Furniture News #404

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BEST OF BRITISH | LONG POINT INNOVATION IN BEDDING SPRING FURNITURE & BED SHOW CORONATION TREAT Royal Warrant holders fly the flag Barker and Stonehouse Gateshead How the BFC is backing British
Wiemann hits the spring shows #404 May 2023 www.furniturenews.net
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Editor's Comment

“God Save the King.”

That new wording is still taking some getting used to, but this month’s coronation truly affirms that we’re entering a new era (for King and country).

It’s been 70 years since a British monarch was last crowned, and while the institution may be viewed somewhat less unequivocally this time around, the event will give most cause for celebration – whether that means embracing Royalty’s rich traditions, or simply reflecting on our own sense of national identity with friends and family.

For those businesses aligned with British values, it’s also an opportunity to stand tall and put an offering to the fore. In this month’s issue, we’re celebrating the best of British manufacture, and presenting the people, products and pride behind our homegrown makers (from p44).

Alongside a plethora of company profiles, we interview Jonathan Hindle, chairman of the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), to find out what sets British furniture and bedmakers apart, and how the cross-industry lobby group is fighting to establish a level playing field for this vital industry (p46).

We also look at what the coronation of King Charles III means for the sector’s Royal Warrant holders, with contributions from NEJ Stevenson, Sleepeezee, Glencraft, Hypnos and John Lewis & Partners (p48). “We will never compete with cheap imports, and nor should we,” says the former’s Neil Stevenson, “but we should be promoting the quality of what we do.”

Our Best of British feature might be this month’s crowning achievement, but there’s plenty more to discover. ‘Sleep Geek’ James Wilson introduces our Innovation in Bedding feature (p82), while our Long Point preview, starting on p32, outlines why this intimate, well-dressed biannual show is well worth a visit.

As well as previews of the rest of this season’s trade shows, you’ll find retail inspiration in Barker and Stonehouse’s new flagship in Gateshead (p10) and Ligne Roset’s classy Chelsea showroom (p14), plus an engaging Q&A with Sussex Beds’ Steve Pickering (p20).

Further on in, read Bill McLoughlin’s view on the so-called ‘Retail Apocalypse’ (p88), Dids Macdonald’s AI-driven argument for better design protection (p97), and Jonathan Jacob’s tips for making the most of your iPhone’s marketing potential (p92).

If, between ducking bunting and devouring scones, you’ve time to vote in our 2023 Reader’s Choice Awards, please do so, at www.bit.ly/fn-readers-choice-awards-2023.

Send them victorious!

Paul Farley

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“For those businesses aligned with British values, the coronation is an opportunity to stand tall
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6 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Barker and Stonehouse 14 Ligne Roset 16 At The Helm 18 Julian Bowen 20 Getting personal 22 EVENTS 32 Long Point 40 Spring Furniture & Bed Show 44 BEST OF BRITISH 46 British Furniture Confederation 48 Royal Warrant holders 52 Business profiles 78 PRODUCTS 82 Innovation in Bedding 88 OPINION 88 Apocalypse? What apocalypse? 90 Consumers find comfort at home 92 Smarter smartphone photography 94 Competitive retail finance 95 (Business) life after death 97 Partner comment 98 Feedback Contents EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Farley 01424 776101 paul@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsED SALES SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR (FURNITURE NEWS PORTFOLIO) Sam Horscroft 07764 650655 sam@gearingmediagroup.com Twitter @FurnitureNewsAD OVERSEAS AGENT Casey Loo (Asia) +65 973 00123 (WhatsApp) casey@apsmediagroup.com PRODUCTION PRODUCTION MANAGER James Ash james@gearingmediagroup.com DIGITAL MANAGER Nyall McCurrach nyall@gearingmediagroup.com COPY ADMINISTRATOR Steve Merrick 01424 776108 production@gearingmediagroup.com ACCOUNTS ACCOUNTS/GENERAL MANAGER Wendy Williams 01424 817433 wendy@gearingmediagroup.com CHAIRMAN Nigel Gearing
BEST OF BRITISH LONG POINT INNOVATION IN BEDDING SPRING FURNITURE & BED SHOW CORONATION TREAT Royal Warrant holders y the ag Barker and Stonehouse Gateshead How the BFC is backing British OPEN FOR BUSINESS Wiemann hits the spring shows #404 May 2023 www.furniturenews.net FN404_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 (Pantone etc) can be catered for with prior arrangement. Some elements of the editorial content in this publication are submitted by the trade, however, all efforts are made to ensure that the editorial remains true to fact and unbiased. Monies may have been accepted to offset the costs of colour reproduction. Gearing Media Group Ltd reserves the right to alter without prior notice any content other than customers’ advertisements. No correspondence will be entered into regarding altered or adjusted editorial content. The editor’s decision is final. All material submitted for inclusion in Furniture News is done so entirely at the owner’s risk and no responsibility is accepted for the safekeeping or return thereof. Advertiser information is reproduced in good faith and Gearing Media Group accepts no responsibility in respect of adverts appearing in the magazine, and the magazines expressed do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s views. The Publisher accepts no liability for any loss arising from an advertisement’s late or non-appearance. James Wilson Kip Mate, Mattress Online 82 46 94 14 Jonathan Hindle British Furniture Confederation, KI Melanie Vala Deko Imran Badat Ligne Roset 5 COVER FEATURE 34 WIEMANN
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Dreams officially opens Willenhall DC

Dreams has opened its new Willenhall warehouse. The 260,000ft2 site is the retailer’s’ largest DC within its network of 18 UK sites, and follows a £2m investment. In addition to quicker deliveries for customers, the site will create at least 25 new jobs in the local area.

Dreams’ delivery vehicles cover 4.5 million miles each year, so the warehouse’s central location will have a substantial impact on the business’ carbon footprint, by improving distribution efficiencies –helping to reduce delivery mileage by 150,000 YoY.

Open 24 hours a day, 5.5 days a week, the warehouse is now fully operational and includes improved facilities for over 100 employees working on site. The majority have been relocated from Dreams’ other West Midlands site in Wednesbury, which will remain open to house Feather & Black stock.

Dreams’ CEO Jonathan Hirst says: “Customers

are increasingly expecting quicker deliveries, even with big-ticket items such as beds. At Dreams we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers. That’s why we have made a significant investment in our distribution and delivery infrastructure with the opening of our new Willenhall warehouse. This is a major step forward in delivering on our growth strategy, and will mean we continue building on our position as the UK’s most-loved bed retailer.”

Kettle’s principals complete management buyback

Cabinet furniture supplier Kettle has completed a management buyback, launching as Kettle Home Ltd after Kettle Interiors UK Ltd was placed into voluntary administration. On 24th March, Gary Shankland and Ken Pattullo of Begbies Traynor were appointed joint administrators of Kettle Interiors UK Ltd, which had begun to struggle financially due to escalating shipping costs. The company employed 126 people at its Macadam Road trading address in Corby, all of whom were made redundant.

In a statement to customers, Kettle Home CEO Ian Kettle (Stuart Caddy and Joseph Pignatiello are also listed as company directors) wrote: “The decision to do this has not been taken lightly, and the directors would like to emphasise that all other efforts to avoid this decision have been exhausted in recent months.

