Furniture News #402

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#402 March 2023 JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW THE FURNITURE AWARDS INDX FURNITURE | DINING AFTERSALES, CARE AND REPAIR BEDROOM | TRADE SERVICES ALL BEING EQUAL Women in furnishing discuss the pace of progress Lebus gains ground under new ownership Carl Hansen & Son upskills the next generation
supportive outlook

Editor's Comment

The trade was on fine form at this year’s January Furniture Show (JFS). Thanks to the strident doom and gloom of the mainstream news media, many entered with trepidation – but soon found that everyone was more than ready to do business, and came out smiling. Expectations were firmly exceeded at Solihull’s INDX Furniture, too, which truly stepped up this year (find out more from p35).

Is it likely we’ll witness a return to ‘normal’ trading patterns and stability this year? I know I’m not alone in crossing my fingers for a little less excitement!

A thorough review of January’s main event starts on p38, where we also celebrate the standout suppliers that scooped The Furniture Awards 2023 (p41) – congratulations again to this year’s star players. While at JFS, I managed to collar Lebus Upholstery’s MD, Karl Walker, for a full and frank discussion on the state of play, and what it means to be an employee-owned business. He deftly put the current crises in perspective – read my interview on p22.

Back to this month, and with International Women’s Day near (Wednesday 8th), I thought it high time to revisit a topic that really got the trade talking last April – namely, what it means to be a woman in the furniture industry, and whether the tide of this male-dominated sector is actually turning.

Last year, I asked leading female professionals for their views on equality and the trade’s likely directions, and this month I’ve enlisted a few more to share their views (p10). Their accounts are honest, revealing, and sometimes uncomfortable, yet overwhelmingly optimistic. I’m conscious that they’re very much views from the top, and may not be echoed throughout the furniture workplace – either way, I’d appreciate any feedback on the issue.

Sticking with the topical, it’s also National Bed Month. Across the nation, switched-on bed businesses will try to leverage extra sales by putting the subject of sleep front and centre. On p105, the NBF’s Simon Williams explains that while the campaign’s mission to reduce the bed replacement cycle may have given way to greener messaging, there are wins to be had on both counts. Although it may seem counterintuitive, offering consumers advice on how to best care for their product – in turn, extending its lifespan – can go a long way towards securing the initial sale. Take a look at our aftersales feature (from p84) for a few ideas.

Also in this issue, you’ll find advice on funding a retail start-up (p98), limiting liability in supply agreements (p100) and manufacturer recovery and closure options (p102), alongside thoughts on service provision from our regular feedback panel (p106) – plus interviews with Land of Beds’ Mike Murray (p28), Devonshire’s Nicolle Hockin (p24) and Rhenus Home Delivery UK’s Vinny Riley (p26), and a showcase of the new apprentice workshop at Denmark’s Carl Hansen & Son (p16).

I hope your own plans for 2023 are off to a good start. Looking back, around, or ahead, there’s already plenty to be excited about …

Paul Farley

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Fara Butt Shire Beds

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6 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Women in furnishing 16 Carl Hansen & Son 22 Lebus Upholstery 24 Devonshire 26 Rhenus Home Delivery UK 28 Getting personal 32 EVENTS 35 INDX Furniture 38 JFS 41 The Furniture Awards 2023 54 Highlights 80 JFS exhibitor party 82 PRODUCTS 84 Aftersales, care and repair 90 Dining 94 Bedroom 96 Trade services 98 OPINION 98 Funding retail start-ups 100 Limiting liability 102 Recovery and closure 105 Partner comment 106 Feedback Contents
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#402 March 2023 JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW THE FURNITURE AWARDS INDX FURNITURE DINING AFTERSALES, CARE AND REPAIR BEDROOM TRADE SERVICES ALL BEING EQUAL Women in furnishing discuss the pace of progress Lebus gains ground under new ownership Carl Hansen & Son upskills the next generation LEAVE THE REST TO US Sleepeezee’s supportive outlook FN402_Pages1 PF.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
Alice Rowen Hall Rowen Homes
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Frankie Haynes Bensons for Beds Jessica Alexander National Bed Federation

ScS enjoys encouraging order levels

ScS traded trading in line with expectations in the 26 weeks ended 28th January 2023. LFL order intake momentum improved significantly throughout the period, and the group returned to growth of +2.6% in the last 10 weeks (which included the key winter sale).

As previously reported, LFL performance in the first 16 weeks was impacted by a tough comparative.

The group continued to invest in its operations and estate expansion by opening two new stores in Swindon and York, bringing the total UK store count to 100. Its balance sheet remains strong – £76.9m and no debt.

ScS also acquired boxed sofa brand Snug on 10th January, which was relaunched under a new company, Snug Furniture Ltd, on 10th February.

“Despite the current economic climate remaining

challenging and unpredictable, the board is encouraged by recent order levels,” states ScS. “We continue to believe that the group’s refreshed strategy, strong cost management and robust balance sheet places it in an excellent financial and operational position. The group remains on track to meet full-year market expectations.”

Dunelm grows market share but profits slide

Dunelm has reported sales growth of +5% for the 26 weeks ended 31st December 2022, with total sales up +43% on H1 FY20 (pre-pandemic). The retailer made significant market share gain in homewares and continued share gains in furniture, growing its active customer base by +7.5% YoY.

Dunlem delivered a gross margin of 51.1% and a PBT of £117.4m, down on the prior year as expected, reflecting the impact of sale timing and strong postpandemic demand in the prior year, plus inflationary impacts. It invested £17m in digitalisation, capability and capacity, launching some 10,000 new SKUs online during the period. Three new stores also

opened, including one relocation.

CEO Nick Wilkinson comments: “We are all learning to live in a new, complex and rapidly evolving economic reality. Recognising this, our focus has been on ensuring that we continue to offer outstanding value to our savvy customers through a proposition which is committed to quality, at the right price, across an expanding range of relevant products. We believe that this is why we have continued to grow our sales, customer numbers and market share.

The retailer says that the consumer outlook remains unpredictable, and its expectations for PBT in FY23 are unchanged.

Bedmakers express concerns around demand

Despite strong demand in the final quarter of 2022, uncertain times lie ahead for the UK bed industry, according to the results of the NBF’s latest state of trade survey.

A quarter of manufacturer members, and almost 40% of supplier members, are predicting weak demand for the first six months of 2023 – with just half anticipating it would be satisfactory. And while supply chain issues may have eased, uncertainty about rising costs and difficulties finding staff are still presenting the sector with many challenges.

The NBF’s head of marketing and membership, Simon Williams, says: “I wouldn’t say there were any massive surprises in the figures – although it was interesting to see that our supplier members were a little more pessimistic about prospects for the first half of 2023 than our manufacturers. It will be interesting to see how the picture evolves over time.”

Manufacturers and suppliers experienced extended lead times in 2022, mainly due to raw material issues, but the general feeling was they were not going to get any worse in 2023, while a healthy percentage are expecting them to improve.

Employee head counts are fairly stable across the board – in fact, more than half have the opposite

problem, reporting concerns about staff shortages and struggling with recruitment and retention in some areas of the business.

For manufacturers, while most key component materials (springs, timber, fabric, fillings) increased by varying degrees during the last quarter of 2022, it was those relying on foam as a component who saw the biggest increases. More than a third saw their foam costs rise by +10-15%, while a further 6% reported a rise of +15-20%, and 6% said their foam costs had increased by over +20%. However, there is hope that the worst of the component material increases are behind the trade, with more modest increases expected in 2023.

Many raw material costs for supplier members also rose during the last quarter of 2022, but not to the same levels experienced by manufacturer members. Again, there is optimism that 2023 will see these raw materials prices settling down.

Manufacturer (58%) and supplier members (62.5%) listed a lack of orders/sales as their major concern for their businesses in the first half of 2023. A fifth (21%) of manufacturers were also concerned about the lack of skilled labour – this was also a concern for supplier members, along with availability of finance.

Hypnos’ CEO James Keen has been elected to the board of the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM)

Fishpools, of Waltham Cross, has announced the passing of its chairman, John Fishpool, who became the third generation to join the family business, in 1958, and played an instrumental role in growing Fishpools into one of the largest furniture stores in the South East

HSL has announced the departure of CEO Guy Critchlow, and the appointment of Venessa Hodgson as MD designate

Vispring has appointed Martin Gill as MD, in the wake of Jim Gerety’s retirement. Thomas Staddon has joined as operations director, taking over control of the company’s Plymouth factory from Chris Harrison

The Furniture Makers’ Company’s seventh annual Yorkshire Curry Night, taking place at the Aagrah Midpoint restaurant in Bradford, is taking place on 2nd March, and will feature guest speaker Mark Eastwood, MP of Dewsbury and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group

The BFM’s first Future of Furniture Awards, part of the association’s new Future of Furniture campaign, were announced at a reception at the January Furniture Show. The trade body presented the Future of Furniture Excellence in Education accolade to HSL, and the Excellence in Sustainability award to Jay-Be


Ambiente – together with Christmasworld and Creativeworld – brought together 4561 exhibitors in Frankfurt last month, alongside some 154,000 retailers from from more than 170 nations, reports Messe Frankfurt

John Lewis Partnership has appointed Charlotte Lock to a newly created role which combines John Lewis’ customer activity and the pan-partnership customer responsibilities. She replaces John Lewis’ customer director, Claire Pointon

JYSK opened a store on Lakeside Retail Park in Scunthorpe last month. The 950m2 store covers is managed by David Dodsworth

Sleepeezee has partnered with bedding supplier Sleepsense International to launch a new range of premium bedding

Dreams has announced a threeyear partnership with housing and homelessness charity Shelter, and has committed to paying £150,000 to help fund its work

ScS has completed of its latest share buyback programme, which comprises some £3.1m

Next has appointed Jeremy Stakol (ex-Lipsy) as an executive director, effective from 3rd April. He will take on the role of group investments, acquisitions and third-party brands director

Mattressman has reached an agreement with climate action group Ecologi, whereby the latter will plant a tree for every product sold

Investment bears fruit at Bensons

Bensons for Beds reports that LFL sales were up +7% YoY in the three months to the end of December, driven by investment in stores and online, and following leadership changes made in the summer.

Across the quarter, Bensons saw +41% growth in online sales, with digital transactions now running at double pre-pandemic levels. The quarter also saw an “encouraging” early performance from eve Sleep, which Bensons acquired in October. Bensons relaunched the eve Sleep website just two weeks after acquiring the brand, in time for peak sales.

Last August, Bensons secured additional funding from investor Alteri to drive its growth and transformation plans through investment in stores and digital developments. Store sales growth was supported by higher transaction values, compensating for weaker footfall. Following the opening and relocation of 18 stores in the previous 12 months, Bensons was trading from 168 stores by the end of 2022. It has set out a goal to grow the network

to 180-190 stores over the next two years.

CEO Nick Collard says: “Our performance over the quarter provides a good indication that our investments across the business are beginning to bear fruit.

“We have made big steps towards our goal of becoming a market-leading omnichannel retailer, reflected in the rise in sales at an important time of the year. Although we expect the market to remain challenging, we remain well placed to navigate the year ahead.”

New matchmaking platform to debut at Autumn Fair

Autumn Fair, taking place from 3rd–6th September, will see the launch of Connect @ Autumn Fair, described by show organiser Hyve Group as “a transformational new approach to buying, designed to revolutionise the traditional trade show model by connecting retailers and brands on a scale never achieved before”.

The platform promises to give UK buyers and retailers the opportunity to make contact with every exhibitor before the show, and they will be able to discover brands and products by selecting from hundreds of chosen data points.

Hyve anticipates that over 6000 meetings will take place at Autumn Fair. Each will be 15 minutes long, and all are “double opt-in” – so both parties must agree to them. Meetings will take place on the exhibitor’s stand.

Nicola Meadows, portfolio director for Spring &

Autumn Fair, says: “Buyers’ time is precious, and justifying time away from the retailing space has never been harder.

“Connect @ Autumn Fair changes all this. Visiting a trade show should not be about chance – buyers can now source and plan their time at the show in advance, and know they are meeting suppliers that will meet their needs. With access to extensive information on every exhibitor and product category, from origin and sustainability credentials to pricing and minimum order values, retailers will be able to pre-select meetings with brands whose products most suit their needs.

“This is the biggest investment we have ever made in Spring & Autumn Fair’s history. Connect @ Autumn Fair is ripping up the rulebook on events and creating value our customers didn’t realise was possible.”

Q4 fails to lift Wayfair in 2022

Wayfair has delivered financial results for its Q4 and the full year ended 31st December, 2022 – a year which saw the ecommerce giant cut its global workforce significantly in order to “reduce operating expenses and adjust investment priorities”.

The quarter saw total net revenue down $151m to $3.1b (-4.6% YoY), with international net revenue down $102m to $415m (-19.7% YoY). For the full year, total net revenue fell by $1.5b to $12.2b (-10.9% YoY), with international net revenue down $705m to $1.8b (-28.7% YoY). Gross profit was $3.4b (28% of total net revenue), yet Wayfair saw a net loss of $1.3b (NonGAAP Adjusted EBITDA was -$416m).

As of 31st December, Wayfair’s active customer base totalled 22.1 million (down -19.0% YoY), but LTM net revenue per active customer was $553 (+10.4% YoY). Eleven million orders were delivered in Q4 2022

(-9.1% YoY), while AOV was $283, compared to $269 in Q4 2021.

“We are excited to see customers respond positively to improvements in our core recipewith compelling pricing, faster delivery times and increasing availability bearing fruit in the form of market share gains,” comments Niraj Shah, Wayfair’s CEO, co-founder and co-chairman.

“We enter 2023 as a lean, focused team, driven by the same key priorities that defined much of 2022 –driving cost efficiency, nailing the basics, and earning customer and supplier loyalty every day. Although the short-term macroeconomic picture is unpredictable, we are confident in our ability to navigate its challenges and are reiterating our commitment to quickly reaching adjusted EBITDA profitability and then to positive free cash flow.”



Wonder women and the path to equality

Last April, Furniture News explored women’s changing role in the furniture industry, by asking leading female professionals for their views on equality and the trade’s likely directions – and with International Women’s Day returning on 8th March, we decided to revisit the topic …

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. That the disparity between the sexes remains an important issue in 2023 indicates that there is still much work to be done in the journey towards equality – and this holds true even for the UK furniture sector.

In last year’s feature, while our interviewees were able to share some examples of sexism and misogyny in the workplace, they also felt in general that women were increasingly enjoying greater representation and empowerment within the industry.

The bigger picture, too, reflects some improvement – particularly in the UK. We noted then that PwC’s 2021 Women in Work Index found that the UK lagged significantly behind other countries in its share of women in full-time employment. However, the 2022 index saw the nation achieve the most significant improvement of all the 33 OECD countries ranked, moving up seven places (since 2020) to ninth – the first time in the index’s history that the UK has taken first position among the G7 economies.

The index’s historically lower-performing regions showed the greatest improvement, helping narrow the gap between the best- and worst-performing regions, and “indicating an improvement in equality in employment outcomes geographically, for women across the UK”, states PwC.

The House of Commons Library, meanwhile, estimated that the gender pay gap – the difference in

average hourly earnings for men and women – in April 2020 was 15.5%, and this fell to 14.9% in April 2022. It appears that progress, albeit gradual, is being made. Yet, despite these gains, women from ethnic minority groups in the UK continue to experience significantly worse employment outcomes than white women, and this disparity has actually widened over the last decade, states PwC – and McKinsey’s annual Women in the Workplace report, which surveys women in corporate America, adds that women are still drastically underrepresented in leadership roles, and women leaders are now leaving their companies in greater numbers.

This month, we’re again asking some of the trade’s most inspiring women to share their thoughts on the industry’s gender balance, the challenges they’ve faced, and the direction of progress – as well as offering would-be newcomers a few words of advice. While the debate currently raging around gender recognition has some questioning the very nature of womanhood, the recognition and celebration of successful women within a male-dominated space remains important – not least so because, without progress, the industry could remain less attractive to much-needed new female recruits, and the huge potential they can offer.

Thanks to this month’s feedback panel: Alice Rowen Hall (Rowen Homes); Jessica Alexander (National Bed Federation); Frankie Haynes (Bensons for Beds); and Fara Butt (Shire Beds).

“The recognition and celebration of successful women within a male-dominated space remains important
From left – Fara Butt, Jessica Alexander, Frankie Haynes and Alice Rowen Hall

Day to day, how aware are you of the furniture industry’s gender balance? Is equality important to you?

Even today, the furniture industry is a predominantly male. It’s absolutely important for the industry to have greater representation, diversity and inclusion at every level, and particularly in senior leadership positions.

This is important not just for the industry, but for a more egalitarian and fair society on the whole.

The gender imbalance is much more marked in the furniture industry, as opposed to my previous career which was teaching. I’m aware of the imbalance on a daily basis – even today, when I come across women in the industry, I’m still nicely surprised.

It would be great if this was the norm, and not a surprise.

At the start of your career, were you made to feel welcome by the trade, or did you have more obstacles to overcome than a man might?

I had had a career in secondary education, where issues around female empowerment are handled well.

When I moved into the furniture industry, I felt I had gone back in time, in so many ways – there were fewer women, the hours longer and unsociable, work was away from home, across the country, or around the world. The world of furniture was quite different, and clearly inequalities and obstacles exist in terms of the culture particularly.

I remember an initial unease which was as much due to my discomfort related to my newness to the industry, and partly due the feeling of not fitting in. Being a woman in a male industry – and add to that being a woman of colour – I can see how it could be perceived as obstacles to overcome for someone in the early stages of their career.

I have also been very lucky and found most people I have worked with very welcoming and supportive in my work at Shire Beds.


