angles –when it comes to accessories, if you really want to make a statement in your home it’s all about irregularshaped rugs and mirrors. Rugs in rounded, irregular biomorphic shapes make a statement piece in any room, while wavy-edged mirrors evoke the comforting feeling of the movement of water.

Desert decor

Inspired by our need for escapism over the past few years, Desert decor has a real holiday vibe and hints at warmer, drier climates. Tranquil, earthy colours, natural materials and soft textures combine to make this dreamy boho trend a huge hit for 2023.

To bring this trend into your own home, think neutral colours mixed with earthy oranges and browns, subdued pinks and greens, along with soft greys and beiges. When it comes to materials, we’re seeing lots of terracotta and clay … maybe some cork, some rough stone, and not forgetting rattan.

Mushrooms

This is perhaps a little left field, but we are calling mushrooms as one to watch. This trend has been slowly building since 2021, and many of you may not have even noticed the friendly fungi spreading their spores into the interiors world. Expect to see mushroom-shaped lighting, furniture, storage and accessories. Mushroom prints on blinds and curtains, wall murals and artwork will make an appearance too.

In case you haven’t figured it out from this small selection, the current direction of our home interiors is heading towards curves, organic shapes and biomorphic forms. All of these can be traced back to the overarching trend for biophilic design which we’ve seen building for a few years now, but was fast tracked by the pandemic when we all realised just how much we needed access to nature for our own mental and physical health and wellbeing.

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www.ufurnish.com

Nadia McCowan-Hill, Wayfair

Tapping into bespoke consumer insights from YouGov, Wayfair’s findings illuminate a prevailing theme which is trending in response to more than two years of uncertainty in the UK, writes the brand’s resident style sdvisor, Nadia McCowan Hill. Introducing ‘Comfortcore’ …

Dopamine Dream

As we head into 2023, home lovers are craving a dose of frivolity that ups the fun factor and offers escape from the uncertainty of the outside world. Give your space a boost with bold colours, look-at-me art, dreamlike wallpapers and mood-lifting accents. Light up your life with serotonin-stimulating neon and display your collections with an individuality that only you can do. This look is all about getting a hit of that dreamy dopamine through your own fearlessly unique style, so have fun and go wild!

Curved Cocoon

At a time when reassurance is a priority, many are moving away from minimalism, straight lines and angular styles, and instead diving deep into cocooning furniture and finishes. Rounded forms, tantalising textures and whisper-soft tones are enveloping us in plush comfort.

Sepia Nostalgia

As we say goodbye to one era and hello to another, there’s a palpable feeling of the passing of time. This look is all about capturing the sweet nostalgia of childhoods from yesteryear and enjoying more mindful moments with the little ones in our lives. Sepia-toned finds in shades of rust, oatmeal, mustard and blush pink bring this comforting look home.

TREND FORECAST 2023
“Comfort will be key in 2023
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gnggroup.co.uk Carbon Neutral
Organisation

Cyber Retreat

For teens, home comfort means creating a space that’s separate from the rest of the family. This look is all about creating a hideout that’s packed with punchy pop art colours and nurtures imagination and individual expression. The struggle is real during teenage years, so make sure their space is set up for productivity and leisure. From compact desks to gaming chairs, a well thought-out hideaway will offer kick-back comfort in spades.

Deep Sea Sanctuary

Inspired by the treasures of the deep sea, set sail for serenity with some stress-busting me-time. No matter how petite your powder room, we all deserve a little pampering. A thoughtfully styled bathroom can be a huge mood-lifter, creating a welcome escape from the strains and stresses of everyday life.

Rooted at Home

As the heart of the home, the kitchen is an enormous source of comfort. In 2023 we’ll see a shift towards seeking solace in simple, nutritious family meals to slow down and savour. Earthy tones and finishes root us and give us a sense of stability. Think warm shades of coffee and rust, and natural finishes like rattan and raffia. This less-is-more approach has an endearing quality that feels laid back and layered, while rustic furniture, wicker lighting and plants add richness and warming comfort.

Mindful Moments

No matter how petite your patio is, having a green patch that’s devoted to wellbeing is a wonderful way to signal that garden-time = downtime. In 2023 we’ll be using our garden not just for family time and entertaining, but as a place for quiet reflection and relaxation. Enjoy simple pleasures, whiling away the hours potting and planting, styling a sunny spot as your go-to for a morning brew and creating a kick-back corner for lounging. It’s all about making the most of those mindful moments.

Whichever look you love, remember –comfort will be key in 2023.

www.wayfair.co.uk 170 PRODUCTS TRENDS

Marta Giralt Dunjó for Heimtextil

Under the motto ‘Textiles Matter’, Heimtextil 2023 aims to set a benchmark for tomorrow’s forwardfacing, sustainable textile furnishing. Here, Marta Giralt Dunjó of futures research agency FranklinTill summarises the Heimtextil Trend Council’s design prognoses for 2023/24, which will be brought to life in the Trend Space at this month’s show.

From Earth

From Earth is focused on the natural world and its wellbeing benefits. There is a deep respect for materials and a desire to reconnect with nature. Designers are exploring the potential of diverse natural resources, emphasising the warmth and softness of organic materials, and the astonishing colour diversity of natural dyeing. The existing beauty of the Earth’s materials is highlighted as designers collaborate with nature rather than controlling it, embracing natural variation. Imperfection and variation are preferred over standardisation, and raw finishes are sought after. From Earth uses crafting techniques to add textural, tactile richness. This theme gives ecological, earth-born aesthetics a welcome new vibrancy.

Continuous Continuous celebrates zero-waste, closed-loop production that sees material recycled into new product again and again. Technically advanced reclamation processes allow designers to achieve an elevated, refined aesthetic, as materials retain their original quality. Designers are keeping low impact front of mind, aiming at mono-materiality (single materials are easier to recycle than blends). Modularity and design for disassembly (products that are easy to take apart and repurpose) are also key techniques. The Continuous aesthetic doesn’t flaunt its eco credentials. It is practical, pared-back, utilitarian, and timeless, reflecting a sense of essentialism and longevity. Its impact is sophisticated and subtle, with universal appeal. This theme extends beyond design – transparency builds trust here, and communicating the Continuous message clearly and simply reinforces that trust.

TREND FORECAST 2023
“We’re taking a materials-first approach, and focusing on sourcing, design and sustainability
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Nature Engineered

Nature Engineered elevates organic material through mechanical means, redefining our concept of ‘natural’. Designers and makers work sympathetically with natural, regenerative substances, using cutting-edge techniques to process them into sophisticated, smart and functional textiles and materials. Clean lines and engineered forms and surfaces are honed and perfected. This highly considered design direction allows designers to focus on sustainability from start to finish, from sourcing through processing to end-of-life considerations. However, the underlying relationship with nature and regeneration remains key, and Nature Engineered retains the tactile softness we associate with organic matter, in a warmer, accessible take on utilitarianism. A strong focus on elevating the performance of natural materials gives Nature Engineered the potential to disrupt sectors such as architecture, automotive, interior design, and more.

Make and Remake

Make and Remake rejuvenates existing resources such as secondhand and scrap material. This theme celebrates the transformation of pre-used, dead stock and remnant textiles into beautiful, desirable products. Designers are encouraged to let their imaginations run free, using creative, unexpected processes and applications to repurpose the wealth of reusable materials already available. Techniques such as overprinting, overdyeing, bricolage, collage, and patchwork create a maximalist, joyful mix of colour, print, pattern, and texture. The aesthetics of repair come to the fore, as contrast joinery, stitching and patching become features in their own right, and encourage visible rejuvenation. The inventive, ingenious approach of Make and Remake has a joyous, energetic appeal.

Considering the state of environmental emergency we are currently living through, the textile industry has a responsibility to examine its processes, and change for the better. That is why for this edition of the Heimtextil Trends we’re taking a materials-first approach, and focusing on the sourcing, design and sustainability of materials. Textiles Matter showcases the potential of circularity and celebrates design initiatives that are beautiful, relevant and importantly sustainable. www.heimtextil.messefrankfurt.com

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Juliette Thomas for Juliettes Interiors

The growing popularity and democratisation of interior design drives continual newness, writes Juliette Thomas, director of multichannel retailer Juliettes Interiors – but, from year to year, we often see trends recycled, blurring with one another to create new looks …

Modern-yet-classic styles will rule

Some of the styles that became popular in 2022 include modern, maximalism, industrial and vintage (indeed, ‘modern’ was the most-searched style). Maximalism made a comeback – searches for this style saw a +156% increase YoY. However, we don’t expect patterns to continue to be popular in 2023. Instead, minimalistic, plain, neutral-coloured and textured walls will be fashionable.

We can also expect to see more of the industrial style in 2023, with search data showing a +24% increase in the last three months. Incorporating metals into the home is a great way to hop onto the trend. In 2023, we can expect people to continue to use a combination of metals and woods, and textured fabrics and wallpapers. This is a great way to achieve a high-end modern, contemporary look, but with a trendy luxurious feel.

Another key trend that’s seen an increase in searches over the last few months is art deco – this will be a favourite going into 2023, bringing back a classic trend into the new year.

TREND FORECAST 2023
“Interior design is being taken more seriously at every level
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Unit A1, Symmetry Park, Morrell Way, www.bentleydesigns.com Sienna Fumed Oak & Peppercorn Bedroom Range Get in touch to book your showroom appointment: bentleydesignsukltd bentleydesignsuk 020 8833 7500 Bicester, Oxfordshire OX26 6GF

The formal dining room is a thing of the past Each room in the home plays an important role, but which will people focus on more in 2023? The most searched room last year was the bedroom, with a monthly average of 4400 searches. Over the last few years, people have spent more time indoors and, most likely, more time in their bedrooms. This has created an increase in the importance of having a comforting and calming bedroom, with people willing to put more effort into how their bedroom looks. People are also now incorporating office areas into their bedrooms, with working from home being so common.

The kitchen has also always been a popular room in terms of design and trends, and we think people will continue to focus on it in 2023.

But the living room is predicted to be the room that most people will focus on next year, based on a +22% increase in searches in the past three months. There is also more of a focus on combining the kitchen and living rooms, and doing away totally with formal dining rooms.

Will green dominate yet again?

An easy way for people to make their home feel more ‘on trend’ is by adding the trending colour into it via accessories. Neutral colours will always be a go-to when redecorating a home, but over the years colour has made a comeback, with people opting for greens, blues, and moody dark tones to switch up their style.

Over the past year, green certainly stood out as the front-runner. Search data shows that using green within interior design has been a massive trend since 2021, and continued to increase in popularity throughout 2022. Green makes people feel more connected to nature and has a calming effect, so it’s not a surprise that it has been so popular. With an increase in searches in the last three months, we think green will remain a popular colour option.

In 2022, ‘colourful interior design’ saw an increase in searches, showing just how much people were willing to experiment with decor and different shades on their walls. We can expect this to remain a popular trend, as searches for ‘colourful interior design’ have continued to increase in the past three months.

Neutral colours are always on trend in interior design, but they seemed considerably more popular in 2022, with a +91% increase in searches YoY. Light, plain-textured and muted, natural-coloured walls will be on trend in 2023. We will also see more white marble, with a lot of onyx light colours in flooring next year, together with clever ambient lighting.

