Furniture News #401

Page 1

TOP FORTE

Maria Florczuk’s sustainable strategy

ECO CONSCIOUS | DINING

LIVING | BEDROOM

BACK TO LIFE

Getting ahead of the circular economy curve

Dreams’ CCO on putting the customer first Bed Kingdom’s crowning achievements

#401 February 2023
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Editor's Comment

Click. There goes the switch.

Against a backdrop of unstable energy prices, looming legislation and mounting consumer pressure, has our industry’s green economy finally crossed the line from praiseworthy to practical?

Whatever your personal feelings on climate change, electric cars and meat-free burgers, we’re entering an era of sustainable norms, in which eco-friendly credentials are much more than a ‘nice to have’ or a tick in a box, but truly good for business.

I’ve no doubt that those eye-watering energy bills have catalysed many enterprises’ efforts to implement renewable alternatives, but in our own sector, plenty have already realised that it actually pays to be green, and are comfortably ahead of the curve.

In the past month alone, we shared reports from HSL, which was certified carbon-neutral three years ahead of its target, Leekes, whose £1.4m investment in solar energy will enable it to be up to 45% self sufficient from this spring, and Barker and Stonehouse, which managed to cut energy costs by -35% through a raft of initiatives.

On the supply side, award roll-calls from Furniture News and the BFM highlighted the groundbreaking work being done by the likes of Westbridge and Jay-Be, while much of the UK upholstery sector paid little mind to new anti-dumping legislation – having already cleaned up its act some 10 years ago.

Yes, the green angle is eminently ripe for PR spin. But that doesn’t detract from these businesses’ choice to sit down and take a long, hard look at their running costs, decide that ecofriendly is the way forward, and put in the graft to join that journey.

This month, we’re getting back to nature ourselves, with a cover story focused on Forte’s sustainable journey (p10), and a feature dedicated to sustainable success stories, led by a discussion around the challenges and opportunities of recycling and reuse (from p24). You’ll read some pretty alarming statistics about the amount of furniture that goes into landfill, which may give you some idea of how much incoming disposal legislation could cost the unwary … perhaps, suggest the specialists, it’s time to get ahead of these rising costs, and do the world some good in the meantime?

The seeds of the green movement were planted long ago. The more they’re nurtured nurture them, the sooner we’ll reap the harvest – our conscience all the cleaner for it.

Elsewhere in this month’s issue we meet Bed Kingdom’s Levon Hall (p18), get personal with Swyft’s Keiran Hewkin (p20) and discover Dreams’ customer-first strategy courtesy of CCO Paul Solly (p14), while Furniture Today’s Bill McLoughlin shares his thoughts on broadening attitudes to customer service (p49).

Whether you’re seeking new business directions or an entertaining read with your morning coffee, look no further …

Paul Farley

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6 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Forte 14 Dreams 18 Bed Kingdom 20 Getting personal 22 EVENTS 22 CIFF Guangzhou 24 PRODUCTS 24 Eco conscious 36 Dining 38 Living 40 Bedroom 42 OPINION 42 The retail rent picture 44 Contract cancellation terminology 46 When cyber hacking is healthy 49 Partner comment 50 Feedback Contents
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ECO CONSCIOUS DINING LIVING BEDROOM BACK TO LIFE Getting ahead of the circular economy curve Dreams’ CCO on putting the customer rst Bed Kingdom’s crowning achievements TOP FORTE Maria Florczuk’s sustainable strategy #401 February 2023 www.furniturenews.net FN401_Pages.indd GENERAL INFORMATION No part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific prior written agreement of the Publisher and may not be stored on any type of retrieval system. Furniture News/ Gearing Media Group Ltd accepts no responsibility for variations in colour reproduction. Special colours (Pantone etc) can be catered for with prior arrangement. Some elements of the editorial content in this publication are submitted by the trade, however, all efforts are made to ensure that the editorial remains true to fact and unbiased. Monies may have been accepted to offset the costs of colour reproduction. Gearing Media Group Ltd reserves the right to alter without prior notice any content other than customers’ advertisements. No correspondence will be entered into regarding altered or adjusted editorial content. The editor’s decision is final. All material submitted for inclusion in Furniture News is done so entirely at the owner’s risk and no responsibility is accepted for the safekeeping or return thereof. Advertiser information is reproduced in good faith and Gearing Media Group accepts no responsibility in respect of adverts appearing in the magazine, and the magazines expressed do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s views. The Publisher accepts no liability for any loss arising from an advertisement’s late or non-appearance.
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M&S accelerates store-opening pipeline

M&S has announced a £480m investment in “bigger, better stores” across the UK in a move that is set to generate over 3400 new jobs and create a “fit-for-thefuture M&S store estate and a seamless experience for customers”. M&S plans to accelerate its five-year store rotation programme, targeting delivery within three years. The retailer has identified a pipeline of 20 new stores to be opened in the next financial year.

CEO Stuart Machin comments: “Stores are a core part of M&S’ omnichannel future and serve as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today. Our store rotation programme is about making sure we have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space, and we’re aiming to rotate from the 247 stores we have today to 180 higherquality, higher-productivity full-line stores that sell our full clothing, home and food offer, while also opening over 100 bigger, better food sites.

“The performance of our recently relocated and renewed stores give us the confidence to go faster in our plan. Our investment in stores not only delivers a better experience for customers and colleagues, it boosts local communities with new job creation and will help us deliver a more sustainable estate in every sense.”

The plan includes eight full-line destination stores in key city locations, including a new 97,000ft2 store in Leeds White Rose and a 70,000ft2 store in Liverpool ONE, both due to open this summer. Later in the year other major stores will open, including a 65,000ft2 store in Birmingham Bullring this autumn, a 96,000ft2 store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, and a 98,000ft2 store in Lakeside Thurrock (both set to open this winter). The programme is underpinned by substantial investment in new digital services.

M&S sustained trading momentum through the peak quarter, with both Food and Clothing & Home (up +8.8% in Q3, and up +8.6% on a LFL basis) delivering strong growth. Clothing & Home achieved over 10% market share, its highest level since 2015.

Sofamaker explores factory consolidation

TCM Living is exploring a strategic proposal to transfer its AMU and Alexander & James production activity from the East Midlands – which includes the production unit in Sutton-in-Ashfield and its wood mill in Alfreton – to Dudley.

The company says the proposed consolidation of the locations of the operational sites “would ensure the brands are best positioned for sustainable and long-term growth, delivering a consistent service proposition for customers across the group”.

The business entered a consultation period with staff in the East Midlands sites late last month. All

other TCM Living subsidiaries are unaffected, and “it remains business as usual”, notes a company statement.

CEO Jonathan Fearn comments: “As a group, we must always ensure we are operating optimally across all our businesses, to deliver a top-class proposition to our customers within this competitive marketplace. The proposal to consolidate follows extensive consideration. We are liaising closely with impacted colleagues as we progress this necessary future-proofing step, positioning all our brands for sustainable growth.”

HSL achieves carbon-neutral certification

Manufacturer and retailer HSL has achieved carbonneutral certification from the Carbon Trust, having pledged to decrease its impact on the environment by reducing its carbon footprint and become a carbonneutral organisation by 2025.

The business reached this milestone three years ahead of target, with the support of the Carbon Trust. HSL has implemented a range of initiatives across the business, including replacing lighting across all its showrooms with LED alternatives by the end of 2023, and recruiting an environment and sustainability manager to lead the delivery and execution of Mission Zero, its environmental strategy.HSL has also purchased new company cars to replace legacy vehicles with either fully electric or plug-in hybrid alternatives.

The business says conversations with third-party

partners to increase the proportion of renewable materials within its furniture ranges are ongoing. Since achieving carbon-neutral certification, HSL has set out several additional measures that have been or will be implemented in 2023 and beyond, including packaging reuse in its logistics operations.

CEO Guy Critchlow comments: “I am immensely proud to be leading a business dedicated and committed to driving positive change, and here at HSL we will continue to seek opportunities to reduce the company’s carbon emissions, both in our operations and throughout our supply chain. We know that we must continue to make purposeful changes to not only our supply chains, but to every aspect of the business, to make a significant difference. We look forward to continuing this journey throughout 2023 and beyond with great gusto.”

ScS opened two new stores on Boxing Day, one in York at the Clifton Moor Retail Park, and a second in Swindon at the Bridgemead Retail Park. The former is ScS’ first collaboration with Bensons, with both retailers trading from the same unit

The British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) has launched a new membership category for furniture retailers, to recognise companies committed to selling and promoting Britishmade goods

Leekes Retail & Leisure Group is making a £1.4m investment in solar energy acrossthe business, which will see over 1.9 million kWh/year of energy generated, allowing sites to be up to 45% self-sufficient

DFS reported a good start to the winter sale trading period, with group order intake for the 26 weeks to 25th December up +10.6% compared to the prepandemic FY19 period (but down -4.8% against FY22)

Apex Joinery, part of The First Interiors Group, has appointed Wayne Hines as joinery manager, and Ben Stiff as workshop manager

Dunelm has reported a strong performance in its financial Q2, with sales of £478m (up +18% YoY and +48% higher than FY20), driven by strong growth in stores and online

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imm cologne will return to its established timeline following this year’s June edition, and is set to run from 14-18th January next year

Vispring has announced the retirement of MD Jim Gerety and operations director Chris Harrison

The National Bed Federation (NBF) is calling on bed manufacturers and retailers to support National Bed Month in March by utilising its free multimedia toolkit

Indian Ocean MD Jamie Hobbs has stepped down after 33 years at the helm of the luxury outdoor furniture supplier. David Mahony has been appointed commercial director, to manage all commercial and operational aspects

No44 Furniture & Fine Things, an established Cobham retailer, ceased trading at the end of 2022, after operating for 56 years, leaving owner Paul Robertson to concentrate on “other business interests”

The Cotswold Company has appointed new management including Jim Sharp as chairman, Matt Pollington as CMO, and Mike Ellis as director of merchandising

Loaf has confirmed that its largest showroom to date (9100ft2) – and its first in Scotland – will open on Straiton Retail Park, Edinburgh, on 9th February

The Furniture Awards 2023 winners revealed

The winners of The Furniture Awards 2023, delivered by Furniture News in partnership with the January Furniture Show, were revealed at the event’s exhibitor party last month.

Each year, the awards set out to identify the show’s most inspiring suppliers, says the awards’ co-ordinator, Paul Farley: “It’s great to see so many examples of businesses that are not just surviving, but thriving.”

The show’s exhibitors were invited to make their case in one of five categories: Sustainability; Best of British; Design Innovation; Global Player; and a new bracket, Superior Service. The entrants were shortlisted and assessed by a judging panel chaired by Paul, and comprising: Malcolm Walker (the owner of consultancy FIRST MW); Suzy McMahon (CCO of Oak Furnitureland); Sheetal Sachdev (founder of

interiors network Treniq); and Andy Stockwell (the senior retail manager of homewares retailer Gardiner Haskins).