Former teacher Fara has spent nearly two decades as marketing director at The Shire Bed Company (Shire Beds). She is a member of the National Bed Federation (NBF) board, and Yorkshire regional chair of The Furniture Makers’ Company, and plays an active role with local organisations including the West Yorkshire Mayoral Task Force, Kirklees College and Connect Yorkshire. Last year, she was named Business Woman of the Year at the Yorkshire Choice Awards.

Is there anything you know about women and the workplace now that you wish you’d known sooner?

I think women in male-dominated professions can sometimes have a version of the imposter syndrome which leads them to feel like outsiders. It’s important for women to be aware of this, and own it, by seeking out role models for inspiration and mentors for guidance.

The power of a mentor is immense – seek out someone who is on your side. It doesn’t always have to be a woman (though that can help), but it’s important to have someone who believes in you and can guide you through any obstacles. I try to do that wherever I can at Shire Beds, and in the wider manufacturing sector when the opportunity arises.

Can you share an anecdote/example of a time you felt held back or discriminated against due to your sex?

I’m always surprised when you have a different view to a group of men in the room, and your view is perfectly valid yet you are met with incredulity.

I recently had an experience like that, and I am convinced that their reaction was more marked just because I was a woman. In those circumstances you have to dig deep for the courage to stick to your point of view and believe in yourself.

Conversely, can you identify any stand-out gestures of fairness/equality?

There are some wonderful people who have offered me words of encouragement over the years.

One of the first people in the industry to offer encouragement and support was Peter Spinks

of Harrisons, when I started to work in the furniture industry. He would come across and visit the Shire Beds stand and offer words of wisdom at trade shows. It’s heartening to have this kindness, and at that time when I still felt like an outsider, having someone steeped in the industry offer you this is hugely uplifting and encouraging.

Do you feel things are generally heading in the right direction? How can other people/ the industry make a difference?

Generally, we are heading in the right direction. We now have more women working in the industry than when I started (when, even in our company, we just had one). At Shire Beds we have women in all areas of the business – shop floor, sales, administration and leadership.

It is important to offer mentoring and support structures in the workplace or externally, especially when there might be isolated women in an organisation.

I think Industry 4.0 and greater digitalisation is also exciting, as I believe it will bring greater opportunities for women in the industry. ‘Green jobs’ in sustainability, too, could encourage more women to join the industry, as many of these jobs may be suited to a culture more suited to women.

What would you tell young women who are thinking about entering the furniture industry?

I would absolutely encourage them to join, as there is such a wide variety of roles and jobs. It is such a huge industry that they will find something to suit them.

I would also ask them to learn from everyone, but not to be afraid of expressing their own thoughts and views.

We as an industry need fresh ideas and diversity of thought, and young people and women have that in abundance. This can only be good for the industry.

“We as an industry need fresh ideas and diversity of thought

Day to day, how aware are you of the furniture industry’s gender balance? Is equality important to you?

I’ve seen quite a change in the gender balance in the furniture industry over 40 years – and so I should hope. Senior roles in retailing opened up long before you started to see the same in manufacturing – unless it was in the marketing and PR department. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as male salesmen had to be nice to their (powerful) female customers!

Today, there are increasing numbers of women on the manufacturing side and in management roles in production and operations, as well as the traditional, ‘softer’ (ie female) ones of sales, marketing, HR and admin. I’d like to think they earn their roles – whatever they are –on merit.

Having said that, the gender balance at our NBF Bed Industry Awards gala dinner, or at our annual forum, is still 75:25 male to female –although it’s an improvement on the days when the president of the NBF used to open the forum with the words, “Good morning, gentlemen and Jessica.” I chose to interpret that as a compliment!

At the start of your career, were you made to feel welcome by the trade, or did you have more obstacles to overcome than a man might?

I think I was lucky. As a journalist on the [then] industry-leading, weekly trade journal (Cabinet Maker, sadly now defunct), where I spent the first eight years of my working life, I was treated as a VIP wherever I went, and it never occurred to me to think I was being treated differently from my male colleagues – although they did report that more robust language was often used when women were not present!

My colleagues also never treated me in a way I felt was discriminatory, and I was not aware that I was disadvantaged in any way –and I think it’s stayed that way throughout my career.

The best advice I had when I started in a PR role with the NBF in 1987 was from my

VIEWPOINT Jessica Alexander

Jessica is the (outgoing) executive director of the National Bed Federation (NBF), where she has worked for over 35 years, while also managing her own business, AKA PR, for many of them. She represents the NBF on industry boards such as the BFC and FIESTA, and plays an active role in The Furniture Makers’ Company, where she is currently second assistant.

predecessor, who said to me: “Go freelance, not as an employee”. I know it made me feel different about myself, and I’m sure it ensured my status was always equal to everyone else there.

Can you share an anecdote/example of a time you felt held back or discriminated against due to your gender?

Back in the 80s, I once met two journalists from the States who both had job promotion offers dependent on having sex with the boss! It’s behaviour that belongs firmly in the past – so it’s shocking that the #MeToo movement suggests it is more prevalent that my experience would suggest.

There’s only been one occasion when I felt the need to take along a male colleague to a new business pitch, because my previous encounter with the potential client had been ‘inappropriate!’ I suspect getting the business would have been dependent on sleeping with him …

Conversely, can you identify any stand-out gestures of fairness/equality?

When I saw the application for the Women in Furnishing Award submitted by Jonathan Myer (Myer’s Beds) – I won Businesswoman of the Year in 2011 – and I was bowled over by the lovely things some really important people in the industry had to say about my contribution. It meant a lot that my passion and determination had not gone unnoticed.

On another occasion, when I was reporting on the media coverage of The Sleep Council one year, I received a standing ovation (even though the chairman of the marketing committee did introduce me by referring to my ever-changing hairstyles, as captured on the clips of TV coverage I showed)!

Do you feel things are generally heading in the right direction? How can other people/ the industry make a difference?

Just keep putting those role models out there! Plainly, there are a lot more women in more varied senior roles than in the past, but there will always be those who encounter misogyny – I don’t know if it’s getting worse, or just that we hear more about it.

But I do think it is important to recognise that women aren’t men in dresses! We think differently, have different health and family issues, different priorities. Good businesses recognise that, and don’t just expect women to do things the way men do. What counts is surely the outcomes!

What would you tell young women who are thinking about entering the furniture industry?

Be confident in your abilities. Men are often so much better at singing their own praises than women. And yet, over the years, it’s more often the women I’ve employed who have been reliable hard grafters, while the men have promised so much more than they actually delivered (plenty of exceptions to the rule both ways, of course)!

“The #MeToo movement suggests this behaviour is more prevalent that my experience would suggest
“Men are often so much better at singing their own praises

Day to day, how aware are you of the furniture industry’s gender balance? Is equality important to you?

Equality is really important to me. Everyone should be treated fairly and without discrimination. Let’s not forget that equality is also far broader than gender, and that diversity and inclusion is a real opportunity across the whole sector.

I believe equality should be important to everyone, and should be a priority for anyone in a leadership role in the industry. If the industry wants to attract more diverse talent and be more representative of the customers it serves, equality should be high on the people agenda. Leaders being conscious of the impact unconscious bias can have, on who, and how people are recruited into the industry, is key to making impactful change in this space.

Furniture is similar to many other industries, in that it has been historically male dominated. However, it’s clear that in recent years there has been a growing number of women entering the industry, and they are paving the way for the next generation of women to join the sector. There is still a long way to go on the physical retail side of the industry in terms of achieving gender equality, and key to this is challenging any misconceptions that may be in place and understanding the perceived barriers to entry.

At the start of your career, were you made to feel welcome by the trade, or did you have more obstacles to overcome than a man might?

I was made to feel welcome when I joined the industry, and was given the feedback that people felt excited about the appointment of another senior female leader in the sector and the potential changes that might ensue.

The biggest obstacle to overcome was that I was an outsider to the industry, and that in order to be successful selling beds, I needed to have had that experience (safe to say, that isn’t the case). What’s really important is understanding the needs of our customers, being able to ask great questions, having empathy, and how that

VIEWPOINT Frankie Haynes

Frankie was appointed retail director at Bensons for Beds in May last year, but was appointed chief customer officer on Bensons’ board just one month later. Prior to this, she worked in retail with the likes of Costcutter, ALDI, Paperchase, Asda and B&Q.

translates into the sales journey that happens both in-store and online.

Is there anything you know about women and the workplace now that you wish you’d known sooner?

There are three important learnings I’ve had in my career to date. The first is the importance of women supporting other women, and having a great support network around you. The chances are, whatever you’re experiencing, someone else will have experienced the same or something similar. It’s always helpful to be able to share experiences and bounce ideas off others, problem-solving together. This wasn’t something I experienced early on in my career, but I now have a fabulous network of women whom I can call on.

The second is the need to have great selfawareness and empathy. Sometimes male colleagues may be intimidated by a younger, bright female with a high level of education, and that shouldn’t stop you from being yourself – it can be used as an opportunity to listen, to seek understanding.

And finally, always do the right thing, as uncomfortable as that may feel. You may need to swallow a bravery pill, but if you approach situations in the right way with positive intent, more often than not the outcome will be positive.

Can you share an anecdote/example of a time you felt held back or discriminated against due to your gender? Fortunately, I’ve had more positive experiences than negative experiences. I’ve always walked away from any negative experiences thinking how it was a great lesson in how not to do things!

I don’t think I’ve ever been held back or missed out on opportunities due to being female. My reflections are that any discrimination I have ever experienced has been quite subtle. For example, in my early career, being told by a male leader to consider changing the colour of my hair, as it was too blonde and it wasn’t professional enough –but also, in another role, being told by a female peer to not be so polished and well presented, as

it made the rest of the team uncomfortable. Safe to say, in both examples I took the feedback and didn’t change, and continued to be successful in both roles.

Conversely, can you identify any stand-out gestures of fairness/equality?

Too many to count. I’ve worked with many superb leaders, peers, mentors and champions, both male and female, who have given me time, great counsel and opportunities to pursue. I’ve had some great champions throughout my career, many of whom have had a hugely positive impact on me: Lizzy Massey at M&S; Helena Feltham and Paul Crisp at B&Q; Mike Hollis at Costcutter; and Scott Sharp at TJX. I think people tend to step up or step away when opportunities are presented to them, and I was always encouraged to step up from a young age, and it’s held me in good stead.

Do you feel things are generally heading in the right direction? How can other people/the industry make a difference?

Yes, most definitely – but the industry needs to move faster. I know from first-hand experience that trying to recruit more women into retail stores, into a sales environment, is difficult. If ever there was a need for a business case, the data tells us that part-time female sales colleagues typically outperform their full-time male counterparts on a LFL basis. The numbers don’t lie!

We need to better understand the barriers to entry and make retail more accessible to female colleagues. Flexible, part-time and job-share opportunities, combined with face-to-face sales training, are key to attracting more female talent into the retails sales side of the sector.

What would you tell young women who are thinking about entering the furniture industry? Go for it – it’s a brilliant sector that is friendly, creative and thriving, and needs more women, just like you!


Day to day, how aware are you of the furniture industry’s gender balance? Is equality important to you?

I haven’t seen an huge gender bias since I joined the furniture industry, but I know that in factory environments this may be different.

Equality is really important to us as a company. We focus on getting the right person for the job, and this has luckily led to us being relatively gender-balanced.

The candidates we get for roles can change according to the roles we put out – warehousing jobs tend to get a lot of male applicants, and marketing jobs tend to get more female applicants. But with us having a multi-faceted business, this balances out overall.

At the start of your career, were you made to feel welcome by the trade, or did you have more obstacles to overcome than a man might?

I have always been made to feel really welcome and have never been spoken to differently, as far as I’m aware. But if I felt I was, I simply wouldn’t deal with the supplier in question, as they wouldn’t align to our core values – no matter how good their product was!

Is there anything you know about women and the workplace now that you wish you’d known sooner?

I wish I had been more open about the challenges of being a woman who loves work. I welcome the recent publicity around topics like periods and the menopause, and how they can impact your working life – when, for instance,

VIEWPOINT Alice Rowen Hall

Having taken her fashion start-up to a turnover of £25m, Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Alice turned her attention to interiors. In 2020, with husband Andrew’s help, she launched Rowen Homes – which sits “somewhere between an interior designer and ecommerce store”.

returning to work after maternity leave, and balancing your career with work. Having had firsthand experience of balancing parenting with work, the guilt it can bring and the identity crisis that can occur when you have a baby, I feel able to support team members more than before. However, these issues affect men, too. I do want to further my knowledge of menopause to fully understand how I can support people coming to this phase of life.

I’m more vocal now within the business about all of these things, hopefully helping to remove any stigma that may exist and encouraging people to have the confidence to speak about their challenges.

Can you share an anecdote/example of a time you felt held back or discriminated against due to your sex?

I can’t – I haven’t ever felt like this.

Conversely, can you identify any stand-out gestures of fairness/equality?

I’ve always felt welcome in both the business and the furniture community.

Do you feel things are heading in the right direction?

In the parts of the industry I’ve experienced, I do. I think that talking about women’s challenges, particularly internally, helps remove stigma, and leaves men understanding more about these topics so they feel comfortable talking about them too.

What would you tell young women who are thinking about entering the furniture industry?

Go for it!

“Talking about women’s challenges helps remove stigma, and leaves men understanding more
Rowen Homes focuses on glamorous, luxury interiors



We are a leading European manufacturer of Ready To Assemble fu rni tu r e. Our produc ts a r e c reated wi th g rea t car e fo r t h e e nvironm en t, wh il e ma int ai nin g s afety a nd high est qu al ity.

CALAS ETTA co lle ct io n

Master crafted

Danish furnituremaker Carl Hansen & Son has established its own apprenticeship workshop, The LAB, to train more cabinetmakers – meeting growing demand and preserving the craft, while ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled staff. Knud Erik Hansen, CEO and third generation owner of the business, tells us more …

“Machines take care of the heavy work in our production, so the cabinetmakers can focus on the details and ensure the wood has soul,” says Knud Erik, who has spent the past 20 years turning the family business into a global furniture manufacturer, that has helped put Danish design on the map thanks to names such as Hans J Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher, Poul Kjærholm, Arne Jacobsen and Kaare Klint.

“The human element of a piece of furniture is very important. in my opinion,” he continues. “Where you can see that it was created by a human being – this is the essence of what we want to train our apprentices.”

Knud Erik celebrates his 20th anniversary at the business’ helm this year. With annual revenues now approaching DKK1b (£120m), his grandfather’s name displayed on the store windows at 20 locations across 12 countries, Knud Erik has worked hard to demonstrate the ethos on which the company was built – to create quality furniture, based on diligent craftsmanship, classic design and good materials.

Some 600 employees work at Carl Hansen & Son’s 60,000m2 factory in Gelsted, Denmark.Knud Erik says the factory is the most modern furniture production centre in Northern Europe. Thanks to a focus on craftsmanship and sustainability, each piece of furniture requires hours of handicraft before it leaves the factory – and, as is the case for the majority of furnituremakers, skilled craftspeople are not always easy to come by, says the CEO …

Why did you set up The LAB?

Quality craftsmanship is the foundation of Carl Hansen & Son, which is one of the reasons why we established The LAB apprentice workshop.

Having an apprentice workshop is in our own interest, because we need skilled cabinetmakers. We are one of very few furniture manufacturers still producing in Denmark, thereby creating jobs and growth, and the global demand for our furniture is high. It is therefore extremely important that our production can keep up, by having skilled employees who can deliver the quality and finish that Carl Hansen & Son produces. But they are hard to find. Training new cabinetmakers is therefore crucial to fulfilling our future growth aims.

Secondly, the trade is the beating heart of the company. By training our own cabinetmakers we are helping to preserve and carry on the trade and design tradition that Denmark has become so well known for.

How is the apprentice training structured?

The programme is structured as a modern apprenticeship. The training takes three years and nine months, and combines periods at The LAB apprentice workshop, periods in production and periods at technical college.

In The LAB apprentice workshop, our apprentices are trained to work with projects that they have to manage from start to finish. They learn to make different kinds of joints, such as finger and dovetail joints, sanding methods, cut-outs, weaving and many more machine and hand skills. They thereby gain

an in-depth understanding of the possibilities and challenges of the cabinetmaking trade.

The apprentices also learn how to make fixtures for internal use, and how to restore vintage furniture and create commissioned pieces. The combination of these tasks helps to train some very versatile cabinetmakers.

After completing their training, our apprentices do a journeyman’s exam, and it is very satisfying to see them master their craft to perfection. After that, we naturally hope that our newly fledged cabinetmakers will continue to work with us and help add soul to our large collection of iconic design furniture.

What is taught?

When you start as an apprentice at Carl Hansen & Son, you spend the first three weeks in The LAB. Our apprentices work in workshops here, where they are taught the craftsmen methods that have been part of Danish cabinetmaking for over a hundred years. For example, it might be the characteristic dovetail joint

Knud Erik Hansen
“The combination of tasks helps to train some very versatile cabinetmakers

– one of the cabinetmaker’s best known signatures, which requires an incredible amount of practice before you can master it. They also receive tool training, where they learn to sharpen their chisels and plane, and are instructed about machines and safety.

After the first three weeks at The LAB apprentice workshop, the apprentices go to production, where they rotate for eight weeks between different workshops – the joinery, the table department and the machine shop. Our apprentices also get acquainted with weaving and surface treatments. During the training, apprentices also attend technical college six times, for a total of 30 weeks.

What is the scale of the operation?

Right now, 22 apprentices are linked to The LAB. Two of them are upholstery apprentices, while the rest are split fairly evenly between the cabinetmaker and machine joiner trades. A cabinetmaker apprenticeship normally takes three years and nine months, so what we’re doing is very much a long-term investment!


“I’m one year into my training, and I will finish in March 2025. I applied to do an apprenticeship at Carl Hansen & Son because I dream of helping to make some of the most highly acclaimed Danish design classics, which the company is renowned for.

“I had a good feeling about the company when I heard a story on a guided tour about how it has been passed down for generations within the same family. That feeling turned out to be well-founded, and I look forward to going to work every day when I get up in the morning.