With minimalism becoming a popular trend over the last couple of years, neutral colours match this aesthetic perfectly. Neutral shades can help to create a comforting, zen mood in any home, which helps during a time when people are experiencing more stress.

Another colour predicted to see a huge 2023 is gold. Searches for this have increased massively in the past year, specifically in the past three months, and this is an example of a typical trend return (although customers are increasingly looking for unique metal colours, like pewter, to set their own trends).

Gold and brushed-brass finishes are very much at the forefront of 2023 trend predictions. Gold interiors and decor bring a luxurious and modern look and feel to the home – gold is no longer confined to classic interiors. A gold finish on metals is used as an accent today, rather than being used on chunky wood furnishings like we tend to see in more classic designs. This also ties in with the trend prediction of the art deco style becoming popular again.

The interior design of a home is definitely being taken more seriously at every level – not just by those that can afford a high-end interior designer. With so many working remotely and entertaining after Covid, people are now putting more effort into their homes.

www.juliettesinteriors.co.uk

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SIESTA BEDS COMFORT & QUALITY ASSURED Est 1986 Pocketed Springs Mulliners Works 154 Bordesley Green Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham . B8 1BY. Email sales@siestabeds.co.uk Tel: 0121 773 9969 Fax 0121 766 7413 A Life Changing Choice New ZONEX Latex 1,400 1,800 and 2,800 Series

SWEET DREAMS

www.sweetdreamsuk.com

Burnley-based manufacturer Sweet Dreams has revealed an exclusive online mattress range, comprising 18 mattresses across a wide range of price points, with various features and styles.

Coupled with high-quality bases and headboards, Sweet Dreams says it can deliver superb value direct to the customer’s home, with its best-in-class delivery service.

LOUIS DE POORTERE

www.louisdepoortere.com

Louis de Poortere has revealed its top 20 bestselling rugs for 2022, with Griff in Columbus Gold from the Mad Men collection (pictured) again taking the number-one spot.

Part of the Mad Men collection, which is inspired by the creative of New York in the late 60s, Griff is a versatile, abstract design that is woven in a combination of cotton chenille and high-gloss polyester. Other designs in Mad Men take six of the top 10 places.

Alan Russell, sales director UK, Louis de Poortere, says: “The top 20 list is always highly anticipated and always throws up an interesting mix of styles. From more neutral palettes like Fading World Medallion in Salt and Pepper at number three, to rich and colourful designs, it goes to show just how important it is to be able to offer a wide range of looks. When it comes to rugs, it appears that it’s anything but beige!”

The Louis de Poortere Rugs 2022 Collection features 28 families and 119 individual styles to choose from in multiple sizes, including a new circle shape on selected designs.

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KETTLE INTERIORS

www.kettleinteriorsagencies.com

Retailers looking for the latest cabinet lines are invited to join Kettle Interiors Agencies in Hall 4 at this year’s January Furniture Show, to see the supplier’s latest collections and enjoy its hospitality.

“Throughout the show, our sales team will be on hand to welcome you and present some fantastic new ranges in our collections,” states Kettle Interiors. “You’ll also be able to take advantage of some exclusive show discounts.

“With new ranges in Essentials, Originals and Signature, and new homewares in our Mint Interiors collection, we’ve over 1900 items available with high stock levels, so you’re sure to nd the perfect pieces to keep your customers happy.

“When it comes to service, our competitive Wholesale, Stockists and improved DHD services make it easy to enjoy our quality and value, no matter what size your store is.

“To guarantee your exclusive access to our new collections and exclusive show discounts, book an appointment with your sales representative today.”

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FULL RANGES OF BEECH & OAK CHAIRS PINE & OAK TABLES AVAILABLE, ALL SIZES AND COLOURS BESPOKE QUALITY, UK OR EUROPEAN BASED MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING Contact 01604 890956, email md@yotfc.co.uk brd@yotfc.co.uk or visit www.yotfc.co.uk YOTFC Ye Olde Traditional Furniture Company WE ALWAYS TRY HARDER TO GO THE EXTRA MILE! BESPOKE AND STANDARD SIZES AND STYLES

Simba goes from strength to strength

In what was another challenging year for big-ticket retailers, sleep tech firm Simba continued to buck the trend, taking market share with robust sales and driving an ambitious sustainability plan. Furniture News caught up with co-founder and CEO Steve Reid to discuss the strategy behind the brand’s ongoing success …

The war in Ukraine, rocketing energy prices, rising inflation and interest rates … 2022 was not an easy year for retail. How did this affect consumer demand for Simba’s products?

Consumer confidence fell in March, and remains subdued. At Simba, we’ve doubled our 2019 sales and have continued to trade profitably throughout 2022. Our sales are lapping well on 2021 – a record year for us – which demonstrates just how robust our business model and trading performance is.

The supply chain seems to pose continuous challenges for many. Have you experienced any issues this year?

We’ve seen rising costs in raw materials and, as the whole industry has found, foam has been trickier to source. Fortunately, as our production is based in the UK, and thanks to the quality of partners we have, we have managed to avoid much of the supply impact, and it hasn’t caused us any problems when it comes to fulfilling customer demand.

Last year saw both eve Sleep and Made.com crumble. How has Simba thrived, where others have faltered?

Staff, service, our unique product offer that won 50 awards last year, and, of course, strong industry partners. We aim to put customer experience first and give customers what they want – fast, three-day delivery, innovative products that deliver better sleep, and great customer experience.

Our NPS, as a key business metric, remains at all-time highs, and we have an in-depth voice of the customer (VoC) programme, with 230,000 five-star reviews – the most of any mattress brand in the world – in addition to strong word of mouth. That’s plenty of real-world referrals from those who love our product.

Our manufacturing and supply chain partners have stepped up to the plate to deliver for us and our customers throughout a challenging year, and for that we are very grateful.

In Q4, we were rated one of the top three best small retailers to work for, because we strive to motivate and retain our internal talent – our people are key to everything we do. We work with partners that place the same importance on people in their businesses. We also invest in brand awareness to remain at the forefront of peoples’ minds – we had 60% brand awareness from our 24-54 ABC1 audience, 3.5 billion TV impressions in 2022, and our digital channel setup remains market leading.

The rise in the cost of living is proving challenging for many – do you think retailers have a responsibility to help customers?

It’s about giving the customer responsible lending options. We’ve extended our payment options from 12 months to 48, and now offer responsible lending with Novuna, with payment holiday options. We’ll never be the cheapest, because we won’t compromise on quality, but we have made a conscious effort to offer more affordable and accessible price points.

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“Our sales are lapping well on 2021, which demonstrates just how robust our business model is

What were the biggest successes for Simba last year?

Our Pro and Luxe Hybrid mattresses still account for a high proportion of sales, with customers continuing to invest by trading up at our higher price points. Last year, we also introduced the GO (Green Organic) mattress as part of our drive for more sustainable sleep.

Bundles continue to be extremely popular, as people seek the full sleep experience with the option to select the products they want specifically. We’re also making a success of newer marketing channels such as TikTok, opening up the potential of a great night’s sleep to a younger audience.

What’s happening in your overseas markets?

We just experienced a record performance in China, where we continue to expand our presence in spite of local Covid restrictions. Our partnership with [retailer] Sleep Country Canada continues to go from strength to strength, and we are delighted with our visibility across their stores. France remains a key market, and despite hardening market conditions there, we have maintained a robust growth trajectory.

How was trading during Q4? It was very successful, but also very different to previous periods. Demand was more spread out across November and early December due to events like the World Cup – England versus USA coincided with Black Friday, for example. There was less online sleep product shopping, with lower search volumes from Google, and a more cautious approach from consumers who took longer to complete their purchases due to the well-publicised personal finance challenges.

Is sustainability still a priority for cash-strapped consumers?

Our ‘Health, People, Planet’ pillars put health, sustainability and people at the centre of everything we do, and sustainability is a key pillar – not because it’s popular, but because we have a moral responsibility to uphold it. That said, more consumers are making an informed choice with their sleep purchase. So, our mattresses are made in the UK, 100% recyclable, and we have a zero-to-landfill policy – all considerations at the point of purchase.

Is there anything else in the pipeline for 2023?

This year, we’ll be adding new sustainable innovation to our mattress range, continuing to improve access to sleep education with the Simba Sleep app, and developing products that deliver a better night’s sleep across the board.

www.simbasleep.com

Simba’s drive towards more sustainable sleep Simba Hybrid Original

The GO (Green Organic) mattress is part of

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“We aim to put customer experience first and give customers what they want

Hypnos steps up responsible sourcing

Offering comfort with integrity is part of Hypnos’ DNA – as illustrated by its latest collections and partnerships, including Origins Organic, endorsed by the Eden Project and certified by the Soil Association.

The British bed manufacturer takes pride in pioneering sustainable sleep and responsible bedmaking practices. Indeed, Hypnos is the first brand (and bedmaker), to work with farmers and the Textile Exchange to develop and use British-grown wool certified to the globally recognised Responsible Wool Standard.

Anna Heaton, fibre and materials strategy lead at Textile Exchange, comments: “The commitment of the Responsible Wool Standard is to enhance UK farming standards by harnessing the expertise and perspectives of wool-growing regions worldwide.

“Working with The Woolkeepers initiative, we can

provide certified, quality wool that’s environmentally and socially mindful, and we are pleased to see Hypnos supporting the standard in its new collections.”

Hypnos’ new Pillow Top, Luxury No Turn and Orthos Support collections each feature wool that meets the standard and is traceable to assured British farms that operate these high standards and verify that farmers are monitoring soil health, measuring and reducing CO2 emissions, and ensuring habitat and water quality for wildlife is protected and maintained.

Richard Naylor, group sustainable director at Hypnos, says: “At Hypnos, we recognise the urgent need to combat climate change, believing that sleep should not cost the Earth. This is why we craft environmentally sound, healthy and sustainable beds, made with certified and traceable materials. This new initiative with British farmers, The Woolkeepers and Textile Exchange, acknowledges the importance of developing and supporting a sustainable future for farming.

“Ethically sourcing fibres is a key part of our ethos, as wool is an ideal superfibre for our mattresses – comfy, temperature regulating, natural and biodegradable. We are also launching a new collection of wool bedding certified with Responsible Wool Standard in the next year.

“Through all our partnerships, our customers can be assured that Hypnos take our responsibilities seriously, that both people and animals are treated with respect, farmers are fairly rewarded and the biodiversity of our planet is protected.”

www.hypnosbeds.com

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“This new initiative acknowledges the importance of developing and supporting a sustainable future for farming
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
Comfort with

Sleepeezee, with premium bed solutions

Getting a good night’s sleep has never been more important, as people’s physical and mental health relies on their bodies feeling rested and rejuvenated – states Sleepeezee, an expert in addressing this vital need …

“On average, most people need around eight hours of good-quality sleep to function properly,” the bedmaker begins. “And in order to maintain good sleep, we need to invest in our sleep environments. From the all-important mattress to divan bases and the mood of the room, there are many factors that affect the quality of our sleep.