“I am now able to confirm that Kettle Home Ltd has successfully negotiated the purchase of all

stockholdings, outstanding order book, operating assets, intellectual property rights, including the name, product design and digital assets. Importantly, Kettle Home Ltd will continue to operate from 9am on Wednesday 29th March without major interruption to the services and products we provide to our loyal customers. All outstanding orders will be honoured and serviced by Kettle Home Ltd.” He added that outstanding invoices would be managed by Begbies Trayner.

The administrator subsequently issued a statement clarifying that it had executed an open marketing sale process through its selling agents, which “generated significant interest within the furniture sector locally and abroad”, and that Kettle Home Ltd submitted the highest offer. It then moved to dispose of the company’s vehicles, chattel assets and remaining stock in an open marketing tender sale.

Hypnos reports “solid performance” in latest financials

Hypnos, part of Keen and Toms Holdings, says it delivered “a solid performance” in its latest financial year (to 24th June 2022). The manufacturer says success was driven by innovation and partnership, in a trading period which saw it enjoy growth in turnover of just above +17%. The company also made a number of efficiency improvements across the business, reducing administration costs by -3% and distribution costs by -1%, despite a challenging H1.

Rises in raw material prices and energy costs were keenly felt, but efficiencies within the business meant that price increases to customers were kept to a minimum, says Hypnos, adding that the pandemic’s aftermath impacted staffing levels, but a proactive approach to recruitment and retention saw staff numbers return to the required levels by December – which proved critical in continuing to meet record demand.

Hypnos CEO James Keen says: “Like many companies, trading conditions in 2021-22 presented a unique set of challenges, but as a resilient business, we were well placed to overcome these and create new opportunities.

“We remain confident that supply chain issues have subsided to manageable levels, and that we are driving towards our ambitious growth objectives. As part of this, we continue to invest in all areas of our business, delivering the levels of innovation which our discerning customers require. This ensures we’re creating the highest levels of comfort, quality, durability, and design, all without compromising on sustainability.

“In summary, having recovered from the pandemic challenges from early 2022, the business is now focused on developing its platform for a successful future through its 120th anniversary in 2024.”

Bensons for Beds’ chief customer officer Frankie Haynes is leaving the business “to take up a new challenge”, and her role has been split into retail and customer areas, with current COO Gavin Chappell taking on the latter

Teemo has appointed former Made.com GM Kevin Guillaume as its new COO Southeast Asia

Anti Copying in Design (ACID) has appointed Kate Mason as director of marketing. Kate previously led charity The Big Draw, and now chairs the Society for Designer Craftsmen (SDC)

United Carpets and Beds, the UK’s largest franchised flooring and bed retailer, has rebranded, with a focus on its local connections

The National Bed Federation (NBF) has boosted its retailer support offering with five new marketing toolkits

Ingka Investments has acquired Greenogue Logistics Park in Dublin, where IKEA Retail UK & Ireland is to open its first Irish Customer Distribution Centre (CDC)

Frank Olsen Furniture has appointed Rob Freeman (ex-Furniture Village, Oak Furnitureland, Wren) as operations director

United Carpets and Beds opened a new store, on Bumpers Lane, Chester, on the Easter weekend

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Frank Olsen Furniture has appointed former GM Rob Freeman as operations director, and Kirstie McIntosh as head of creative and key accounts

SATRA has appointed Martin Heels as divisional manager of its newly formed Furnishings and Chemistry Division, which incorporates its existing furniture, floorcoverings, flammability and chemistry business areas

Arlo & Jacob plans to open a new showroom in Wilmslow, Cheshire this August. “Expanding across to the North West is the natural next step for Arlo & Jacob,” says CEO Mark Smith

IKEA has delivered €9m worth of products to Ukraine in recent months, providing over 850,000 home furnishing products to support people forced to leave their homes and towns, in cooperation with UNHCR

Spring & Autumn Fair have formed a dedicated community development team headed up by Laura Rae (ex-Deep Tech Jobs, Clarion Events and the Royal Botanic Gardens), focused on developing relationships with buyers

Glencraft has appointed two non-executive directors, Neil Skene and Ken Robertson, to strengthen the social enterprise’s board

Serene trading under new ownership

After being placed into administration in March, supplier Serene Beds and Furniture Ltd, based in West Bromwich, was acquired by external parties last month.

Serene, which faced various challenges over the past three years, including rising costs and increased expenses, stated that the news of its administration may have come as a surprise to its customers, and apologised for any inconvenience or disruption it caused – but adds that Serene will now continue to trade from its current site and retain the management team and all of its staff.

“The acquisition has been made possible by the administrators and external parties, and it secures the future of the company, allowing Serene to continue serving its valued customers,” states the business.

Tasleem Tasab (pictured), MD of Serene Sleep Group, expressed the company’s appreciation for the “overwhelming support and comfort received from its agents and customers during this difficult time”.

“The company is committed to providing its customers with the best possible service and products, and looks forward to continuing to do so in the future,” he continued. “Serene Beds and Furniture Ltd is a well-known name in the furniture industry, providing a wide range of quality products to its customers. The company has been in business for many years, and the acquisition ensures that it will continue to thrive in the years to come.”

Sales director Nadirah Habib adds: “I have been overwhelmed with calls from customers who are very glad that we are continuing, as they love the product and the service. I have personally been very touched

with the support of our customers.”

The sale of the company was handled by Leonard Curtis, and the pre-pack administration sale was negotiated by Conrad Beighton and David Griffiths on 31st March. The former clarifies that the 35 employees will remain in place, adding: “The company – which supplies home furnishings and logistics across the UK, Central Europe and the Far East – had struggled with cash flow problems and long-term debts incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, producing lower profit margins than originally forecast.

“Leonard Curtis stepped in to conduct a restructuring exercise via a pre-pack administration to save the core business and jobs, conducting a discreet AMA process to advertise the opportunity without damaging any key assets of the business.

“The process was accelerated due to external pressure from creditors and lack of short-term cash to continue trading. The sale of Serene Beds and Furniture was predominantly funded by its secured creditor via an invoice finance facility.”

Administrator Conrad Beighton adds: “This case brought about a number of challenges and issues throughout, but our approach to managing all stakeholder interests as best as possible was key. This was to ensure a pre-pack administration sale could be completed, as this represented the best outcome for the company’s creditors as a whole. The funder provided financial support during the process to ensure the business could continue trading. This was essential as a sale could not have been achieved without it.”

New managerial roles established at L&P Springs UK

Ahead of the retirement of sales manager David Nuttall, Leggett & Platt Springs UK has made several changes to its commercial department, in line with the bedding component supplier’s “commitment to continuous improvement”.

David Nuttall (pictured left) will retire in June 2024. In terms of organisational strategy and to ensure a smooth transition, his responsibilities will be divided into two roles, effective 3rd July 2023.

Sales representative Paul Hindle (right) will assume the role of sales manager, L&P Springs UK, and will handle all sales and customer relationship activities and functions. Commercial and shared services lead Adam Ball (middle) will assume the role of commercial manager, L&P Springs UK, and will be responsible

The British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) has elected ScS commercial director James Heese to its board, in order to support the association’s new retail membership category

for demand and revenue control, forecasting, and customer service functions. He wil also lead the demand and revenue activities of the company’s integrated business planning process.