This year’s winners are: Westbridge Furniture Designs (Sustainability); GNG Group (Best of British); Citibed (Design Innovation); Wiemann (Global Player); and Sci-Net (Superior Service).

“Well done to this year’s very deserving winners,” concludes Paul, “and to the finalists, and the businesses which were highly commended by the judges in each category: in Sustainability, Think Rugs; in Best of British, RH45; in Design Innovation, Gallery Direct; in Global Player, Tomasella; and in Superior Service, Iconography.”

Next month’s issue will feature a detailed round-up of the awards programme.

Reshaped board means new MD for Furniture Village

Furniture Village has made several senior appointments from within, following an exit deal from external shareholders which enabled it to become 100% family owned.

Founder Peter Harrison comments: “Internal promotions may be typical in family businesses, but less common in those with around 1200 employees, 55 stores, 17 fulfilment centres and an annual turnover of circa £400m. It is only possible because we have an exceptionally skilled and well-qualified team.”

The key role changes are: Peter Harrison has taken on the position of executive chairman, continuing to play a full-time role in both the strategic and operational activities of the business; Peter’s son, Charlie Harrison, has taken on the position of MD, after over 20 years’ service across several areas of the

business, and is tasked with overseeing all day-to-day operations;

Nick Hipkiss, who held several key operational roles within the business and was previously HR director, has also taken over responsibility for retail, and now holds the main board position of commercial director; Eamon Wynne, previously FD looking after general operations, has been appointed CFO; Mike Broughton remains on the board as CIO, leading business development and systems improvements;

Claudia Cooper has been appointed to the main board as multi-channel director; David Ayers, who joined Furniture Village just over a year ago, has been appointed to the board as operations director, taking responsibility for both fulfilment and customer care; and Stephen Sing has been appointed director of customer experience.

Wayfair announces further downsizing measures

Wayfair has announced additional details related to “right-sizing” its cost structure, as well as continued strong business performance since the Cyber Five period.

Totalling more than $1.4b in annualised cost actions, Wayfair’s plan – initiated last August – is well under way, and is expected to accelerate the company’s timeline for adjusted EBITDA breakeven to earlier in 2023 as the first step towards positive free cash flow.

As a part of this effort, Wayfair has announced a reduction of approximately 1750 employees, representing 10% of its global workforce as of December 31st, 2022. This includes approximately 1200 or 18% of corporate employees. Wayfair says these changes reflect efforts to “eliminate management layers and reorganise to be more agile”.

Inclusive of its August 2022 restructuring, the labour portion of the plan represents approximately $750m in annualised cost savings, with the major steps necessary to realise these savings now complete.

“Although difficult, these are important decisions to get back to our 20-year roots as a focused, lean company premised on high ambitions and great execution,” says Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder, and co-chairman, Wayfair. “The changes announced strengthen our future without reducing our total addressable market, our strategic objectives, or our ability to deliver them over time. In hindsight, similar to our technology peers, we scaled our spend too quickly over the last few years.”

In December, Wayfair’s YoY gross revenue trends experienced a further improvement compared to the month of November, adds Niraj.

NEWS 7 READ MORE ONLINE AT WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET

Sales grow yet profits decline at IKEA UK

IKEA UK has announced total sales of £2.2b for the year ending 31st August 2022, which marks doubledigit sales growth of +13% YoY. However, in line with rising costs, operating profits fell to £49.6m (from £61.2m in FY21).

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer, IKEA UK (pictured), says: “We saw consumers returning to our stores while online sales remained strong, with high demand for a convenient shopping experience. To meet these needs, we opened our first small store on the high street [in Hammersmith, West London], created new ways to meet customers remotely and in-store, and launched new ways to deliver orders.”

IKEA UK’s total online sales grew to 36% of the business’ total, compared to 19% in FY2019. However, store visits also increased by +34% YoY. IKEA invested nearly £50m in its fulfilment network, and announced the opening of a store on Oxford Street, London, plus new Plan & Order Points in the North West.

Major global and economic issues continued to impact material and transport costs, and IKEA UK’s operating margins fell to 2.3%, from 3.1% in 2021. Peter adds: “In the face of these changes, our longterm vision to create a better everyday life for the many people was our guiding compass for short- and long-term decisionmaking, and our results reveal the positive impact of this approach with healthy financial results representing our financial stability and resilience amidst great change.”

ScS acquires sofa-in-a-box brand

ScS has acquired the brand, domain names, website, intellectual property and stock of Snugsofa.com (Snug) from the administrator of Snug Shack for consideration of £875,000.

Snug, a digital-first sofa and sofabed business specialising in modular and re-configurable sofas, was founded by Robert and Peter Bridgman in 2018 as one of Europe’s first sofa-in-a-box concepts, and has grown to become one of the largest retailers in this segment. Although predominantly online, Snug also operates from one store in Leeds.

ScS CEO Steve Carson comments: “Snug is an exciting and young business with great potential. It has a strong and recognisable brand, a differentiated product and targets a market that complements our proposition.

“In that regard, it presents us with an exciting

opportunity to further increase market share. We therefore, view it as a great strategic and cultural fit which reinforces our commitment to helping our customers create the home they love.”

ScS envisages adding Snug concessions to its stores, while the brand’s differentiated, digitalfirst offering is set to complement ScS’ existing proposition. Snug’s innovative approach to social engagement and digital marketing will be an asset to the wider ScS business, while Snug will benefit from the group’s expertise, supplier relationships and scale, says ScS.

A team from Evelyn Partners completed the sale, and says that in the 2021 financial year the brand recorded revenues in excess of £30m.

Snug’s 53 members of staff will join the group as part of the acquisition.

Ekornes to downsize global operation

Ekornes QM Holding, the owner of the Stressless brand, says it plans to “adapt production capacity and protect profitability to stay competitive” by downsizing its operations in Norway and Asia, and implementing further measures to manage cost and margin development.

With demand returning to pre-pandemic levels, combined with a general slowdown in the global economy and cost inflation putting pressure on margins (particularly in raw materials and transport), group earnings were negatively affected in Q4 2022.

“The market environment is changing and Ekornes must adapt production capacity and protect profitability to stay competitive,” says interim CEO Fredrik Ødegård Nilsen.

Ekornes thus plans to bring the scale of the organisation back to pre-pandemic levels. Operations

in Norway will be downsized by up to 150 full time equivalents (FTEs), building on the reduction in operational capacity of 80 FTEs implemented in September. Moreover, support functions and headquarters will be downsized by up to 40 FTEs.

In the Asia Pacific region, Ekornes will concentrate operations in Thailand, discontinue activities in Vietnam, and reduce the workforce by approximately 700 FTEs. Ekornes has made substantial investments in the production facility in Thailand to enable the concentration of all Asian operations at one location.

Ekornes says: “The group views resilience and flexibility as key to ensure sustainable operations and long-term competitiveness. The effects of rightsizing operations in Norway, reorganising activities in Asia and the other initiatives are expected to materialise from the second half of 2023.”

Julian Bowen has appointed sales professional Jason Hillier to cover sales in London and the South East

Roseland Furniture has relaunched its web platform in collaboration with ecommerce specialist UWP (Underwaterpistol)

Minerva Furniture Group has appointed Jim Orr (ex-Furniture Village, Achica, Dreams) as CEO

Sleep Design Ltd (TA Crazy Price Beds) has been sold to portfolio businesses of Baaj Capital LLP, after the former went into administration in November. The sale saw its sites continue to operate, and all jobs secured

Funky Chunky Furniture has been certified to FSC standards (FSC-C177532) for its timber use

Hyve Group has announced the promotion of Alejandra Campos to event director of Spring and Autumn Fair. She will focus on Autumn Fair and Moda

The BFM’s latest wages survey highlights that the majority (69%) of member manufacturers have budgeted for pay awards this year, despite rising costs, with more than half planning to offer more than +4%

Next says full-price sales in the nine weeks to 30th December were up +4.8% YoY (some £66m better than the retailer’s previous guidance of -2% for the period). Both online and in-store sales exceeded expectations (the latter up +12.5% in Q4)

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Nature and nurture

Having long outgrown its native Poland, this month’s cover star, Forte, enjoys an increasingly assured foothold in the UK marketplace, delivering stylish self-assembly collections tailored to local tastes. This month, Furniture News meets Maria Florczuk – a member of Forte’s management board, and the daughter of Forte’s CEO, Maciej Formanowicz – who shares her experiences of growing up in the family business, overcoming recent challenges, and setting new standards in environmental and ethical practice …

What does your role entail? How has it changed over the years?

I started working at Forte in 2005, although it sometimes seems to me that I’ve been there since my childhood! I grew up in a house where Forte was present almost 24 hours a day, where it was born, and where it grew, and where I learned step by step how the company works. I got to know the industry and business naturally, during conversations with my father, and accompanying him on business trips.

Within the company (officially) I started by building the supply chain in Asia, and in the following years I was responsible for the purchase of direct production materials, then for the development and implementation of Forte’s purchasing strategy, the management of its central purchasing policy, and the optimisation of our raw material supply chain investments. In May 2014, I joined Forte’s management board.

What part of your job do you most enjoy?

Business is created by people, for people. Creative, open conversations with clients, suppliers and the team, during which we develop constructive solutions and ideas for further joint development, are my favourite element of my work.

What’s the most challenging area of your work right now?

The past few years have been very demanding. First Covid, then the war, which, apart from a lot of unnecessary suffering, also brought a number of economic challenges, including inflation, decline in demand and an unprecedented increase in the cost of basic raw materials. Through this accumulation of negative factors affecting the furniture industry, a key challenge is the efficient management of uncertainty.

From an operations perspective, would you say your processes have improved thanks to Covid-19?

The pandemic surprised everyone and turned our lives upside down, but at the same time it was a test of corporate responsibility. At Forte, we passed this exam – mainly thanks to the commitment, understanding and co-operation of the entire team. We took care of many things and processes, efficiently switched to remote work, and introduced a number of rules and procedures regarding health and safety during meetings, receipt of goods and moving around the production and warehouse halls. When the environment changed again, we didn’t stop production, and that pandemic experience is now really paying off.

What challenges does the ongoing conflict in Ukraine present?

It is difficult to estimate the effects of the war. Today, like most companies, we are facing a huge increase in energy and material prices, while soaring inflation and growing social unrest create a drop in demand for furniture.

Does the scale of your business create any benefits that your competitors cannot boast?

Our unquestionable advantage is the access to our own raw material, thanks to our own chipboard factory. It is a very modern investment, with many environmentally friendly solutions.

Thanks to our presence in over 45 countries, we have a very well-developed logistics network, which allows us to flexibly adjust to suit various customer needs.Another advantage is our stable, repeatable and coninuously improved processes around quality, safety, environmental compatibility and the legality of obtaining raw materials, which are confirmed by our ISO, ICS and FSC certifications, and the positive result of our SMETA audit.