“Sleepeezee’s array of products and services, alongside our team of expert craftspeople, can help you get the best night’s sleep. As Royal Warrant holders since 1963, our team are dedicated to combining innovative practices with market-leading designs to provide the right bed and mattress solutions for customers.”

Established in 1924, Sleepeezee is best known for its popular mattress ranges, including the Travelodge Dreamer, as well as bedding, divans, headboards and even a pet bed range.

Its mattresses come with a range of support technologies, from firm support which reduces pressure on joints and helps with spinal alignment, to soft support ideal for those who like to sink into a mattress that conforms to their natural body shape.

Sleepeezee has also developed its own technologies throughout its mattresses that target customer pain points. Its Staycool Gel provides pressure sensitive support that immediately responds to the sleeper’s body shape and helps to regulate body temperature – while the manufacturer’s ViroFresh technology is a “game-changing” antimicrobial technology that purports to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on contact, for a more hygienic night’s sleep.

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Ortho Bronze Cool Rest 1000

“And of course, you can’t have a mattress without a luxurious divan base and headboard,” the manufacturer continues. “Sleepeezee’s divan beds are built to last, and include many storage options to meet your needs. They come in a variety of fabrics and colours, and can be tailored to your mattress and sleep space.”

Sleepeezee understands that choosing the right mattress can be crucial to improving sleep quality. The company offers a wide range of mattresses with a variety of fillings and technologies to suit customer needs. From Pocket Sprung and Graphite Memory Foam to Staycool Gel Technology or Natural Fillings, Sleepeezee provides customers with everything they need to “curate the perfect sleep”.

Based in Rochester, Kent, Sleepeezee’s products are made and manufactured in the UK. With strong family values at the heart of the business, the bedmaker aims to support national and local charities across the country. A recent donation saw the

company contribute £60,000 to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, in partnership with the brand’s ambassador, Jessica Ennis-Hill. The donation was funded by sales of Sleepeezee’s Jessica range, each sale of which saw the company donate £20 to the children’s hospital.

Sleepeezee is also committed to supporting sustainable efforts. Having been carbon neutral since 2017, the business has continued to strive for sustainability in all it does. The installation of 591 energy-saving solar panels last year, as well as the achievement of being the first UK bed manufacturer to receive the Planet Mark accreditation for taking action to stop climate change, reflects Sleepeezee’s commitment to a sustainable future. Beyond this, the company offers a removal and recycling service that takes away customers’ old mattresses, packaging,and divan bases, for a hassle-free installation service. www.sleepeezee.com

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“Our team are dedicated to combining innovative practices with market-leading designs

SIESTA BEDS

www.siestabeds.co.uk

Siesta Beds’ Mulliners handmade bed collection consists of 8000-, 6000-, 5000- and 3000-pocket spring, hand side-stitched models.

Meanwhile, Siesta’s ZoneX range, which boasts zoned, encapsulated latex, o ering a tighter zoning in the area where more support is required, is o ered in 1400-, 1800- and 2800-spring versions.

There is also Siesta’s Hybrid Essential, a traditional pocket-spring mattress with butter y springs for additional edge support, and gel, memory foam and kinetic foam layers for rigidity. These are o ered in 1000-, 2000- and 3000-pocket spring models.

GNG GROUP

www.gng-group.co.uk

Leading UK mattress manufacturer GNG Group o ers a choice of ranges including the popular Kom brand, which features the unique Ecofoam (o ering a reduced carbon footprint) and the a ordably priced Unity vacuum-packed mattress collection.

This o er is complemented by GNG’s luxury Sonlevo mattresses, with their unique gridsystem TrueGel technology promising maximum support while minimising pressure and regulating temperature.

GNG has also partnered with Nectar Sleep, one of the US’ largest boxed mattress brands, whose models provide a high level of comfort, combined with a 365-night trial and lifetime warranty.

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TrueGel
Kom Rhea Seaqual The
Sonlevo brand icnorporates
technology

Quality comfort, naturally

LEAVE THE REST TO US

Will PU foam lead the green revolution?

As businesses strive to meet everhigher standards of sustainable practice, it can be easy to overlook the benefits of existing solutions –including those which have been repurposed exactly for that reason, writes Julie Walker, technical manager at foam industry innovator The Vita Group …

Another round of COP discussions has ended, yet the warnings around climate change show little sign of slowing down. Reversing the trend to meet the Paris Climate Accord benchmark agreed in 2015 to limit temperature increases to just 1.5°C requires cultural change and difficult decisions, and every business sector rethinking what it is doing and how it can adapt

Circling the issue

A circular economy is one in which no material is wasted at any point, as it is recovered and fed back into the production and consumption cycle.

Getting to this point will require several vital investments, particularly in how we repurpose ‘endof-life’ materials – a central focus at The Vita Group, where we have been at the vanguard of reusing trim materials to avoid them being sent to landfills. We have also turned our own and our customers’ trim and by-products into new goods. In fact, in 2021 alone, over 30,000 tonnes of material were repurposed

instead of being sent to landfill.

Our work on advancing the sector’s circularity has also seen us give the existing foam a new lease of life by turning it into underlay flooring solutions through our flooring division, and into Shockpad underlay for artificial sports pitches via our Revosport team. We’ve even explored how to recycle PU foam into hydroponic green roof materials, a great example of how it’s possible to develop new applications for rebonded materials.

To take this to the next level, we have embarked on a series of partnerships to convert end-of-life PU foam into new raw materials. This has allowed us to introduce the Orbis range of flexible polyurethane (PU) foam, made using the repolyols created from raw materials extracted from recycled mattress content.

Thanks to these natural environmental advantages and the creative ways in which we know we can push the sustainable envelope, it’s highly apparent that PU foam is a true enabler of a net-zero economy.

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“We are committed to providing the supply chain with the sustainable options they need

Innovative thinking

We know that there isn’t just one ‘silver bullet’ solution to achieving a lower-carbon economy. Instead, it will require multiple technologies, ideas, processes and partnerships working in combination to help us strive toward greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality and creating a truly circular economy.

This is why investing in innovation is so important. It’s about taking the next steps on the R&D journey and challenging received wisdom with the right facilities and processes in place. To help the PU foam industry get to this point, we’ve initiated a number of green projects with key partners, and opened four state-of-the-art innovation centres across Europe. We are committed to providing the supply chain with the sustainable options they need, and reducing the industry’s dependence on less environmentally friendly materials and processes.

Indeed, whenever we develop a new product, we build a sustainable element into its design. In practice, this has ranged from replacing petrochemically derived raw materials with sustainable bio-polyols, feeding end-of-life materials back into our processes, and reducing the weight of products to streamline logistics.

PU foam is highly applicable to a wide range of applications – and can be manufactured, processed and recycled very sustainably. When looking to a more environmentally friendly future, the green benefits of flexible PU foam should not be overlooked. For example, its light and flexible nature mean it is quick and easy to transport, minimising the emissions incurred during transportation. PU foam’s versatility also means that just one production process can be employed for multiple purposes, while its durability reduces the need for additional manufacturing.

On top of all this, it is much easier to recycle en masse than alternatives like wool, hemp, feathers and horsehair, which means that internal and external circular economies can be achieved.

The way forward

The need to change is clear. Relying on business as normal and waiting for legislation to drive change won’t be enough, but the PU foam industry is well placed to lead the advanced polymer composites market on its sustainability journey.

www.thevitagroup.com

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“We know that there isn’t just one ‘silver bullet’ solution to achieving a lower-carbon economy
PU foam’s green credentials

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed?

Industry charity The Furniture Makers’ Company has announced the launch of a partnership with the free, 24/7, confidential text service Shout, aimed at supporting anyone working in the UK furnishing industry.

Shout is a silent and anonymous service that can help with issues such as anxiety, bullying, depression, loneliness or isolation, money worries, relationship problems, self-harm, stress and suicide. Shout volunteers are available around the clock to listen and support anyone who is struggling to cope.

To start a conversation with a trained volunteer, users simply need to text the word ‘COMFORT’ to 85258, states the charity: “To start a conversation, text (please don’t use WhatsApp) the word COMFORT to 85258. If you’re feeling anxious, lonely, overwhelmed, suicidal or not quite yourself, Shout’s volunteers are here for you.

“After you send the first message, you’ll receive four automated text messages before you connect to a trained Shout volunteer. This will usually be within five minutes, but at busy times it can take longer.

“The volunteer will introduce themselves and ask you to share a bit more about what’s worrying you. This might include feeling anxious, having relationship problems, addiction, depression, bullying or harassment, self-harm or suicide. They will listen and talk with you silently, via text message. You only need to share what you feel comfortable sharing.

“The goal of the conversation is to help you reach a calm and safe place, with a plan of how to support yourself going forwards. As well as listening without judgement, the volunteers may provide you with further resources or tools to help you get more expert support.

“Your text conversation will only end when the volunteer is sure you are calm and feeling better. Conversations tend to last around 40 minutes.”

www.furnituremakers.org.uk/crisis-text-service/

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“Shout volunteers are available around the clock to listen and support anyone who is struggling to cope
Photo courtesy Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem Photo courtesy Shutterstock/Marjan Apostolovic
The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charit y Feeling low? Stressed? Talk to us. Overwhelmed? Text ‘COMFORT’ to 85258 for free and confidential support, 24/7 Texting ‘COMFORT’ is anonymous and will not show up on your phone bill. in partnership with shout

Chilli Pepper Designs turns up the heat

There’s never been a better time to take the plunge into CGI marketing, says Neil Buckley-Jensen, the founder and owner of Chilli Pepper Designs – whose impressive visualisation work is informed by his own experiences of taking new product to market through his Indesign Furniture brand.

How have Chilli Pepper Designs’ services evolved in the past 12 months?

We have learnt a lot in the past year. We’ve had to, because we have grown at such a fast pace. We have invested in superior modelling software and interior styling within the business, to better control all aspects of projects generally, and enabling clients not to get too involved in projects – which they shouldn’t have to be. After all, we’re commissioned to provide a service and end product. We don’t expect Indesign Furniture’s customers to have to make their own cabinets!

Has your customer base grown much?

Yes, it’s grown significantly over the past year. This includes retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers across the UK and worldwide. We generally don’t mention the clients we represent as we prefer to be more discreet – we encourage our clients to enjoy the fact that their imagery is so good, customers think it’s actually high-class photography! We find most of our clients tell customers it’s actually CGI, and often refer us to other companies by way of reference.

Has the business changed in line with these developments?

It has become more streamlined, efficient and customer-centric. Our imagery has naturally evolved as well, and continues to get better and better. In just two years, our imagery is world class and award winning.

Because of our efficiencies and ways of working, we’ve got a far more cost-effective offering compared to most other CGI companies – and especially so, if you compare it to traditional photoshoots.

For example, to model eight pieces of cabinet, build two adjoining rooms like a dining room and lounge to create lifestyle images, dress the rooms and style completely, get cameo shots, get cut-outs at multiple

angles, with no forced restriction on the amount of images supplied, a complete designed moodboard and scene plan, and your own account manager, stylist, interior designer, modellers and CGI artists to develop world-class imagery on your behalf without you even leaving the office, for possibly less than £1000 (depending on complexities) is a real bargain – especially when you understand all of the other benefits we throw in!