Until his retirement, David plans to mentor, support and shadow his successors on a full-time basis while also managing special sales projects, says the supplier, adding: “We would like to thank David for his 45 years with the business, managing sales and shaping our position in the UK market. His talent for developing and nurturing our key customer relationships will be missed.”

Contact

information.

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Bedmaker’s £18m buy-in secures pension benefits

Sleepeezee Holdings has announced an £18m buy-in transaction with Legal & General Assurance Society, which secures the benefits of around 200 retired and deferred members of the Sleepeezee Retirement Benefits Plan 1975.

Legal & General has been a longstanding investment management partner for the plan, whose trustees prepared for this transaction by aligning the plan’s assets more closely with expected insurance pricing by transitioning into LGIM buy-out aware funds, says Sleepeezee. PwC acted as a specialist adviser for the transaction, and Hogan Lovells provided legal advice to the trustees.

Sleepeezee’s MD Steve Warren (pictured) comments: “As we approach our 100th year of business, the design and implementation of the plan has been our number-one business priority. It is vital

for us to provide a secure retirement for those who have dedicated their careers to Sleepeezee, whilst also securing the future stability of the company, and I am satisfied this has now been achieved.”

Bensons targets 200-store estate

Bensons for Beds has reported +9% LFL sales growth for the quarter to the end of March, building on a +7% LFL growth in the previous quarter, and has unveiled plans to step up its growth through further investment. Further progress has also been made in its digital drive, with sales over the quarter in the channel growing by +32% YoY, driven by continued investment in omnichannel capability and leadership. Recent trading across the key Easter weeks has continued to be “encouraging”.

Building on the momentum from the first half of Bensons’ financial year, the retailer says it now plans to invest significantly in expanding its retail estate over the next two years. Having remodelled its stores to reflect its retail footprint needs as a standalone business (independent of Harveys), Bensons now intends to re-enter markets and open in new catchments as it builds a network in the long term of up to 200 locations.

In the quarter, Bensons opened new units in Erdington and Peterborough, and last month it returned to Speke with a new 3500ft2 store on the New Mersey Retail Park.

In February, Bensons launched a unique 2-in-1 mattress, Flip by Slumberland, which addresses growing adolescents’ changing support needs, while the retailer also began activating plans to create “a sustainable future” for the eveSleep brand, which it acquired last autumn. Bensons says sales made through the relaunched eve website have been “encouraging”, backed up by exclusive in-store models.

“This has been a quarter of real innovation and pace for the team,” says Bensons’ CEO Nick Collard. “Despite the UK’s economic challenges, it’s clear our investment in our stores, online and in product innovation, is being warmly received by our customers.”

Dunelm reports “strong trading” in Q3

Dunelm has reported “strong trading, with expectations unchanged” for its Q3 (ended 1st April 2023), with broad-based growth across its categories, both in-store and online.

The quarter saw sales of £423m generated, up +6% YoY (or c.10% after adjusting for the timing of the retailer’s winter sale, six days of which fell into Q2 this year). Digital sales accounted for 36% of the total (up from 35% in Q3 FY22).

Following a successful winter sale, the retailer saw a good response to its newly introduced designs this spring, as it refreshed its core product ranges and added to its Conscious Choice range of sustainably focused lines, complemented by relevant seasonal items.

The new stores opened this year, which include both larger and smaller formats, continue to perform ahead of the retailer’s expectations, while

its investment in digitalising the business is also delivering strong returns, says Dunelm. Gross margin was “consistent with expectations”, with gross margin for the full year expected to be c.50%.

CEO Nick Wilkinson comments: “We are seeing strong momentum in the business as customers continue to appreciate the quality and value across the Dunelm range, despite a challenging trading backdrop. This was apparent through our successful winter sale and the positive launch of our new ranges for spring and summer as customers look forward to longer days and outdoor living.

“As we continue to seize the many opportunities we see, we are investing for the long term and making good progress against our plans, which include the ongoing development and extension of our product ranges, building our customer data platform and optimising our marketing channels.”

The National Bed Federation (NBF) has appointed Tristine Hargreaves (ex-SATRA, Silentnight, Next and FIRA) as its new executive director. She replaces Jessica Alexander, who will stay on in a part-time consultancy capacity

Mlily has donated 26 memory foam mattresses to the Macari Foundation, for use in the homelessness foundation’s new centre in Stoke-on-Trent

HSL has opened its first flagship “feel good” furniture showroom, in Hendon, North London. Offering over 4570ft2 of retail space, the showroom marks the launch of a rebranding process for the retailer

Next says it enjoyed “a good year” (ended January 2023), with trading sales up +8.4% YoY (up +4.8%, excluding the weeks flattered by lockdown in the previous year). The group delivered a profit before tax of £870m, up +5.7% versus 2021/22 and +16.3% against 2019/20 (+£10m higher than its previous guidance). Home sales were down -8% YoY, but up +125% Yo3Y. Next has also agreed to acquire the brand name, domain names and IP of CK Acquisitions Ltd (Cath Kidston) from the administrator for consideration of £8.5m

The Furniture Makers’ Company has welcomed nine new freemen: Richard Boyce, St Albans High School for Girls; Terry Brazier, retired antique furniture restorer; David Fielding, Vitafoam; Katryn Furmston, PhD Student at Nottingham Trent University; John Gulian, John Gulian Design; Gareth Mayhew, TCM Living; Chris Nice, CRN; Michael Priest, Michael Priest Designs; and Gregg Wooding, Spencewood Interiors

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Opening a new chapter

Actress Joanna Lumley opened Barker and Stonehouse’s new £5m flagship store in Gateshead on Good Friday (7th April), which is located on the site of the former Snow + Rock outlet, and has been two years in the making …

The new store – the retailer’s 12th – spans 50,000ft2 of retail space across three floors, and boasts a number of innovative features in line with the retailer’s ecofriendly approach, including a dedicated car park with electric vehicle charging points.

As well as the retailer’s latest product offer, the store features an events and co-working space called The Nook, where designers and makers, along with interior and design influencers, will deliver an ongoing programme of special events and activities, while the top floor boasts an indoor/outdoor cafe bistro run by restaurateur Daryl Chadwick. The store’s areas

are clearly delineated thanks to engaging internal signage, courtesy of Graffit Design (see overleaf).

MD James Barker says: “Whilst Barker and Stonehouse is a national brand with stores across the country, the North East is very much still our home so we are thrilled to be investing in the region and to be bringing our latest ideas and products to its people.

“The Gateshead store opens a new chapter in the company’s 77-year history and has some fantastic unique design features that I’m hoping our customers will really enjoy and make use of, such as our coworking lounge and our bistro.

10 INSIGHT
“The North East is very much still our home

“The store has been designed to be a really restful, organic space, and showcases some truly exceptional furniture. It will be great seeing how customers respond to what we’ve done with the store and the mix of furniture, lighting and accessories we’ve sourced.”