“The LAB apprentice workshop gives me the opportunity to learn the foundations of cabinetmaking. There is time to tweak the machines, and to learn the basics such as setting up a plane and sharpening a chisel. The opportunity to focus on the details in my trade makes me feel equipped for life as a graduate in a few years’ time.

“The best thing about being an apprentice here is the workshop, and its strong focus on learning and upskilling. I feel valued and equal, and I have a teacher who is passionate about helping us become some of the most talented in the trade.

“In the future, I could imagine going on to study furniture design and becoming the next Børge Mogensen, but right now I’m happy to work with classic pieces. If at some point I feel I have done enough of that, and the opportunity to work in one of our flagship stores in a major city like Tokyo or New York arises, then I might take such a leap.”


“I have been training for three years, so I have six months left before I graduate. I chose to start at Carl Hansen & Son as I have a passion for design, design history and quality, and I think that Carl Hansen & Son epitomises all of these things.

“The best thing about being an apprentice at Carl Hansen & Son is that you get to be part of a large company with rich traditions that really looks after their apprentices, and has created a progressive learning environment in the apprentice workshop. The LAB creates an environment where you can learn a lot and have the opportunity to work independently, while being involved in the entire process – from plank to product.

“In the future, I would like to work with furniture, but I might also end up doing further studies which can be combined with the cabinetmaker training.”

“Machines take care of the heavy work in our production, so the cabinetmakers can focus on the details and ensure the wood has soul

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How Lebus stays on point

Having undergone the transition into an Employee Owned Trust (EOT) in July 2021, Lebus Upholstery now faces new challenges – yet, astonishingly, output continues to match demand, explains MD Karl Walker …

In 2021, Lebus Upholstery’s shareholders sold the business.

It may not have been the most profitable move, but transforming the business into an Employee Owned Trust (EOT) could turn out to be a masterstroke in succession planning and staff retention. Each employee now enjoys tax breaks and performancebased bonuses, plus their very own share of one of the UK’s biggest upholstery manufacturers – all of which sets Lebus comfortably apart in an increasingly competitive labour market.

However, says MD Karl Walker, 2022 offered little time to dwell on the possibilities. Dominating the long roster of “distractions” were labour issues, recruitment, commodity price rises, inflation, and “the foam debacle” –predominantly external factors, but enough to stifle most business’ attempts to formulate long-term plans.

The post-pandemic ‘new normal’ might feel anything but, yet successful enterprises must do

more than just roll with the punches.

Reassuringly, it’s all good at Lebus’ Scunthorpe HQ. “Despite all that, business has been great,” says Karl, “and the EOT is already proving beneficial. Eighteen months in, our own recruitment drives and training programmes are working well. Summer saw an easing of the labour market, and although the general staffing situation is much more fluid these days, some of the vital Eastern European workers are returning. Crucially, it looks like we’re settling back into normal trading patterns – and our capacity will soon be back at 2019 levels.”

Good staffing levels, and fresh investment in automation (including new packing machines) mean Lebus can now turn out around 1950 suites every week (2200 at a stretch) – a far cry from the inconsistent and significantly reduced volumes of 2020-21. And these impressive output levels reflect equally impressive demand.

“We were very aggressive in the key Boxing Day/ post-Christmas period, and our results were better than ever,” says Karl. “Yes, with package holidays coming back, summer could be quite hard – people will still want to buy furniture, you’ll just have to work that bit harder to call them to arms – but, looking at the bigger picture, I think we’re in a great position overall.”

Karl admits that he was ‘a bit pessimistic before Christmas”, steeling himself for a “very challenging” 2023.

“But now I’m incredibly optimistic,” he continues. “We’re a nation of consumers. We don’t want to go without for long. Wherever you go, people are spending, and there’s lots of cash still out there, much of it left over from lockdown.”

That’s not to say Karl believes the entire marketplace will be prosperous – rather that Lebus Upholstery’s products and price points are chiming with cash-strapped consumers.

“When consumers start to reel in their spending, it simply becomes about value, and where your offer sits,” he explains. “Businesses like ours have always benefitted in potential recession. We’re better/ best in class at what we do, and because we’re fully integrated, we can be slightly more competitive than most – so retail buyers start looking at us with hungrier eyes!”

Karl explains that a typical Lebus sofa will retail for anything between £499-£899, and inching above that critical price point seriously impacts the consumer’s perception of ‘value’.

“Given the challenges we’ve faced around material prices and inflation, everybody has moved their price points up, and some have gone into no-man’s land,” he says. “Consequently, I’m sensing a lot of movement in the trade, with buyers looking for new opportunities and products that offer more value.

“We know retailers still need products that can

“It looks like we’re settling back into normal trading patterns
Brianna Porto

hit those vital price points – even if it’s only during a promotion – so we’ve always stuck to our core offer. With the year we’ve just had, you can easily get distracted, but sometimes you just need to get back to basics. Who are your customers? What do they want?”

Although the lockdowns – and the reduced capacity that came with them – put the brakes on product development, Lebus subsequently turned its attention on re-engineering existing lines to keep them at those critical price points, while looking at alternative material solutions.

“Foam is a necessary evil, but due the manner in which we’ve had to operate – the price increases, the availability of TDI, etc – we’ve had to start looking at alternatives,” says Karl, mentioning the exploration of recycled fillings from various sources. “We can’t have outside factors dictate our direction.”

Lebus launched eight collections at this year’s January Furniture Show, including Madena, designed with the trend towards natural colour palettes in mind, while existing favourites Pasha and Perth were given a makeover with the introduction of rich,

jewel-like colours. “We’ve always had an eclectic mix of product, which is far safer than being a one-trick pony,” says Karl.

“Your range needs to be diverse, and it needs depth of distribution, to be truly successful. We saw a really good, broad spread of orders at this year’s show, and all of the new models landed well, which is remarkable.

“In all, we came to JFS upbeat, with a strong order book, the right product and the right people, and the team performed well. Hopefully we’ve got a year of stability and normality ahead.

“It’s inevitable that demand will grow, and we want to be ready for it. We’re looking, for example, at an extra mezzanine for fast-track delivery, and have trialled a limited proposition for seven-day delivery. As a business, we see so many opportunities, and while we can’t seize them all, the EOT will definitely help us pick our battles on our own terms,” Karl concludes.


Lebus may have made the transition to EOT, but there is still a good deal of work to do before the change resonates throughout the business, says Karl: “People are starting to understand the benefits, but breaking down the traditional hierarchies takes time.”

A committee comprising key department managers ensures good representation, but getting every member of staff to embrace the fact that they now own part of the business is no simple matter. “When you explain it one to one, they get it,” says Karl. “You can see the lightbulb moment!”

In the same week as JFS, Lebus took on 10 new starters, including five upholsterers. Clearly, the ongoing recruitment drive, bolstered by the appeal of joining an EOT, is having some success.

“It isn’t necessarily all about the money,” adds Karl. “Factors such as environment, wellbeing, training and progression are all woven in. Make sure people feel included in decisions, that the canteens, conveniences and work locations are pleasant, that there’s a clear internal management training programme … going full pelt at the coalface, sometimes you unintentionally neglect people along the way. Now, we’re spending more time onboarding new recruits, and talking more to people who are thinking of leaving, going that extra mile to ensure people want to be part of the business for the long term.

“We are finding that our new and younger colleagues have really bought into it. In some ways, it’s a generational thing – but that in itself is having a real knock-on effect on attitudes across the business.”

“Businesses like ours have always benefitted in potential recession

Devonshire sets sights on year of growth

As Devonshire makes good headway in its “year of change”, Furniture News caught up with MD Nicolle Hockin to find out more about what the supplier has in store this year …

How’s business?

We’ve had a solid January and February, boosted by some new launches which arrived in December, including a new fabric chair offering in multiple colours, new oak dining tables added to our bestselling range, and a new four-piece painted kitchen selection. These introductions have all hit the ground running and had a fantastic response, so we’ve definitely had a good start to the year.

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

With shipping rates now close to what we would call ‘normal’ levels, there is a demand to instantly reduce selling prices. What isn’t always considered, however, is how much stock we brought in at the highest shipping rates, how much operational, material and production costs rose last year, and how the dollar exchange rate suffered (and still hasn’t recovered). That being said, like most other importers, we’ve made the decision to take a hit on our stock to try and lessen the burden on our retailers and encourage footfall going into the spring.

What are your bigger plans for 2023?

Last year we consolidated, looked at our processes, streamlined, and made sure everything we did was as efficient and cost-effective as possible. We laid the groundwork so that we can now springboard into 2023 as a year of growth and development in all areas of the business.

For product, we have two brand-new complete ranges already in the works, for launch in the early summer and autumn. There are also smaller projects in the pipeline to fill in between, and carry on well into 2024. When the final samples arrive, we’ll be taking out our purpose-built show lorry to present them to our customers on an individual basis.

In terms of staffing, we’ll continue the personal development of our team, and maintaining our excellent customer service status. In theme with our growth strategy, we’re also in the process of recruiting two sales representatives, on an employed basis, to join us on our journey.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I can’t go without mentioning that our QC manager hit his 30-year anniversary with Devonshire in February. Andrew Elston has been with the company since before we moved and starting building our current 200,000ft2 facility, and has an indisputable wealth of knowledge from our manufacturing days. He is a real asset to the company, and a key member of the product development team.

We’ve also just released a brand-new catalogue to showcase our offer (available on request). Get in touch with us on 01237 471872, or email enquiries@, to find out more.
“We can now springboard into 2023 as a year of growth and development in all areas of the business
Dorset Painted Kitchen Devonshire’s new catalogue Dorset Oak Dining
Devonshire’s QC manager, Andrew Elston Or scan this QR Code to schedule your call Retail nance. But better. Our revolutionary platform unlocks growth by connecting you to: Book a call An uplift in acceptance rates through multi-lender technology Subsidy rates starting from as low as 4.5% on interest-free credit Plug and play integration with a set up time of just 24 hours

Delivering growth and development

Rhenus Home Delivery UK has enjoyed +350% growth since 2020, and will officially open its new 258,000ft2 facility in Magna Park, Lutterworth this year – which will function as its national distribution centre, incorporating a state-of-theart training centre. Furniture News asked CEO Vincent Riley for the lowdown on the fresh new face of fulfilment …

How do you plan to build upon your alreadyimpressive growth figures?

The overall growth of the business will depend upon our five-year business plan, and the five pillars of sustainability, training and development, NPS (net promoter score), ENPS (employee net promoter score), and digitalisation.

Within these pillars are specific, target-driven measures that align with the Rhenus Group strategy and our 2020-25 business plan. We’ll have some exciting news later this year regarding some new services …

How are these ‘pillars’ reflected in your development right now?

Sustainable logistics remains a top priority at Rhenus Home Delivery UK, as we strive for a net-zero sustainable future. The new centre represents our continued investment in training and development, health and safety and customer service excellence. The ongoing commitment to our customers and clients is maintained through Trustpilot management, which provides valuable insights into key strategic focus areas.”

Employee surveys have also proven to be an effective and necessary tool for understanding the challenges faced by the team – the personal development and happiness of our employees are of huge importance.

Last, but not least, digitalisation is always at the forefront of our thought process, as we continuously explore new methods of automation, and streamlining the customer journey.

What is the importance of training and development in the logistics industry?

The training and development of all employees should be at the core of every business – and especially the logistics industry, which is a specialised one. At the new training and development centre at Rhenus Home Delivery UK, we intend to offer enhanced courses to our staff, such as blue-collar courses for warehouse operatives (including Six Sigma process development), as well as courses for white-collar professionals such as Prince2 for our project managers and more role-specific courses that will be provided by departmental leaders.

“We’re really opening up Spain and Portugal for our clients

Are you targeting any new sectors this year?

We work extremely closely with the bed industry, brown-boxed furniture and the cabinet industry, and any of those products are along the considered purchase line. But an area we’d be extremely interested in is the distressed purchase sector. Our new warehousing capabilities at Magna Park will enable the storage and delivery of products across a wide range of industries and we’re currently considering a variety of possibilities.

How is Rhenus’ global network evolving?

I’m excited to announce that we’ve joined forces with Grupo Totalmédia to expand our European network. In December, we acquired shares in the Iberian logistics group, and are now the European market leader in two-man, last-mile handling for heavy/bulky goods. With this shareholding partnership, we’re really opening up Spain and Portugal for our clients.

“The training and development of all employees should be at the core of every business


Mike is a director at Land of Beds, a two-store independent retailer and consummate ecommerce business which has garnered numerous awards for enterprise and technoloical innovation. He is also a non-executive director at buying group AIS.

How might a child describe what you do?

Simple – help people get a good night’s sleep! One of the phrases we have on the wall at our office (just outside one of our meeting rooms, the Dream Lab) is the phrase: “Once upon a time there was a Land filled with Beds and everyone slept happily ever after.” Kids always love coming into our showrooms to jump on all the beds – it’s like going to a trampoline park!

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face? How to cost-effectively recycle mattresses. It’s a big challenge that the whole industry needs to come together to solve. We need a joined-up supply chain approach to tackle it. It needs considering from the start of product development and selection of raw materials right through to getting goods back from consumers’ homes and sent to recycling facilities. If we can crack this effectively and efficiently, it will be better for the planet, consumers, and businesses.

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

We have a great business, with great people – the main thing now is to scale the operation by growing our brand awareness. Therefore, the increased budget would be invested in marketing strategies to advertise our brand to a wider audience to gain market share. Once we get new customers, we do a pretty good job of converting them and making them happy.

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

I come from a family of entrepreneurs who all worked incredibly hard but had a healthy work/life balance. My dad ran his own business for 40 years and never missed anything his kids did.

I believe you must work hard and commit to being the best you can be at what you love. I love my family more than anything – therefore, I engineered a job role where what I did each day revolves around their schedule, to never miss anything important.

Family always comes first. Work is very important, and to be successful with a balanced approach you must be very organised, work smart and divide responsibility between people you trust. That way you can create balance without neglecting important stuff outside of your job.

Who’s been your most influential mentor?

My grandad. Growing up, I was incredibly close to him, and he started the business I run today. He was not afraid to fail, and never sweated the small stuff. He taught me many lessons about life, including how to be kind and respectful, to care about people and have integrity. He had so much positive energy and an amazing sense of humour, always making people laugh and feeling good about themselves. I was a lucky kid to have such a great role model. I often reflect before making big decisions by asking myself, ‘Would my grandad be proud of what I’m about to do?’

What advice would you give your younger self? Find something you enjoy and are passionate about, which could contribute to improving society or helping individual people. Try to become the best you can be at it. If you find you have a talent for it, see if you can then make money from it. If you can, you’ll have created a recipe for success and fulfilment.

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

My parents worked hard all their life to support me and my siblings. So, for me, the best day of my working life was the day I bought my parents out of the family business, allowing them to retire early.

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

I believe successful people are like a sponge –they continue learning at every opportunity, soak up information and have a thirst for knowledge. Personally, I love to work out every morning whilst listening to podcasts about inspiring people and the lives they live – hopefully I can always take a nugget of information to help me improve and seize each day. We are never too old to learn new tricks.

Where do you see the industry going?

We need to all be working on our multichannel strategies – good businesses will show up where the customers want to be. Sustainability and good environmental policies will become the norm for doing business – investments here should be made today, so in 10 years’ time you’re still in business.

“Sustainability and good environmental policies will become the norm for doing business

up with April's issue

in April’s issue we’re o ering our readers an insight into the world of Retail Technology, with a feature dedicated to the systems, tools and methodologies helping today’s furniture businesses get ahead.

We’re also previewing AIS’ INDX Beds and Bedroom. Last year’s spring show made a strong impression on buyers, and the format is gaining momentum – if you’re exhibiting, plant your ag here in Furniture News to make the most of it!

Finally, there’s also our monthly look at Bedroom, Living, Dining and Trade Services



• 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!


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.

UK & Ireland’s Leading Experts in Retail Sales Promotion

Why not find out more today? Call Bernard Eaton on 07771 700247 GreenwoodRetail_FEB2023.indd 1 13/01/2023 10:55
Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email BOOK BY WEDNESDAY 15TH MARCH 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 24/02/2023 14:28 29

T: 01237 471872


Brand new kitchen selection now in stock, available in 9 colour options.


The Irish Furniture & Homewares Show (IFHS), taking place from 2nd-4th July, is Ireland’s premier furniture and homewares trade event.

Providing Irish and UK businesses in the furniture trade the opportunity to do business in a relaxed environment, IFHS is now located at the National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin – a new, state-of-the-art venue. The move has not only brought a new fresh look to the show, but has taken how the furniture industry does business in Ireland to the next level, states the show’s organiser: “This

is the ideal event for everyone in the industry to see new products, discover innovative ideas, and avail of exclusive deals and discounts from the companies on show – all under one roof.

“The IFHS is an excellent representation of the wide variety of furniture and homewares available in Ireland. With the show being the only one of its kind in the country, and attended by all the top furniture suppliers and businesses, it is an event not to be missed if you want to meet others within the industry!”


Some 78 companies – 29 of them Italian and 49 from further afield – will present their latest furnishing fabrics and curtains at the 30th edition of Proposte, which will return to Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy from 18-20th April.

“The number of exhibitors is going back to comparable pre-pandemic levels,” says show president, Alessandro Tessuto, “and it is interesting to note that 10 companies – one Italian and nine from abroad – have re-confirmed their participation after several years.

“This marks a turning point. The fact that companies have come back to Proposte is evidence of its importance, when held at the Villa Erba exhibition centre, as a must-attend event in the world of furnishing fabrics and curtains.”

This edition will feature a new collaboration with Comocrea Interni, an exhibition dedicated to textile design, which will occupy a reserved area in the venue – while the Ala Regina will be dedicated to 18 designers who, over the years, have presented their collections in parallel with Proposte.