Is there any emerging tech you feel you’re getting to grips with ahead of your competitors?

We’ve capacity for 360° modelling and rotations with ‘tap-to-open’ doors and drawers, and also changing the colours/materials for each product as required by the client. Then there’s augmented reality (AR) technology, where you can see the product in your own setting (it’s amazing – you can even be visualised on a chair that’s not even in the same room!). We’re starting to roll this technology out to clients along with our CGI.

Also, specific customer engagement systems to give seamless updates, so the client can track progress without even having to be on a call with us or email us. Just log in at any time of the day or night –everything is at the client’s fingertips, 24/7.

Do you feel the industry’s traditional attitudes to photoshoots versus CGI are shifting?

With the pressures of shipping, costs, stocked warehouses, etc, people are moving more into CGI. They have to. With exhibitions looming and the need for product photography to sell from – coupled with warehouses full of stock, so limited pipeline preparation and product photography, and the need to sell stock whilst in an economic downtown – there are massive savings/benefits in CGI costs compared to traditional photoshoots and marketing, including a reduced carbon footprint. CGI is the best option and alternative. Once done, there’s no going back – you can sell new product before it even leaves the factory.

“Once you’ve tried CGI, you won’t go back Chilli Pepper Designs’ CGI continues to go from strength to strength 194 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES
CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs

What’s holding them back?

CGI previously had a bit of a stigma attached, in some people’s views. It’s been the elephant in the room –along with the old, ‘You can’t sell furniture unless the customer comes and feels it.’

We know we’re in the business of creating imagery for our clients to buy from without physically going to stores to touch and feel a product, and lockdown was the perfect storm to prove that (and it did). Convincing clients that this can be achieved by CGI has been the biggest challenge. We knew it worked, as our furniture business’ growth has doubled on the back of CGI. Getting others to believe it and have faith has been tricky, but once they try it they don’t go back!

About 60% of people who know of CGI don’t use it because they don’t understand it. We hold the client’s hand through the whole process, and that enables them to trust us. Upon seeing the final results in terms of imagery, they’re generally frustrated they didn’t start with us earlier – especially when they compare traditional photoshoots to the CGI and see how much time they save, plus their minimal involvement and huge time and cost savings. Honestly, once you’ve tried CGI, you won’t go back!

Why should interested parties choose you over your competitors?

We started life as a furniture company, and created a sister CGI company because there was an obvious need for us to obtain imagery during the first lockdown. We have experienced the pains of sampling, creating adverts, finding photoshoot locations, taking time to design and style sets, and get the photographer’s input.

Because of this, we are more understanding of what a furniture client wants and needs from a point of view of selling furniture from imagery. Most CGI companies are very ‘techy’ and almost forget the human service requirement. We don’t. Of course, we have the ‘techy’ know-how, but we’re more design and stylistically driven. This is why our imagery is superior to our competitors’ – because we know how to dress and style rooms and locations to suit brands, because we’ve been there and done it. I’d always advise to use us to create furniture product and lifestyle imagery, as we’re furniture people who happen to specialise in customer service and create amazing CGI.

We’re also skilled in advertising – to the point where others comment that our ads are so clever, they’re world class (do you remember our previous ads? Check out our latest in this month’s issue, overleaf!).

How fares the rest of the business?

Furniture is going from strength to strength. There wasn’t a lot of good offers at the fairs I visited last year – pretty poor, to be honest, and quite disappointing. For this reason, more and more clients are coming to us for our exciting ranges and new developments –and the fact we can provide imagery even before the product has shipped.

We offer full CGI imagery to our furniture

distributors, at no extra cost. Our service offering is much greater than our competitors’ – we’re bridging the divide between buyer and supplier, and becoming more like partners. We design, manufacture, QC, etc, and supply marketing materials. We now have 13 factories that cover all types of manufacturing, and with our extra capacity we’re actively looking to partner with more customers across the UK, and agents to assist with our growth. If you’re an agent or wholesaler distributor, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Honestly, if I compare our product with what’s on show at the major exhibitions, I think we’d clean up. Watch this space – we might be coming to a show near you soon!

But seriously, if you’re looking for exceptional trend-led designs, hassle-free manufacturing and a complete marketing package all built into a very affordable pricing structure, do give us a call. Our biggest markets right now are overseas, which is great, but we really want a bigger presence in the UK since it’s our own backyard and I feel the country is in need of furniture which is fresh and appealing, and not the same old stuff!

What’s in the pipeline for 2023?

Opening our third office, a new and improved AR platform and website, developing our infrastructure, taking part in virtual exhibitions, and a hell of a big recruitment campaign! Oh, and a pretty cool wallplanner that we collaborated with Furniture News to create. If you didn’t get one with last month’s issue, give us a call and we can send one out. It features some of our latest imagery from Chilli Pepper Designs and product from Indesign Furniture.

www.chillipepperdesigns.co.uk www.indesignfurniture.co.uk

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What’s the biggest challenge in conveying the benefits of your services to prospective clients?
“We are more understanding of what a furniture client wants and needs
CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs
DESIGNS DESIGNS BEST FOR INNOVATION 2022 BEST CGI COMPANY 2021 BEST NEWCOMER 2021 01424 734191 info@chillipepperdesigns.co.uk www.chillipepperdesigns.co.uk

Once upon a time …

Photoshoots did the job, but then the industry grew up.

“CGI’s no longer the elephant in the room,” said Nelly.

“Dated marketing practices have died out,” said Rex.

“The cost of CGI won’t break the bank,” said Percy.

“Tell you what, I’d be happy to follow the CGI crowd,” said Shaun.

“CGI is one small step for mankind, one giant leap for old fashioned furniture photoshoots,” said Buzz.

“It’ll help us grow a greener future,” said Bill and Ben.

“ Exactly, I’ve been saying it for years… CGI is a more cost effective, time efficient and eco-friendly way to produce furniture product imagery,” said the Red Hot Chilli Pepper.

If your business wants a happy ever after, perhaps it’s time to discover CGI!

note that no toy animals were harmed
the
of this
CGI scene
If your business wants a happy ever after, perhaps it’s time to discover CGI! *Please
in
creation
100%

An ethical, eco-friendly end of life

Mattress recycling is certainly not the cleanest, easiest or most glamourous of jobs – says Bye Bye Bed’s founder Paul Beckett, who nonetheless pioneered his own ethical solution for disposing of postconsumer mattresses, driven by the will to “do what’s right” …

“Why are end-of-life (EoL) mattresses a worldwide problematic waste stream? Why is it unlikely that we will not meet the 2028 target of 75% diversion from landfill? Why are 76% of EoL mattresses still going to landfill? Why, out of the 24% of mattresses sent for recycling, are only 14% of materials recovered (‘real rate’)? And why are mattress (and furniture) fly-tipping incidents increasing?

“Asking ourselves ‘why’ over and over again allowed us to overcome many of the historical barriers associated with mattress recycling,” says Paul, who, in 2019, drew upon many years of bed industry experience to establish Bye Bye Bed in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Waking up to the possibilities

“Committing ourselves to the manual deconstruction route certainly didn’t come without its challenges,” he continues – but Paul was adamant from the outset that something needed to change, improvements needed to be made, and that the mattress industry’s reputation had, over many years, deteriorated to a point that margins had to be at an all-time low.

“It was clear from the early stages that diverting separated materials to historical re-processors for little return was not a financially viable long-term option,” Paul explains, outlining the industry’s need to get ahead of incoming environmental legislation. “This, coupled with potentially flooding these

businesses with materials following an imminent ban on mattresses entering landfill, meant that it was blatantly clear that unless a more circular solution was found for the vast amount of individually separated components, the cost of the traditional mattress recycling gate fee would soar. And this cost would inevitably be passed on to the consumer.”

Paul says these realisations drove a conviction that the burden of energy, emission and resources on the economy and ecology could be reduced by remanufacturing products into something new before considering diversion to re-processors or energyfrom-waste (EfW) recovery.

“Doing so would mean converting what was a waste product destined for landfill, into a commodity with limitless growth potential, while offering the consumer a choice they’d never had before – either purchase a brand-new product, manufactured from virgin raw materials, and pay the economic and ecological price … or choose to purchase a re-manufactured product of the same integrity, the same legal compliance, and the same cleanliness (if not cleaner) than a newly manufactured product, but at a fraction of the price, and a tiny fraction of the ecological impact.

“In short, our vision was to make mattress recycling a free service to all, removing any consideration of fly tipping or burdening local authority services.”

“It’s all about looking at the bigger picture
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Paul Beckett with apprentice Jen Beckett

Eco-friendly economies

On paper, the task looked daunting – the development of a world-first sustainable manufacturing operation from the deconstructed, separated and sanitised components of EoL postconsumer mattresses. It meant converting a product that was deemed 100% waste, and guaranteeing that 100% of the mattresses avoided landfill. It entailed finding a circular solution for 100% of the separated components, and creating products that were 100% recyclable.

And while Bye Bye Bed and its manufacturing arm, Reborn Products, have not yet arrived at their final destination, they are making great progress, says Paul: “We’re set to double in size and extend into an additional 19,000ft2 facility early this year. Reborn Products have revolutionised the world of mattress recycling by finding a circular solution for each and every individual component that has been retrieved from post-consumer mattresses – slicing, dicing, grinding and sanitising materials, we are able to produce a plethora of products from insulation to pet beds, composts to campervan cushions, divan bases to garden planters … the list of opportunities for ecological and economic benefit for all is endless.”

Paul confirms that a 100% recycled mattress, 100% recycled pet bed and 100% insulator have already been produced. “They’ve not been not fully launched to market,” he adds, “but many of our 95%-recycled products are already a huge hit with the environmentally conscious customer, who can often boost their Social Value Quality Mark (SVQM) via our ecological and ethical recycling practices.”

Working with His Majesty’s Prison Service and supporting its strategy to rehabilitate offenders and cut crime, Paul’s work is also improving skills and potential employability outcomes – and the economic benefits do not stop there, he says: “Our flexibility,

proactive methodology and possibly best-in-industry gate fees are probable good reasons for our rapid YoY growth, and help lift our reputation for ‘doing what’s right’ for the good of the environment, the customer and the mattress industry.

“Our closed-loop, circular-economy solution provides the answer to the five ‘whys’ I raised earlier, and protects us all from a potential soaring increase in mattress-recycling gate fees. From a business perspective, it’s all about looking at the bigger picture, and getting to the root cause to proactively prevent a hike in mattress disposal costs. From an environmental viewpoint, why wouldn’t you pursue such a course?”

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www.byebyebed.com
“The list of opportunities for ecological and economic benefit for all is endless
Bye Bye Bed’s facilities in Birstall, West Yorkshire

SWAN RETAIL

www.swanretail.co.uk

Swan Retail’s SwanFRS (Furniture Retail System) has introduced a mobile salesperson app to give sales teams the data they need on the go. Designed to enable retailers to offer the best level of service to their customers, the tablet-friendly app pulls information from SwanFRS on products, customers, orders and more.