The opening created 20 new jobs. Since its foundation in 1946, the Barker and Stonehouse business has grown to employ over 440 people, and enjoys an annual turnover of nearly £100m. Alongside its 12 mainline stores, the retailer also operates online and through two concept stores, two outlet stores and four warehousing distribution centres.

www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk

“The Gateshead store has some fantastic unique design features that I’m hoping our customers will really enjoy and make use of
11

Signed up for success in Gateshead

Fresh from delivering the eyecatching signgage that features throughout Barker and Stonehouse’s new flagship store in Gateshead, Bruce Pestell, MD of Sussex-based signmaker Graffiti Design, reflects on the project’s goals and challenges …

How long have you worked with Barker and Stonehouse, and what notable projects have you delivered for the retailer?

We’ve been working with Barker and Stonehouse for two years. After seeing an editorial feature on Graffiti Design, Barker and Stonehouse contacted our projects team, and I was delighted to receive their call. At the time I lived in Hove, very close to a Barker and Stonehouse showroom. I’m also a huge interior design fan, so I was familiar with the brand.

Storytelling and brand communication are very important to Barker and Stonehouse, and I like to think we were just the company they had been looking for.

We’ve been developing sustainable internal signage with them, to tell the story of their products, ever since. We enjoyed working particularly closely with them to develop the signage concept for their Drew Pritchard Collection, which included handfinished timber signage with an authentic, aged look, to be installed across every showroom.

What did you contribute to the new Gateshead flagship store?

Graffiti Design produced the internal signage, which identifies certain areas – such as The Nook, Snug As A Rug, and the amazing in-house bistro, Chadwick and Co.

Was the brief any different this time around?

We had a variety of signage specifications to develop, producing drawings and visuals to communicate clearly what the finished product would look like. We worked closely with their designers to produce the required look, which was different from that of their previous stores.

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?

It all had to be done in a relatively short timeframe. The signage for The Nook was particularly interesting to make, as it was perforated, and encased faux neon.

What part of it are you most proud of?

That’s a tricky one. We are proud of the great variety of signage products that have been brought together for this project. However, we’re proudest of the fantastic relationship we have with this amazing company, and their team are a pleasure to work with. These relationships are what matter most to us, and we’re very proud of this one.

Are you working with any other retailers in the furniture sector?

We’ve just been involved with the launch of the first brick-and-mortar store for Rowen Homes in the Metrocentre in Gateshead. It was an honour to help such an exciting company open their first physical store.

We’ve also produced all the signage for the new

Loaf shack in Edinburgh, and are currently working on Loaf’s newest shack in Leeds, which is set to open later this year.

Although not in the furniture sector, we have produced the signage for the retailers in the newly repurposed Battersea Power station, along with the internal signage for the destination’s concourses, etc.

What sets you apart from your competitors, and why should furniture retailers considering an overhaul come to you?

We produce 90% of everything we sell in house at our production facility in East Sussex. This allows control over the sustainability of the products we’re working on, and enables us to develop unique ideas swiftly with our in-house design team, producing samples if required, then making the signage in a timely fashion. We love being an extended part of our clients’ teams. Being a family business means we take great pride in our work, and, most importantly, in the relationships we have with our customers. We pride ourselves on understanding each industry we work with, and the experience we’ve had with various furniture retailers has given us great insight into this sector. We’ve attended the January Furniture Show to increase our knowledge of the industry – we definitely believe we’re the signage company that’s best placed to help retailers develop innovative signage that will increase their ROI.

Finally, do you have any golden rules for delivering good retail signage?

Having been established since 1976, we can draw on our years of industry experience and gently advise our clients on how best to communicate their brand or product range. My advice would be to keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to go big! www.graffitidesign.co.uk

12 INSIGHT
“Storytelling and brand communication are very important to Barker and Stonehouse
The signage for Chadwick and Co, Barker and Stonehouse’s new in-house bistro Bruce (centre) with the Graffiti Design team at the ISA-UK awards 2023 ceremony Internal signage helps identify certain areas of Barker and Stonehouse’s new flagship store

Contemporary clienteling

With new AV technology helping bring its luxury furniture offer to life, Lignet Roset’s Chelsea showroom is the perfect setting for today’s discerning interiors consumer, says owner

How did you come to own this showroom – and those in Bromley and Hampstead?

It all began in 2019, with the opening of the Bromley showroom – at the time, only the second mono-brand Ligne Roset store in the UK.

The Bromley showroom is located perfectly for clients based in South London, and those further afield in Kent – but, in early 2021, the opportunity arose to secure landmark retail premises, stretching 14m along London’s Finchley Road in Hampstead. The store is located near the bustling village of Hampstead, and is perfect for North-west London customers.

Our flagship store on the King’s Road opened in March 2022, and is part of an iconic building along this prominent road, which is famous for an array of furniture stores.

Can you provide some examples of your newest product lines?

We’ve introduced an array of products, ranging from the Dita System by Pagnon & Pelhaitre to Marechiaro shelving by Philippe Nigro, while expanding product ranges such as the Exclusif by Didier Gomez with a corner settee, augmenting its modular composition.

What does ‘luxury’ mean to you?

In the retailer experience, it’s buying a lifestyle, to feel exclusive and owning a product that is made with quality and value. It means our showroom needs to be beautiful, comfortable and timeless, so our clientele wants to touch and interact with our furniture.

14 INSIGHT Imran Badat
“Our clients wish to experience the showroom service that a high-quality brand can offer

Do you feel Chelsea’s retailers are somewhat insulated from the current economic uncertainties?

We think so, yes. We believe this is largely due to the international audience we notice in Chelsea, but also because London in general appears to be better placed to withstand economic uncertainties, due possibly to its more diverse economy.

How have you seen demand change in recent years?

We’ve seen an increase in demand for the iconic Togo range, and our models continue to capture the imagination when shared by influencers, magazines, interior decorators and architects alike.

Are many transactions made through the brand’s website, or are sales principally made in-store?

The majority of the brand’s sales are made in-store, which we think is the case with most mid- to upperlevel brands. This is largely because of the nature of the product – clients wish to select and feel the fabrics and finishes, and experience the showroom service that a high-quality brand can offer.

You recently introduced a range of Loewe TVs and multiroom speakers to the showroom. Does technology play a significant role in-store?

The use of the Loewe TV offers a well-connected experience for our clientele. It enables us to present lifestyle images/videos of current products and products we do not have on display on the shopfloor, with ease. With Loewe’s smart features, we can easily

share the screen from our laptop when consulting with clients on interior design, making the process even more engaging and fluid.

What else is in the pipeline?

We are starting the year with our involvement in Chelsea in Bloom during May, which is inspired by ‘flowers on film’, then outdoor furniture promotion during Clerkenwell Design Week.

Most importantly, we’re celebrating the iconic Togo sofa’s 50th anniversary this year, by having the Togo upholstered in a limited edition Pierre Frey fabric and on display in our showroom, which will be decorated to celebrate this special occasion.

www.ligne-roset.com/uk

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“Our showroom needs to be beautiful, comfortable and timeless

An invitation to inspiration

Having enjoyed a warm response to its latest models and materials, Hydeline’s commercial director Michael Sheedy is excited about the direction of both the At The Helm and Hydeline brands – and interested parties need look no further than the supplier’s lavish Milton Keynes showroom for inspiration …

“After a positive start to the year, and an excellent show in January, we continue to develop our identity and explore new directions with bold and beautiful designs,” begins Michael.