Forte’s efforts in the field of sustainability have been well publicised – can you share a summary of the current highlights of your strategy?

Our mission is to create better homes, and that is why all our activities can be summed up in three main ideas – designed for people, designed for planet, and designed for partners. We produce furniture which is safe, functional and well designed, for different consumer needs.

The production of high-quality furniture, safe for both users and the planet, has always been the focus of our attention. That is why we care about the product at every stage of its creation, starting from the selection of raw materials and components, to material control, through design and production (in accordance with the requirements of European safety standards) and daily quality monitoring, to delivery to the customer.

We have our own laboratories that confirm the quality and standards required by different markets. We also pay a lot of attention to reducing electricity consumption as much as possible when manufacturing furniture. To this end, we develop energy-saving technologies and invest in machines and devices with low energy consumption and long lives – and we invest in energy from renewable sources. With a view to preserving natural resources,

“The production of high-quality furniture, safe for both users and the planet, has always been the focus of our attention
›› INSIGHT 11
Calasetta Maria Florczuk

we implement solutions in accordance with the concept of the circular economy. Currently, our focus is mainly on closed-loop processes for woodwaste, in which waste generated is treated as a raw material in subsequent production stages. Today, 95% of that woodwaste is put back into the process.

We attach great importance to controlling the legality of the origin of the wood raw material we use in production, and we use only that from proven sources.

Forte’s commitment to sustainable development is also visible in the social area. We support the local communities, building a diverse and inclusive workplace, where our employees can develop to unleash their full potential. We are pleased with the positive ratings we’ve received from social audits –in two of them, carried out in accordance with the international standards of SMETA and ICS at the end of 2021, covering working conditions, occupational health and safety, business ethics and ecology, we received excellent results. At Forte, we apply the best practices in accordance with the international code of ethical conduct (the ETI Base Code).

Do you think it’s important to convey Forte’s eco credentials to the consumer – or is ‘being green’ just something that should be taken for granted? At Forte, it has always been important to us to create value in the long term and to perceive it not only in financial terms, but also in environmental and social terms. This way of thinking has been with us for many years, although we’ve not always spoken about it out loud.

In business relations, sustainable development is – and will become increasingly – important, also due to the legislation that will support such a direction. Already today, for example, obtaining financing is sometimes dependent on proven activities supporting ESG goals. When it comes to consumers, awareness of sustainability is growing. The research we conducted among consumers in Poland and Germany showed that over 30% of consumers pay attention to sustainability issues when choosing furniture. This percentage will certainly increase over the coming years.

Do any ranges epitomise Forte’s green directions?

All our furniture is designed and manufactured in a sustainable way. Our teams make sure that, from conception until production and shipment, our products are designed in an eco-friendly way. One of the collections that reflects our ‘green’ direction is Polypody, launched in 2022. We designed that primarily for people who like to surround themselves with plants. Polypody furniture, in addition to its basic functions – a chest of drawers, bookcase, desk or table – allows you to display potted plants without having to buy additional stands.They have a special place, a recess, made of a special material, for inserting pots with flowers or herbs. We also ensured friendly packaging, removing plastic elements and fillings. The packaging is 100% recyclable.

Still on the topic of CSR, is the way Forte treats its staff evolving at all?

I believe that a company is people, not just a place of work. It is a team of people who trust and respect each other and speak the language of shared values. For many years at Forte, we’ve been making sure that this is the case. Working to shape a friendly and safe workplace is a process covering a number of areas, ranging from working conditions and atmosphere, to skills development opportunities. We want to create an ambitious, customer-focused and energetic team, and we want every employee to feel well, safe, have a sense of agency and their professional needs fulfilled. Among the benefits offered to employees are bilingual company nurseries, the offer of education and qualifications at the Forte Academy, preventive health care, co-financing for recreation, and support for sports activities. Diversity and equal opportunities for our employees – regardless of gender or nationality, both at the level of available positions and salary – is also very important to us.

How does your performance in the UK measure up against your other markets?

The UK accounts for a relatively small share today, but it is growing steadily. This market is very important for us, and we want to develop here, creating strong partnerships that bring measurable benefits to both parties, and an offer that best meets customers’ expectations, for delivery both in-store and online. We participate in key interior design fairs, and for many years we’ve had our own sales office in the UK which supports local sellers. We talk to our customers, and study their needs and preferences, as well as looking into the market’s latest trends in interior and furniture designs. Thanks to this, we can create an offer tailored to the market’s specific needs.

Finally, where do you see the business going in 3, 10, and 50 years’ time?

We see ourselves as a leader of sustainable transformation, present worldwide, and staying true to our ‘Create Better Homes’ mission with a superb team of passionate people.

www.company.forte.com.pl/en/

“Having access to raw material from our own chipboard factory is an unquestionable advantage
12 INSIGHT
Polypody is perhaps Forte’s ‘greenest’ collection to date

Dreams of tomorrow

Dreams’ CCO Paul Solly joined the business in April last year, having worked in the retail sector for over 30 years – including as CCO at The Fragrance Shop, trading director at Matalan, category director of home and furniture at Tesco, and in various in-store and in merchandising roles at Marks & Spencer. Here, Paul reveals why he’s happy to get back to beds, how he gets a good night’s sleep, and the strategies he hopes will deliver even greater market share in the year ahead …

How does Dreams differ from your previous appointments?

I’ve worked with several of the country’s leading retailers over the course of my career. Whilst all have a strong focus on the customer, Dreams really stands out in putting the customer first – over and above everything else.

We know that buying a bed is a significant investment and that it can be both a stressful and difficult decision for our customers. That’s why our colleagues want to instil confidence in our customers throughout every part of their journey with Dreams, from product selection right through to delivery. In order to ensure the highest quality service, we have also built KPIs into every touchpoint, ensuring that we can hold ourselves to account and provide our customers with an exemplary experience.

Has anything about the bed sector surprised you since you joined the business?

I first gained experience working with beds during my time in the home and furniture departments of both Tesco and Marks & Spencer. This was one of my favourite departments to work in, so I was thrilled to return to the sector full-time when I joined Dreams last year.

Over the years, it has become clear to me that those working in beds are some of the most knowledgeable around – both about the product, and sleep more generally. They are also passionate about beds, with every single Dreams colleague determined to help make buying a bed as simple and straightforward as possible for the customer.

How would you summarise demand for beds/mattresses in relation to other bigticket purchases right now? Where are the opportunities?

A good night’s sleep will be important to everyone, so there will always be a demand for beds and mattresses. Our recent Sleep Study also revealed that people are increasingly using their beds for so much more than just sleep – from watching TV to online shopping and gaming, too – so this demand shows no sign of going away.

In order to maintain our reputation as the UK’s most-loved bed retailer, we’re continually responding to new consumer behaviours and trends. Most recently, for example, we launched the UK’s firstever king-size gaming bed, The Drift. With over 40 million gamers in the UK, and more choosing to enjoy gaming from the comfort of their bed, it made total sense to us that a gaming bed should feature in our portfolio, adding to the existing range of products to suit different price points and lifestyles. And giving customers what they want pays off – The Drift outperformed sales estimates by +100% in the first three weeks of sales.

As the bed market continues to grow, our priority at Dreams is to ensure that we’re providing the right mattresses for our customers, maintaining product quality and customer service, as well as providing affordable value.

Can you suggest any approaches from retailers outside of the bed sector that you’d like to see Dreams incorporate? Which do you look up to? Apple takes an innovative, forward-looking approach to retail. Like Dreams, it is known for providing excellent customer service, with its colleagues consistently asking questions to ensure they can provide the right products for their customers’ needs.

Apple also provides customers with a seamless journey, both online and in-store. Knowing that customers prefer the speed at which they can purchase an item online, Apple responded and equipped all of its in-store colleagues with mobile PoS, allowing them to process a sale there and then without having to send the customer to queue at a till.

At Dreams, we know too that a quick and immediate buying process is an ever-growing priority for customers. We’re therefore upgrading our PoS as part of every store refit. With 40 planned over the next 12 months, this will help to provide customers with a more private and personal purchase experience.

What do you feel Dreams does better than any other bed retailer?

Dreams’ passionate and relentless focus on the customer is the key to our success. We are a business that is run on customer insight. Thanks to our customer feedback process, Pillow Talk, we can evaluate every customer experience. To date, we have collected one million customer surveys, and we utilise this data to drive improvements in the end-to-end customer experience.

Our unique Sleep Match technology also sets us apart. When customers visit us in-store, Sleep Match can help to identify exactly the right type of mattress for them in under three minutes. We built Sleep Match to simply equip customers with the right information to put them in control of their purchase and feel confident about their decision.

What in-store changes are making a difference?

Dreams’ stores continue to be a big focus for the year ahead. In 2022 we updated 40 of our stores to help improve the in-store experience, and we’ve committed to updating a further 40 over the next 12 months.

We also continuously invest in our colleagues’

››
Dreams’ factory in Oldbury will benefit from new machinery this year
INSIGHT 15
“Dreams really stands out in putting the customer over and above everything else

training, which ensures that buying a bed from Dreams is as easy and stress-free as possible.

Alongside this is, of course, Sleep Match, which we launched in 2019. Since then it’s helped millions of customers to find the right mattress for them, and we’re continuing to refine the technology.

… and what about Dreams’ online activities?

The Dreams website is often our first touchpoint with a customer, with over half of our eventual in-store customers starting their journey online. Our website provides customers with the right product and store information – a crucial part in their buying process. Our website is also a source of information for customers after they’ve purchased their bed. Our Sleep Matters Club is full of sleep-related articles and expert advice to help customers get the most out of their product, and ultimately get a good night’s sleep. We’re continually testing it to ensure it’s providing customers with a frictionless journey and contributing to successful conversions.

What’s the long-term plan for Feather & Black? How does it sit within the wider Dreams offer?

We are really excited about the growth plan we have for the Feather & Black business. It was acquired by Dreams in 2020, joining the family of brands as a high-end, stylish offer, and ultimately complementing Dreams’ extensive product range. This year, we are extending the range of products, and will be looking for new routes to market.

Can you reveal any plans to onboard any other new retail or manufacturer brands?

There are currently no plans to onboard any other retail brands at Dreams. We continuously review our manufacturers based on customer demand and new products being offered in the market.

Has Tempur Sealy’s acquisition reshaped the business at all? Does it mean different product directions, perhaps, or fresh opportunities from the parent company?

Tempur Sealy has been a great support to Dreams since the acquisition. Though we have continued to operate as an independent business unit within the broader Tempur Sealy organisation, we have been able to exchange learnings and leverage our individual core competencies to our mutual benefit.

What’s the biggest difference in the retail marketplace today compared to pre-pandemic times, and what does it mean for Dreams?