Couple that with comprehensive inventory management, customer ordering, warehousing and CRM, and SwanFRS can take retailing to the next level, says Swan.

RandiLynn Talsma, mobile owner of Blended Furniture Market, testifies: “Every part of running the store is right in front of you. I can practically run the front of the store from my tablet.”

200 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES The complete retail management solution for furniture retailers SwanFRS is a retail system designed specifically to cater for all the needs of furniture, flooring and bed retailers. It is capable of managing customers, orders, stock and after sales in one easy-to-use solution. • Comprehensive inventory management • Cloud based • Mobile salesperson tablet app • Quick special order configuration and sales entry • Integrated eCommerce • System generated alerts and messaging • Exceptional customer care and service ticketing • 25+ years serving the retail industry Visit: swanretail.co.uk Email: sales@swanretail.co.uk Call: 02393 873 170

CapabilitiesComprehensive &Solutions Thataddvalueandsupportyoursuccess.

Opportunity, Purpose, Awareness.

Leggett & Platt Springs UK will not rest. We are committed to identifying the latest opportunities and adapting to market changes as we advance sustainable solutions for our customers without sacrificing quality or performance.

2023 will see continued investment in the UK bedding industry, our leading technologies, and our team so we remain strategically positioned to provide value-adding innovation and support in line with customer need.

responsible
manufacturer. Learn
at BeddingComponents-intl.com
A proud, capable, and
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© 2023 Leggett & Platt Incorporated

“Act before you scratch, with Stroolmount protection from 1p,” urges family-run firm Stroolmount, which offers specialist trade-only protection solutions nationwide.

“Plus, save thousands in repairs and damage claims, and save yourself from angry customers, an angrier boss, profits wiped out, extra paperwork, repair hassles, delays to your next job … plus the excess to pay and hikes in your insurance premiums for next year. Protection for 1p – it’s a no-brainer!’

Stroolmount’s accessories have been designed to safeguard your floor, your furniture, your back and your business, says MD Gill Finch: “The trade and customers invest a fortune in fine-quality flooring and furniture, so it makes sense to spend a few pence protecting it and creating genuine customer goodwill.”

Stroolmount’s products include Move-it Pads, a temporary, reusable solution enabling heavy furniture to glide across hard floors and carpet. “They’re handy for every contractor and fitter, to safely move furniture in and out of rooms,” says Gill. “They help protect back muscles too, which protect businesses, as people can’t earn if they can’t work!”

Stroolmount’s Furni-glides fulfil a similar role, but are made from PTFE (which is utilised in Teflon non-stick pans, says Gill). “Special Furni-glides for heavyweight recliner sofas and chairs turn them from impossible to move, to easy to move, for cleaning around,” says Gill. “This helps prevent dust build up –a danger to anyone with breathing difficulties.

“So, when you want your furniture and flooring to look its best, look at Stroolmount.”

Opportunity, purpose, awareness – with a new year comes new opportunities, believes Leggett & Platt Springs UK, which boasts the resources and innovation to create superior products for bed manufacturers and their customers: “Our continued investment in the UK bedding industry has created a next-generation, focused manufacturing approach – providing component, semi-finished, and finished product solutions – that allows you to be more sustainable in your processes, propositions, and overall approach,” states the components specialist. “The years may change, but our commitment to building and sustaining strong customer relationships never will. We look forward to providing enhanced value-add projects to cultivate a successful business partnership for everyone involved.”

STROOLMOUNT www.stroolmount.co.uk
Learn
bedding industry manufacturer
Leggett & Platt Springs UK is able to add value throughout a mattress LEGGETT & PLATT SPRINGS UK www.beddingcomponents-intl.com 202 PRODUCTS TRADE SERVICES ww w.s c i- n et. c o.u k Sci-Net Ltd ERP House, DunsTew Grange DunsTew Road, ChippingNorton Oxon OX77DQ THE UK’S LEADING BIG TICKET ERP>RETAIL SOLUTION ww w.s c i- n et. c o.u k Sc i-N et Lt d ER P House, D unsTew Gr ange D unsTew Ro ad, C hipp ingNorton O xon OX77D Q
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on its website.
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Rhenus looks back on a year of growth

The start of a new year is a good time to look back at the last and assess how a business performed, and how it might approach the year ahead. Rhenus Home Delivery UK came through 2022 with an enviable report card, having achieved multiple breakthroughs that expedited its already-ambitious growth …

“As a company that represents many key brands in the industry, it’s so important that all our contact with their customers continues to make a positive impression,” states Rhenus Home Delivery UK, “and our expansion into a new 258,000ft2 warehouse at Magna Park, Lutterworth has truly enabled us to expand our final-mile network.”

The new facility functions as the fulfilment specialist’s central distribution centre, and enables it to adapt to an influx of deliveries, while offering advanced storage solutions by operating a JIT model. “This model has improved the quality of the services we deliver to the customer, facilitating a greater number of available delivery dates as we start to integrate our next-day delivery promise,” says Rhenus.

Last year saw Rhenus Home Delivery UK place a great deal of focus on training and development, and the business is now in the final stages of opening a new training facility, the Academy of Excellence. Rhenus says the new, state-of-the-art facility will be fully equipped with spaces designed to recreate real-world home environments, including a bedroom, living room, dining room and utility room.

On-site classroom training will ensure that the company’s two-man home delivery crews operate to the highest standards, including practical training on product handling within the home, says Rhenus. Warehouse processes and operational courses will cover all aspects of health and safety, customer interaction and material-handling theory and practice. The learning styles utilised will be varied, accommodating for all types of learner to ensure a complete and inclusive learning experience.

The academy will also offer interactive e-learning courses on the company’s in-house transport and warehouse management systems, as well as certified customer service training, health and safety and fire safety training. Materials handling, including verynarrow aisle, electric, counterbalance and lift-cage forklift training, will also feature on the curriculum.

H2 heroes

“Last year, we also improved our customer journey by integrating a three-step animated video guide into our delivery communications, to advise customers on how best to prepare their properties for delivery,” says Rhenus, adding that the delivery animation has improved customer engagement by +57.6% in comparison to its previous SMS and email communications. “We have also expanded our Rhenus Home Delivery fleet to facilitate an increased volume of goods in our network. This includes EV 3.5 tonne two-man delivery vehicles, which have contributed to minimising our carbon footprint.

“In Q4, our environmental efforts received high recognition for our sustainability partnership with The Furniture Recycling Group at the Supply

204 PRODUCTS DELIVERY FULFILMENT
Rhenus’ key UK account manager Alan Whitley, young talent lead Frieda Thevarasa and UK sales director Gavin Boden on site at the new CDC Last year, Rhenus Home Delivery (UK) expanded into a new 258,000ft2 warehouse at Magna Park

Chain Excellence Awards. In 2022, we reached the milestone of a quarter of a million mattresses recycled, and are aiming for greater volumes with our new on-site mattress compression system.

Rhenus says that mattresses have been the most difficult waste stream to divert from landfill for many years, and that by creating innovative new processes, the business has been able to provide a cost- and CO2-effective way to divert 100% of the mattresses collected from landfill, to continue a valuable lifecycle.

Rhenus Home Delivery UK has also invested heavily in experienced employees, seeing a +50% increase in staff numbers, while conducting its first full Rhenus Group employee net promotor score (ENPS) has given the senior management team better insight into

how they can improve systems and processes that are in place for the benefit of every department across the business.

CEO of Rhenus Home Delivery UK, Vinny Riley, concludes: “The opening of the new academy is a first for Rhenus in the UK. The new centre represents our continued investment in and commitment to compliance, customer service excellence and of course, customer experience. The completion of Magna Park, as well as our focus on optimised systems and solutions, enable the Rhenus Home Delivery UK network to grow and deliver greater volumes for our valued clients.”

www.uk.rhenus.com

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“The completion of Magna Park, and our focus on optimised systems and solutions, enable our network to grow and deliver greater volumes
Rhenus has enjoyed a strong 12 months of growth and investment The new training academy will offer practical training on product handling within the home

Damage limitation

Derek Richardson, an environmental manager specialising in temperature and impact monitoring for UK manufacturer Ellab Monitoring Solutions. So,

Countless thousands of us have encountered flatpacked furniture items. But before these selfassembly goods are unwrapped, how do you know if they have been mishandled, damaged or tampered with in the warehouse or in transit?

Delays in deliveries is a current hot topic, with the ongoing challenges facing supply chains. This begs the question – how best to protect shipments during lengthy logjams, when they finally hit store shelves and online orders are destined for households? The answer is impact technology that acts as a visual deterrent to improper handling.

Returns and recalls can cost the UK furniture market hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, not to mention the anguish and frustration for customers when the structural integrity of a coveted wardrobe, dining table or cabinet is found to be compromised when removed from its packaging.

For furniture brands, extra costs are incurred by getting goods back from the disgruntled customer, sourcing and packaging the replacement and shipping the items back to the purchaser – if they still want them! There are many reasons for the costly product returns journey, and the condition of goods can be a key issue.

It’s far from just flatpack. How best to protect a reclining armchair and other items like lamps and bed frames on their way to customers, especially in peak periods?

Product packaging designed to cushion fragile goods during shipping against shocks and bumps in the road is an obvious must. But having early-warning systems in place to keep track of the condition of your goods at every point in the supply chain could also save the day.

Damage prevention while on the journey to the customer is vital. Impact tools can make handlers think again about roughly loading furniture items into the back of a van or dropping it on the doorstep – take, for example, Shockwatch, a label attached to the item or packaging that turns red if goods have not been handled with care.

In addition to accurately recording shock and vibration, these devices act as a strong visual deterrent to unacceptable handling, no matter what you’re shipping – providing accountability from the first mile to the last. The shock sensors detect and record impact and mishandling of fragile, sensitive or calibrated products during transportation.

Monitoring systems and associated devices mean that you’re buying into a distribution process that involves the shipper and the warehouse. You’re making a commitment to the end-customer that you care whether a product arrives in the same perfect condition as it left the factory. Ultimately, this could save companies the cost and reputational harm incurred if furniture is damaged on route.

Problems could also start in the storage environment. For example, water ingress can affect the humidity level in warehouses, which is difficult to detect without accurate monitoring systems. Leaking water can be absorbed into packaging, spoiling the product, whilst a rise in humidity levels can occur, causing problems that are not so visible to the eye. RH (relative humidity) and flood detection solutions can help prevent this kind of damage.

There is a choice of accurate and flexible environmental management solutions that can protect companies and millions of pounds’ worth of goods – such as bedroom furniture, mattresses, sofas and chairs, as well as soft furnishings – not just from monetary loss, but also a tarnished reputation.