Both the Hydeline and At The Helm brands operate from Hydeline’s UK HQ in Milton Keynes. Here, daily operations including design and marketing, warehousing and customer support are carried out, while trade visitors are invited to explore the brands’ lavish permanent showroom, which has been carefully constructed to represent the identity of the At The Helm brand – an exquisite space in which to present the Signature Heritage and Modern Explorer collections to existing and prospective customers.

Its design draws on aesthetics from past times of exploration and heritage, merged with modern features of travel and worldwide exploration, and aims to immerse visitors in a complete brand experience.

“It is an opportunity for our customers to see, touch and feel the brand, away from the hustle and bustle of exhibition settings,” Michael continues. “Relax in the luxurious comfort of an At The Helm sofa, and explore how the product offering and brand environment can

create an inspiring retail experience in your store –we’re confident that we have a special offering, and we want our customers to feel the same.”

Visitors can journey through room settings featuring signature elements that have become synonymous with the brand – such as the modern bookcase or the tunnel feature – before enjoying a coffee at the bar. “Experience timeless classic Chesterfield designs such as Buckingham and Livingstone, that will complement elegant gentlemen’s clubs, country houses or Victorian living rooms, yet fit with ease into any modern living area,” says Michael. “You’ll feel the levels of craftsmanship, quality and comfort that set us apart.”

The Modern Explorer range boasts classic design elements while drawing on inspiration from around the world, evoking iconic architecture, bold colours and textured materials to create new and individual designs with a modern twist, states Michael. “Models such as the Grace and Leo are crafted from FSCcertified timber, and utilise Dacron made from recycled plastics. Foam-encapsulated pocket springs reduce the use of foam across both ranges, ensuring the brand builds towards a sustainable future while maintaining the pursuit of luxurious comfort,” he adds.

“The next phase of our development involves the creation of a retail toolkit to facilitate the design and installation of in-store galleries. Work on this is well advanced, and this summer a menu of options will be available to create effective in-store solutions, ensuring the look, feel and appeal of our brand impresses customers and consumers alike. Agreements are already in place with partner retailers to implement further in-store galleries this year.”

To book a visit to the showroom, contact Hydeline customer on 01908 968228, or speak directly to the appropriate regional area manager. “We look forward to welcoming you very soon,” Michael concludes.

www.atthehelm.com

www.hydeline.co.uk

16 INSIGHT
“Explore how the product offering and brand environment can create an inspiring retail experience in your store
Modern Explorer
C M Y CM MY CY CMY K
Signature Heritage

Livingstone; classic and sumptuous, handsome yet elegant.

Livingstone 3.5-seater in Vintage Bourbon Frontier

Holistic progress equals sustained growth

With an extensive pipeline of new developments across its myriad product categories, Julian Bowen continues to go from strength to strength, driven by a desire to provide the highest possible quality at each price point …

Julain Bowen’s ambitions are supported by a well-invested supply chain, which incorporates an experienced in-house buying and design team, with domestic and international QC staff working in close partnership with a select group of leading manufacturers.

Together, they have forged an impressive new product development capability, says the supplier –and this has created a platform for significant growth and an enhanced customer proposition, with a huge focus on FSC-certified and reclaimed materials, and a robust sustainability policy.

The recently launched FSC Mallory Oak bedroom and dining collections, for example, have proved “a great success, offering both exceptional value for money and classic timeless styling” – and this is just one of many new ranges focused on sustainability Julian Bowen plans to launch this year.

Product development is backed up by continuous ongoing investment in marketing support, customer service, supply chain management and IT infrastructure, to maximise business efficiency through automation, from stock feed management to ordering and distribution. This is further enhanced by tailored individual solutions through the new self-

service customer portal, which enables customers to log on and have access to all their details, including live stock, outstanding invoices and product details, and offers them the ability to order products at any time. Julian Bowen describes it as “a hugely flexible benefit to customers”.

Back to product, and, as a leader in children’s furniture, Julian Bowen says this remains a key product area, with impressive, innovative, modern and highly functional new designs coming through.

As mentioned, dining and bedroom have seen particular focus on FSC and reclaimed materials, and huge attention has been paid to supply chain and stock management, in order to mitigate overstocks and warehouse space constraints, and to give the business the enviable position of having optimum stock, plus sufficient capacity to meet its aggressive product launch plans.

Julian Bowen’s emphasis on bespoke solutions and customer support has been a key factor in the development of its successful direct container business, which offers a well-managed, one-stop solution, from product development to quality control, shipping and in-bound distribution and ongoing stock management support, while leveraging the firm’s significant buying power to its customers’ advantage. As across the whole business, the emphasis is on making the buying process as easy, efficient and painfree as possible for its customers.

MD Emmett Lenaghan explains: “Everything we do is designed to get the best possible outcome for our customers. Everybody in our business knows that the customer comes first, and we work together to continually enhance our proposition – be it a wider and better product offering, flexible distribution solutions, stock availability, bespoke development, or even project management.

“We’re totally committed to offering the best quality and value at all price points.”

18 INSIGHT
www.julian-bowen.co.uk
“We’re totally committed to offering the best quality and value at all price points
Mallory living collection Willow Treehouse Bunk Salma scalloped-back three seater in teal
Bentinck House, Park Lane Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts NG17 9LE tel: (01623) 727374 fax: (01623) 754555 email: sales@julian-bowen.co.uk web: www.julian-bowen.co.uk All Products are available for Direct Home Delivery JULIAN BOWEN The Mallory FSC® Oak Bedroom Range By buying this product you help take care of the world’s forests FSC® C174418 www.fsc.org

GETTING PERSONAL Steve Pickering

Steve is the CEO of Sussex Beds, a fast-growing independent bed retail chain that now boasts 15 stores across the South East (Caterham, Surrey was the latest opening). Steve’s audacious expansion plan envisages 25 stores by 2025 – and 80 by 2030 …

How might a child describe what you do?

Steve works in an office and is the boss of the bed shop with the dinosaur outside.*

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

As a rapidly growing and expanding business, maintaining our close culture, great internal communication lines and speed of adaptability.

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

Firstly, with a 10 x working budget we would significantly increase training and personal development budgets and seek to upskill teams across the business. Alongside this we would speed up the rate of growth and rapidly expand the reach of our store portfolio, together with a significant investment in our website and omnichannel connectivity. Finally, with volumes increasing, we would acquisition and obtain a manufacturing operation to fulfil our longerterm end-to-end supply chain objectives.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘Helping the World to Sleep, Tissue Carnations’.

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

Time out, time away from the physical work place, is crucial. Reset, recharge, reinvigorate … everyone’s needs are different, however it is essential for your mental wellbeing that you make time. Building or running a business is a long road which will not be straight or flat, and you’ll need refuel the tank to ensure you get to your destination.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

In 2014 we started working with a business coach, Lucy Cameron. We didn’t know what to expect. However, after years of struggling to keep our business afloat, what did we have to lose?

For the business, and for me personally, this by far has been the most influential professional mentor, providing structure, planning, strategy and, most importantly, belief.