The biggest difference is obviously declining footfall, as customers got used to shopping online during the pandemic. Whether Dreams customers decide to shop with us in-store or online, every one of them counts, and our colleagues are always on hand to provide expert advice. However, it’s likely that we could see the return of the high street and more customers choosing to shop in-store. Whilst online will continue to grow, the physical store will see a resurgence as many people start to establish new

working and shopping habits, post-pandemic.

The other difference we’ve found is the role that the bed plays in customers’ lives. Over the course of the pandemic, beds were being used for more than just sleep, with some customers incorporating their bed into their working-from-home setup! Innovation will therefore continue to be a priority for Dreams so that we can create new products that suit changing consumer habits.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the business – in the short and long term?

The cost of living crisis will continue to be front of mind for both customers and businesses –particularly so for big-ticket brands such as Dreams. The effect of the crisis is twofold – a huge uplift in the rising cost of running a business, alongside a potential reduction in customer demand.

However, a good night’s sleep is important to everyone, and there will always be a demand for beds and mattresses. No matter what the operating environment, Dreams’ determination to lead the market and to be the UK’s most-loved bed retailer will remain. We’ll achieve this by continuing to deliver an outstanding level of customer service to everyone who walks through our doors or visits our website. Our relentless and passionate focus on our customers makes our business what it is.

Is there anything else in the pipeline?

Dreams has a really exciting year ahead, with investment going into every part of the business. Starting with distribution, we’re investing in a new warehouse. This will be our biggest site to date, and will serve customers from all across the UK. We’ll be revealing more details on this soon.

Elsewhere, our factory in Oldbury will benefit from the latest new machinery, helping to drive efficiency and innovation.

We’re constantly investing in our colleagues and their development through training programmes, too. In 2022, thousands of hours of training were delivered to colleagues, and we’re looking to increase this even further in the year ahead as part of our people-first strategy.

We also recently introduced Workplace, our new internal communications platform, to enable our colleagues to be better connected and supported, as well as to inform everyone as to what’s going on in different parts of the business. It has received fantastic engagement so far, with the active user rate already surpassing our expectations.

Finally, what are your own personal bed preferences?

I’m currently sleeping on one of Dreams’ Flaxby 9450 mattresses, which is handmade in the UK by Harrison Spinks. It has a pillowtop for that extra bit of comfort, and is made with natural Egyptian cotton, which helps to keep you fresh and cool during the night – ideal for when we’re sharing a bed with our dog, Bentley!

www.dreams.co.uk

16 INSIGHT
“Those working in beds are some of the most knowledgeable around
2nd - 4th July 2023 The National Indoor Arena, Blanchardstown, Dublin www.ifhs-tradeshow.com BRINGING THE INDUSTRY UNDER ONE ROOF! Ireland’s largest trade only furniture and homewares show

The rise and rise of Bed Kingdom

Bed Kingdom, a university projectturned-business founded by 35-yearold Ashley Hainsworth in 2011, is a Yorkshire-based ecommerce business with an ambitious outlook, specialising in children’s beds as part of a broad bedroom furniture offer. Here, together with marketing director Levon Hall, Ashley explains what’s in the pipeline …

Having significantly outgrown its initial £400 investment, Bed Kingdom is now a £15m success story, says Ashley, who describes how a unique range of specially designed products – coupled with a clever structural shift during the pandemic – meant the business went from strength to strength in the last few years, most recently recording a +50% leap in YoY revenue.

The business’ founder now appears to be on track to meet his ambition of a £20m turnover before the end of 2023 – up from just £2m five years ago.

Bed Kingdom boasts some 12,000 SKUs, and has seen website traffic triple since the beginning of 2022, thanks to “a commitment to driving business through the pandemic and out of the other side”, says Ashley, warming to the theme. “Through dynamic management, we maintained consistent supply over a period when our competitors struggled – and we still continue to fulfil our promise to our customers of a

next-day direct home delivery service.”

The growth is enabling Bed Kingdown to invest in people, both through recruitment and professional development. Over the last 12 months, the company has tripled its number of employees to 30, across all facets of the business – and new internal promotions and staff hires are giving the business the ability to develop previously unexplored avenues.

People power

One of these has been to enhance the business’ marketing function, with the rise of apprenticeturned-marketing director, Levon Hall, who works to continually improve the website and the customer journey it offers.

The business’ PPC budget (a key element of its upward trajectory) has doubled over the last year, while its SEO contribution has quadrupled, in order to make the site much more visible.This marketing focus has been enhanced by external PR support to boost the business’ standing within the local and national markets.

Despite all this ambition, like many other sectors, Bed Kingdom is finding that effective recruitment takes a good deal of time and effort to find the right people for the right roles. “The biggest challenge we currently face is that there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we need,” Levon explains. “As we take on more channels and approaches, it’s important to employ the staff needed to manage these elements – but it’s not always easy to find the right people for the job. Of course, we’re pursuing these new opportunities as rapidly as possible with our current team.”

A new focus

Levon describes a typical working day starting in the warehouse at 5am, then going to attend calls with clients, and managing communication with suppliers

Interstellar bunk bed
“There’s more opportunity in online business than ever
18 INSIGHT
Levon Hall

throughout the day. “You can sometimes feel as though you’re pulled in all directions,” he says of his role, “but if you can focus on prioritising the important things, and the things only you can do, the rest can be delegated to a capable team, and everyone can pull their weight to make things work.

“We’ve found recently that there’s more opportunity in online business than ever – our post-Covid showroom footfall has not increased in line with the online business like we had originally expected. We believe the customer is now much more used to buying online, and this extends to being comfortable buying furniture online – they no longer seem to have the same need to see things in person.”

The recent launch of more expansive ranges of beds and bedroom accessories highlights one of the company’s new directions. These include the introduction of the FSC-certified Noomi brand, a sustainable, affordable and eco-friendly line of beds “for those interested in greener alternatives”.

“Just 12 months after it launched [in October 2021], Noomi was already responsible for 30% of our sales,” says Levon.

Off the back of this success, plans for the future will see Bed Kingdom expanding sideways into new, untapped categories such as occasional furniture, he adds, with accessible pricing still a priority: “Bed Kingdom proudly maintains a wide price range – now

more than ever, as families and individuals are faced with the cost of living crisis. We proudly provide multiple payment options, including 0% finance, putting the care of our customers first.”

Bed Kingdom is looking forward to a prosperous year, fueled by innovation, Levon concludes. The brand’s tagline – ‘Bring your bedroom to life’ – has never been more appropriate.

www.bedkingdom.co.uk

Cosmic high sleeper Noomi
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Nora cabin bed

GETTING PERSONAL Keiran Hewkin

After working with Lombok and The Sofa & Chair Company, Keiran cofounded sofa-in-a-box brand Swyft with Paul Fielden in 2019. The timely delivery of their high-quality, fussfree, self-assembled seating system proved invaluable for consumers seeking a convenient pandemic purchase, catalysing the business’ growth and diversification.

How might a child describe what you do?

My eldest son would say “grumpy and sofa sofa sofa” (not sure about the grumpy part, but the sofa part is pretty accurate).

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face? Staying relevant. Things move quickly, and trends are changing faster than ever. What you do today is not good enough for tomorrow.

If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on? Automation, and accelerating our transition to more sustainable energy use and materials.

What would be the title of your autobiography? All in.

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

Probably that there is no point to either without the other. I think work is an integral part of the human condition.

We really are designed to feel like we contribute and we can affect our immediate environment. But there is no point unless you enjoy it.

What’s been your best day in business to date? Doing this interview with Furniture News, obviously! Actually, probably the day Swyft signed John Lewis as our retail partner. That was a big deal.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

Two early managers of mine in equal measure –Bob Barney and Mike Miller, who gave me a shot at messing things up and made sure I did not fall too far when I did.

What advice would you give your younger self? You have a lot of time. You cannot rush experience.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry? That it is fragmented. In reality there are a few big players, and they are very influential.

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

Take longevity of our products and services seriously, design things to last and encourage upcycling and a circular economy.

We launched a buyback scheme last year. Our responsibility should not end just because the sofa is with our customers and they’ve bought it.

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

Online. I do not know anyone under 30 that shops in sheds for furniture. By 2030, 60% of the workforce will have been born after the advent of the internet.

www.swyfthome.com

“What you do today is not good enough for tomorrow
20 INSIGHT
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China is open for business, says CIFF

China is ready to welcome international visitors once again, and CIFF Guangzhou 2023 – taking place at the China Import and Export Fair Complex and PWTC EXPO in two phases, from 18th-21st and 28th31st March – is extending a warm, restriction-free welcome to global furniture buyers …

China’s entry restrictions have been lifted, and services resumed, so CIFF is preparing to welcome the global trade in person once again.

The 51st CIFF Guangzhou will take place in two phases, reorganised by product sector in a new exhibition concept and layout. The first phase, from 18th–21st March, will be dedicated to the living space, with the Home Furniture sector showcasing the latest products from leading Chinese and international companies.

Area B of the Canton Fair Complex will be dedicated to companies offering the OEM/ODM services and one-stop solutions required by international buyers, again underlining CIFF’s role as a link between manufacturers and global markets. Meanwhile, Homedecor & Hometextile will focus on new trends in interior decoration, alongside Outdoor Furniture, Sunshade and Leisure.

Office and Commercial Space, from 28th-31st March, will be the world’s largest trade fair dedicated to office, workplace systems and seating solutions, while CIFM/interzum Guangzhou 2023 will present furnituremaking technologies, machinery, materials, surfaces, and components.

Under the banner, ‘Design trend, global trade, entire supply chain’, CIFF aims to shine a light on China’s fast-developing domestic market and its ever-increasing export demands, through numerous design exhibitions, seminars and conferences, as well as B2B meetings and matchmaking activities, both at the fair and online.

CIFF is keen to reassure would-be visitors that China is very much open for business: “As of 8th January 2023, anyone arriving in China from abroad will be permitted entry without undergoing quarantine, following the recent updates to the country’s Covid-19 policy,” states the fair organiser. “Inbound passengers need only show a negative result from a molecular test carried out within 48 hours of departure, and fill out customs health declaration forms, rather than applying for health codes at Chinese embassies or consulates abroad.

“The molecular swab requirement upon arrival has also been lifted, and international passengers will not be subject to any restrictions during their stay in China, provided that their health declarations are normal and they show no symptoms of the disease during the routine health check at the airport. All control measures regarding the number of international flights and incoming passenger limits have also been lifted. Airlines will still continue their efforts to prevent infection, and passengers will be required to wear masks onboard.