Photo by Donatella Simonetti
2nd - 4th July 2023 The National Indoor Arena, Blanchardstown, Dublin To secure your space today contact event manager Aisling on 00353 838576794 or email To find out more visit BRINGING THE INDUSTRY UNDER ONE ROOF! Ireland’s largest trade only furniture and homewares show



Comprehensive range of exhibitors

We welcome new exhibitor enquiries

Easy to access venue Free parking
lunch Relaxed environment to view the new season’s arrivals under one roof
16 – 17 MAY 2023 At

INDX Furniture hits new heights

Cementing its order-writing reputation, INDX Furniture returned to its West Midlands event venue, Cranmore Park, on 20th-23rd January, and retailers turned out in force to see the latest product ranges from an expertly edited exhibitor selection …

As part of the INDX group of trade shows, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year, INDX Furniture is organised by Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying and services group for fashion, home and leisure, and the first day of the show was reserved exclusively for its members – such as Simon Mitchell from Jarrold & Sons, who says: “We find that the INDX shows are excellent for our business because they offer both exclusivity and good choice.

“The actual experience of being here is enjoyable because it’s a good crowd of people from across the industry. We also believe that it is better than the NEC furniture show, and long may it continue – we’re very pleased to be here!”

Alongside an impressive roster of returning brands, such as Actona, At the Helm, Classic Furniture, Corium, Digio by Sofitalia, G Plan, Hill & Hunter, Himolla, Hydeline, HTL, Parker Knoll, Primavera, TCH, Unique and Wood Bros, the show welcomed new exhibitors Bell & Stocchero, Calia Italia, Celtic Spas, Connubia, Encore, Kesterport, Mattsons and Siren.

Among the suppliers making their debut, Colin Boyce from Mattsons Beds was delighted to be in attendance, and thrilled with the quality of visitor footfall: “I’ve never enjoyed a show as much as I have this one. We’ve had every major retailer looking at our beds, and everyone has loved them. We’ve taken orders beyond my expectation, and it’s just been really nice to meet everyone involved. If you have a top-end, very desirable product, the AIS/INDX Furniture show is the place to be.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Kerr from Siren Furniture also had a successful show, meeting new and existing customers. He says: “We came to INDX Furniture to re-establish Siren in the minds of the customer. We brought a selection of ranges to target different segments of the market, and we’ve been able to see existing customers and re-engage with lapsed customers, as well as opening dialogue with many new ones too! The show has given us a lot of new areas to develop into, as well as different parts of the country – so we’ve been really, really pleased.”

While INDX Furniture will return from 20th-22nd June (AIS members only on the 20th), the organising team has its sights firmly set on the immediate future, and delivering its next calendar show, INDX Beds & Bedroom, on 25-26th April (AIS members only on the 25th).

To register, visit, or head to the INDX website, below, to discover more shows within the group.

“The INDX shows are excellent for our business because they offer both exclusivity and good choice

Mattsons wows at show debut

“Are these as good as you say they are?” That was a common refrain from the 50+ retailers who visited Mattsons’ stand at INDX Furniture this January – many of them visiting the exhibition especially to see the Swedish brand’s beds for themselves, says its joint UK agent, Colin Boyce …

“It was an absolutely brilliant show debut,” says Colin. “The stand looked a million dollars, and some attendees said ours were the best beds they’ve ever seen.”

AIS beds and cabinet selector Rebecca Moloy – no stranger to makers of luxury beds – described Mattsons as “a really exciting brand in the industry”, and “loved the enthusiasm of the guys”, while numerous retailers were happy to offer testimonials, says Colin.

“We are genuinely excited by this very different and upmarket addition to our shop floors,” commented Arthur Llewellyn Jenkins’ Mike James, while Peter Green Furnishers’ Mike Devey said: “Nat and I are currently in the Village Hotel Grill thrashing out where we’re going to put them!” Meanwhile, Scope Furnishings’ Josh Renouf noted: “The most comfortable beds I have ever tried. I ordered one straight away for myself, and I can’t wait to show them in my store.”

The show team comprised UK agents Colin Boyce and James Leach, and Oscar Mattson, who represents the sixth generation of the family-run Swedish bedmaker. He says: “It was a fantastic first trade show in the UK, and all started when I drove the van from the factory in Falkenburg in Sweden across Europe, and then arrived in Solihull, 36 hours later!”

Luckily for Oscar, the journey proved worthwhile. “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to visit Mattsons at the INDX show,” he says. “We’re so proud to introduce the Mattsons collection to the UK. Exhibiting at the show was a great experience

– and I would like to return the hospitality, and invite any interested parties to Sweden this spring. We’re inviting key sales team members from our new retail partners to come over from 11-13th April to learn more about our heritage, brand and product, and, of course, to have some fun! – and the invite is also open to any retailers that haven’t yet seen the beds.”

With the showroom in Topsham now up and running, Colin and his team are looking forward to introducing more retailers across the UK and Ireland to their brand this year. With the brand also planning to exhibit at imm cologne this June, there are few excuses for not discovering the quality of a Mattsons bed firsthand …

“Some said ours were the best beds they’ve ever seen
Mattson’s team at INDX Furniture –James Leach, Oscar Mattson and Colin Boyce Hand made in Sweden since 1851

JFS builds impressive momentum

January Furniture Show (JFS) returned to its traditional winter timeline this year, putting a wealth of new product opportunities before trade buyers – who, judging by the level of attendance, were all too happy to oblige …

JFS closed its doors on 25th January, after welcoming a +25% increase in buyers YoY, reports organiser Clarion Events, stating: “After years of disruption, the success of the event is testament to the resilience of the industry and its huge appetite for face-to-face interactions.”

According to Clarion, this year’s show saw: over 1000 VIP buyers in attendance, with £1m+ buying budget; senior buyers in attendance from companies including DFS, Furniture Village, John Lewis, Wayfair, Next, M&S, Sainsburys, Furniture Direct, Very Group and Dunelm; an +84% increase in international buyers; and a +33% increase in attendees with decision-making power.

This year’s edition saw new and established initiatives and special features continue to bolster the event’s appeal. A partnership with The Centre for Excellence in Creative Making (CECM) delivered a focus on sustainability, while advice from The Better Trends Company on what to watch in 2023/24, plus advice and strategy planning for digital growth in 2023 from experts in marketing, social media and SEO, enriched visitors’ experience. Meanwhile, exhibitors such as La-Z-Boy UK and Mlily created their own buzz, with appearances from celebrity sportspeople.

Commenting on this year’s show, Dunelm buyer Michelle Downs said: “JFS is a great place to visit if you would like to see everyone, catch up with suppliers and see new trends.”

Fabb Furniture’s senior buyer, James Hollas, added: “JFS 2023 was a really good show. We spent two full days seeing all the suppliers, there were some great new designs, great new fabrics, and great new dining sets, we’re really excited to get these products into the store for springtime.“

Tristan Lynch, CEO of Roseland Furniture, stated: “The show was filled with optimism and visibly had a stronger attendance. It’s been a tough year for our sector, but the team at Roseland held very positive and productive conversations with all suppliers and manufacturers.”

Many exhibiting brands also found the four-day event a success – a feeling reflected in a significantly higher rebooking rate compared to previous years (of 74%). Brands already signed up for 2024 include Bluebone, Alstons, Tetrad, Rauch, Whitemeadow, Westbridge, Buoyant Upholstery, Pacific Lifestyle, Wiemann, La-Z-Boy UK, Global Home, Bontempi and Kettle Interiors, as well as returning brands such as At the Helm, Ashley Manor, LPD and Paulus & Brown.

Zoë Bonser, portfolio director of Clarion Retail, says: “To see such positive numbers and rebooking commitment for next year tells us that the industry is ready to return to live events, and we’re delighted to have delivered a successful show for the furniture and interiors industries.

“We set out to revitalise our offering this year, building on 32 years of successfully bringing together businesses and buyers to make key purchasing decisions, while also inspiring and surprising our audience with new and exciting content, takeaway advice and practical information.”

The event saw the launch of a new offering from Clarion Retail, the Home Interiors Show. Created for the interiors, accessories and lighting industry, the show has been produced in collaboration with key brands, and will take place biannually: at JFS in Birmingham, to serve the retail buying community; and co-located with Top Drawer in London in September, to target premium buyers who may not travel to events outside of the capital, as well as new international VIP delegations. The Home Interiors Show’s autumn edition will take place at Olympia London from 10-12th September.

Next year’s JFS will run from 21st-24th January at the NEC Birmingham’s. Read on to discover some of the show’s highlights, including a celebration of The Furniture Awards 2023’s winners …

38 JFS
“The success of the event is testament to the resilience of the industry and its huge appetite for face-to-face interactions
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Industry exemplars raise the bar

The Furniture Awards were back at this year’s January Furniture Show to single out the suppliers setting the pace in their respective fields. From daring designers to green giants, this year’s winners represent just what our industry is capable of …

Since the programme’s launch – by Furniture News in partnership with the January Furniture Show, in 2015 – The Furniture Awards have become an integral part of the exhibition, attracting a wealth of entries from exhibitors keen to share their achievements.

Entrants are asked to make their case in one of five categories: Sustainability; Best of British; Design Innovation; Global Player; and, new for 2023, Superior Service.

“The January Furniture Show is the most important event in our trade’s calendar, and an unmissable opportunity to engage with suppliers under one roof,” says the awards’ co-ordinator, Furniture News’ Paul Farley. “It stands to reason that any awards programme accompanying the event will be indicative of the sector’s strengths as a whole – and I’m glad to report that the suppliers who made the podium this year didn’t disappoint.”

Paul chaired a judging panel made up of: Malcolm Walker (the owner of consultancy FIRST MW); Suzy McMahon (CCO of Oak Furnitureland); Sheetal Sachdev (a tech innovator, and the founder of interiors network Treniq); and Andy Stockwell (senior retail manager of homewares retailer Gardiner Haskins, which operates from stores in Bristol and Cirencester).

Having assessed the entries, the finalists they selected were: Think Rugs; Westbridge Furniture Designs; GNG Group; Shire Beds; RH45; Citibed; Gallery Direct; Tomasella Industria Mobili;

Wiemann; Tokyo Fabrics International; Incanto Italia; Iconography; and Sci-Net. The winners were announced on the first evening of the show, at its exhibitor party in Hall 1.

Read on to discover further details of their accomplishments, strategies and products – and the judges’ thoughts …

“The suppliers who made the podium this year didn’t disappoint
This year’s judges –Malcolm Walker, Suzy McMahon, Sheetal Sachdev and Andy Stockwell Furniture News’ Paul Farley (left) and Clarion’s retail portfolio director, Zoe Bonser (right) announced the winners on the Furniture Talks stage


Winner: Westbridge Furniture Designs

With environmental and ethical concerns paramount, this category highlights the champions of sustainable practice – suppliers that demonstrate the will to make the world a better place, and whose materials or processes make them natural winners.

Highly Commended: Think Rugs

Last year, Think Rugs created a quality and sustainability division lead by QS manager Cat Backus, and introduced Solace, a Flokatistyle rug made from recycled plastic bottles.The business installed 128 solar panels at its office and warehouse, and demanded that its suppliers’ products come in packaging that comprises a minimum of 30% recycled content.

The supplier now aims to switch the majority of its polyester ranges to recycled yarns by the end of 2023. Director Sam Tippett says: “This is the beginning of a journey for us as a business, to become the leading supplier of responsibly sourced rugs in the UK.”

The judges said: “This is a big effort for a company of their size. Think Rugs are going over and above to change their ways before sustainability becomes imperative, and that’s laudable.”

Read more on p48.

Building on a background of sustainable design and manufacture, Deeside-based sofamaker Westbridge decided to get ahead of the curve and truly futureproof how it operates – coming up with Full Circle, a new manufacturing technique that delivers easily recyclable upholstery.

Having soft-launched the approach with Sofology late last year, Westbridge took its cost-conscious Full Circle upholstery collection to the trade at this year’s JFS, putting sustainability front and centre of its presentation.

“Every year, the UK dumps the equivalent of two Wembley Stadiums’ full of upholstery and mattresses in landfill,” says Westbridge’s group creative director, Steve Olds. “But, as near as 2025, the upholstered furniture industry will undergo big changes in its practices, and an ERP (Environmental Producer Responsibility) scheme will be enforced – in other words, the equivalent of a landfill and recyclability tax will fall on the shoulders of retailers and manufacturers.

“Westbridge has a portfolio of the most responsible retailers, and has for many years been at the forefront of genuinely sustainable product design and manufacture – and our wish, with the above in mind, was to create a solution that could future-proof the way we operate as a responsible manufacturer.”

Full Circle sofas have no staples, so can be effectively broken down into recyclable components at the end of their lives. “So,” adds Steve, “zero to landfill, and in many, if not all, cases, a circular product.” A stapled product takes over 2.5 hours to break down at a willing recycling centre, says Steve, while a Full Circle sofa takes a little over 10 minutes, and can be done in situ.

“Our aim was to challenge the traditional and unsustainable manufacturing processes and create an appealing and commercial upholstery collection

specifically targeting demographics that we know have their purchasing decisions influenced by sustainability as a criteria,” he adds.

The JFS launch consisted of six new ranges, all made to order in a variety of fabrics. Steve concludes: “Importantly, our aim is to make this sustainability cost-neutral against current manufacturing. In the short term we intend to move all our design and manufacturing to the Full Circle method, with several of our major retailers already wanting to transfer their models to this more sustainable and serviceable version.”

With tax rises around the corner and growing appetite for green product, Full Circle is a brave and inspiring new direction from one of the UK’s biggest sofamakers.

The judges said: “Over the years, Westbridge have become very good at jumping through a lot of hoops to achieve high ideals. But this is a truly brilliant concept – and it’s commercial, too. With plans in place to roll out this approach across its full range, Westbridge is really making a statement, and setting a standard. This is the future of furniture manufacturing.”



Winner: GNG Group

British-made goods gathered momentum during the pandemic, and there were many examples of excellent homegrown design and manufacture at this year’s show. This category recognises businesses that principally make in the UK, and that demonstrate high standards of output, with regard for their place in the local economy.

Highly Commended: RH45

Art supplier RH45 makes every element of its range in Huddersfield, using only British suppliers – from the moulding it makes its frames from, to the materials it prints on, and even the resin and crystals it employs.

“We feel it is vital to support British businesses,” says cofounder and director Jason Knapton. “We employ and commission British artists to create our images – and worked especially hard with Buster Fisher from Mansfield and DC Art from Manchester to come up with our new range for the show.

“Every element of our pictures is made in our workshop in England –this includes every single frame and all of our prints (which are printed directly onto glass on our own printer), and all our embellishment is carried out by British artists that we employ. Even our deliveries are carried out by our own drivers – we don’t use carriers. We really do believe in the ‘best of British’.”

The judges said: “We see plenty of corporate messaging in this industry, but RH45 come across as completely genuine – reflecting a deep belief in British values and product.”

Wakefield’s GNG Group, a foam specialist, and the manufacturer behind such bed brands as Komfi, Nectar Sleep and Sonlevo, demonstrated impressive growth in the past year, underpinned by significant investment, job creation, enviable green credentials and a good eye for brand delivery.

With its 40-year heritage, GNG Group has established itself as a leading UK manufacturer and international brand leader, supplying performance foam products for the healthcare, consumer and contract mattress sectors. In addition to its consumer brands, it is one of the largest indirect suppliers of medical mattresses to the NHS – its 80-strong mattress team worked overtime to meet high demand during the height of the pandemic.

Last year, the business invested £1.75m in turning a dormant site into a 40,000ft2 factory and warehouse in Normanton dedicated to its fast-growing mattress division. Having already created 20 new jobs, it expects to add another 30 over the next two years. Turnover increased from £7.5m in 2020 to £10m in 2021 (up +33% YoY), and is projected to reach £12m in 2022 (+20% YoY).

GNG has also embraced the green agenda. It says it was the first UK manufacturer to produce a carbonneutral mattress, and its new facility is equipped with low-energy lighting, with solar power and electric forklift trucks soon to be introduced. Elsewhere, the manufacturer has developed alternative mattress fillings, in its mission to deliver an increasingly circular offer.

On top of these developments, GNG acquired part of The Foam Company last year, including its well-known Sonlevo mattress brand, which now been integrated into its operations.

Chair Phillip Whittell comments: “One of our main aims is to become the leading foam mattress manufacturer in the UK. Ongoing R&D and the use of new technology such as our ground-breaking

Ecofoam sets us apart from the competition, and our investment in carbon-neutral mattress initiatives makes GNG an industry leader. Our aim is for this division to continue to see +20% growth every year. We aim to continue to be a great success story for UK manufacturing, and look forward to many years of growth and investment in the local community.”

MD Darren Potterton adds: “We are very proud to have been given this industry accolade, which is a real tribute to the hard work and commitment of the GNG team. To achieve this recognition marks another important milestone in our evolution.

“We’re looking forward to another busy year, with a strong order book and lots of new contracts driving further growth. In terms of key trends, people are increasingly looking at sustainability and wanting greener products. Fortunately, we started our journey to become a carbon-neutral company a few years ago, so we are in a strong position to continue innovating in this area.”

The judges said: “These numbers are pretty incredible! With growth and responsible development across the board – plus growing success overseas, and advanced R&D innovation helping it get ahead of the crowd – GNG’s sense of ambition is palpable. A worthy winner.”

Read more on p50.



Winner: Citibed

The Design Innovation category singles out the businesses pushing the boundaries of creativity and leading the way in good product design – as well as those putting truly original ideas at the heart of what they do.

Highly Commended: Gallery Direct

‘Leading by design’ is at the heart of Gallery Direct’s ethos, and its in-house team constantly develops new, design-led pieces, looking to the future with forward-thinking designs, at the same time drawing on an extensive heritage.