It’s not hard to envisage how sub-standard monitoring procedures could potentially lead to a crisis and customer anger, especially if high-value items are mishandled or stored incorrectly. In such a competitive market, there is absolutely no doubt that a failing could be extremely costly for furnituremakers, and that preventative measures make financial and moral sense.

www.hanwell.com

Ensuring goods reach the enduser in the same pristine condition that they left the factory is vitally important for any manufacturer’s
reputation – says
how best to avoid the hassle of returns and refunds?
“Early-warning systems to keep track of the condition of your goods could save the day YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER... CONTACTUS: HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom) RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG Tel:+44(0)7745540524 Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER... CONTACTUS: HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom) RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG Tel:+44(0)7745540524 Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK 206 PRODUCTS DELIVERY FULFILMENT Photo courtesy 123RF/olegdudko

CONTACTUS:

CONTACTUS:

CONTACTUS:

CONTACTUS:

HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom)

HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom)

HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom)

HeadOffices(Cheshire,UnitedKingdom)

RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG

RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG

RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG

RhenusHomeDeliveryUK,Unit7NewCheshireBusinessPark,WinchamLane,Northwich,CW96GG

Tel:+44(0)7745540524

Tel:+44(0)7745540524

Tel:+44(0)7745540524

Tel:+44(0)7745540524

Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com

Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com

Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk

Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk

Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk

Email:gavin.boden@uk.rhenus.com/alan.whitley@uk.rhenus.com

Website:www.rhenus-home-delivery.co.uk

YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER...
EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER...
EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER...
EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK YOURTWOMANDELIVERYPARTNER...
EXPERTMULTI-ROOMFURNITUREHANDLING BEST-IN-CLASSSERVICESWIDEDELIVERYNETWORK

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AP+ promises the personal touch

Flexibility, responsibility, and providing customers with the personal touch, are key priorities for logistics, storage and fulfilment specialist AP+ in 2023.

The business provides end-to-end, third-party logistics (3PL), storage and fulfilment solutions to companies working in the furniture and homeware sector. In addition to dealing with furniture of all shapes and sizes – including bulky items like sofas, mattresses and carpets – AP+ offers a pick-and-pack service for small homeware products, including lighting and accessories.

Its state-of-the-art order management system can integrate with more than 60 shopping carts and ecommerce marketplaces, while its warehouse management system offers full traceability with real-time stock updates and complete inventory management. Intelligent carrier-comparison software compares quotes from more than 80 carriers, ensuring orders are distributed in the most costeffective way possible.

Alongside its technology, one of the company’s biggest unique selling points is its flexibility, according to business development director, Catherine Byrom: “Our team really takes the time to listen to the needs of each of our customers and get to know their products. We pride ourselves on taking a very agile and responsive approach to our business – quickly adapting the services we offer to meet the changing needs of our clients, and consistently going above and beyond their expectations.

“We recognise that as a 3PL we are working as an extension of our clients’ companies, so we are careful to maintain their high standards at all times and ensure their end-customers are happy with the service they receive.”

The members of the AP+ team will also be looking at ways they can give back to the community around them, with corporate social responsibility being a high priority for the company this year. The business actively looks for initiatives to support, and asks staff to nominate good causes in the local community that they would want to help in the coming year.

AP+ is committed to making its operations more sustainable, taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint, increase recycling, cut down on unnecessary packaging and use environmentally friendly options where possible. In March, for example, AP+ will be increasing its storage capacity with a new energy-efficient building equipped with solar panels.

www.apfulfilment.com

DELIVERY FULFILMENT PRODUCTS 209
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Furdeco – reputation, delivered

Furdeco Home Delivery was set up after its founders identified a disconnect between traditional furniture home delivery companies and personalised, customerorientated service – surely, they reasoned, the sector required a higher level of service, that simply could not be provided by the existing multi-user, multi-networked providers?

Furdeco

operates unlike other two-person home delivery providers, which tend to utilise hub-and-spoke networks.

Operating from one centralised location in the West Midlands, Furdeco ensures its clients‘ products experience minimal touchpoints – an approach that mean a dramatic reduction in damages and lesser returns, and a happier end-customer.

Over the past few years, Furdeco has gone through an impressive expansion, which has seen it invest in new eco-friendly offices and warehouses to accommodate its organic growth and extended client base.

Although the business may have outgrown its previous premises, this has been retained to be utilised as its own returns and recycling hub, where Furdeco’s Reverse Logistics teams can provide an improved returns and recycling process.

The one-site location also provides Furdeco with the ability to recruit its own in-house delivery teams, who receive extensive one-to-one training through the company’s on-site Driver Training Academy.

Furdeco understands that the final-metre delivery is the most important part of the customer journey, and its two-person crews are often the first and only faces the end-consumer sees. Consequently, its delivery teams have the skills and knowledge to provide a high-level customer experience, which is evidenced via an ’excellent‘ rating on Trustpilot, where Furdeco has accumulated over 28,000 reviews.

Furdeco prides itself on its communications with the end consumer – its pre-notifications ensure over 98% of deliveries are completed on time in full. Furdeco shares the same level of commitment as its clients – customers like to stay in the know, and receive regular updates on their delivery status, while Furdeco goes above and beyond to fulfil this important part of the customer journey.

Boasting one-to-one in-house account management, and the integration of new delivery management software this spring to optimise and exceed client and customer expectations, it is little wonder Furdeco is the two-person home delivery provider of choice for a growing number of furniture businesses.

www.furdeco.co.uk

(Furniture Delivery Company)
212 PRODUCTS DELIVERY FULFILMENT
“Furdeco understands that the final-metre delivery is the most important part of the customer journey
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Ash Logistics’ laser focus on ‘Delivering Delight’ earned it the title Business of the Year at the SME National Business Awards in 2022. Beating over 400 finalists from across the UK, the specialist in highquality, two-man deliveries was also named the Best Enterprising Business.

As the last customer touchpoint with its clients’ brands, Ash is obsessive about delivering consistently high levels of personalised care, with stringent quality

checks ensuring minimal returns and repeat business – the delivery specialist’s customer satisfaction rating is 99.9%.

Ash Logistics owns an infrastructure of four depots across the UK, with daily internal line haul. Its best-in-class bespoke industry platform maximises efficiencies at every level, and provides vital management information to its partners, enabling them to better drive profit.

ashlogistics.co.uk TWO-MAN WHITE GLOVE DELIVERY SPECIALISTS SME NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS BEST ENTERPRISING BUSINESS BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 214 PRODUCTS DELIVERY FULFILMENT
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Hit the road running

West Midlands two-man fulfilment specialist BJS Home Delivery says it has been warming its engines and gearing up for a big 2023 after an “incredible” 12 months …

“Last year was a real journey for BJS,” MD Harinder Singh explains. “We’ve had highs and we’ve had lows, but we are more focused than ever on continuing to deliver on our promise of service.

“What our industry has seen over the past year means it’s now more important than ever to ensure your supply chain is strong. There are many retailers – and even some delivery companies – that leave the customer-facing side of the supply chain as an afterthought, but the impact that excellent service can have leading up to, and at, the doorstep, is a crucial extension of brand, and potentially the last link of the customer journey. It can make the difference.”

BJS Home Delivery has expanded rapidly since its inception in 2009 – but still operates from a single hub in the centre of England, now with much more capacity as it continues to expand its fleet and warehousing to meet clients’ storage demands, bringing additional efficiencies across the operations.

This ability to adapt quickly has been one of the key factors in BJS’ success. Remaining family owned and (fiercely) independent enables more flexibility, meaning decisions can be made faster, without the red tape that can often slow things down, states the delivery specialist.

Of course, those decisions require something or someone to make them, and, alongside service, the people are the key product, says BJS, which now

employs over 800 members of staff – and the teams are ready for a lively 2023, too, says head of sales, Neil Hannify: “All of the BJS team are looking forward to what the next year brings.

“We’ve spent a long time optimising our product, structure and services, so I really do think we’re tighter than we’ve ever been. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build.”

Interested parties can find out more about this highly regarded firm on the company’s website.

www.bjshomedelivery.com

216 PRODUCTS DELIVERY FULFILMENT
“The impact excellent service can have leading up to and at the doorstep can make the difference

Progress report

In October 2020, Sue Kemp was appointed to lead Associated independent Stores (AIS) into a new era of greater openness and relevance. This month, Sue tells Furniture News how the buying group intends to helps its members and suppliers achieve success in 2023 and beyond …

In 1948, 20 family-owned department stores joined forces, giving them greater power to negotiate prices and the ability to share expertise and services.

Today, Associated Independent Stores (AIS) is the leading buying and services group in the UK and Ireland for home, fashion and leisure. Its membership boasts combined retail sales of £1.5b, and it has a global supplier partnership base that provides exclusive discounts and offers to drive profitability.

AIS says it offers “an unparalleled end-to-end member experience”, with easy access to support services including a central payment facility, buying and merchandising, and its own labels – while the buying group also curates the INDX trade shows across the furniture, homewares, flooring, beds and bedding sectors.

In 2020, coinciding with the retirement of Sheila Cooper and the creation of a new dedicated Furniture and Home division, AIS appointed Sue Kemp (exMerlin Entertainments, Marks & Spencer) as MD, signalling the start of a new era for a group looking to become “more commercial and customer focused”.

But what exactly does this transformational programme look like, and why was it implemented?

Fifteen months on from her appointment, Furniture News asks Sue to explain how AIS is changing with the times …

How has AIS’ approach changed in recent years, and why?

Coming in as the first new MD for AIS in over 30 years, I undertook a full strategic review of the business, including commissioning the first-ever piece of member and supplier research and insight, in order to really understand the organisation.

The outcomes have been used to create the new strategic approach to our business and future challenges, evolving our ways of working to ensure we are creative, innovative and forward thinking. I have identified five strategic pillars – membership, merchandise and services, trade shows, ways of working and communications – to drive AIS forward, to ensure that we, our members and partners remain relevant and thrive in the future.

How relevant are buying groups in today’s market?

Joining a buying group in today’s economic climate is a positive step to take to be ‘recession-proof’. Being part of a membership organisation enables collective working with suppliers, fellow traders and AIS experts to combat pricing and sourcing challenges, and adapt to changing consumer behaviours and spending patterns, to be one step ahead of the game.

Have any of the business model’s strengths/ weaknesses come to the fore?

It is important that AIS is agile and responsive to the challenges and opportunities of retail, and we are focused on always being relevant and useful for our membership.

For instance, we have been able to respond to the challenges of import lines, shipping costs, logistics delays and disruption by developing and strengthening our European and UK supply base. We have invested in our merchandising and buying expertise, and earlier this year launched AIS Retail Buying and Merchandising, a bespoke service supporting members with annual planning, budgeting, and trading strategy, in order to help members improve margins and profitability through analysis, performance review, phasing, and forecasting.

We have also strengthened our offer by linking with world-renowned experts in trends and forecasting, diversity and inclusion and procurement expertise. And we continue to work closely with suppliers to ensure we have an ongoing programme of product development and exclusives to support our members with attractive new product launches, as well as developing our own-label lines.

220 PRODUCTS BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS

How do you feel AIS is perceived by the wider trade?

I believe the wider trade can see that we are changing and evolving – modernising to reflect the needs of the market’s ever-shifting retail landscape. We have a new commercial edge, and know that by working more closely with our suppliers we can develop clear business plans together to support our members’ growth.

We haven’t been great at selling ourselves, and had, over time, become ‘a best-kept secret’, but we’re changing that. We have just relaunched our AIS website and social media channels – we want to grow our exposure, and promote the great things we are doing, as well as celebrating independent retail.