“All the necessary support will be offered to facilitate travel to and attendance at CIFF – from issuing invitation letters for business visa applications to assistance with finding the best hotels, to hospitality perks such as hotel and restaurant vouchers, dedicated VIP services to ensure the smoothest and safest possible fair experience, and B2B meetings with exhibitors, both at the fair and at their factories, in order to make visiting CIFF Guangzhou 2023 more effective and profitable.”

www.ciff.furniture
22 EVENTS
“All the necessary support will be offered to facilitate travel to and attendance at CIFF

Waste not, want not

24
Photo courtesy iStock/avid_creative

The UK furniture industry is becoming increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of waste product – but what of its looming economic impact? As fresh legislation promises to catalyse the diversion of goods away from landfill and towards recycling and reuse, Furniture News asks the experts how businesses can get ahead of the circular economy curve …

25
Photo courtesy iStock/avid_creative

According to a 2018/19 report by The North London Waste Authority, 22 million pieces of furniture are discarded each year in the UK, the majority of which goes directly to landfill. Climate action NGO WRAP estimates this to be the annual fate of 670,000 tonnes of furniture – much of it reusable.

These are just two of the headlines atop a (literally) mounting environmental crisis, and while the data varies from source to source, the numbers are astronomical – especially given the nation’s dwindling capacity to dispose of such volumes. Sometimes it takes a glimpse of a sofa or mattress at the dump, or fly-tipped by the side of a road, to make one start to appreciate the sheer amount of space these goods might occupy in such numbers.

Government legislation is making headway to prevent the most egregious approaches – this year, a ban on the disposal of upholstery containing POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in general waste or landfill sites came into force, and extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for mattresses and cabinet furniture are not far off.

At the same time, new routes to recycling and reuse are emerging. Rather than awaiting the impact of such legislation, and driven by a passion to create change sooner rather than later, various specialists are working to deliver fresh, rewarding solutions, which complement the well-documented efforts of the trade’s more progressive manufacturers.

This month, Furniture News asked several of the industry’s experts to share their thoughts on the UK’s furniture disposal and reuse directions.

Nick Oettinger is the CEO of The Furniture Recycling (TFR) Group, a sustainable mattress recycling specialist whose stated aim is to divert 100% of mattresses from UK landfill. TFR Group works with businesses such as bed retailers and local authorities to recycle and repurpose mattress materials, creating a circular economy for mattresses and their component parts.

Tom Williams is the National Bed Federation’s (NBF) sustainability and circular economy lead. Notably, he looks after the NBF Pledge for Our Planet, which encourages the bed industry to become

even more sustainable. He spends much of his time helping members to implement the pledge’s requirements, guiding them towards more circular operating processes.

Paul Beckett is the director of Bye Bye Bed, which focuses on the manual deconstruction of mattresses, maximising their reuse potential rather than seeing them shredded. Paul’s experience in the fillings sector enables him to assess the individual components and grade them, with poor-condition materials diverted to re-processors, and the better ones used in the company’s own products (branded Reborn).

Paul says he’s focused on increasing the ‘real rate’ recovery from its current 14%, closing the circularity gap, creating a closed-loop recycling process and reducing the emissions, power and resource in the reprocessing of usable materials – while offering consumers a product at a reduced price, and without the environmental impact of a brand-new one made from virgin raw materials.

“Re-processors were already at a near-full capacity on many of the separated components,” says Paul. “Considering that there are currently over 7 million mattresses still going to landfill, and a ban on mattresses entering landfill is imminent, the mattress recycling industry would simply be forced into landfilling separated components, rather than the industry landfilling complete mattresses. This would inevitably force recyclers to either close, or to raise the traditional mattress recycling gate fee to cover the disposal cost.”

Finally there is Daniel Hague, the commercial director of ClearCycle, a ‘recommerce’ provider focused on furniture, mattresses and other largeitem categories, that works with some of the UK’s leading retailers to offer a tailored refurbishment and resale solution for problem stock (primarily consumer returns, overstock, and stock that may have failed QC checks).

We asked each member of the panel to share their take on the UK’s furniture waste problem, the implications of incoming legislation, and the challenges (and benefits) of better processes …

“Government legislation is making headway to prevent the most egregious approaches
26 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS
From left: Nick Oettinger, Tom Williams, Paul Beckett and Daniel Hague

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE UK'S FURNITURE WASTE PROBLEM?

Nick Oettinger: The UK’s furniture waste problem is substantial, with many household products ending up in landfill each year. More specifically, 8.5 million mattresses are thrown away per year, which equates to 300,000 tonnes of materials that we need to find a home for.

Tom Williams: According to our End of Life report, in 2020 approximately 6.4 million mattresses were disposed of, less than 25% of which were sent for recycling. Furniture and mattresses are always going to be an issue due to their nature as a bulky waste. Without practical, coherent collection and a disposal process in place, it does become a ‘problem’ waste. When you also factor in the existence of POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutant) in these items, it adds an extra layer of complexity to their disposal.

The movement towards better-designed products is happening, but this is a future solution, and it doesn’t solve the issue now.

Paul Beckett: There are 22 million pieces of furniture discarded each year, 7 million of which are mattresses.

The UK measures 2,610,198,835,200ft2. Should we just carry on filling it? What do we really think will happen if we do? What will happen when every square foot is full from our throwaway, ‘not our problem’ attitude?

Oakdene Hollins’ End Of Life Mattress Report [2020] highlights some staggering and shameful figures that none of us should be proud of. The thought of it being unlikely that we will not achieve a 75% diversion from landfill before 2028 is embarrassing. The fact that this includes mattresses that are shredded and waste materials sent for EfW makes it worse still, and the diabolical figure of a ‘real rate’ of materials recovered at only 14% should be an incentive enough for us all to do what is right, both morally and ethically.

The planet needs solutions, not problems. Creating a circular economy is just part of a longterm solution. It reduces the need to take materials from the earth to make products in the first place, decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.

The cost to ethically recycle a mattress is the issue. Based on an average landfill charge and an average weight of a mattress, it would cost approximately £3.25 to landfill a mattress. An average mattress recycling gate fee is approximately £5. Which would you choose if you were responsible for disposing of a large quantity each year and you didn’t have to consider the longer-term environmental effects?

Now, the answer isn’t to raise the price of landfilling – it is to reduce the cost to ethically recycle. But how can that be done when overheads are on the increase, when consumables are on the rise and therefore employees are in genuine need for more money?

Our world-first circular economy solution allows us to offset a recycling gate fee against the price of our sustainably manufactured end-product. The cost to recycle a mattress is absorbed and still offers the consumer a product that is, in many cases, far cheaper than one manufactured from virgin raw materials. It’s simply a win-win.

Daniel Hague: Did you know that online furniture sales attract a typical return rate of 11%? Too often, retailers dismiss these as of little to no value. They are treated as waste, with a significant amount of goods ending up in landfill.

Our mission at ClearCycle is not only to help retailers achieve the most value from these goods, but to find the most efficient way for this item to be reused – either by being refurbished and resold or donated to worthy causes. In certain cases, we do break down goods to component level to ensure maximum use – but this is always a last resort, given the significant level of resources required. Where possible, we always want to find pre-loved items their forever home.

“The thought of it being unlikely that we will not achieve a 75% diversion from landfill before 2028 is embarrassing
27
Discarded and retrieved mattresses are given a new lease of life at Bye Bed Bed

CAN YOU OUTLINE HOW NEW/INCOMING LEGISLATION IS SET TO CHANGE THE PICTURE?

Nick Oettinger: As it stands, there is no extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for furniture, however we are aware that it is something the Government is looking into (with mattresses initially and then wider furniture). This will ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account when designing products, ensuring that recycling and reproduction are at the forefront of the design stage.

Tom Williams: We anticipate that EPR will be introduced to cover our industry, so we are working to that end. Whilst we are unsure as to how this will look in reality, we are working to ensure that our members’ views are put across and that any scheme implemented works for everyone. We would rather lead in the development of a coherent system, than have it dictated to our members in a way that is impractical.

We also anticipate the potential for POPs legislation to be applied to mattresses too, but we hope that the issues currently facing the recently introduced legislation will be ironed out before it is extended.

Paul Beckett: There is not only a legal obligation but a moral obligation to ensure that a re-manufactured and recycled product is clean and hygienically safe. The effectiveness of the current BS 1425 Cleanliness of Fillings and Stuffings for Bedding, Upholstery and Other Domestic Articles is questionable to some degree, and was a major factor in our R&D before launching our sustainable manufacturing brand. Fortunately, our experience allowed us to find ways to go above and beyond the current legal obligations, and this gave us the confidence that our solution was

a long-term one – one that would not cause too much concern if the BS 1425 regs were amended in times to come.

Our due diligence ensured that the chemistry behind our products did not use brominated flame retardants (BFRs) that are restricted under REACH or the Stockholm Convention (targeting persistent organic pollutants, or POPs).

As a manufacturer using materials we have retrieved from end-of-life mattresses without a known original manufacturer source, we therefore must test as would a manufacturer of each such raw material. By doing so we have then created our own bespoke ‘Reborn’ raw material to manufacture a finished product from these tested and compliant materials. This was/is a huge and costly exercise, but one that we feel is necessary to give assurance and compliance to UK legislation, guidance and advisory notifications. Testing twofold – as a manufacturer of both the raw material and the finished product – allows us to ensure we are manufacturing a consistent endproduct, and one that is legally comparable to the next.

Daniel Hague: The new upholstery disposal legislation is long overdue and will have a significant impact on the industry – especially for retailers who do not always have the facilities and resources to process upholstery products into their component parts.

ClearCycle produces little waste, as our aim is always to refurbish and resell. However, when an item is beyond economic repair – and it does happen, despite the skills of our engineers! – we partner with specialist companies who reclaim and recycle over 96%, with the remainder sent for energy recovery.

ASIDE FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS THAT COME WITH BETTER PROCESSES, WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE FINANCIAL GAINS?

Nick Oettinger: EPR will ensure that recycling processes are kept in mind during the design stage of each product, which will be financially beneficial as it creates a circular economy in which the materials from products can be reused, and therefore maintain their value. If higher-quality products are used in furniture production, the products will maintain a higher value in the long term, as it reduces the requirement to constantly source new materials to produce new products.

Tom Williams: Better disposal and recycling processes have the potential to open up more routes for recycled materials, making the furniture industry more circular. Greater circularity can reduce costs, as fewer virgin materials are required. A better system would also guarantee a good, consistent supply of recycled materials, potentially moving disposal from being a cost to an income.

Paul Beckett: Free mattress disposal for all. Council clean-up costs reduced, offer consumers a product of the same integrity and legal compliance but at a fraction of the cost.

Daniel Hague: With ClearCycle, items can go on to have a second life – or even a third – and our competitive price points, warranties, and after-care open desirable brands to new markets, as well as encouraging existing customer loyalty.

We can collaborate with companies to develop buyback schemes and rental models – not only do these put a green tick in a box, but they demonstrate the retailer’s belief in the longevity of their goods, as well as giving customers the flexibility to remain on-trend. This kind of thinking moves past a simple one-off transaction and towards a long-lasting customer relationship that benefits the buyer, the retailer, and the planet.