What advice would you give your younger self? Believe in yourself, work on your emotional

intelligence and get yourself a business coach today!

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

Reopening the doors to our stores after months of lockdown. Laying to rest the months of uncertainty, welcoming back our teams and being proud of my family for pulling together, supporting each other through the most challenging of business events.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

That a hard or orthopaedic mattress is good for bad backs.

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

I think our industry’s most disappointing habit is creating great new products which are then copied, butchered and devalued until they no longer meet the needs they were originally designed for. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped this?

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

The lines between manufacturer and retailer will blur. The importance of traditional trade brands will diminish, and the winners will be those who connect and resonate directly with the consumer. And those consumers will expect seamless connectivity between the physical store and the digital world.

www.sussexbeds.co.uk

* Visit Sussex Beds’ Bexhill store for a glimpse of ‘Dino’!

“The winners will be those who connect and resonate directly with the consumer
20 INSIGHT

Strengthen your sales message this June!

In next month’s issue, we’re looking at the latest lines (indoors and out), the visualisation wizards transforming furniture marketing, upholstery, and more!

* Outdoor Furniture – inspiring retailers to seize their moment in the sun

* CGI Marketing – the visionaries behind this growing movement

* New in Upholstery – the latest models, fabrics and trends

We’ll also present the latest in Bedroom, Dining, Living and Trade Services Stand out and shine this summer!

“We took around 30% of annual turnover in two weeks…”

“We were very apprehensive about holding our first Greenwood Sale and we just couldn’t quite believe the sales projections.

We had a figure in mind for the two-week event that we would be happy with but, we surpassed it in the first few days! Overall, we took around 30% of annual turnover in the two weeks. [Sale held in March 2023].

Your Event Manager was absolutely incredible and at the end of the sale we didn’t want him to go! We would certainly hold another Greenwood Sale – once we’ve caught up!”

Andrew Bright, M.D., Soundsleep Ltd, Diss, Norfolk.

GREENWOOD RETAIL LTD
& Ireland’s Leading Experts in Retail Sales Promotion since 2002
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Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email sam@gearingmediagroup.com BOOK BY FRIDAY 12TH MAY TAKE YOUR SEAT Lebus set impress at JFS World Furniture’s clarity of vision BED SHOW LIVING TRADE SERVICES COMPROMISE LIVING BEDROOM TRADE SERVICES 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 24/04/2023 16:04 21

Supply fair strives to enable positive change

Furniture supply fair interzum returns to Cologne from 9-12th May, in its first physical edition since 2019. With a new slogan –‘Shaping the change’ – reflecting greater emphasis on sustainability, interzum promises to offer visitors a plethora of inspiring and innovative component, material, textile and machinery solutions …

With ‘neo-ecology’ as its central theme, the international trade fair for furniture production and interior design is establishing a new focus and drawing attention to its future-oriented focus.

After 2021’s digital interzum @home edition, the industry event will finally take place again as a live experience in the halls of Koelnmesse. Decisionmakers, opinion leaders, influencers and trendsetters from all over the world are set to gather in person to discover innovations and new products, find inspiration and meet both established and new business contacts.

The show’s organiser expects some 1400 companies from around 60 countries to present their products, innovations and material solutions to this global audience.

In the Function & Components section, which is

dedicated to fittings, locks and built-in furniture parts as well as lighting and lighting systems, exhibitors include Hettich, Häfele, Blum, Vauth-Sagel, Salice, Titus, Kesseböhmer and Samet, while the Materials & Nature segment, which revolves around pioneering materials and manufacturing techniques, will feature the likes of Schattdecor, Lamigraf, Egger, Finsa, Arpa, Alvic, Cleaf, Yildiz, Saviola, SonaeArauco, Kastamonou, Hornschuch and Media Profili.

Meanwhile, the Textile & Machinery segment, which showcases innovations in mattress production and upholstery materials, will present the latest solutions from Leggett & Platt, Global Textile Alliance, Gruppo Grassi, Boyteks, Elektroteks, Mert Makina, Stutznäcker, BekaertDeslee, Bäumer, Vita Group, Henkel, Alfa Klebstoffe, Dürkopp-Adler & Pfaff, Atlanta Attachment, Zünd, Bulmmer, Allcomp, DSW Polska and C3 Corporation.

Behind it all, the fair will focus on sustainability, climate protection and resource efficiency, continuing to drive the conversation forward so new solutions can be developed.

In order to facilitate even more of an international audience, the upcoming edition will offer a concurrent digital event, while a wide-ranging event programme of forums and dedicated stages will enrich visitors’ experience across the board.

“Whether your target group includes decisionmakers from the manufacturing sector, architects, designers, contract furnishers or product developers, the range of inspiration to be found at interzum offers added value for them all,” states Koelnmesse. “The event will unfold in a hybrid form, both at the physical trade fair in Cologne and in the digital space, with interzum 2023 representing continuity and change in equal measure.”

22 EVENTS
www.interzum.com
“The range of inspiration to be found at interzum offers added value for all
2nd - 4th July 2023 The National Indoor Arena, Blanchardstown, Dublin To secure your space today contact event manager Aisling on 00353 838576794 or email aisling@ifhs-tradeshow.ie To find out more visit www.ifhs-tradeshow.com REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR ATTENDEES! Ireland’s largest trade only furniture and homewares show

Spring Edition heralds new start for imm

With top exhibitors, a focus on trade visitors and a shortened duration, imm cologne, Germany’s biggest interior trade fair is set to become “a highly efficient” business event when it returns to Koelnmesse for a special Spring Edition from 4-7th June this year …

This summer, the global furniture industry is invited to come together at imm’s Spring Edition in Cologne. In addition to its role as a networking event for the interior design and furniture-buying world, and a source of inspiration, the event sees itself as a platform for unique business opportunities. Leading brand manufacturers will be present, while a topclass event programme promises to offer plentiful networking opportunities.

“The imm Spring Edition will be a one-off event, and marks the start of a newly conceived imm cologne,” states organiser Koelnmesse. Across three themed segments – Home Sleep, Home Settings and Home Scenes – the fair promises a wide range of business opportunities. Home Sleep will present innovative sleep products, Home Scenes is set to reflect the furnishing trends for upmarket living comfort, and Home Settings will cater for younger audiences and those seeking attractive prices.

On the exhibitor side, Furninova, Hjört Knudsen, Koinor, Nouvion, Voglauer and Wimmer are among those presenting new collections and innovations,

while the compact, open stands within the Interior Platforms format promises to further open the doors to interested buyers.

Meanwhile, the Pure Galleries exhibition concept will premiere at imm Spring Edition, and promises to transport trade visitors into an art gallery-style setting. In minimalist, customisable brand rooms, leading companies such as Artisan, brühl & sippold, BW Bielefelder Werkstätten, Christine Kröncke, COR Sitzmöbel, ex.T Giulio Tanini, Freifrau, JANUA, Jori, Kettnaker, KFF, KLÖBER, Label, Leolux, Montis, miinu, müller möbelfabrikation, raumplus, Rodam, Scholtissek, Schönbuch, Signet and WERTHER will present their latest interior design solutions.