Gallery’s SS23 Collection features over 500 new pieces across all product categories, including: the Madison living and dining range; a new occasional chair collection; a farmhousestyle range, Eton; a selection of apartment living-style tables with glass tops; and the innovative a bed in a box, Whitfield.

“The Gallery SS23 Collection adds even greater depth to our catalogue, to give customers a wider choice of styles and designs,” says Gallery’s commercial director, James Hudson. “At the heart of all of them is our determination, using our ‘back-to-the-future’ approach, to create products which offer innovative, timeless, design-led style.”

The judges said: “Every year, Gallery come on in leaps and bounds, always looking for a new angle, and always delivering impressive results.”

With living space at a premium, furniture designers are increasingly tasked with creating multifunctional solutions that enable people to make the most of their homes. The judging panel had not seen anything like Citibed’s clean, flexible and very commercial hideaway bed, which builds on what has gone before – and does so with style.

“Citibed redefines and revolutionises space,” says Nicky Cannon, the MD and founder of The Jonic Group, which brought the concept to JFS this year. “A brand-new product, using only the same area as a king-sized bed, it means a lounge, office, dining room and bedroom become achievable effortlessly at the touch of a button.”

With a simple and modern patented design, Citibed allows the user to maximise functionality using minimal space. It flows from a parallel seating design to an office space, with a drop-down table creating a multipurpose space designed for focus and creativity, or simply relaxing and dining with friends.

“Returning the aforementioned table, at the touch of a button, the parallel arrangement changes again, this time morphing into a fully sized and dressed double bed,” Nicky continues. “With integrated pillows, sheets and a duvet uniquely enveloped into the design, a fully made bed is produced in seconds, without compromising on comfort. Washing the linen is easy too, with fastenings allowing for the bedding to be fully removed, before being re-attached once cleaned.

“Once the occupant has enjoyed their luxurious visit, the bed is simply stored away using the simple-to-operate remote, and the space once again becomes a seating/work area.

“There is simply no end to Citibed’s uses and spaces – this revolutionary concept can change how space is perceived. Effectively, in any place where space is at a premium, a Citibed can vastly increase the options available. In a world where space is diminishing, it only makes sense to maximise on the functionality of every area possible.”

Having conducted product testing at a previous exhibition, Jonic launched Citibed to the UK marketplace at JFS, and garnered much attention.

“We are thrilled to receive this award,” adds Nicky. “It has been a real team effort and a long road to achieve the product we’ve created today. We couldn’t be prouder that Citibed is being recognised for its innovation and design. It’s a very exciting time, and I can’t wait to see where Citibed takes us.”

The judges said: “We loved the design. It’s a piece of genuine design innovation – very clean, neat, and unique. It’s also amazingly flexible, and able to do so much – including so many possible commercial applications – within a very confined footprint. What a concept!”



Winner: Wiemann

With fluctuating prices and problematic supply chains still an issue, imports remain a difficult juggling act, and the Global Player category recognises the businesses that live and breathe it, and are able to demonstrate strength in product development, pricing and fulfilment, as well as an offer tailored to the unique tastes of the UK marketplace.

Highly Commended: Tomasella

Founded in 1948, Tomasella Industria Mobili boasts a wellestablished global presence.

“Tomasella knows how to meet the needs of dealers and customers, with expertise in production and a vast knowledge of materials,” says export area manager Enrico Carnelos. “It combines all this with the sensitivity of the designer.”

Tomasella pays particular attention to new materials that promise to meet today’s budgetary and sustainable demands, he adds, delivering flexible, customisable solutions across the domestic and hospitality sectors.

The judges said: “Most Italian brands know how to sell their stories, but Tomasella is the real deal. From firm foundations, it’s now really pushing the boat out to wider markets, and, given the resilience of its sourcing capabilities, it’ll no doubt see further success.”

Read more on p52.

Wiemann – which was highly commended in this category in 2022 – boasts impeccable business credentials. Designing and making high-quality, attractive bedrooms in its native Germany, before deploying them through a proficient delivery and installation network, this supplier knows that customer service is key.

Last year saw Wiemann enjoy double-digit sales growth in the UK and Ireland, driven by new distribution, but with a focus on working with existing customers to build stronger repeat sales from the same floor space. Wiemann says the formula for its ongoing success is “producing top-quality, welldesigned and appealing furniture, driving value for retailers, coupled with high-calibre customer service”.

While supply chain difficulties in many sectors hit the headlines throughout the year, Wiemann’s factory output was never an issue, says Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture. “This was thanks to the smart sourcing of raw materials and a spotlight on efficiency at the factory,” he says.

Wiemann is especially proud of its HDI (home delivery and installation) service, and a key focus in its success is its HDI capacity. The company has built this in partnership with its HDI providers, by optimising pockets of capacity and bringing on new providers where necessary. The result is an effective service which is held in high regard by its customers.

Litmus has enjoyed a successful 19-year partnership with the family-run German company, ensuring it remains not only contemporary and

exacting in its products, but mindful of delivering outstanding customer service. Litmus is able to identify what works best in each territory, and has helped Wiemann grow market share through a network of strong sales agents and a mix of national and independent retail clients.

Wiemann launched four new collections at the show, as well as updating six favourites.

The judges said: “They design for specific markets, and they back it up. Wiemann are working in a lot of countries, and that means overcoming myriad logistical issues, and meeting so many different expectations. Here in the UK, their PoS and logistics are executed brilliantly – so many importers get that bit wrong, but Wiemann (and Litmus) manage to tick all the boxes. They have all their ducks in a row, consistently exceeding expectation, while growing demand.”

Read more on p52.



Winner: Sci-Net Business Solutions

As the pace of change accelerates, businesses must embrace new, more efficient ways of working, and this category gives the furniture industry’s service providers an opportunity to highlight why their offer is a potential game-changer in today’s market.

Highly Commended: Iconography

Having created ecommerce websites – and integrated them with existing back-office retail systems – for the likes of Fishpools, And So

To Bed, Aldiss and Fairway Furniture since 2012, Iconography developed OMNIS Retail, a unified retail platform that aims to remove the integration fault lines and disconnect between ecommerce, store-based EPoS and legacy head office retail software which hold back and frustrate so many furniture retailers.

“The realisation dawned on us, over time, that, for many retailers, integrations threw up as many day-to-day issues as they solved,” says director Wayne Robbins. “The key to OMNIS Retail is a single comprehensive database, powering the retail operation, online, in-store and back office. Thus far, OMNIS has been very positively received, and we are in the process of deploying OMNIS into several significant furniture retailers across the UK.”

The judges said: “Iconography have come to market with a great, well-argued case for why their solution could be the right one for so many retailers struggling to modernise right now.”

Sci-Net boasts a proven track record of helping retailers become more efficient, reduce costs and maximise profit. It designs and delivers various IT solutions, led by a tailored ERP system for the retail sector – which has helped the likes of Tapi Carpets upscale successfully.

Sci-Net has provided software expertise for over 30 years. A Microsoft Gold Partner, the Oxfordshirebased company designs and delivers ERP, CRM and cloud infrastructure solutions – including its ERP system created specifically for the retail industry, ERP>Retail.

Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CFMD), it is a platform built within the mid-market ERP Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. It has been designed from the ground up for big ticket, omnichannel and internet retailers across the luxury, flooring, furniture, specialist, brand and fashion segments.

“With this best-of-breed, industry-specific solution, retailers have the support they need to run their entire furniture and flooring business – and navigate their way through uncertain times,” says marketing manager Jenny McNicholl.

Furniture and flooring customers include Tapi Carpets, which also drew on Sci-Net’s expertise to develop a measuring solution and automated tool for its 150-strong workforce of home consultants –enhancing the customer journey, boosting efficiency, and saving the carpet giant more than 100 admin hours each day.

Tapi’s CIO Jason Turner described the results of the partnership with Sci-Net as “outstanding”, potentially saving the business hundreds of thousands of pounds in infrastructure costs: “The system we have now, managed by Sci-Net, means we have visibility of our business, with accurate reporting in real time. It is suited to every aspect of our business, from estimating, sales, supply chain, inventory management and website integrations, right through

to in-store operations.”

As a result of increased demand for its services, Sci-Net has experienced rapid growth, and last year it acquired another business’ Microsoft Dynamics division, resulting in new premises in Southampton and 30 more employees. These recent milestones led Sci-Net to forecast + 25% YoY growth over the next five years.


Recognising the importance of attracting and supporting talent to maintain this trajectory, SciNet has established its own academy, training four apprentices, and has launched an undergraduate programme.

“We are absolutely over the moon to be announced as the winner,” adds Jenny. “It is a huge honour to be recognised amongst such esteemed companies in the furniture industry.”

The judges said: “Sci-Net’s solution covers so many areas of importance to a modern, growing retail business – and, thanks to satisfied customers like Tapi Carpets, the results are tangible.”

The Furniture Awards 2024 will be open for entries this autumn – for details of how to enter next year’s competition, watch this space!

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Think Rugs – still thinking ahead

Think Rugs enjoyed an “incredibly successful show”, and fully embraced the opportunity to share the highlights of its collection with its customers …

“The launch of our new range of recycled products was very well received, and we were delighted by the positive feedback we enjoyed from visitors to the show,” states the rug supplier, whose green credentials saw it highly commended by the judges in this year’s edition of The Furniture Awards.

“Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the world of interiors, and we are proud to be doing our part by offering high-quality rugs made from recycled materials,” the supplier continues. “The range received a lot of attention from buyers, who appreciated the eco-friendly focus and the stylish designs that we presented.

“Our Apollo and Creation ranges were also a huge hit with visitors, thanks to the current trend for metallic abstract designs. These rugs are perfect for adding a touch of glamour to any room, and we are thrilled to see that they are proving to be incredibly popular with our customers.”

Think Rugs believes that success is not just about selling products: “It’s also about building relationships and creating a community around our brand. We were delighted to have the opportunity to connect with so many of our customers at the January Furniture Show.

“We want to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to visit our stand, chat with our team, and view our products. We are grateful for their ongoing support, and look forward to continuing to provide them with the high-quality products and exceptional customer service that they have come to expect from us.

“Looking ahead, the success of the January Furniture Show has given us great momentum for the future. We are excited to build on the positive feedback we received and to continue expanding our product range to meet the evolving needs of our customers.

“As we prepare for the next show, we are already hard at work developing new designs and exploring innovative materials to bring to the market. We are committed to providing our customers with the very best in quality and style, and we are confident that our upcoming collections will impress and delight.”

Creation 50051 in
“We are already hard at work developing new designs and exploring innovative materials to bring to the market
2683 in grey and gold
beige and bronze
For E very H ome T: 01782 747 713 E:

Best in show

After another “phenomenal” year for the GNG Group – which saw the business integrate the luxury Sonlevo mattress brand into its varied portfolio and open a 40,000ft2 factory and warehouse dedicated to its fast-growing mattress division – Wakefield’s finest has started 2023 with a bang, topping the Best of British category in The Furniture Awards …

Having been named a finalist in the NBF Bed Industry Awards last autumn, GNG’s 40-year heritage and reputation as a leading UK manufacturer and international brand leader was further recognised by the January Furniture Show’s prestigious accolade.

Known for its quality and service, GNG develops and makes all of its products at its Yorkshire site. In addition to its popular consumer brands, it is one of

the largest indirect suppliers of medical mattresses to the NHS.

MD Darren Potterton says: “We are very proud to have been given this industry accolade, which is a real tribute to the hard work and commitment of the GNG team. The judges commended GNG for our impressive growth, job creation, enviable green credentials and brand delivery, as well as for our advanced R&D innovation, which helps us stay ahead of the crowd. To achieve this recognition marks another important milestone in our evolution.

“We’re looking forward to another busy year, with a strong order book and lots of new contracts driving further growth. In terms of key trends, people are increasingly looking at sustainability and wanting greener products. Fortunately, we started our journey to become a carbon-neutral company a few years ago, so we are in a strong position to continue innovating in this area.”

The GNG team enjoyed a successful show, welcoming visitors from across the sector to its stand. The manufacturer showcased models from its hat trick of popular British brands, including: the Komfi range, which features the unique Ecofoam, providing a reduced carbon footprint; and the affordably priced Unity vacuum-packed mattress collection.

Also on show were models from GNG’s luxury Sonlevo brand – mattresses whose unique grid system (TrueGel technology) promises maximum support while minimising pressure and regulating temperature. GNG also partnered with Nectar Sleep, the largest boxed mattress brand in the US, which promises “exceptional” comfort, combined with a 365-night trial and lifetime warranty.

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

To find out more about stocking any of GNG’s collections,call 01924 950300 or email info@gng.

“This industry accolade is a real tribute to the team’s hard work and commitment
GNG’s head office in Wakefield Sonlevo Nectar
Carbon Neutral Organisation BEST OF BRITISH CATEGORY

Tomasella Industria Mobili was highly commended in the Global Player category in this year’s edition of The Furniture Awards.

Founded in 1948, Tomasella boasts a well-established global presence, and “knows how to meet the needs of dealers and customers”, says export area manager Enrico Carnelos. Tomasella pays particular attention to new materials, delivering flexible, customisable solutions across the domestic and hospitality sectors.

The judges commented: “Most Italian brands know how to sell their stories, but Tomasella is the real deal.”


German bedroom manufacturer Wiemann launched four new ranges and updates to seven of its existing collections at a successful January Furniture Show. Wiemann also scooped the top prize in The Furniture Awards 2023’s Global Player category.

New launch Denver is a VIP collection set to be 2023’s flagship range. With its eye-catching, decking-effect feature doors and the latest colour options, it was the hero product on Wiemann’s stand. Also popular was the Shaker-style Cambridge in new colour sage green.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “All our new products launched at the show were very well received. We are living up to our promise to provide a total bedroom solution for any space.

“All Wiemann products are known for their excellent design, quality and value, and are backed up with our five-star customer support service.”

Split Denver in
Cambridge in sage green graphite

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Bedrooms of distinctive style, quality and value

made in germany |

H Living’s brand-new outlook

This year’s JFS saw H Living unveil an assured array of upholstered beds, which reiterated the Huddersfield manufacturer/ importer’s ability to deliver on-trend quality. But it was just the tip of the iceberg – discovered Paul Farley, when he checked in with the brand’s MD, Biny Hyder …

Although the business has gone through several iterations, its roots go back as far as 1979, when Biny’s father, Zed, started importing pine beds, before establishing the Hyder business itself in 1997. Zed went on to pioneer dropship deliveries in an increasingly digitally driven world, before handing the reins to his son – who seized the opportunity to reinvent and refine what had become an incredibly diverse offer.

“It’s always been a family business, but times change, and we’ve had to react accordingly,” says Biny, who supervised operations until he became MD in 2018. “Our focus was shifting to more specialist products and sectors, while the marketplace was getting even more complex. So, one of the decisions we made early on was to rebrand ourselves as H Living, to better reflect the diverse landscape in which we found ourselves.”

The H Living umbrella encompasses several brands: affordable, well-established domestic furniture brand Hyder Living; Easy Sofa, a modular, boxed upholstery line, that incorporates boxed mattresses and beds; The Natural Collection, a higher-end mattress brand that sees materials such as cashmere, silk, bamboo and fine viscose come together in an expertly crafted (yet competitively priced) portfolio; plus contract and healthcare divisions, and a bespoke offer.

With a customer base comprising nationals, independents and carefully selected ecommerce sellers, H Living boasts a unique blend of import capacity and local manufacturing. Its part-owned factory in China ensures a ready, rapid supply of quality product, while its mattresses (and some bedsteads) are made to order in the UK. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Biny.

The setup gives H Living the flexibility to respond to demand quickly and effectively, and without compromise. Just shy of 40 members of staff work in and around H Living’s 60,000ft2 warehouse and workshop in Huddersfield, while the business’ global reach is maintained by its sourcing offices in Malaysia, Australia and the Middle East. Local stockholdings are limited (but rotated frequently), with import lead times on par with locally manufactured goods, and both ends of the business enjoy continual development. Biny invested £250,000 in new machinery last month, and plans to invest the same again later this year – a commitment which sits alongside plans for a significant warehouse extension, plus added external storage.

“We’re growing fast – our headcount alone is almost double what it was just two years ago – but, like many, we’re taking a measured approach right now,” says Biny. “Our growth needs to be sustainable.”

“Our growth needs to be sustainable
The Natural Collection represents the higher end of H Living’s portfolio
54 JFS
Blending home comfort and boutique hotel style, wallboards will be available later this year

H Living has the greener directions covered, too. The business is ISO accredited and NBF audited, and has been a zero-to landfill operation for four years – with a pledge to hit net zero emissions by 2030, and to increasingly employ recycled materials. Biny says the business even launched the market’s first vegan mattress, long before that movement became mainstream.

But, he continues, it’s the end product which really sets H Living apart. “Across the board, our products are stylish, robust, timeless, and bursting with highmargin possibilities,” he says. “I call it ‘achievable aspiration’ – take a closer look, and they’re not as pricey as you might think.”

The bulk of H Living’s offer is upholstered – bed bases, headboards and bed frames – and its models are available in hundreds of fabrics, and thousands of colours. Some models incorporate useful technological touches, like LED lighting or USB sockets, while other can be specified on a bespokemade basis. Indeed, says Biny, its flexibility has made the supplier extremely popular with interior designers.

From budget lines to natural, handmade mattresses – as well as whole divisions dedicated to contract output for hospitals, care homes, student accommodation, hotels and more – H Living’s breadth of offer is vast.

And it became even bigger this year. At JFS, H Living unveiled new ottoman, fixed and luxury bed designs (with the boucle Paddington the star of the show), which are due to launch this year. It also plans to introduce new mattresses with natural and recycled fillings (plus full edge-to-edge support), and a fully customisable bespoke range, which will enable the customer to tailor the headboard and base/frame to their liking. It is even looking to debut a bespoke wallboard range (with assembly) and ottoman boxes to match its existing lines.