Can you give us an example of the cost savings members can enjoy on product purchases?

Due to membership confidentiality, we are unable to publish discounts, rebates or margin savings, as this information is commercially sensitive, but clearly our key purpose as a buying group is to ensure that cost savings are achieved for our membership – which we do.

However, we also provide cost savings in other ways: our unique payment system, CENPAC, greatly reduces resource requirements; members have access to our in-house experts across product, buying, merchandising, marketing, logistics and IT; and we have strong relationships with third-party partners providing cost-saving solutions. For instance, our procurement service has helped many members implement cost-saving measures, including for utilities. We strive to help members with their bottom line.

Which of these other benefits are most valued by the members?

We’ve undertaken research across our broad membership base and have a clear understanding of what they find valuable about AIS membership. Apart from the very tangible financial benefits received through discounts, exclusives, rebates and promotions, without doubt, our unique payment system CENPAC is a key benefit – as it relieves suppliers and members of the administrative burden of processing, as well as offering a degree of protection.

In addition, our specialised buying and merchandising services, access to our trade shows and the opportunity to network are important factors for being a member of AIS.

Once, your trade exhibitions were open only to members – today, the wider trade are welcome on certain show days. Has the change to a more open-access show format changed how you do business in general?

It is imperative that we keep all our products and services at AIS fresh and relevant, and that includes our INDX trade shows. With the return of in-person shows in 2022, we’ve been working very closely with suppliers, exhibitors and visitors to ensure

that we continue to provide the best order-writing environment for everyone – so we are open to trialling and testing new approaches and formats.

INDX celebrates its 10th birthday this year, and we continue to stick to our USP that our shows are always curated by the buying team, for buyers, and order taking is the number-one end game. We now run just under 50 days of trade shows a year across our home and fashion portfolio, and every one of those shows is run with the same mantra.

What have you learned from your first full year of INDX events? How’s this year shaping up?

At AIS we have regrouped and reassessed our INDX trade shows. We have a new director of events and centralised events team to ensure the logistics, operations and delivery of our shows is at its very best. We are introducing an event booking system this year to improve the exhibitor and visitor experience, we have a new marketing strategy for 2023, and we are looking at new infrastructure investments over the next 18 months.

We are also going to continue with our AIS Retail Insights events, which we launched this year, giving exhibitors and visitors the opportunity to hear from experts and celebrities on hot topics.

The last 12 months have proved that face-to-face interaction is vital – product presentation at shows gives us to the opportunity to articulate our product and supplier plans and present exclusives, and they provide the perfect environment for our members and suppliers to form stronger partnerships.

This year is INDX’s 10th birthday, and I believe our shows will go from strength to strength. With our constant liaison with visitors and exhibitors, we continually strive to create the best order-writing environment we can.

221
INDX Furniture returns from 20th-23rd this month ››
“The independent retailer is resilient, entrepreneurial and agile enough to adapt, survive and thrive

Aside from the shows, are there many opportunities for members to network and share best practice?

I believe, wholeheartedly, for any membership organisation, that strong engagement and networking is pivotal to ensure every member reaps the benefits.

I have made great strides in ensuring that we have established professional and efficient channels in which to meet, discuss, debate and transfer knowledge.

At a strategic level, we deliver business and strategic updates in person and via newsletters and webinars. At a product level, we have strategy groups and regular store visits. We have also made the ‘digital leap’, and last year launched our one-stop-shop member digital hub, where members can access detailed product information, industry updates and promotions.

We have also relaunched our website, to drive awareness and our reputation. However, this is still a work in progress, and we acknowledge that more work needs to be done to optimise every opportunity to network!

What are your principal concerns for the industry’s future? And causes for optimism?

There are three areas where AIS is focused. First, from a product viewpoint, it is clear that Covid has driven consumers’ increased love for the home and outdoor living. Global forecasters tell us that this focus will continue, so we are harnessing this trend to make it work commercially for our members.

Second, the current economic instability means that we need to focus on its impacts on retail –covering energy prices, the war and the strength of the dollar, as well as sustainability issues. However, I believe that the independent retailer is resilient, entrepreneurial and agile enough to adapt, survive and thrive – and AIS will work tirelessly with suppliers and members to maximise every opportunity.

Third, the growing challenge of employment within retail is also a focus of AIS. We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture within the sector, and believe through supporting a diverse range of viewpoints, beliefs and attitudes that we can improve employability opportunities – and ensure we help businesses thrive, make them inclusive, and help them be relevant for the world we live in today. We have recently partnered with Diversity in Retail to help us to achieve this goal.

Finally, what are your hopes for the AIS? Where do you see it in three years’ time?

AIS is an amazing organisation, with a combined wealth of expertise, creativity and ambition across the team and its members. We are primed and ready to help, protect and create brilliant opportunities for our members and suppliers.

I look forward to overseeing the delivery of the AIS vision – for it to be the most member-focused, innovative and agile buying and services group in the UK and Ireland, creating commercial partnerships that deliver sustainable profit for thriving independent retailers.

www.aistores.co.uk

222 PRODUCTS BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
“Strong engagement and networking is pivotal
INDX Homewares will run from 21st-22nd February
Cranmore Park, home of the AIS C M Y CM MY CY CMY K
www.bedshow.co.uk 26-27 Sept 2023 | Telford Bringing The Bed Industry Together Mattresses | Divans | Bedsteads | Headboards | Pillows | Futons | Sofabeds | Tickings | Fillings | Springs | Foam | Machinery | Components @thebedfed | #BedShow2023

NATIONAL BED FEDERATION

www.bedfed.org.uk

The National Bed Federation is the recognised trade association representing UK manufacturers of beds and their suppliers. Founded in 1912, its members today account for about 75% of the total UK bedding turnover.

“We are the bed industry’s conscience,” states the NBF. “At the heart of everything we do is a simple idea – making sure that, as an industry, we always do the right thing. Let’s make it right.”

As well as hosting the annual Bed Show and its associated Bed Industry Awards, the NBF aims to set the standard by driving ethics, transparency and responsibility, in an effort to create a level playing field across the industry, by: maintaining high standards through audits and independent testing; teaching best practice in bed-making and selling; celebrating and promoting excellence;

providing education and guidance to help people sleep better; and creating a sustainable industry that supports the planet.

Regarding the latter, executive director Jessica Alexander says: “We have been keen to support our members as much as we can on this journey, which is why we have introduced our Pledge for the Planet – encouraging members to commit to a journey of measuring and reducing their impacts in terms of carbon reduction, waste and resource efficiency.

“This emphasis on sustainability is of course, the right thing to be doing –but it is also about future-proofing the industry for potential legislation, and our engagement with governments on climate change and waste reduction is a very important part of our current agenda.”

20-23 JANUARY 2023 Curated by buyers for buyers brought to you by Visit or Exhibit Scan and secure your place Open to all Saturday 21 January 10.00 -17.00 Sunday 22 January 10.00 -17.00 Monday 23 January 08.30 -16.00 AIS Member Preview Day - Friday 20 January Early access to AIS member-only exclusives and offers plus networking event 08.30 – 17.00 2022 0040 INDX furniture half page ad.indd 2 23/11/2022 11:45:58 224 PRODUCTS BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
The annual Bed Show gala dinner brings much of the sector together
@BFM_LTD @BritishFurnitureManufacturers British Furniture Manufacturers BFM is the voice of the furniture industry, providing representation and a range of services that meet the needs of its members and adds value to their brand. NEW BFM membership for retailers who stock British-made furniture Become a BFM Approved Retail member and gain access to a range of benefits, including; Approved BFM Retail Member logo to promote your business POS toolkit to promote British-made, quality furniture to your customers Business support Employment and commercial legal advice ...and so much more www.bfm.org.uk Find out more:

THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY RESEARCH ASSOCIATION

www.fira.co.uk/membership

The main role of the Furniture industry Research Association is to provide knowledge to the industry to ensure it has the information necessary to meet appropriate legislation and requirements. It also represents the industry on many forums, from UK and EU government consultations, to British, European and International Standards committees – ensuring that its members’ voices are heard when key decisions are being proposed.

Membership provides access to essential industry knowledge, research and standards information. This includes knowledge across all factors which impact the furniture industry, from standards to sustainability, ergonomics to

chemical restrictions.

The association recently produced a series of business support templates for members covering a wide range of topics – from a flammability tracker, to help companies create a documented system to demonstrate compliance with the UK flammability regulations, to a Sustainability KPI tracker, with formulae covering all areas of sustainability, from nuisance

management to sustainable supply chains.

In addition, membership opens up a number of benefits with the association’s service provider, FIRA International, including access to its technical experts and preferential rates on testing and training. Full members also benefit from voucher credits which can be redeemed against FIRA International testing, consultancy and training.

www.bfm.org.uk

The BFM, a trade association which has represented the interests of the nation’s furniture industry since 1947, has announced a new membership category for retailers.

Following the success of the Buy British Campaign during the pandemic, retailers can now show their ongoing support for British-made furniture by becoming a BFM-approved retail member.

To qualify, a retailer must sell products made by British furniture manufacturers in the UK – although not exclusively. As an approved retailer, they will receive a certificate and a PoS toolkit to inform customers of British-made products, as well as access to a range of BFM benefits.

226 PRODUCTS BUYING GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS BRITISH FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS
The Furniture industry Research Association off ers a range of business support templates

The centre of knowledge for the furniture industry

The Furniture Industry Research Association provides unrivalled technical support to the entire furniture supply chain. Hundreds of members benefit from our technical information and guidance, covering everything from flammability to sustainability, to help them understand and comply with regulations and standards.

Membership also opens up various benefits with our service provider, FIRA International, including access to their technical experts for advice, preferential testing and training rates and voucher credits which can be applied to further reduce the cost of testing and training.

+44 (0)1438 777 700 info@fira.co.uk www.fira.co.uk
Find out
you
how membership can benefit

Planning the perfect PR pipeline

With 2023 upon is, it’s important to get to grips with the key dates, new trends and specific themes the year has to offer, to secure the maximum press coverage for the year, writes Press Loft’s founder, Nicola Snell …

Journalists look for products that fit into certain themes and trends each month, depending on the season, annual colours or key events. If you plan your PR well you will dramatically increase the amount of coverage you secure. Here’s a helpful plan …

Five websites for sourcing dates

The first step is to research all of the potential dates, seasons and trends that may work for your company. Here are five great websites we use … Readly.com. Look at previous issues of titles you want to appear in, both online and in print, to find topics they previously covered. Readly.com is a great option for research, as it aggregates thousands of magazines and newspapers in one place. awarenessdays.com. Find charity and awareness days that could work as a great angle for promotion (but remember that you can only use these as angles if you’re genuinely supporting the campaign). imdb.com for film releases coming up. These can make the ideal focus for a press release if your products match – the Americana trend was a good topic around Maverick, and Regencycore was on trend when Bridgerton came out.

www.trendbible.com. Trends (such as Maximalism, Scandi or Japandi) are one of the best topics for generating the maximum press coverage, and trendbible is superb for trend research. Although they have a paid service, there are some great free trend reports, and also good content on their blog. Pantone.com. Colours also make excellent angles. There are seasonal colours which come up in articles every year – spring articles always feature pastel products, summer has tropical tones, autumn has oranges and browns, and winter has richer tones –but also colour trends specific to that year. Pantone releases their Colour of the Year each December, and it’s always worth sending out a press release in relation to it if you have any suitable products.