“We would rather lead in the development of a coherent system, than have it dictated to us in a way that is impractical
“This kind of thinking moves past a simple one-off transaction
28 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN DELIVERING CHANGE? PRACTICALITY, COST, COMMUNICATION, OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Nick Oettinger: The main barrier to achieving a high level of mattress recycling in the UK is the cost. Mattresses are made up of low-value products that are mechanically fixed together, which creates a high cost when it comes to separation and segregation.

In order to deliver change, we have introduced a new automated dismantling line which will reduce the cost of recycling by limiting the labour required to dismantle the products. Likewise, our compression system will also reduce the cost of transporting mattresses five-fold, by shrinking the size of mattresses and increasing capacity for transportation.

Tom Williams: I think that a lack of joined-up thinking and execution is one of the biggest barriers in delivering any change, especially in this area. Everyone recognises that there is a need to do something, but often everyone rushes off to do their own thing. Whilst this might be justified under the banner of competition, the issues are universal, and having multiple potential solutions to the problem will only hinder any progress. Like the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together – this is where organisations like the NBF play a crucial role.

Paul Beckett: Acceptance. We all must accept that we cannot continue in our historical throwaway culture. We all must accept that greenwashing our way out of doing what is right is not acceptable. We all must accept that merely scratching at the surface is not going to fix the problem.

We all must accept that we have a moral and ethical duty to protect the planet that we all live upon. We all must accept that we have contributed and are partly to blame for the current situation. We all must accept that we cannot continue to manufacture products without considering their end destination.

Regarding communication, awareness and education, we must: raise awareness and give solid assurances that old does not necessarily mean dirty or damaged; raise awareness that a re-manufactured product is possibly available at a fraction of the price and a tiny fraction of the ecological impact; promote the benefits both environmentally and financially of a re-manufactured product; and offer assurance that a circular product will in fact be beneficial to the industry.

This acceptance and awareness will naturally grow the re-manufacturing sector, and this in turn will allow for the cost of the mattress recycling gate fee to be absorbed. This will bring the average £5 per mattress gate fee to less than the average £3.75 landfill fee, giving everyone the opportunity to recycle ethically and save financially.

Imagine the day when mattress recycling is a free service to all, removing any consideration of fly-tipping or adding burden to local authority services …

Daniel Hague: With circularity and sustainability becoming familiar words across the industry, there has been a real push to develop ‘greener’ furniture. There has been a shift toward more sustainable pieces, but as these are sold at a premium, they are not always accessible to all markets. Even though ‘conscious consumerism’ has seen customers becoming more mindful of the environmental impact of their buying choices, many still depend on fast furniture to furnish their homes, and we know that, at the root, there is a cost issue when it comes to shopping green.

At ClearCycle, we open up quality brands and furniture to a demographic who may not usually be able to afford them, as well as supporting the circular economy by keeping items in use.

“Mattresses are made up of low-value products that are mechanically fixed together, which creates a high cost when it comes to separation and segregation
29
Nick Oettinger oversees the creation of new materials from old at TFR Group

Recycling service bolsters sustainable Simba

Simba’s mission to solve the world’s sleep crisis is underpinned by an ambitious sustainability strategy to protect people, planet and health. By slashing emissions in the supply chain, nurturing a positive environment for its people, giving back to the community and creating engineered products that promise to offer more restful sleep, Simba is working to improve outcomes across the board.

Low recycling rates are a persistent issue for the sleep industry. The challenge is that only 24% of mattresses are officially sent for recycling, says Simba, with the rate of ‘real’ recycling estimated at only 14% (‘real’ recycling refers to when more than 80% of components are salvaged). As a result, this leaves a huge 76% of mattresses unaccounted for, most of which will be sent to landfill, equating to 167,000 tonnes per year.

Currently, consumers have three options to deal with an end-of-life mattress: council pick-up or drop-off at the local tip (which does not guarantee

recycling); donating to friends, family or a charity; or using a recycling service, some of which are more transparent than others on how they recycle.

Democratising access to goods and services is a core part of Simba’s pursuit for more sustainable sleep. This month, Simba will open its state-of-the-art recycling service, to accept any brand of mattress (no purchase necessary), encouraging more consumers to dispose of their mattresses responsibly.

Simba works closely with its partner, The Furniture Recycling (TFR) Group – a large team of skilled recycling operatives who strip, segregate and sanitise any mattress into recyclable components for use within the UK.

Simba’s not-for-profit service will allow people to sleep soundly, knowing that their old mattress will be responsibly recycled. Simba customers will also benefit from clear signposting on how to recycle the packaging, and the different options available to help dispose of their old mattress, highlighting Simba’s own take-back Mattress Recycling Service. “Simply add this hassle- free, carbon-neutral service to your basket, and look out for a mattress bag, which will arrive in advance of collection, to protect your old mattress for recycling,” says the brand.

As an integral part of its ‘Planet’ pillar of goals, Simba is moving towards B Corp status by continuing to innovate ethical new product development within the sector. Later this year, Simba will expand its Green Organic range, while innovating and improving its Hybrid range with sustainability and carbon footprint in mind – watch this space.

www.simbasleep.com
30 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS
“Simba’s not-forprofit service will allow people to sleep soundly
The popular Simba Hybrid Original will soon boast even greener credentials Simba will expand its Green Organic range this year
We offer free delivery and returns, with a 200-night free trial and a 10-year guarantee. You can also shop with 0% finance for up to 12 months. Introducing our most sustainable mattress ever New from the sleep experts at Simba. The Green Organic mattress features all the comfort we’re famous for, with just half the carbon footprint of traditional hybrid mattresses. simbasleep.com 1/2 THE CARBON FOOTPRINT 100% RECYCLABLE OR BIODEGRADABLE CERTIFIED ORGANIC MATERIALS

GNG pursues a greener future with Komfi

As concern for sustainability and recycling continues to grow, the popular Komfi collection from leading UK mattress manufacturer GNG Group has been designed to provide a range of environmentally friendly options for retailers.

With most models featuring innovative Ecofoam, developed in-house by GNG, the range meets consumer demand for products with a reduced carbon footprint. Ecofoam is a unique material made from 100% recycled and re-engineered foam, resulting in a much ‘greener’ product, says GNG, adding that the long-term benefit of an Ecofoam mattress comes when it reaches the end of its natural life, as it can be entirely recycled.

Ecofoam is also resilient and durable, and naturally dust mite resistant, making it ideal for use in mattresses. Offering impressive levels of body support, it features throughout the National Bed Federation (NBF)-approved Komfi mattress collection, and has a 10-year warranty.

The diverse and successful Komfi collections comprises the Active, Sensory, Rhea and Unity ranges. Featuring visco gel and pocket springs, the Komfi Active collection offers a range of six mattresses, providing high value without compromising on quality and comfort.

The luxurious Sensory range is designed with the latest mattress technology to aid “the very best sleep”. The three Hybrid models feature up to 3000 pocketed springs, while the Trio combines layer upon layer of innovative materials to provide “a sumptuous level of comfort and support, night after night”.

The Rhea collection of 11 mattresses has been developed with sustainability and end-of-life recycling in mind. A combination of 100%-recycled foam, superior polyester with Japanese technology and individual pocket springs helps prevent EOL mattresses going to landfill, instead putting them back into the recycling chain.

Finally, Unity is the latest range to join the Komfi family, adding an affordably priced vacuum-packed mattress collection. Offering value, as well as the quality and comfort for which GNG is renowned, Unity delivers the benefits of Ecofoam, and all models have a removable and washable soft-knitted cover.

As a member of the NBF, GNG supports the association’s goal of 75% of new mattress sales being diverted from landfill by 2028: “Consumers want and need the ability to dispose of their old mattresses responsibly and safely, and Ecofoam is helping them to do this.” The company has has also signed up to the NBF’s Pledge for Our Planet, further demonstrating its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.

Combining the latest in mattress innovation, as well as using green technology, GNG says it is a natural choice for UK retailers. With all mattresses made in Britain, customers are assured of fast and efficient delivery times, as well as British quality.

To find out more about stocking the Komfi collection, contact GNG on 01924 950300, or email info@gng-group.co.uk.

www.gng-group.co.uk
32 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS
1500
Unity
Sensory Hybrid
Rhea
Carbon Neutral Organisation
gnggroup.co.uk

MEDITE SMARTPLY

www.meditemakesitreal.com

As a market-leading manufacturer of environmentally conscious engineered wood panels, MEDITE SMARTPLY continuously develops innovative, versatile and sustainable products that are ideal for furniture manufacturers wishing to express their creativity.

The extensive MEDITE range of MDF products offers standard, speciality and technical variants, to meet a multitude of specifications. These ranges include: MEDITE MR, a moisture-resistant MDF panel; MEDITE PREMIER, a multi-purpose MDF panel; and MEDITE PREMIER FR, a flame-retardant panel.

“The exclusive MEDITE MDF community site is a source of limitless inspiration,” states the supplier. “Users can share work, gain inspiration, and win prizes that will enable them to build bigger and better with MDF. Sign up on our website and receive a free gift.”

SUPPORT FOR FURNISHING INDUSTRY PEOPLE

MEDITE MDF 34 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS
020 7256 5558 07366 568 458 welfareofficer@furnituremakers.org.uk www.furnituremakers.org.uk/welfare
The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charit y Struggling financially? We’re here to help! The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ Charitable Funds incorporating the Furnishing Trades Benevolent Association is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1015519) and a registered company (no. 02759359) in England and Wales Supporting Furnishing Industry 1-2 page.indd 1 24/08/2022 16:01
This bar by Infinitus Bespoke Interiors is just one example of the possibilities MEDITE SMARTPLY presents
As the
charity for the furnishing industry, we have been supporting the welfare of people working in the trade since 1903. We help furnishing industry people by providing financial grants and practical, useful advice.

The NBF is going Green

NBF Green is our response to the Global Climate Crisis

To find out more contact info@bedfed.org.uk

Our aim is to support our members on their journey to becoming more sustainable businesses

Some of the things we are doing to help include:

• Introducing the NBF Pledge for our Planet

• Developing an ecodesign framework for mattresses

• Actively engaging with UK governments on climate action plans

CORE PRODUCTS

www.coreproducts.co.uk

Core Products unveiled its 2023 product offer at last month’s January Furniture Show, with an emphasis firmly on delivering even better valuefor-money products. Indeed, many of the supplier’s existing products have been reduced in price or held at last year’s prices.

Among the new offering is a completely revitalised Aspen dining collection, with a mix-and-match selection of high-value tables and chairs. The chairs are available in a comfort option (fully upholstered in a choice of covers), or a practical, easy-to-clean option which is ideal for kitchens or busy households. All are manufactured from precision-moulded plastic, and boast tapered metal legs.