“Meeting customers new and old, face to face, is so important,” says Biny, who is already lining up “something special” for this year’s NBF Bed Show in September. “As is making sure they’re looked after all year round. We support and communicate with each

customer from the moment they ring with their query, right up to the delivery, and check once it’s delivered to make sure they’re satisfied. Customers are updated every step of the way, and we have a dedicated order department that’s able to assist with any queries.”

Although Biny acknowledges that H Living is (“and always will be”) a trade brand, he feels there’s scope to add further value by making it resonate better with consumers. To this end, he has directed some of the company’s marketing efforts towards consumer outreach – including an appearance at Grand Designs Live in London this spring, principally to build demand for The Natural Collection.

“We’re doing it so our customers can stand on our shoulders and proudly carry our brands,” says Biny. “Our brands are worth much more than even we’ve acknowledged in the past, and when you consider our build quality, and how people looking at our products generally imagine they’d be priced much higher than they are, we think it’s important to reinforce that value perception. When you factor in our level of customer service and follow-up activities, we’re untouchable!”

“When you factor in our level of customer service and follow-up activities, we’re untouchable
H Living introduced new ottoman bedsteads at JFS
Mylo wallboard

La-Z-Boy UK’s record-breaking performance

La-Z-Boy UK says it secured a record number of orders at this year’s January Furniture Show, with its new ranges proving a hit with retailers and buyers …

The event was the first opportunity to see two new collections – Paris and Lennox – which will soon be on sale in the UK. With its own exclusive leather and fabric ranges, Paris is an entry-level model with add-on options, making La-Z-Boy furniture accessible to a wider range of consumers – while Lennox is the first La-Z-Boy UK collection to feature zero gravitystyle technology, which allows people to recline in a position which minimises stress and pressure on the body and gives them a feeling of weightless.

When the Lennox is in a fully reclined position, the user’s legs will be higher than their heart, increasing blood flow around the body and helping to reduce any swelling and pain.

The furniture brand had an American footballthemed stand to celebrate its partnership with the NFL, and included a sports den featuring a widescreen TV and Spectator chairs. As the official partner for the London Games, La-Z-Boy UK

welcomed former NFL star and TV presenter Jason Bell to the stand to take part in a Q&A session, pose for photographs and sign merchandise for fans.

Tristan Pyke, La-Z-Boy UK’s sales director, says:

“The La-Z-Boy stand looked fantastic and attracted a lot of interest. We were delighted to secure a record-breaking number of orders, including with new retailers who have never stocked our products in their stores before.”

In addition to the new products being launched at the show, the Anderson and Otta ranges were popular with visitors to the stand. The Anderson has a classic waterfall back, cushioned arms and a centre console option, while the Otta combines mid-century sophistication with comfort, support and the luxury of a chaise end option.

The stand also featured the Harrison, a contemporary sectional range with optional reading light, storage console and wireless charging, ideal for customers looking for something more than just comfort from their sofa.

58 JFS
“The La-Z-Boy stand looked fantastic and attracted a lot of interest
Lennox Paris NFL star Jason Bell joined La-Z-Boy on its stand

Brand New Ranges - Available to order as three seater, two seater and single chair variants; Paris comes in static, manual and power recline options, with Lennox offering static and power recline options. Create your ideal look with a variety of high quality leather grades and numerous fabric styles.



At JFS, Kettle Interiors launched its new website, bringing furniture and home retailers “more features than ever before”.


Gallery Direct celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Established in 1973 as a small, familyrun business, Gallery has developed into a leading British-based designer, manufacturer and distributor of furniture, outdoor living, home decor and accessories – “the complete home and outdoor supplier”.

Gallery started the year by exhibiting at the January Furniture Show and Spring Fair, where it showcased its SS23 Collection. Spring Fair also saw the launch of Gallery’s Christmas 2023 Collection.

Gallery also published seven new category guides, along with SS23 and Christmas edits. “Both shows were incredibly successful, with customers new and current loving the products and enjoying our celebratory hospitality and show offers,” states the supplier.

For anyone who was unable to visit the shows but would like to find out more about Gallery’s new ranges, the SS23 Collection and all the publications are already on the supplier’s website, and the Christmas 2023 Collection is coming soon. Alternatively, contact the sales team to find out more.

Now customers have the flexibility to work with Kettle Interiors 24/7, with a new website redesigned from the ground up to offer improved functionality and a smoother experience, making it even easier to browse, order and pay, says the supplier: “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.”

Register online for site-wide access.

60 JFS
MD Peter Delaney leads some of Gallery’s team in celebrating 50 years of business


Start the outdoor season right with exclusive promotions on Mambo Outdoor Living Sets. With no minimum order and everything in stock, you can start spring with fantastic deals for your customers. VISIT OUR NEW WEBSITE TO ORDER YOUR MAMBO OUTDOOR LIVING 2023 SEASON PROMOTIONS Available in White & Grey Square Dining Table, Plain Top & 4 Chairs Promotion Price Stockist Price £499.99 £1,425.00 x4 Promotion Price Stockist Price £149.99 £269.99 Drinks Trolley Available in White & Grey Promotion Price Stockist Price £59.99 £89.99 Coffee Table Square Dining Table, Patterned Top & 4 Chairs Promotion Price Stockist Price £575.00 £1,475.00 x4 Available in White & Grey Rectangular Dining Table, Plain Glass & 6 Chairs Promotion Price Stockist Price £599.99 £1,969.99 Bar Table, Plain Top & 6 Stools Promotion Price Stockist Price £699.99 £1,624.99 x6 Available in White & Grey Available in White & Grey Available in White & Dark Grey x6

Make the protection connection

National Bed Month (March) is the perfect time to focus on the importance of sleep – and to reflect and review missed opportunities within the retail environment, writes Gowsh Shan, national sales manager for mattress protection specialist, Protect-A-Bed, following a busy January Furniture Show …

A global specialist in mattress protection, with a proven track record in growing sales within the category, Protect-A-Bed is keen to ensure more retailers avail of its benefits in this competitive environment.

“After a very strong 2022, it’s clear from early signs that maximising every customer will be increasingly important this year,” says Gowsh. “Protect-A-Bed can transform sales in the bed category – but what makes our mattress protectors different?

“In terms of hygiene, the average person sweats up to a pint of fluid a night. With mattress fillings being highly absorbent, your mattress, if unprotected, will absorb hundreds of pints of sweat in its first year of use alone.

“All of our mattress protectors use a Miracle Membrane, which is waterproof yet breathable, and allows body heat to easily pass through, whilst preventing any sweat from entering the mattress. The protectors are machine washable, meaning you can keep your sleep zone healthy and hygienic.

“Every Protect-A-Bed protector also includes a 1015-year product guarantee and, when bought with a mattress, a 10-15-year anti-stain guarantee. ProtectA-Bed will have the mattress professionally cleaned

to the customer’s satisfaction, or buy the customer a new one if it fails and the mattress was bought with the protector. This promise is significantly powerful, and is at the core of our philosophy. Supporting this is an award-winning claims resolution and customer service. Ultimately, in-store it’s about creating value for the customer.”

Gowsh goes on to outline how its add-on benefits every party: “It’s in both the store’s and the customer’s interest to purchase, and our speciality is driving instore performance, so linked mattress and mattress protector sales are extremely high. The customer benefits from a healthy and hygienic sleep zone, while the store benefits from increased sales revenue. Every customer who walks through the door, if buying a mattress, needs to buy a mattress protector. It’s in their interest to do so, for many reasons.

“Protect-A-Bed are specialists in the mattress protection category. Nobody else in the category has the same passion, drive and focus to grow sales, and that’s why we are the leading global brand in healthy sleep. The importance of every customer and every sale has grown significantly – and Protect-A-Bed can help you maximise every sale.”

To find our more, contact Protect-A-Bed this National Bed Month.
Quality mattresses deserve quality protection, believes Protect-A-Bed 62 JFS
“Linked mattress and mattress protector sales are extremely high
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Sweet Dreams has it covered

Sweet Dreams introduced new upholstered frames and hybrid storage beds to its portfolio at JFS, and found an audience of trade buyers ready and willing to embrace them …

In 2022, Burney-based manufacturer/importer Sweet Dreams raised its game through a tranche of new developments, including: an impressive range of upholstered bed frames; three styles of TV bed (with standard or adjustable slat systems); five styles of hybrid bed, offering frame styling with matching head and foot ends plus drawer and ottoman storage options; and the Opulence range, which, like the rest of the manufacturer’s frames, comes with a choice of 10 luxury upholstery fabrics.

“If you want to relax and enjoy TV in the bedroom, then our Vision range completes the offer, with a TV foot end option in all 10 fabric choices,” says Sweet Dreams, which went on to continue the successful rollout of its new upholstery ranges at the January show. These included one- and two-seater options, and some eye-catching corner configurations (all

made in Sweet Dreams’ factory in Burnley, with a variety of action and mattress choices on offer).

Sweet Dreams also launched a range of accent pieces for the beds in time for the show, including accent chairs and ottoman storage boxes.

“At Sweet Dreams, we’ve always been proud of our delivery times,” states the supplier. “Our own-manufactured frames are made to order and delivered within 10 working days to most parts of mainland Britain, while sofas take a little longer, but are generally delivered in 20 working days. And Sweet Dreams can also offer a premium home delivery service, which includes room of choice, assembly, and mattress removal.”

A full range of the manufacturer’s impressive British-made furniture was on show at JFS, plus a stocked range of wooden and upholstered frames –all available for quick delivery.

“Our new launches received a very good reception,” says Sweet Dreams, “and we’re looking forward to building on these successes throughout 2023.”

64 JFS
“We’ve always been proud of our delivery times
Chatsworth Griffin Regal

Home Junction’s all-new 2023 garden ranges proved “an absolute hit” at JFS, states the supplier: “Not really knowing how the industry would react to the topsyturvy world we all endured during 2022, it was a relief to see expectations being blown away.

“From the incredible-value Melody corner set with rising table to the classic styling of the Indigo threeseater sofa set with deep, soft cushions, aluminium frame and natural round rattan, our great-value, sleek designs and fantastic customer service cover all the bases.”

Home Junction’s management team has been in the industry for over 26 years – so the business understands what is required to look after the needs of both retailer and consumer.

“Contact us to find out what we can do to help you with your 2023 garden furniture sales,” the company continues. “We have stock constantly arriving throughout the season – with no minimum order, and direct home delivery available, we can take care of everything.”


The Aquinos Group, a producer of upholstered furniture and bedding founded in Portugal, has been providing comfort for almost four decades. With 20 factories across Europe, its’ sofas and mattresses can be found in homes worldwide.

At JFS, the brand debuted MIA (Made in Aquinos), a range of sofas designed with a unique and distinctive identity. The MIA collection boasts a contemporary flair, while preserving a neo-traditional essence. “Whether you’re seeking sophistication or comfort, Aquinos has something for you,” states the supplier.

66 JFS

New collection puts Alpha in first place

Alpha Designs Upholstery was delighted to be back at JFS, where it promised to “excite and invigorate the market” with its new Curated collection …

“Although it was evident that the halls were noticeably smaller than in previous years, we absolutely cannot complain about the attendance and reaction we enjoyed on our stand, resulting in our best-ever JFS,” comments Alpha’s new sales director Nichola Bell, who joined the business just before the show.

“Not only the attendance, but the general vibe of the show was positive, buoyant, and, dare I say, enjoyable!

“But, as the saying goes, ‘you have to be in it to win it’ – we invested heavily in our new stand build and product development. I believe that our customers deserve to see our product in the best environment possible and to be inspired by the surroundings, with a view to replicating the look in-store.”

Alpha utilised this setting to deploy a raft of new models, explains Nichola: “In a competitive market we have to keep ahead of demand and trend, so our new Curated range offers additional design and value to customers looking for something with a more bespoke feel. Inspired by fashion, the range features a mix of

materials and unique detailing, fused with generous proportions and superior comfort.

“The clear winners were Celeste, Atlas and Titus, all of which offer a choice of additional fabric ‘treatments’, from contrast cuffs to quilting, and a unique metal arm detail. Soft-handle fabrics in warmer tones were very well received, and it was lovely to see customers embracing strong colour again.”

This year’s show marked the start of a new era for the sofamaker, with Nichola’s appointment coinciding with the departure of an Alpha mainstay. “Although JFS was a resounding success, it was tinged with sadness, as we said goodbye to Barry Webb before his retirement,” says Nichola, “but it was lovely to see longstanding colleagues and customers wishing him well for his future.

“In all, a great thank you to everyone who supported us at the show and made me feel very welcome as the latest addition to Alpha Designs.”

The business can be reached on 01902 492937.

68 JFS
“It was lovely to see customers embracing strong colour again
Existing Alpha favourite, Montagne Alpha’s team enjoyed their best show to date

Furnico’s British-made furniture lands well

Furnico’s British-made, white-label sofas and chairs proved popular with visitors to JFS, with retailers praising the wide choice of options available.

For the first time, the Lancashire-based brand was sharing a stand with La-Z-Boy UK at the event (all Furnico products are manufactured in the same factory as La-Z-Boy’s Made in Britain collections).

Visitors were able to get a first glimpse of four new products being launched this year – Kinsley, Buxton, Cantwell and Longton. All four are fabric-upholstered sofas featuring motion actions, something Furnico is known for throughout the UK and Ireland.

One of the most popular new models at the show was Kinsley, which offers a high level of personalisation for retailers looking to make the product their own. Available in both static and power recline, Kinsley enables customers to choose between dark or light feet and four fabric collections, including the popular Synergy range.

Its love seats, standard chairs and footstools are available as statement pieces in a bold floral design, and the product has a stylish, modern look. The power recline option includes a discreet flipper mechanism which sees the footrest lift out and means pieces can be placed against a wall – ideal for customers looking to save space.

Another favourite at the event was Buxton, a classic product with scroll arms and curved stitching. Available in static, manual and power recline variants, the product was launched with a collection of five new fabrics called Cupcake, which will be added to the Synergy range for use on other models.

Cantwell is offered in scatter back and standard back, and has contrast piping and a ruching detail on the arms which gives the style a designer edge. The model on display at JFS was in the Farah Cream collection with earthy tones and an aztec-style design to reflect current trends. Like the Kinsley, Cantwell uses a flipper mechanism to offer a power recline option while maintaining a modern, off-the-floor aesthetic.

Longton is the only product in Furnico’s current offering which includes a chaise option, and the interchangeable units mean the chaise can be placed on either the left or the right, to suit the consumer’s home. Available in static and power recline, it is designed to maximise customer choice, with multiple customisation options including a choice of chrome or gold feet and trim, with the additional option of no trim at all.

To enquire about any of the Furnico ranges, call 01282 869888 and select option 1.

70 JFS
Cantwell Buxton Kinsley

Furnico's latest 2023 ranges are now available to order.

Cantwell, Longton, Kinsley and Buxton offer a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with exclusive fabrics tailored to meet the expectations of both retailers and consumers.

La-Z-Boy UK Manufacturing, Bradford House, Phillips Lane, Colne, BB8 9PQ Suppliers of handmade furniture to retail 01282 869888 •

Bluebone was delighted with the response to its stands at JFS, which focused on two key product areas – dining and details.

In dining, the Chevron table was a winner, as was the round Oban. Both tables have parquet-style tops. The Chevron rectangle is mango, finished in a subtle grey wash, and comes in three sizes – while the round Oban is made from reclaimed teak, with a black metal star-shaped base.

Details (small furniture and homewares) saw the versatile hangers – wine, kitchen and cloakroom versions – all prove popular, while new games, hobby boxes and oversized artwork added colour and fun to the stand.

“Everything is now back in the showroom, and we are open Monday to Friday, so book your visit to come and see us soon,” says Bluebone.


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

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

“Thanks to everyone who visited us at JFS.”

72 JFS
BLUEBONE Round Oban table
Glassware made up part of Bluebone’s focus on details

Vogue reinforces its vegan values

JFS saw Vogue Beds Group put its new Vegan Pocket Mattress front and centre, atop a tasteful new wooden bedframe …

Available in 1000, 1500 and 2000 pocket springs (along with a Bunk Bed Pocket 1000 mattress that is only 18cm high), Vogue’s Vegan Mattress Collection offers a range of firmness options.

Certified by The Vegan Society, the collection is handmade in the heart of England using a combination of fillings and components including recycled plastic, and featuring a robust pocket spring layout.

Clever hypo-allergenic fillings allow maximum airflow, which regulates body temperature, and draw on the latest technology to turn recycled plastic into advanced layers of support, providing a “comfortable, luxurious sleeping experience,” says Vogue, “and the whole mattress is wrapped in a plant-based cover, which allows it to breathe – the fabric is unique in its construction.”

Keeping the environment squarely in mind, the mattress can also be fully recycled at the end of its life. Because the mattresses are manufactured using fillings made from recycled plastic, recyclable products are saved from landfill.

But why go vegan in the bedroom? First, says the bedmaker, it is good for the planet: “Thanks to not using farming during any of the manufacturing process, we are cutting down the carbon footprint of mattress manufacturing considerably. That means that with every vegan mattress, we’re helping cut our emissions, and further helping our planet against pollution from farming.”

The decision to certify the product was a priority, says Vogue: “While we know our calculations are correct, we thought we’d best get them checked out

and approved. The lovely folks at The Vegan Society have given our mattress their certification, meaning we align with their standards and are a fully vegan product. You will spot their logo on a wide range of products across all industries.”

The mattresses are also NBF approved, come with a five-year warranty, and, for every model sold, a tree is planted by Vogue’s partner, more:trees.

Also showcased at JFS was the Oban bedframe, the perfect accompaniment to the Vegan Pocket Mattress. Made from rubberwood, this solid wooden bedframe comes in an oak finish, with a wooden slat base. It is also available with an upholstered headrest, which comes in a choice of 25 fabric options.