Once you have a list of potential dates, find the ones that your products fit and select the best. Ideally, have one or two subjects and themes per month.

Two vital image styles for maximum coverage

When you have identified all of the dates that are relevant to your brand and products, you’ll need to make sure that you have your images press-ready. This means high-resolution, 300dpi and JPEG format.

We also advise having your photography in two styles: cut-out (images placed on a pure white

background), which make up 60% of the coverage generated and are ideal for ‘get the look’ and moodboard-style features; and lifestyle images (in a roomset), which generate 40% of coverage but make the larger features and front covers, and are increasingly popular for online features.

Lead times – the key to maximising coverage

You then need to plot these dates in your PR calendar – but not in the month the events fall! Journalists work ahead, and a ‘lead time’ is the gap from when they start working on the article and when it is published (journalists typically start working on garden furniture articles in April, even though the article is published in July, so PRs need to contact the media about garden articles in April to meet their deadlines). We recommend working on a three-month lead time.

The formula for a perfect press release title

Once you have your calendar planned out, each month you need to write your press releases. The idea is to ‘hook’ your relevant products into these key themes and write around them. You can get lots of inspiration on pressloft.com – the title is the most important part, as this will get your press release opened by telling the media exactly what is in it.

We’ve devised the following formula to maximise press release open rates: (New/Just launched) + Product Type + Trend/Season/Event. If the item is new, include the words ‘New’ or ‘Just Launched’. Then include the product type, and the season or trend (it might be spring, pastels or maximalism). You don’t need to stick to the same order given, but it’s important that those words are in the title so the journalist knows exactly what to expect. PR is a very competitive game and journalists are time poor, which means they’re more likely to open your release if they know that what’s in it will resonate with what they’re working on.

Once you have planned your PR from start to finish, remember to keep adding to your calendar throughout the year. New trends come out all the time, so make sure you keep an eye on those and add them into your planner as they appear.

To summarise, PR planning is vital to maximise every PR opportunity and drive maximum coverage for your furniture.

ww.pressloft.com

“Ideally, have one or two subjects and themes per month
228 OPINION

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Making selling mindful

How can retailers ensure longterm growth and success? By concentrating on strengthening long-term relationships and building loyalty, and not by looking for the one-time sale, says sales trainer Sam King, who offers a few tips based on his experiences …

Always proactively overcome objections for the prospect

As salespeople, it’s our job to be proactive in our approach and take the pressure away from any potential customers. This means incorporating proactively overcoming objections – concerning delivery dates, the available colours and sizes, etc –into our pitch.

By doing this, we are building trust with the prospect as we are showing that we are the experts in our field – which we are! This is a great way to invite prospects to open up, without coming across as pushy. By leading the sale in this way we stay in control and can manoeuvre it.

Sometimes a prospect may have an objection that we haven’t heard before. That’s fine. We must overcome it positively and in their best interests, whilst adding it to our list of objections we may need to pitch for next time! How many potential objections can you think of that should be added into your pitch?

Asking for permission is another fantastic skill to use to gain credibility

Need to serve another customer? Ask permission. Want to show a better product that will suit their needs? Ask permission.Need to answer the phone? Ask permission.

This lets prospects think they’re in the driving seat of the interaction, when in fact they’re not, we are. Not only this, but it makes us feel good – we’re building trust and rapport with the prospect and increasing our chances of them not just making a purchase, but building a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Putting the solution above all else is essential for long-term relationships and growth

By investing the time and really leaning into the prospect’s problem, we get a better picture of what they actually want. Remember, we’re the experts, so let’s take the time and delve deep into our wisdom to find that perfect solution.

We should be so focused on the solution that nothing outside of that interaction exists! Showing that we care that much about our customers will generate long-term loyalty and referrals, regardless of how the sales manager may be breathing down our necks or how many customers are in the store.

Not letting negativity into our world is essential for all of this to happen

Our thoughts affect our emotions, body language and reality. That’s why keeping a check of our thoughts when they go off track is so important in relationships. Being mindful of negativity (no matter how tricky the customer) is a sure method for long-term growth and success.

You know the feeling – when you’re ‘at one’ with the shop floor. Everything you touch turns to gold. Orders are coming out of nowhere! Why not recreate that every day of the year?

This is possible with affirmations, mindfulness and breathing techniques. Yes, it’s spiritual, but it works. Once we master our emotions, we master our surroundings and can be the best version of ourselves. If anybody would like to know more about this skill, we’ll gladly go over this practice with you (free of charge, of course).

Let us know how these tips work for you!

www.spkperformance.co.uk

230 OPINION
“You know the feeling when you’re ‘at one’ with the shop floor? Why not recreate that every day of the year?
Sam’s methods promise to help salespeople open the door to a brighter future (image courtesy iStock/nicolas_)

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Ash Logistics 214-215

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BFM 225

BJS 218-219

Bluebone 105

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CIFF Guangzhou 59

Core Products 122-123

Deepsleep Beds 140-142

Devonshire Living.......................46-47

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Gallery Direct 103 GNG Group 169 Greenwood Retail.............................43

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Highgrove Beds 20-21, 153 himolla 71

Home Junction 109

Homeserve Furniture Repairs 138

Homestyle GB 128-129

Hydeline 27

Hyder Beds 155 Hypnos 185

Iconography 97

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January Furniture Show 6

Jual Furnishings 180 Julian Bowen 119 Kettle Interiors Agencies 112-115

Kyoto 159

Lebus Upholstery 132 Leggett & Platt 201

London Fabric Show 53 Mattsons 69 Maxi Mover BC Meble Polska 49 Medite 37

Meridian Upholstery 83 MIFF.......................................................41

Mlily 145 NBF 223

New Trend Concepts 160 Ordorite 121

Protect-A-Bed 157 Qualita 100-101 Rauch 125

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Siesta Beds 177

Simba Sleep..................................32-33

Sleepeezee 189 Spring Fair 77

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TFW 137

The Furniture Makers’ Company ................................................................193

The Libra Company 80-81

Think Rugs 107 Torelli 133

VIFA Expo 232

Vogue Beds 85

Weavers 171

Westbridge Furniture Designs 89

Wiemann 127

Woodman Chairs 217 World Furniture 135 YOTFC 181

232

Comfort in a crisis

nancial pressures are

immense pressure on people the length and breadth of the nation – and any member of the industry su ering from anxiety and depression as a result should not do so in silence, writes Jonny Westbrooke, CEO of The Furniture Makers’ Company.

A survey published in December from the Money and Mental Health policy institute, a charity founded and chaired by MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis, reported that 17% of respondents had suicidal thoughts over the past nine months owing to the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, research released in December from the O ce of National Statistics evidenced that around one in four of people who reported di culty paying their energy bills experienced moderate-tosevere depressive symptoms – three times higher than those who found it easy to pay their energy bills.

These stats paint a deeply worrying picture about the dreadful and very real impact nancial troubles are having on people’s mental wellbeing.

With in ation not letting up any time soon and energy prices rising in April, the cost of living crisis we are experiencing is not going away, and therefore the anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts people are experiencing is likely to also rise. This is awful.

As the charity for the furnishing industry, we have been supporting the welfare of people working in our trade since 1903. We help furnishing industry people who are dealing with nancial hardship, by providing grants and useful advice. Over the past few months, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of applications for nancial grants as a consequence of the cost of living crisis, and sadly we expect numbers to continue to rise.

Traditionally, we have focused solely on support in the form of nancial grants, but last Mental Health Awareness Day we announced a new partnership with the free, 24/7, con dential text service Shout, aimed at supporting anyone working in the UK furnishing industry who is struggling mentally.

Shout – which is powered by charity Mental Health Innovations – is a silent and anonymous text service that can help with issues such as anxiety, bullying, depression, loneliness/isolation, money worries, relationship problems, self-harm, stress and suicide.

The service is incredibly easy to use. All someone needs to do to start a conversation with a trained volunteer is simply text the word ‘COMFORT’ to 85258.

Upon doing so, the person will be connected to a volunteer who will listen and talk silently, via text message. Shout volunteers are available around the clock to listen and support anyone who is struggling to cope (it goes without saying that everything discussed is kept private).

We hope that this service will raise crucial awareness of mental health and provide support to those working in our trade who need someone to talk to. However, to get this message e ectively communicated to all, we need to call upon you – the reader.

We have produced posters and other resources that you can hang in break rooms or noticeboards at your place of business. These are available to download from our website, or you can contact us and we will send you a COMFORT pack in the post. Together, we may be able to bring some comfort to anyone going through a crisis.

www.furnituremakers.org.uk/crisis-text-service/

PARTNER COMMENT OPINION 233
INDUSTRY PARTNERS
“The cost of living crisis we are experiencing is not going away
Young Furniture Makers exhibition. THE FURNITURE MAKERS’ COMPANY
Growing
putting
“These stats paint a deeply worrying picture about the very real impact nancial troubles are having on people’s mental wellbeing

THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING …

What’s our industry’s biggest misconception?

That we are a ‘cottage industry’.

Far from it. It’s a horrible term

Rob King (Julian Bowen)

That great product is a substitute for a poor supply chain. Many of the top brands have not invested adequately in their manufacturing and distribution processes. They seem to forget that there’s an endcustomer waiting for their product

David Kohn (The Multichannel Expert)

I feel a lot still think it’s only about price

Neil Barker (Barkers Furniture)

That every furniture item is the same quality, when looking at a picture or price. There is a reason why some items cost more. Think about buying a sofa that lasts two years, versus a sofa for twice the price that lasts for seven years Deirdre Mc Gettrick (ufurnish.com)

That the ‘bed in a box’ suits all. There’s no way one mattress can suit all. If it did, we’d only have one mattress on display

George Sinclair (Nimbus Beds)

Ortho/ rm mattresses, and the general perception people have of thinking they want a rm mattress, when in fact the medium would be far better. It’s hard to convince them otherwise

Martin Seeley (MattressNextDay)

I think everyone assumes it’s a grubby, low-paid industry. It can be grubby in engineering, but all elements of the workforce are the unsung heroes that literally make the things that the designers envisage. They bring a drawing or model to life in 3D and create the products, either for the end-user of other manufacturers to use. They should feel a sense of accomplishment and pride seeing what they have made in the nished form

Shaun Peel (MattressTek)

That product must be cheap

Mark

That it’s not forward thinking. I work with massively successful retailers week in, week out, who understand the bene ts of technology, and continually push us to do more Mike Whitman (Iconography)

The more nights you o er a mattress to consumers in free trials, the more you’ll sell. Won’t be long before ‘you won’t have to pay until you’ve passed away’ …

Shane Harding (Highgrove Beds)

234 OPINION FEEDBACK WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! • Follow Furniture News on LinkedIn • Join us on Twitter @FurnitureNewsED
Contact the editor at paul@gearingmediagroup.com
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