KETTLE INTERIORS

www.kettleinteriorsagencies.com

Kettle Interiors launched its new website at last month’s January Furniture Show, bringing furniture and home retailers more features than ever.

“Enjoy the flexibility of working with Kettle Interiors 24/7 with the new website,” states the supplier. “Redesigned from the ground up to give improved functionality and a smoother experience, the new website makes it even easier to browse, order and pay. Now with full visibility of live stock levels, you can take

complete control of your order.

“Browse from an extraordinary catalogue of products across Kettle Interiors’ five brands, and filter by what’s new to make your choice, then place your order and pay invoices through the secure account management area. Download brand-new, high-quality images for marketing and product pages, and get important product assets whenever and wherever you need them.” Customers can register online for site-wide access.

Dining furniture from the new Aspen collection
36 PRODUCTS DINING IJ IJ

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. 01738 630 555

sales@coreproducts.co.uk www.coreproducts.co.uk Core Products

www.gallerydirect.co.uk

Gallery Direct’s SS23 Collection offers over 500 new lines, including an array of outdoor living products with some impressive designs – including the contemporary Ancona range (pictured) which offers two lounge sets, three dining sets and a lounger, with all but one in a choice of two colours.

Some of the dining sets include a built-in bioethanol

fire pit, so the outdoor space can be enjoyed on cooler days and when the sun goes down. The range features allweather fabric on the seats, which is stain, mould and fade resistant, and they are padded with quick-drying foam.

To find out more about Gallery’s wider collection, visit the supplier at this month’s Spring Fair on stands 8F307A31 and 7A30-B31, or take a look at its website.

THINK RUGS

www.thinkrugs.co.uk

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

“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, 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!”

Pictured is Hemp, part of an exclusive range, created using wool and viscose to create a rug with a high density of tufting and a soft finish.

38 PRODUCTS LIVING
GALLERY DIRECT

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

Spectator www.la-z-boy.co.uk

New indie ranges reflect a new Airsprung

Airsprung, one of the UK’s biggest bedmakers, has reached a turning point. Timed to dovetail with emerging demand within the dynamic UK domestic market, the manufacturer’s far-reaching transformation programme – first reported in Furniture News last month – has prompted new and creative investment within the Airsprung Beds brand …

Led by the brand’s progressive MD, Paul Little, Airsprung says it is making great strides in its mission to engage with the independent sector –which includes the delivery of dedicated ranges manufactured on reconsidered and newly configured production lines, which now efficiently accommodate everything from rolled mattresses through to midmarket, hand-crafted mattresses.

Two fresh ranges fulfil Airsprung’s promise of comfortable, quality beds at affordable prices. Working with key retailers, Airsprung designed the Core range to cover all options, resulting in a range of nine mattresse (including a model specifically made for children), all complemented by four headboards, three divan bases and nine on-trend fabric choices – and further supported by the promise of 48-hour delivery on models held in stock, plus a smart and vast array of unique, creative assets including photography, icons and punchy copy.

Airsprung’s Eco range was another ‘from-theground-up’ project, developed in response to quickly developing consumer demand for an affordable, but sustainable mattress range, and seeking to prove that ‘going green’ does not have to break the bank.

Its components are headlined by the internationally renowned Repreve Our Ocean fabric, which directly and traceably diverts ocean-bound plastic into a soft, 100%-recycled polyester fabric, and is used within fashion and sportswear brands and now, in a UK first, on Airsprung Eco. This significant range is also supported by a full range of marketing assets.

“Airsprung Beds is very much back,” says Paul. “The sleeping giant analogy fits, and change is happening.”

To find out more about how GR and Eco could enrich an existing retail offer, email Paul at opportunity@airsprung-beds.co.uk.

www.airsprung-beds.co.uk

40 PRODUCTS BEDROOM Eco 1500 Pocket 1500
“Airsprung Beds is very much back

What rental prices say about the retail sector

What do rental price levels say about the outlook for physical retail? Keith Tully, a partner at business turnaround and rescue company Begbies Traynor, shares his thoughts on the mixed picture across the UK, and its implications in a challenging time for retail …

The state of the commercial real estate market in the UK determines the price of retail rental prices for furniture businesses with a physical shopfront, warehouse or headquarters, and the likelihood of their rent being affordable or expensive.

Retail rent continues to be competitive, as businesses seek online-only routes to keep overheads low, and the cost of living crisis squeezes company cash flow. The energy crisis amid the backdrop of Covid-19 is the latest threat to businesses with retail rent to budget for.

UK retail rent prices

A survey conducted by Real Business Rescue on UK retail rent prices found out which towns and cities had some of the most expensive and affordable retail rental prices per square foot, with the capital crowning the top of the list.

London commands the highest premiums for retail units, at £49.64/ft2 per annum, with Oxford trailing behind at £49.51, followed by the historic city of York at £47.75. At the other end of the spectrum is Blackpool at an average of £12.45/ft2 per year, making the seaside town the cheapest place to rent retail property.

The city of Birmingham ranks in position 32, charging retail rent at £26.13/ft2 on average each year. Although Birmingham has some of the busiest retail quarters, one in five shops sit empty across the West Midlands, which could explain why commercial rent for retail property is so competitive in Birmingham, to tempt businesses into its vacant shops.

In Scotland, the capital, Edinburgh, has the highest retail rent price at £34.49/ft2 per year, while in Ireland, Belfast’s average price per square foot per year is £24.95, almost £10 cheaper annually than Scotland’s capital. These figures show the cost of doing business around Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Looking at footfall recovery rates, the highest footfall recovery rate is held by Plymouth (165), followed by Blackpool (160), Southend-on-Sea (143), Dundee (130) and Burnley (138), which shows which areas are on track to demonstrate a full recovery following the pandemic.

Cost of living crisis impacts profit forecasts

As the retail industry continues to recover from the nosedive in Covid-19 footfall and pandemic disruption

caused to supply chains, new challenges lie ahead, alongside the threat of company insolvency. The cost of living crisis means that consumers are spending cautiously in light of unexpected outgoings such as variable energy bills, as the energy crisis fuels the larger cost of living crisis.

Increased promotions such as Black Friday inevitably helped gain sales momentum, as traffic to online retail sites peaked at +2.7% YoY in the week commencing 13th November, predominantly owing to early Black Friday activations, as reported by Furniture News.

While the retail industry is in a recovery phase, it’s clear that retailers have been forced to issue profit warnings in light of tighter spending money during the cost of living crisis. Electronics retailer Curry’s recently posted a pre-tax loss of £17m due to limited consumer spending and international market pressures.

All is not lost, though, as some furniture retailers are showing signs of steady recovery. Following their annual general meeting, DFS said that it has seen group order volumes growing relative to FY22 since early September, and also relative to the prepandemic FY19 financial year – and that it has also seen continued evidence of positive market share gains.

While a tough year lies ahead, furniture retailers are on track to revive from pandemic disruption, while treading carefully, with the cost of living crisis at the forefront of campaigns.

www.begbies-traynor.com

42 OPINION
“Although Birmingham has some of the busiest retail quarters, one in five shops sit empty across the West Midlands
Photo courtesy iStock/Bim

Contract cancellation versus termination

What is the difference between cancelling and terminating a contract? Last May, the Home Office said it had ‘cancelled’ a Border Force contract with P&O after the ferry operator sacked nearly 800 employees – but the language used is equally important when two parties consider ending a contract agreed between them, says Katarina

In general terms, once a contract has been agreed it becomes binding, and the parties will be legally bound to perform according to the contractual terms and conditions. However (as in the P&O example), circumstances can quickly change and impact any contract, and things can go wrong if care is not afforded.

If one party feels the contract is not being upheld, depending on the type of breach, they could either affirm the contract and claim damages, they could try to terminate the contract, or they might wish to cancel the contract (known legally as rescission).

Ultimately, every furniture business needs to understand the difference between the impact of a contractual termination and rescinding (cancelling) an agreement that is in place.

Terminating a contract

Either or both parties must meet the obligations within a contact to terminate it. The contract must be ended as if all actions had been performed – an amicable arrangement.

Termination happens by following an express termination clause in the contract itself by giving notice to the other party to terminate the contract. It can also happen if there is an implied clause permitting a party(ies) to terminate under common or statute law or automatically (for instance, if the contract has been frustrated).

Termination clauses can sometimes be unilateral and, depending on the wording of the express clause and the circumstances, this could give rise to an unfair contract term argument.

Rescinding a contract

Rescinding a contract, however, means both parties are restored to the position they were in before the contract was entered into. When a contract is rescinded, it is set aside entirely – it is as if the contract never existed and it therefore removes the parties’ obligations under the contract.

Rescission is an equitable remedy against a party who has committed a breach of contract, usually for misrepresentation or mistake – but rescinding is only applicable if the contract has not been affirmed.

Affirming a contract

Affirming a contract refers to the continued

application of contractual terms after a repudiatory breach has occurred, with the sole intention of claiming damages in light of that breach.

A repudiatory breach of contract takes place where one party fails or refuses to perform a fundamental term or condition of the contract. The other party can either choose to accept that repudatory breach of contract and rescind the contract, or they can choose to continue with it (affirm it) and claim damages instead – the circumstances will usually dictate which is the better option for the party not in breach.

This is just one reason why action to rescind a contract has to be taken promptly once a sufficient breach has been noted. Any delay could be used by the other party to argue that the contract was affirmed, and thus the chance to rescind has been missed.

To rescind or affirm?

Because rescinding renders a contract retrospectively non-existent, the innocent party needs to consider what will give them the best outcome. That could include the return of valuable property to them.

Rescinding a contract is not initiated by a court, but by either of the contractual parties. The innocent party will inform the offending party of their intentions, and if the matter is subject to litigation, the court will decide whether rescinding the contract was legally valid. If it was, the court will make orders designed to give effect to the rescission of the contract.

Rescission will not be found valid by the court if it believes the contract was affirmed, if a third party has acquired rights to any property subject to the rescission, or if it is impossible for the parties to be restored to their positions prior to entering into the contract.

www.taylorwalton.com

44 OPINION
“Every business must understand the difference between the impact of a contractual termination and rescinding (cancelling) an agreement
“Any delay could be used by the other party to argue that the contract was affirmed

FULL RANGES OF BEECH & OAK CHAIRS

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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

Why hacking can be healthy

Businesses are taking cybersecurity more seriously than ever, but are they spending their money in the right places? Here, Anthony Green, CTO of cybersecurity consultant FoxTech, who works to prevent cyber attacks and helps companies which have experienced a security breach, explains why being hacked can sometimes be good for your business …

Back in 2021, executives ramped up their cybersecurity spending in response to the explosion of cyber attacks exploiting lockdown remote working. Despite this, the frequency and severity of security breaches has only increased, with small-to-medium businesses in the UK subject to an astonishing average of 10,000 attempted cyber attacks a day.