Veganuary may be over, but Vogue’s mission is just beginning …

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Vegan 1500 Vegan 2000
“We align with The Vegan Society’s standards and are a fully vegan product





RS promises rapid revenue generation

Although the business was founded in 2016, that is not exactly where its story starts, says its principals, who, prior to that, ran a UK sofa-manufacturing operation for many years, before launching a company solely to trade in imported recliner sofas.

“Our experience in manufacturing has given us the edge when sourcing products overseas for the UK market,” they say. “We have the knowledge to look into the quality of each item, and that keeps us a step ahead of our competitors.”

RS Furniture’s team visits factories all over the world to identify products that would be suitable for the UK market, and utilises its close relationships with

overseas factories to design its own exclusive items.

“In a short period of time, we’ve changed the UK wholesale market,” says RS Furniture, “making highquality, value-for-money sofas available to UK retailers at the best prices.”

The business is continually working on new ranges, and uses key UK trade shows such as JFS to launch its new lines. It also prioritises only those with the most potential: “We help retailers by only stocking fast-selling items. For this reason, we constantly review our ranges, and are not afraid to discontinue items that don’t reach our sales targets. This process ensures that we don’t have slow-selling items taking up valuable UK warehouse space, and retailers don’t have slow-selling items taking up valuable retail floor space.

“Response times are also essential for retailers, and we pride ourselves on the quality of our customer service. Keeping a large amount of UK stock in our three warehouses allows us to respond quickly and get orders out as soon as possible – while our two-tier pricing system offers a price for items either delivered directly to your shop or warehouse premises, or, for a small discount, you can collect them yourself from our Oldham warehouse.”

To find out more, call 07973 309951 or 07454 349934, or email

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Boasting “the fastest-moving recliner sofas in the UK”, RS Furniture has quickly become one of the UK’s leading sofa wholesalers for midmarket product.
“In a short period of time, we’ve changed the UK wholesale market
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TFW was well prepared for this year’s show, where it launched an impressive 12 sintered stone dining tables, covering sizes from 120cm all the way up to 280cm – which, along with a polished recliner offering, meant the supplier enjoyed a “great” four days of interest and orders.

“In all honesty, our recliners are not revolutionary in terms of shapes/newness, but our genuine leather/fabric offering hit the sweet spot, helped by its keen pricing,” says MD Dean Lovett. “Our dining offering, on the other hand, is market-disrupting – we had something for everyone in terms of size and colour, at price points that everyone agreed were workable (and that’s a rare comment to hear from buyers!).”

In the coming months, buyers can expect further recliner newness that leans towards more modern shapes, says Dean, as well as the rollout of a sintered stone cabinet line.

Lexmond.UK, a premier wholeseller of premium mirrors, enjoyed a strong JFS this year.

The supplier offers a choice of over 650 frames, and over 100 sizes. Its portfolio chiefly comprises exclusive Dutch and German designs, the majority of which are eminently suitable for online orders and dropshipping.

“Our well-priced items and short lead times mean better profit margins and turnover,” states Lexmond.UK. “For more information – and prices – please sign up on our trade website.”

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WHOLESALE ENQUIRIES: - 0208 680 5276 / – 07867 787894


MAIN WAREHOUSE & SHOWROOM: Units 2 & 3 | 5 & 6 Church Lane Industrial Estate, Church Lane, West Bromwich B71 1AR

LONDON (SMALL) SHOWROOM & WAREHOUSE: Cobblers Yard, 477a The High Road Leyton, London E10 5EL

Show and tell

January Furniture Show exhibitor party

The Furniture Talks stage, Hall 1, NEC Birmingham / Sunday 22nd January

As the first day of this year’s January Furniture Show drew to a close, exhibitors were invited to catch up over drinks in Hall 1. The party also saw the winners of The Furniture Awards 2023 revealed, as a presentation introduced by Harry McKinley, and led by Furniture News’ Paul Farley and Clarion’s Zoe Bonser, celebrated the best in show.

80 JFS
Tel: 01992 666 526, Fax: 01487 823 744, Mob: 07508 997 162 Email- | Web: Unit 5 Warboys Airfield Ind. Estate, Warboys Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2SH A big thank you for visiting us at the January Furniture Show


Core Products has significantly expanded its Lido high-gloss white collection, which is ideal for small-space living.

Every piece is designed to optimise space, while at the same time providing maximum storage at an affordable price. Finished in a white, high-gloss, easy-to-clean plastic film, with subtle matt silver-effect handles and feet, the range comprises pieces designed for use throughout the home.


For upstairs there is a selection of chests in both compact and standard sizes and, new for 2023, a low combination wardrobe which offers plenty of drawer and hanging space.Downstairs is well catered for too, with a range of sideboards, bookcases, TV units and a new TV wall panel. For the hallway there is also a new shoe cabinet, with

Wallace & Scott is an independent furniture design and manufacturing company. Everything it produces is designed in-house, and manufactured in its workshop or by its specialist partners.

Currently, Wallace & Scott offers a range of tubular, stainless steel coffee table designs, alongside a bespoke design-and-make service. Similarly, its tubular furniture pieces come in a range of sizes, surface finishes and colours which can be further tailored to specific needs.

The coffee tables are designed to evoke the simplicity of form that developed during the 20th century. Inspired by the modernist design ethos of masters such as Eileen Gray and Marcel Bruer, Wallace & Scott’s furniture honours the break away from traditional materials and

drop-down doors which reveal shoe storage.

All of these products are held in stock in the UK for quick delivery, either direct to the endcustomer or store – there is no need to carry stock, as all Core stock is supplied unbranded and a full inventory is available to authorised sellers, alongside an online ordering facility.

decoration, and celebrates the modern simplicity driven by the social and cultural changes of the post-war years, and the accelerating material and manufacturing developments occurring at that time.

Every piece of furniture is predominantly manufactured by hand, using only stainless steel tube (31 and 38mm diameter) which is rolled and mandrel-bent to shape. The tubes are TIG welded by hand, then ground and polished to produce either a brushed or mirror-polished finish.

The glass is supplied by a factory that uses CNC technology to shape it to the design. Once cut, it is toughened to meet Impact Class A (BS6206) and Class 1 (BS EN 12600). Glass can be supplied in a standard range of clear and two colour tints (bronze and smoked), with further colour options available on request.

Lido wardrobe
wall panel

Continuous customer care from Staingard

When Staingard was launched in 2006, it was a newcomer to a wellestablished market, so its founders knew that the business couldn’t afford to be “just another warranty provider”, says MD Paul Aiston …

“The FCA hadn’t long been involved with furniture warranties at that stage, and it’s fair to say the reputation of the industry could have been better,” Paul continues. “So, with Staingard, we aimed for a policy without ambiguity, with exceptional service, and supported by outstanding care products. If we introduced clarity for both customer and salesperson, we would have a product that delivers the very best service.

“Over the last 17 years, Staingard has retained those values, precipitating growth in all areas and allowing us to diversify with so many different care products.

“For the furniture retailer, Staingard is now the place to go for all value-added products, supporting their margin and augmenting their customers’ purchases. Whether they need insured care plans, Mattressgard mattress protectors, Floorgard floor protectors and glides, furniture repair products or leathercare kits from the most extensive range, Staingard can provide the solution.”

Paul goes on to explain that working with Staingard offers various other benefits, too. “Staingard holds extensive stock in the UK,” he says, “and in most cases we can receive your order, fill, label, assemble, pack and dispatch products (personalised to your brand if required!), within just 48 hours.

“And that’s another area where we’ve led the way. After years of development, our brand is strong. The Staingard name inspires confidence – but so too does your brand. That’s why we championed personalisation for short-run orders, be it care kits or mattress protectors, to enable you to have the benefits of one of our great products, but carrying your own company’s name.

“It hasn’t always been an easy journey, but we’ve made some great friendships along the way with great people, and now, Staingard has been awarded both Interiors Monthly awards for both Best

Protection Product and Best Mattress Protection Product – the first company to be awarded both titles simultaneously!

“These awards were voted for by you, our retail partners, and I can’t thank you all enough for showing the appreciation and recognition for our products and our service. Furthermore, I would like to thank my family – who all work in the business – for their unstinting support, and to my fantastic team of employees for their hard work and dedication.”

Staingard offers a range of products, including: fiveyear insured care plans; fabric, leather, cabinet and carpet care kits; mattress protectors; leather repair products; furniture glides and pads; and its very own Staingard fabric protector.

To find out more, call 01244 888658, visit Staingard’s website, or email

“We aimed for a policy without ambiguity, with exceptional service, and supported by outstanding care products

Home Care

Go to or call 01244 888 658 to learn more about how Staingard’s comprehensive furniture care products can enhance your consumer experience and your margins.
FURNITURE CARE & REPAIR LEATHER CARE & REPAIR Mattressgard mattress and pillow protectors are perfect for all the family. Display instore our complete bed care range for total customer peace of mind. Sleep well, live well

Expanding from furniture to incorporate property repairs

Homeserve Furniture Repairs, which has been voted the Best Furniture Care/Repair Provider in Furniture News’ Readers’ Choice Awards for two consecutive years, recently launched a new division aimed at resolving property damage.

As well as growing its expertise in repairing various types of furniture damage, Homeserve Furniture Repairs has gained insights into the extensive amount of property damage that remains unresolved in many homes. As a result, the company decided to offer a solution, by launching Homeserve Property Repairs, which manages a network of over 1500 quality-approved tradespeople across Great Britain and Ireland to provide professional household repairs on behalf of its clients.

Homeserve Property Repairs offers a straightforward and userfriendly system that allows clients to track the progress of their repair jobs from start to finish. The system enables clients to log the type of property damage, along with customer details and any relevant images, which are reviewed by the Homeserve team within 24 hours.

Once assessed, the relevant tradesperson is allocated to obtain an initial quote for the required work, and a comprehensive report is provided to allow the client to fully understand the repair process. With the client’s approval, arrangements are then made with the contractor and the customer for the work to be completed, and the job status is updated. The Homeserve system also provides full visibility at each stage of the customer’s journey, enabling clients to view the progress of their repair jobs at any time.

Homeserve Property Repairs offers a wide range of services, covering all types of damage, including interior, exterior, and even structural work. The network of approved and insured tradespeople and sub-contractors includes decorators, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, builders and landscapers, who can repair damage to walls, UPVC doors and windows, radiators, carpets, floors, interior framework, lawns, and more.

With its one-stop solution for all types of damage, Homeserve Property Repairs aims to provide an efficient and stress-free service for its clients.

For further details, contact Homeserve Property Repairs on 01384 473 012 or email

Homeserve’s on-location services are supported by a proficient office team
Homeserve’s HQ in Brierley Hill
boasts extensive coverage

Exclusive to Stroolmount

Carpet, wood, laminate or tiles: Quickclick gives long-term protection for them all. So when moving any furniture to a room with different flooring, just click in a protection glide for that floor type.

Quickclick protects your flooring

Chairs scraped back and forth wear down even the most resilient flooring. Quickclick, keeps flooring looking its best for much longer.

Quickclick protects your furniture

It minimises wear and tear, plus reduces stress on your chair and table legs.

Quickclick protects your ears

Noise is reduced up to 75%. So your dinner party needn’t be interrupted by unbearable screeching – or at least by the chairs!

Step byStep

Screw in a Quickclick base under each furniture leg.


1 Click a glide into the base. You’re now protected.


To swap a glide, click it out with a screwdriver and pop another one in.

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Stroolmount, widely recognised as a leading supplier of furniture and floor protection systems, says its small products can make a big difference.

“You plan. You produce. You install. You make every detail perfect. Now you can protect you and your customers’ investment in flooring and furniture with cost-effective ideas,” says the solutions specialist.

As well as innovating to solve customer problems, Stroolmount prides itself on being a one-stop solutions shop – take a look at its website to find out more.

our delivery partner for the past 10 years, Ash Logistics continue to o er Graham & Green an exceptional 2 Man White Glove service to our valued customers - rare issues encountered are dealt with swiftly and professionally by their caring team members.”
highly personalised service will build trust and win lifelong customers for you 88 PRODUCTS AFTERSALES, CARE & REPAIR
Darren Murphy General Operations & Financial Director
99.9% Our
Stroolmount’s solutions assist the movement of furniture and reduce risk of damage


Our sustainable mattress range proves that ‘going eco’ doesn’t have to break the bank. 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. Used within fashion and sportswear brands and now, in a UK first, on Airsprung Eco. This significant range is also supported by the full range of marketing assets.

Working with key retailers, Airsprung designed the Core range to cover all options, resulting in a range of nine mattresses, including a model specifically made for children, all complemented by four headboards, three divan bases and nine popular and on-trend fabric choices, 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.

Core Catch up with what’s happening at Airsprung. Or Email:

With washed oak tops, a painted finish, and chrome elements, Kettle’s new EA collection blends rustic warmth with contemporary design, and promises to add a classic but stylish feel to any home.

EA comprises a focused choice of bestselling items at a commercial price point, backed by investment in stock. It boasts 20 dining pieces,

and eight bedroom pieces, each available in either white or grey. In addition to wooden runners and silver handles, selected items incorporate attractive wicker baskets for added appeal.

Available in two colours, with items across living, dining and bedroom, this new collection is already proving popular with customers old and new, says the supplier.

EA EA 90 PRODUCTS DINING 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. 020 7256 5558 07366 568 458 SUPPORT
FURNISHING INDUSTRY PEOPLE 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


New for Spring Summer 2023 our impressive Madison Collection features a beautiful marquetry design. The range includes a selection of Living and Dining pieces, including extending dining tables in both round and rectangle shapes, as well as 2 sizes of sideboards all in a dark walnut wood finish, offering a ‘new traditional’ look, with its timeless, elegant style and modern touch. Scan the QR code for more 
View our full collection online at

Pointhouse – a meeting of product and planet

Established for over 30 years in one of Italy’s key industrial regions, and operational in over 40 countries, Pointhouse is a furniture designer/ maker with a difference – and its products are now coming to the UK and Irish markets.

“At Pointhouse, designing and creating furniture isn’t just something we do,” states the Italian brand. “It’s our mission at every level of the business.”

Designed and made in Italy, Pointhouse’s products combine high quality, contemporary style, functionality, and Italian flair, resulting in a varied portfolio that puts sustainability first.

Using an array of materials – from wood, ceramic,

glass, polypropylene, to PEFC- and FSC-certified timber, aluminium and steel, Pointhouse creates stylish and sustainable furniture, driven by a constant search for increasingly greener materials and technologies, recycled and recyclable materials, and resources derived through certified processes and carefully selected partners.

“Planning and implementing business strategies based on sustainability and a circular economy ensure an effective, stable, secure and futureproof supply chain,” states Pointhouse.

Products include Tata, an “iconic” Pointhouse product, and a familiar design that has been reimagined with the circular economy in mind: “Proof that you can have both style and sustainability”. The Tata chair is made with an aluminium and steel structure, and coated with environmentally certified powder, avoiding the use of chemical solvents. The backrest is produced using FSC-certified wood, while the elegant, comfortable seat is padded with recycled fabric and padding obtained from the recovery of post-industrial waste. Available for sale in a limited edition, Tata for the Planet comes in a vast selection of colours.

The T!pa chair, meanwhile, “represents strength and uniqueness, through simple but decisive lines”. In Italian, the term ‘tipa’ indicates strong, decisive women – “women who lead change, rather than waiting for it to happen”, explains Pointhouse:

“As a brand led by women, with diversity at its core, we wanted a product to represent our social sustainability values, and so T!pa was born.”

Pointhouse will exhibit at Milan’s I Saloni, taking place from 18th-23rd April, on stand C06-C10 in Hall 18. Find out more on the brand’s website, or by emailing

T!pa Tata
“You can have both style and sustainability

Sustainable Simba’s B Corp status

Innovator in sleep technology, Simba, has reached a major milestone on its road to achieving net zero by 2030, by successfully securing global certification of B Corp status.

The sleep-tech brand outlined its goal to become a B Corporation just last year, as part of its wider sustainability strategy.

“From a deep dive into our supply chain, to reviewing our approach to ethical innovation in our new product development, this gold-standard award for ethical business involves a rigorous process which looked at our entire business model,” says Simba’s CEO and co-founder, Steve Reid.

Simba’s mission is to engineer the perfect night’s sleep in a way that creates as little impact on the planet as possible. It is dedicated to providing accessible sleep solutions for more people – either through full-price or refurbished products, and through technology.

All Simba mattresses are made in the UK in zerowaste factories, which also reduces air miles. Nothing is sent to landfill, and all manufacturing waste is recycled or reprocessed into other products. As part of Simba’s zero-waste commitment and sustainability goals, it recently opened up its state-of-the-art, notfor-profit recycling service to accept any brand of mattress (no purchase necessary).

When it comes to environmental challenges, Simba already uses carbon offsets for logistics – but its long-term aim is to reduce reliance on offsetting by reducing the emissions at source.

Steve says: “Product is the single largest contributor to emissions, and Simba has been working hard to reduce environmental impact through innovation – such as the launch of the Green Organic mattress, which uses GOTS-certified organic cotton and GOLS-certified organic latex.

“As well as with upcoming designs that will enable us to reduce the use of foam in our mattress layers, Simba duvets use Global Recycled Standard fillings, whilst Better Cotton is used across the entire Simba range.”

“This goldstandard award for ethical business involves a rigorous process which looked at our entire business model

Simba says its accessories are made in “eco factories”, manufactured with energy from certified renewable sources, and are accredited with ISO 14001, which means their environmental impact is monitored, benchmarked and controlled, with energy and water reduced.

“In addition to our sustainability credentials and goals, we’re committed to fostering a culture of wellbeing and supporting our communities, both within the company and further afield,” Steve continues. “Last year, Simba was named the third Best Retail Company to work for in the Best Companies league table (as voted for by staff) – while our partnership with charity End Youth Homelessness recently passed its one-year anniversary. In this time, we’ve donated nearly £300,000 worth of mattresses and bedding to newly rehomed people across the UK.”