The imm Spring Edition will also be eminently international, with participants from China, Taiwan, Romania, Ukraine, Indonesia, Latvia, Turkey, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The special edition’s draw is also evident on the visitor side, with retailers such as Alliance, Begros, El Corte Ingles, IKEA, EMV, Garant, Home 24, Möbel Märki, Ostermann, Porta, Segmüller, Wayfair, XXXLutz and Zurbrüggen set to take part. “This means that not only are all the German purchasing associations represented, but the leading furniture retailers, plus numerous interior designers, have already confirmed their attendance,” concludes the show organiser.

Tickets for the imm Spring Edition are available at www.imm-cologne.de/die-messe/tickets/ticketskaufen/.

www.imm-cologne.com

24 EVENTS
“The imm Spring Edition marks the start of a newly conceived imm cologne
the interior business event imm-cologne.com International Business Media Services Ltd. Tel.: +44 1425 48 68 30 info@koelnmesse.co.uk Be part of the journey. 04.–  07. 06. 2023 imm Spring Edition. Secure your tickets now!

IRISH FURNITURE & HOMEWARES SHOW (IFHS)

www.ifhs-tradeshow.ie

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

The three-day show runs from Sunday 2nd to Tuesday 4th July. Its new location, the state-ofthe-art National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin, has not only brought a new fresh look to the show, but has also helped take how the furniture industry do business to the next level, states IFHS’ organiser.

INDX FURNITURE

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

Following a buoyant January 2023 show, which welcomed record visitor attendance, INDX Furniture is preparing to return to its West Midlands venue, Cranmore Park, for its summer edition on 20th-22nd June.

Organised by Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying and services group for fashion, home, and leisure, day one of the June show is reserved exclusively for AIS members, with general trade visitors welcome to attend on the subsequent two days.

Curated by buyers, for buyers, and known for its friendly, business-focused format and order-writing environment, INDX Furniture is free to attend, and online visitor registration is now open.

Emma Rackley, director of furniture and home at AIS is confident that the June edition will build on the accomplishment of the previous edition: “Every show we deliver takes immense planning and industry collaboration, and we are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive

“This is the ideal event for everyone in the industry wishing to see new products, discover innovative ideas and avail of exclusive deals and discounts from the companies on show, all under one roof!” states the show’s organiser.

“The IFHS is representative of the wide variety of furniture and homewares available in Ireland. Being the only show 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.”

Registration for the IFHS has officially opened, and is quick, easy, free of charge, and open to all furniture trade professionals. Each visitor must register with their own unique email address, at https://ifhs-tradeshow.registrationdesk.ie/ For more information, including the exhibitor list, visit the exhibition’s website.

from suppliers and retailers.

“Our January 2023 event was a triumph, our exhibitors wrote record business, and not only did we see an increase in visitor footfall, but we also welcomed a host of retailers and buyers we hadn’t seen before. In line with market trends, we focused on offering newness and an innovationled product showcase, and we brought on board new suppliers to strengthen and enhance our

existing mix. This strategy is something the team and I will develop and run with to ensure the ongoing success of the show, and planning is well under way for an exciting June 2023 proposition.”

Visit the INDX website for more information about INDX Furniture and the wider show portfolio, and to sign up to receive on-demand content from the shows.

26 EVENTS HTL
20-22 JUNE 2023* Curated by buyers for buyers Tuesday 20 June 2023* 08:30 - 18:30 Wednesday 21 June 2023 08:30 - 17:00 Thursday 22 June 2023 08:30 - 16:00 *20 JUNE OPEN TO AIS MEMBERS ONLY Visit or Exhibit Scan and secure your place Brought to you by

MIFF makes impressive recovery

The Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF), South-east Asia’s largest industry trade show, rebounded from the pandemic when it returned on 1st March, reporting a ground-breaking transaction total of US$1.21b …

That impressive result reflects a +19% increase from the show’s pre-pandemic peak of US$1.01b in 2019, with an unprecedented 673 exhibiting companies, and trade visitors spanning 136 nationalities.

This year’s show gained traction from pent-up demand, as exhibitors and buyers took to the trade floor to reconnect and transact orders from the wide selection of new products and fresh designs on display.

With buyers attending from all over the world, MIFF remains an attractive gateway for exhibitors seeking new international buyers and markets. This year’s show featured exhibitors from 11 countries and regions (Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam).

Returning to a full-scale event across two venues –the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC) and World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) – MIFF welcomed 19,275 trade buyers, comprising nearly 30% international buyers and 40% first-time visitors.

The largest contingent came from Asia, followed by North America and Oceania. China took the lead with the most visitors, ahead of Singapore, the US, India and Australia.

MIFF is the largest showcase of Malaysia’s exportoriented furniture industry, specifically for solid wood furniture, as well as the region’s largest collection of office furniture.Exhibitors and buyers alike praised the show for being well organised and offering such an extensive and creatively displayed product range.

Kelie Lim, MIFF’s GM, says: “MIFF 2023 has exceeded expectations. We’re grateful for the tremendous support of the global furniture industry, exhibitors and visitors.

“Industry professionals were back in full force to see their suppliers and new products. The wide range of exhibitors and products added a lot of energy and generated a positive new feel to the show. We are looking forward to welcome everyone back next year at our 30th anniversary, which will be stronger and better. Our focus remains on delivering good-quality growth to reinforce MIFF as the best trading platform for our customers.”

Exhibitors, domestic and overseas alike, responded positively, with a large number already registered for bigger booth space in 2024, when the annual show returns on the same dates, 1st-4th March. www.miff.com.my

28 EVENTS
“Industry professionals were back in full force
The ONLY place to see so many UK and Irish bed manufacturers and component suppliers all under one roof - from the biggest brands to smaller niche players WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT 26 – 27 September 2023 | Telford Mattresses | Divans | Bedsteads | Headboards | Pillows | Futons Sofabeds | Tickings | Fillings | Springs | Foam | Machinery | Components www.bedshow.co.uk @thebedfed | #BedShow2023 • Over 70 manufacturer and supplier brands • Latest products, collections and innovations in bed making • Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony with celebrity host • Prime networking opportunities • Supplier Innovation Zone • FREE entry, parking and Wi-Fi • Complimentary refreshment vouchers

Buyers get busy in Vietnam

From 8-11 March, VIFA EXPO returned to Ho Chi Minh City’s SECC to present the latest product from Vietnam and further afield to a global audience hungry for new opportunities …

This year’s show featured 612 exhibitors – more than 140 of which attended from 17 countries and territories outside of Vietnam, including the US, the UK, Germany, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Across 2410 booths, exhibitors displayed a wide range of indoor and outdoor furniture, handicrafts, gifts, wood materials, woodworking machinery and home accessories

The show’s organiser reports a visitor count of 18,180 – its highest to date – including 5729 international visitors from 117 countries and territories (55% from Asia, 25% from America, 15% from Europe, 12% from Oceania and 2% from Africa). Visitors from China, the USA, the UK, France and Canada topped the attendance roster.

According to exhibitor feedback, exhibitors signed or planned orders with trade buyers during the event

to the tune of nearly US$100m, and many met many buying groups and high-volume buyers from the EU, America and Japan. Indeed, 95% of the exhibitors have rebooked for next year’s edition, and 50% of them plan to enlarge their displays.