Successful attacks breach sensitive data, and recovery can result in severe financial losses – sometimes millions of pounds – for affected businesses. So, what is going wrong?

Cybersecurity experts agree that one of the biggest issues is that businesses are not spending their security budgets in the right places. What we are seeing is that usually, IT strategies fail when businesses don’t actually know what their weaknesses are – or indeed don’t realise they have any at all.

Many companies believe their networks are secure because they have outsourced their IT or installed an anti-virus package. Unfortunately, this is like going on holiday and locking your front door, but leaving all your windows wide open – traditional security methods are not comprehensive, and hackers can easily find and exploit your remaining vulnerabilities.

This is where ethical hacking – also known as penetration testing – comes in. Ethical hacking is when an accredited cybersecurity consultancy carries out a simulated cyber attack against your computer system. Penetration testers can identify exploitable

flaws in bespoke software, carry out scenario testing to discover how incidents (such as a compromised DMZ host) impact on your security, and test your business’ response capabilities to attack or temporary vulnerability.

It’s impossible to take the right cybersecurity actions without knowing what your problems are. This is why penetration testing really is crucial. Subjecting your IT infrastructure to ethical hacking by someone who isn’t going to steal your data is one of the best things you can do to prevent a real hacker gaining access.

Initially, companies can find it hard to believe that hacking could ever be ethical, let alone good for their business – but it is the best way to find out exactly how vulnerable your business is to an attack.

Once penetration testing has shown you where your weak spots are, and what methods hackers could use to exploit them, the next step is to fix, secure and block these paths to access. Most companies’ current IT protection plans focus only on the last step – blocking access – without necessarily knowing exactly where that access is.

Any kind of vulnerability assessment like penetration testing provides an exciting opportunity to find out if your business and your data is properly protected from attack, and should be seen as an essential aspect of any good cybersecurity strategy.

www.foxtrot-technologies.com

46 OPINION
Photo courtesy iStock.com/cnythzl
“Most companies’ IT protection plans focus only on blocking access, without knowing exactly where that access is

THE MARCH ISSUE OF FURNITURE NEWS WILL LOOK BACK AT THE SEASON’S KEY EVENTS –WHILE LOOKING AHEAD TO A BUSY YEAR OF TRADING!

• The January Furniture Show review will spotlight the biggest launches and share insightful feedback

• We’ll also look back at INDX Furniture and Spring Fair, and celebrate the winners and highly commended nalists of The Furniture Awards 2023

• There’s also a special feature on Aftersales, Care and Repair, plus our monthly coverage of the latest in Bedroom, Dining, Living and Trade Services

YOUR 2023 SUCCESS STRATEGY

5 ESSENTIAL WAYS TO MAXIMISE YOUR SALES AND PROFIT

• ADVERTISING – Most advertising does not work very well. If yours isn’t, stop wasting your money now. Don’t blame the media, blame the message. Re-design your advertising in a benefits-orientated-style. Call Greenwood for effective copywriting know-how.

• PRODUCTS – Be ruthless with your precious floor space. If a product or collection isn’t performing after being given a fair trial, then clear it and replace it with a faster selling line. Test and measure the selling potential of all your products in a Greenwood Sale.

• SELLING SKILLS - Get good at selling. Most retailers don’t employ a proper retail sales process for big ticket goods. The most successful ones do. Invest time and money in quality sales know-how. Call Greenwood to arrange an effective sales training course for your team.

• COMPETITION – Check your competition to find out what they are offering. Avoid all-out price wars. Out-perform your competition on the most relevant beneficial points including choice, quality, value and service. Call Greenwood to mystery shop your competitors.

• PROMOTION – Promote your business effectively. Every good retailer from Aldi to Harrod’s does. Consider using a Greenwood Sales Promotion to increase sales, turn stock into cash and win future market share, while protecting your profit at the same time. Call Greenwood!

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GREENWOOD SALES...

Take a look at our website or call us now on 07771 700247, or, send an e mail enquiry, and we’ll gladly call you to discuss the exciting possibilities we can offer you, without obligation.

We are now booking Greenwood Sales right across the UK and Ireland from summer 2023 to spring 2024 on a first come first served basis. Book your sales event early to guarantee exclusivity for your business.

GREENWOOD RETAIL LTD

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

Why not find out more today?
Bernard Eaton on 07771 700247 GreenwoodRetail_FEB2023.indd 1 13/01/2023 10:55
Call
Review
reflect
Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email sam@gearingmediagroup.com BOOK BY TUESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY TAKE YOUR SEAT Lebus set impress at JFS World Furniture’s clarity of vision BED SHOW LIVING TRADE SERVICES COMPROMISE Hypnos’ new group MD beds Illuminating approaches from Chilli Pepper Designs THE PRICE IS RIGHT? Negotiating the cost of living crisis Devonshire’s new directions 400th The voyage continues FN Nxt Month Advert vertical.indd 1 27/01/2023 13:25 47
and
this March

DO YOU ENJOY ASSISTING CUSTOMERS? PERHAPS YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN FURNITURE SALES ROLES?

If so, our key account development manager role could be perfect for you!

Limelight Beds have enjoyed another successful year, and are now looking to recruit to expand our client management team.

We are looking for an exemplary person, dedicated to look after and grow our key accounts portfolio – development is key.

You will be their rst point of contact, helping with product, pricing and scheduling enquiries. You will develop these key relationships to ensure the client base are well looked after, which in turn will deliver high growth and retention levels. Experience in B2B selling is essential, and you will preferably have already dealt with big groups.

Excellent customer service skills, an ability to build rapport and willingness to learn and grow with the company are key.

The role is based at our premises in Barwell, Leicestershire, but will also involve visiting clients at their premises across the county, therefore a driving licence and own vehicle are vital for this role.

This is an ideal opportunity for someone to prove their worth.

Our team enjoy: training and development opportunities; attendance at business trade events; and the autonomy to drive forward their respective area.

To apply, in the rst instance, please send a covering email and CV to Aiyub I Sidat, director, at aiyub@limelightbeds.co.uk

The International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP) comprises 17 of the world’s leading industry trade publications.

As the IAFP’s UK representative, Furniture News can offer exporters and importers market information, contacts and reach through the most effective B2B channels.

www.iafp.info

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INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FURNISHING PUBLICATIONS

Are you not entertained?

Attendees at Furniture Today’s latest Leadership Conference likely have a notebook full of ideas from keynote speaker Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas minor league baseball team. For those not fortunate enough to see the high-energy entrepreneur live on our Leadership stage, I’d like to share a few thoughts.

It’s noteworthy that Cole does not think of himself as a baseball owner, or his goal as selling tickets. Instead, he views his mission as entertainment, and his goal one of building fans. That may sound obvious, trite or even simplistic. However, if you take that seriously as a mission and think carefully about orienting a business around those two simple principles, it’s game-changing.

Imagine for a moment orienting a furniture retail business around those two principles – entertain, and build fans. How might that change the way customers are greeted when they enter the store?

Cole shared a technique he uses to answer those types of questions with his staff. They hold regular ‘ideapaloozas’, free-flowing brainstorming sessions where the goal is to come up with promotions, activities and ways of engaging fans, that look at ‘normal’, and then do the opposite. The key, he noted, is to accept failure as an option. Not everything is going to work, but if you’re trying to create fun and entertainment, people come back to see what you’re going to do next.

Let’s look at the opposite end of the furniturebuying experience – delivery. If the goal was to entertain and create fans, how might that experience differ from what you’re doing today?

I’ve had a good deal of furniture and bedding delivered in my day. Two experiences stand out. There was the time I had a mattress delivered, and the delivery person, dressed immaculately in white coveralls and white gloves, rolled out a red carpet into my home, donned booties to protect my floors, and left mints on the bed once the mattress was put in place (most industry veterans probably know which

company I’m talking about).

The other was the time I had a sofa and loveseat delivered, and found the plastic wrapping stashed under my front hedges after the delivery people left. Which one created a fan?

The opportunity, Cole noted, is to extend this effort to every single touchpoint, even small things like voicemail and invoicing.

Have you called your own voicemail lately? Does it start something like, “Please listen carefully, because our menu options have changed?” It’s a small thing, but it’s a chance to either stand out or confirm yet another negative consumer stereotype about impersonal customer service.

At a time when consumers have more shopping options at their fingertips than at any time in human history, it’s more important than ever to stand out. How you do that is up to you.

www.furnituretoday.com

INDUSTRY PARTNERS
“If the goal was to entertain and create fans, how might that experience differ from what you’re doing today?
Looking at how things are done outside of our industry can be a great way to reassess and shake up your business, suggests Bill McLoughlin, editor-in-chief of US trade magazine Furniture Today, and the secretary general of the International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP) …
Young Furniture kers exhibition.
PARTNER COMMENT OPINION 49
“At a time when consumers have more shopping options at their fingertips than at any time in human history, it’s more important than ever to stand out. How you do that is up to you

THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING … Are you still learning?

Absolutely – that’s what life is all about, right?

Every day is a school day. I find learning is split between soft skills and hard skills. In particular, for bigger-picture learning I find attending conference likes London Tech Week and Cog X to be highly valuable, with helping you take a step back from the day to day and learn about the wider trends in the industry

I am learning every day. I learn so much from my team. What’s the point in being the smartest person in the room? You won’t learn much!

George Sinclair (Nimbus Beds)

Of course! Every day I learn something new

Jade Farthing (Haskins Furniture)

Always learning. My co-founder likes to remind me that every day is an interview!

Keiran Hewkin (Swyft Home)

Yes, of course! The day you stop learning or wanting to learn, you stand still, both personally and in business. These days there is so much information at our fingertips that it is hard to avoid discovering something new every day

Wendy Martin Green (Peter Green Furnishers)

No direct training, but always learning and developing on the job. Sales is constantly evolving, and you need to stay up to date. YouTube is a good source of information, and to pick up new ideas and techniques

John Northwood (agent)

We never stop learning!

Shaun

(MattressTek)

Always. Times change, businesses and the industry change, and it’s important to constantly learn, adapt and stay open minded to new ways of doing things

Tom Bayliss (Kettle Interiors)

I still learn something new most days

Shane Harding (Highgrove Beds)

Not so much formal training, but in ecommerce there’s a constant stream of new technologies and marketing channels that need to be got to grips with. A lot of it comes to naught, but you have to remain open to the thing that might change your fortunes

You are always learning new things. I think you only stop learning on the day you die

Still learning about life, furniture and coding

You must look for continual improvement every day, otherwise your competition can walk past you

Rob

(Julian Bowen)

Most definitely. Where our industry has become more techdriven, we’ve had to step up (but underneath that, we’re still a mattress company first and foremost – product, product, product!)

Yes, continuous improvement is very important when developing leadership skills and strategic thinking

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50 OPINION FEEDBACK
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