Simba also recently started working with GenM, a menopause partner for brands, and will be helping it to better serve menopausal women with the right products and services to ease night-time symptoms. Additionally, Simba’s NHS scheme, which offers a generous discount on all Hybrid mattresses, bedding, pillows, duvets and sheets, has benefitted over 43,000 healthcare workers since it launched in 2020.

“Successful submissions need to score 80 or higher to achieve B Corp status,” Steve explains. “Simba is the first UK sleep brand to be awarded this accreditation, with a score of 97.5 – an achievement of which we are incredibly proud.

“But there is still work to be done. B Corp status is reviewed every three years, and we will work closely with the organisation to shape a roadmap for continuous improvement and provide additional accountability for reaching our goals, which will include ensuring at least 50% of materials used are from recycled sources by the end of 2023, and reducing the carbon footprint of foam in our mattresses by -25% by 2050,” he concludes.

“There is still work to be done

Deko is a retail finance platform that connects retailers with multiple lenders and a broader range of customers. Its unique aggregation solution allows merchants to provide fast and seamless access to a range of finance options online and in-store. Unlike other providers, Deko’s offering covers a variety of basket sizes up to £25,000, and repayment terms up to 60 months, making it easier for furniture retailers to convert baskets from small to large. Once live, says Deko, its partnered merchants see decreased basket abandonment rates, bigger AOVs and, most importantly, boosted sales.



Building on a wealth of experience in the furniture industry, prolific sales agent Lianne Lacken has launched The Interiors Agency.

With over 20 years’ sales experience, Lianne brings to the fore a passion for quality and exceptional customer service. Having secured an enviable catalogue of clients to represent, Lianne is looking forward to attending trade shows throughout the yea, and meeting customers new and old.

Find Lianne on LinkedIn at or contact her directly on +353 86 77 86475 or by emailing

“Is it time to review your two-person delivery and explore fresh solutions? Are you receiving too many one-star reviews due to poor customer experience? Are damages and associated returns damaging your reputation?

“If so, get in touch with the team so we can demonstrate to you what makes Furdeco different.”

Based in Birmingham, Furdeco offers a cost-effective solution for big-ticket delivery and fulfilment requirements. To complement its core nationwide delivery sevice, Furdeco offers: delivery six days a week; storage in its 200,000ft2 Midlands and London warehouses; collection and furniture assembly services (including flatpack); white goods delivery; wet connect; and collections. Furdeco also provides disposal and recycling services for old furniture.

“Our expert delivery teams understand the value of the products they deliver,” states Furdeco. “All deliveries are fulfilled with the highest level of professionalism, to always ensure that the greatest care is taken to meet your customers’ high expectations.”

Lianne Lacken
PREMIUM ADJUSTABLE BEDS Rapid Delivery Generous Stock Holding Home Installation Service 0333 222 1804

Four ways to fund a retail start-up

For many industries, starting a business only requires a laptop and a reliable internet connection. When it comes to furniture retail, however, the need to raise capital is immediate, and essential before you can think about generating a profit – writes interior design and construction specialist

A flexible approach

There are many ways to raise funds for your retail start-up, and it’s important to find one that’s right for you.

Here’s four ways to raise funds for your emerging company …

Start-up accelerators

If you’re new and unknown in your industry, start-up accelerators are probably one of the most viable options for raising funds for your business. Like venture capitalists, many start-up accelerators are able to pump capital into emerging business ideas in exchange for a share of equity, while offering a much more accessible vetting process compared to traditional routes.

Start-up accelerators can also provide some great opportunities for networking. As tech startup accelerator Altar puts it, joining an accelerator platform allows you to “meet not only the other entrepreneurs in your cohort.

“You also gain access to a network of alumni who have been where you were”.

Angel investors

If you don’t have the right materials to impress venture capitalists, then angel investors can be another great method of raising the start-up funds you need. Unlike VCs, who are tied to an investment firm, angel investors are private individuals with a lot of liquid capital, who finance small businesses in exchange for an agreed amount of equity.

Because angel investors tap into their own net worth instead of an investment fund, they typically won’t be able to offer as much start-up capital as a VC. Furthermore, because they’re taking a relatively high risk, you’ll need to bring a highly developed and impressive business pitch to the table in order to convince them.

However, for the purposes of a fledgling furniture retailer that’s just starting to establish themselves, angel investors can be a great choice for many entrepreneurs.

Equity release remortgaging

Most people will remortgage their property simply because they’re getting to the end of the fixed-rate period set by their lender.

However, for cash-strapped entrepreneurs who don’t have much liquid capital, but have great confidence in their business plan, remortgaging can be a quick and easy way to access funds tied up in their homes.

The important thing when taking this course of action is to research the market thoroughly, understand the huge diversity of mortgage products available, and find one that’s right for you. In the words of Pete Mugleston, MD and mortgage advisor at Online Mortgage Advisor: “Searching the entire market before settling on a lender is recommended … as some are better equipped than others to offer remortgages.”


Crowdfunding services such as GoFundMe have revolutionised the way entrepreneurs raise capital, democratising the whole process and making it easy for entrepreneurs to build campaigns and reach out to their audience.

Within crowdfunding models, each person who contributes to the campaign acts as a kind of miniinvestor, expecting no equity in return. Instead, it’s more common for crowdfunding contributors to get exclusive perks set by the brand.

For example, if you’re looking to open an artisan furniture retailer, with a calendar of select handcrafted pieces which will sell out fast, you might want to offer contributors in a certain donation bracket exclusive access to pre-order these items.

Though crowdfunding is very low-risk and accessible, it does take a lot of work on your part. Crowdfunding is a highly involved way of raising funds, made for the post-social media age.

If you’re not keeping your donors in the loop with interesting content about your store, your campaign won’t get far.

Final thoughts

A retail business has many different points of entry, suited to many different needs. Though these fundraising methods are just the tip of the iceberg, investigating them should help you understand your options and help you find a fundraising strategy that works for you.

“Though crowdfunding is very low-risk and accessible, it does take a lot of work on your part


































Limiting liability in supply agreements

Labour shortages, the impact of the pandemic, and the continuing consequences of Brexit are among the challenges currently faced by suppliers – so, suggests Fox Williams LLP’s Tayler Sani, now seems as good a time as any for suppliers to take stock of their existing agreements (and determine the scope of any liability that may arise due to these challenges), and appropriately address the issue of liability in future agreements …

Clauses that seek to limit the liability of a party for a breach of contract have long been the subject of scrutiny by UK court. This can largely be attributed to the fact that, as a matter of English law, a clause limiting liability cannot be enforced unless it satisfies the requirement of ‘reasonableness’.

This requirement of reasonableness was notably the subject matter of a recent judgment of the courts of Northern Ireland. The case involved a manufacturer of kitchen doors, B A Kitchen Components Ltd (‘Kitchen Components’), and a manufacturer and supplier of adhesives, Jowat (UK) Ltd (‘Jowat’).

Kitchen Components had contracted Jowat to supply an adhesive that would be used to bond together MDF and PVC as part of the former’s’ process of manufacturing kitchen doors. The adhesive, however, was inherently defective and caused damage to the kitchen doors on which it had been used.

Kitchen Components brought a claim against Jowat for the losses it had suffered as a result of the defective adhesive (principally the costs of replacing the damaged kitchen doors). Jowat, seeking to rely on an exclusion clause contained within its standard conditions of sale, argued that it would only be liable for the price paid for the defective adhesive.

What did the limitation of liability clause say? It provided that: “Where any claim in respect of any of the goods which is based on any defect in the quality or condition of the goods or the failure to meet specification is notified to the seller in accordance with these conditions the sellers will be entitled to replace the goods (or the part in question) free of charge or at the seller’s sole discretion refund to the buyer the price of the goods (or a proportionate part of the price) but the seller shall have no further liability to the buyer.”

The court decided that this clause did not meet the requirement of reasonableness, principally because: Jowat was aware that Kitchen Components intended to use the adhesive for the manufacture of its doors; it was foreseeable that an inherent defect in the adhesive would cause damage to the doors, therefore requiring Kitchen Components to replace them; and Jowat was well-placed to (and did) obtain the requisite insurance against the risks that materialised.

The court therefore awarded substantial damages to Kitchen Components in respect of the cost for replacing the damaged kitchen doors.

This case seemingly constitutes a departure from earlier ones in which the courts were reluctant to interfere in B2B contracts (in particular, a well-known English Court of Appeal judgment in 2018).

The limitation of liability clause in that case excluded all liability, save for the replacement of defective parts. The court decided that this clause was reasonable, as: the parties were of equal strength and bargaining power; the loss in contemplation was fire damage, which was a risk that the parties would reasonably be expected to insure against, and the party best placed to obtain the necessary insurance in this instance was the buyer of the fire -suppression system; and the contract in question made an explicit reference to the availability of insurance to cover losses incurred as a result of the failure of the firesuppression system, and provided for the seller to put in place such insurance at a cost to the purchaser if the purchaser so wished.

Going forwards, the availability of insurance (and the identity of the party best placed to effect the necessary insurance) and the equality of the parties’ bargaining power are likely to remain key considerations for the courts when determining the reasonableness of a limitation of liability clause. In contrast, the Kitchen Components case indicates that a clause limiting a supplier’s liability to the price of the goods supplied will be unlikely to satisfy the requirement of reasonableness, unless: the goods being supplied are so generic that the supplier would not be taken to have notice of the use that the buyer intends to make of them; or in instances where the supplier is aware of the use to which the goods will be placed, the buyer is able to obtain insurance to cover the risk.

To conclude, suppliers need to consider the enforceability of limitations of liability provisions in their agreements, in the context of the goods that they supply, and the nature of the loss that is reasonably foreseeable if those goods are defective. Some means by which suppliers could increase the likelihood of a limitation of liability clause being enforceable would be to limit liability to multiples of the price of the supply agreement, and/or offer insurance to buyers to cover potential losses arising from defective goods.

“This case seemingly constitutes a departure from earlier ones in which the courts were reluctant to interfere in B2B contracts
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Manufacturer recovery and closure options

The manufacturing industry is under threat from a variety of pressures –the cost of living crisis, record-high inflation, rising retail rental prices, material shortages, supply chain delays and long-lasting disruption from the pandemic – writes Keith Tully, a partner at business turnaround and rescue company Begbies Traynor, who suggests that, for manufacturing companies short on their quarterly targets, a focused recovery may be the only option to return the business to a stable position …

Road to recovery

If your manufacturing business is in decline because of an accumulation of debts to creditors, poor cash flow and a downturn in trade, put a recovery plan in place to prevent company finances from further deterioration.

Disruption to supply chains can delay the fulfilment of orders and create a backlog, along with a disgruntled customer base which may be unaffordable for a business blighted by creditor pressure.

Company restructuring can help the business return to a position of profitability and security. Business restructuring means to shake up the way a business operates to improve efficiency and preserve the cash in the business.

The business restructuring route can take many paths, such as: streamlining; refinancing; divestment; repositioning; debt restructuring; and corporate simplification.

Business restructuring is suitable for businesses on any end of the distress scale, as it aims to return the business to a position of strength. From cost cutting and finding more efficient ways to draw money, to simplifying the financial structure of the company, business restructuring can help turn around the fortunes of a business and improve liquidity.

Drawing a line under the business

If there is a possibility that your business is viable, every avenue will be explored for a lifeline. If help is overdue, and there’s no movement with creditors to enter payment negotiations through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), and there’s no future in sight, the end may be inevitable.

A Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) is a formal insolvency procedure handled by a licensed insolvency practitioner who will oversee the closure of your business and take on the role of liquidator. Company directors of manufacturing businesses must handle the process with care, as there are strict criteria as to what directors can and can’t do. If they’re aware that the business is insolvent, they should cease trading immediately to prevent the financial position of creditors from further worsening.

During a CVL, the insolvency practitioner will take control of the affairs of the company and manage all

communications with creditors. All company assets such as stock and inventory will be independently valued and sold to raise money for creditors. After the affairs of the business have been handled and creditors satisfied, the business will be brought to a close.

The key to rescuing a manufacturing business amid a crisis is to seek help in the first instance. Many company directors are guilty of complacency, which can lead to a higher risk of insolvency which can otherwise protect jobs at risk, so as the owner of a manufacturing business, note that time is truly of the essence.

“Note that time is truly of the essence
Seeking help quickly could make all the difference to a struggling business (photo courtesy iStock/mevans)
“The key to rescuing a manufacturing business amid a crisis is to seek help in the first instance
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Hydeline Furniture Ltd is currently recruiting a Regional Area Manager (South) for both At The Helm and Hydeline brands. Both brands enjoy a well-established presence in the UK and Ireland, supplying many of the leading independent and national retailers.

The opportunity comes at an exciting time for the business. Exiting the turbulent conditions brought about by Covid and the shipping crisis, this position presents excellent opportunities for the right candidate to grow and develop the business across the region.


You will have sales experience within the furniture industry, can support and actively grow the business and be an integral member of the team. The role requires you to work closely with furniture retailers and expand sales through excellent customer service, negotiation and experience.

A professional, conscientious and proactive approach is central to advancing the Company’s reputation and brand. For the right candidate, there is scope to expand the role.

Attractive salary and benefits package, negotiable dependent on experience.


To apply, please send your CV to

Closing date 28.02.2023



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

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.

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NATIONAL BED FEDERATION National Bed Month marches on

For more than three decades, the National Bed Month campaign has encouraged the replacement of old beds with new – and although growing environmental concerns prompt us to look at the process from fresh angles, the message very much remains the same this March, writes the NBF’s Simon Williams …

I guess it’s a sign of how long I’ve been working in the bed industry that I can recall the very first National Bed Month, way back in 1990. Working as a young marketing manager for the Dunlopillo brand at the time, I can recall how the whole of the UK bed industry really got behind the campaign – manufacturers, suppliers, and particularly the retailers, both large and small.

In those pre-digital days, PoS material was either mailed out to retailers by the NBF or delivered by hand by the area sales managers and agents. Retailers were more than happy to use the material to create eyecatching displays, and it was backed up by a national PR campaign which achieved plenty of newsprint and radio coverage, plus a smattering of TV.

Bed manufacturers were encouraged to launch special ‘Bed Month’ products, or offer value-added deals such as free drawers, or a king-size for the price of a double. Retailers’ press advertising was all about National Bed Month, with the underlying message of the importance of replacing your old bed with a new one.

As an awareness campaign, National Bed Month was the envy of the other sectors of the UK furniture industry (upholstery, cabinet, flooring) – but, although it probably still is, it doesn’t carry the gravitas that it once did. The constant promotions and ‘half-price sales’ have put pay to that. However, it has certainly achieved a key goal set back then – to reduce the average mattress replacement cycle from 17 years. It’s now down to around seven years, and most people are aware of the importance that a good, supportive mattress plays in their overall health and wellbeing.

This year’s theme for National Bed Month in March is ‘Wake Up on the Right Side, with the Right Bed’ (#RightSideOfTheBed).

Although in its 34th year, the core message remains pretty much the same – to raise awareness of the crucial role a good bed plays in achieving healthy, restorative sleep, helping us to wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning. Just as exercising and

eating well are fundamental ingredients of a healthy lifestyle, so is the bed and sleeping environment, which is why we encourage consumers to care for their mattress and replace it when it is no longer comfortable or supportive.

In line with our NBF Green initiative, guiding consumers on how to properly care for their beds throughout the years of use to prolong their lifespan is also a key message for National Bed Month. In a world where we are beginning to examine every area of our lives when it comes to sustainability – asking ourselves if we could get a few more uses out of an item, if it could be recycled, or if there’s an ecofriendlier version – we should not forget about beds!

Nowadays, greener choices are available at every stage of a bed’s lifecycle – from opting for a mattress that uses recycled materials or sustainably and ethically sourced raw materials, to ensuring the mattress can be easily deconstructed and recycled at the end of its useful life.

Our free multimedia marketing toolkit is perfect for pushing these messages during March. The toolkit includes guidance on buying beds and caring for them, and sleep advice from our partner, The Sleep Charity. Why not use our pack to promote your business via your website and social media, or include it in a mailshot to your customer database? Included in the toolkit are: logo in multiple formats; social media infographics and graphics; social media banners; social media copy; printable posters; campaign video; and a guidance document.

“The average mattress replacement cycle is down to around seven years
Young Furniture kers exhibition.
“Guiding consumers on how to properly care for their beds is a key message

Our own delivery team

Neil Barker (Barkers Furniture)

Mattress disposal/recycling, which accounts for about 30% of our orders now – and we plant a tree for every order

Martin Seeley (MattressNextDay)

I’m no longer at Heal’s, but the service that really worked for us online was Live Chat. Being able to connect online customers with in-store experts was great for driving positive engagement with the brand, and drove plenty of sales

David Kohn (The Multichannel Expert)

Great customer service, of course

Steve Reid (Simba Sleep)

Our coffee shop. It is the hub of our store and brings people in. It provides a place where customers can relax and contemplate a purchase, and it’s also a great gathering place for our networking and charitable events

Wendy Martin Green (Peter Green Furnishers)

IT systems – ERP, forecasting, route planning, etc

Mark Gannon (Sofa Source)

Purchase ordering and goods in – it doesn’t matter how good your PoS/ecommerce experience is without a good retail operations platform to support it. Furniture retailers wouldn’t be interested in what we could offer, otherwise

Mike Whitman (Iconography)

Our Fastersleep 7-day delivery service has always been key to Highgrove’s success

Shane Harding (Highgrove Beds)

Delivery and assembly, without a doubt

George Sinclair (Nimbus Beds)

Ensuring the customer feels valued and that their business is always appreciated and not taken for granted

John Northwood (agent)

Next-day delivery

Keiran Hewkin (Swyft Home)

106 OPINION FEEDBACK WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! • Follow Furniture News on LinkedIn • Join us on Twitter @FurnitureNewsED • Contact the editor at • For advertising and subscription enquiries, see p3
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