The fair also saw numerous associated activities take place, including seminars, business matching and factory tours – the latter involving 48 international customers from 10 countries, who visited 11 furniture factories in the Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces. Five of the factories were asked for quotes during the visit, demonstrating the potential of expanding the relationships between Vietnamese manufacturers and international buyers, says the show’s organiser, which, to support exhibitors following the physical exhibition, also launched the VIFA EXPO Online Platform, in order to better facilitate long-term connections.

In the meantime, buyers may wish to attend VIFA ASEAN, taking place from 29th August to 1st September this year (also at SECC). Show organiser Lien Minh Company expects to host more than 350 companies at the show, including purveyors of modern and traditional furniture, furnishings, home decor and handicrafts – in particular, eco-friendly products from Vietnam and its neighbours.

“VIFA ASEAN will be an attractive, cost-saving event for international buyers in the autumn buying season, where they will be able to meet many reputable suppliers in one place,” says Lien Minh Company. “There will be national pavilions of from countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines, providing an opportunity for buyers to explore these countries unique products and designs.”

www.vifaexpo.com

30 EVENTS
“The factory visits demonstrated the potential of expanding the relationships between Vietnamese manufacturers and international buyers

VIETNAM ASEAN

INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE & HOME ACCESSORIES FAIR

SECC
1.9 2023
| HCMC, VIETNAM 29.8 -

Long Point is back in town

Organised by the Long Eaton Guild of Furniture Manufacturers, the biannual Long Point show takes place each spring and autumn in Long Eaton – and this year’s spring show, which runs from 9-11th May, is set to be one of the most diverse editions to date …

Encompassing an impressive 24 manufacturers and distributors across six locations, this month’s Long Eaton-based showcase is one not to be missed, says guild chairman Andrew Mitchell.

The exhibition, which showcases the latest in upholstery, cabinet and accessories from the guild’s locally based members and various ‘guest’ suppliers, offers a uniquely intimate opportunity to engage with upmarket brands this season – many of which choose to present their newest models within inspiring permanent showrooms, giving buyers a taste of how their purchases could look on the shop floor.

This month’s spring edition will feature five new exhibitors – Contrast Upholstery, Couch & Co, Ercol, Kesterport and Violino.

“Long Eaton has the privilege of being the UK Centre of Quality Upholstery Manufacture,” says Andrew, “with both manufacturing facilities and showrooms displaying some of the best names in quality furniture. The show attracts buyers from the UK and Ireland looking to see new and exciting designs with which to refresh their showrooms, and a warm welcome awaits all business visitors.”

www.longeatonguild.co.uk/longpoint

32 EVENTS LONG POINT
“A warm welcome awaits all business visitors
Artistic Upholstery Wiemann Iain James Furniture David Gundry Gascoigne Designs

Location, location, location

The following exhibitors will be exhibiting across the town’s various locations: Alexander & James, Ashley Manor, Carlton Furniture, David Gundry, Duresta, Ercol, G Plan, Hunter Knight, Kesterport, Parker Knoll, Siren Furniture, Violino and Wiemann at Harrington Mills (NG10 4QE); Bree’s New World, Couch & Co, Richmond Interiors, Tamarisk and Warwick fabrics at West End Mills (NG10 4QD); Gascoigne Designs at Wilsthorpe Road (NG10 3JW); Artistic Upholstery and Iain James Furniture at Bridge Street (NG10 4QQ); Steed Upholstery at Bonsall Street (NG10 2AL); and Ashwood Designs and Contrast Upholstery at the Westgate Suite (NG10 1EF).

Duresta 33
“Long Eaton has the privilege of being the UK Centre of Quality Upholstery Manufacture

Wiemann promises new stars and key lines

This month’s cover, star, awardwinning German bedroom manufacturer Wiemann, will exhibit a blend of new products and established favourites at this year’s spring Long Point …

Two new-for-2023 VIP ranges, Denver and Split, will be on show. Alongside these, at the company’s Harrington Mills base, will be the premium VIP Monaco range, which consistently tops Wiemann’s bestsellers list.

The eye-catching Denver is a stylish sliding and hinged wardrobe range, featuring a unique decking-style panel. It is available in a selection of contemporary finishes, including graphite, bianco oak and champagne, among others. The decking overlay can be the same colour as the carcass and base door, or it can contrast, meaning Denver has a look to suit all tastes.

Split is a contemporary sliding and hinged range which features a signature smoky opaque glass panel incorporated into the slider. Another VIP offering, Split is available in graphite and pebble grey.

Next up is the Monaco collection, a firm favourite from Wiemann. The Monaco 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 each feature different components, such as

bifold, sliding and hinged doors, accessories, and no doors. All variations have lots of carcass and finish options.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “We’re looking forward to Long Point and the more relaxed and intimate surroundings of our own permanent showroom. The event gives us an opportunity to show off our wardrobes ‘at home’.”

Wiemann has enjoyed a stellar year so far. Starting with a win in The Furniture Awards’ Global Player category, the company says it has seen its newseason ranges fly out of the factory.

“Denver and Split provide innovative looks which are proving to be trendsetters,” says Simon. “Both offer clever use of space, which is all too important for today’s homes. At the same time, we have seen the timeless appeal of Monaco, with its intelligent corner options and consideration for rooms of all shapes and sizes – including dressing rooms – translate into healthy trading figures.”

Also on show at Long Point will be Miami Plus and Tampa, both bringing sleek good looks and impressive value for money to the deal. Miami Plus is a sliding range with carcasses and doors – in two or three sections – available in a vast choice of colours and finishes. Tampa, meanwhile, has hinged doors, and colour options including dark rustic oak and pebble grey.

Simon concludes: “All Wiemann products are known for their excellent design, quality and value, and are backed up with the company’s five-star customer support service.”

Following Long Point, Wiemann will be present at the Spring Furniture & Bed Show, taking place in Stoneleigh on 16-17th May. Outside of exhibitions, Wiemann’s products can be viewed by arrangement at the brand’s permanent showroom in Harlow, Essex, and, of course, in Long Eaton.

www.wiemannuk.co.uk

34 EVENTS LONG POINT (COVER FEATURE)
“The event gives us an opportunity to show off our wardrobes ‘at home’
Denver Monaco Split

PARKER KNOLL

www.parkerknoll.co.uk

This month’s Long Point will be Parker Knoll’s biggest show to date.

“We can’t wait to welcome you to our newly designed showroom in Harrington Mills, reintroduce you to new and improved bestsellers, and debut our new, beautifully modern collections and gorgeous fabrics,” states the chair and sofamaker.

“Additionally, we’ve also dressed our wide range of popular and luxurious collections in stunning, brandnew designs. Visit us this May to see what we have in store!”

DURESTA

www.duresta.com

Duresta Upholstery is “thrilled” to be heading back its roots for May’s Long Point, where it will occupy its newly refurbished showroom in Harrington Mills.

“However,” the brand goes on, “our beautiful new showroom is not the only exciting highlight of the show – we will also be displaying our latest Contemporary Living Collection, as well as gorgeous new designs on our bestselling models.

“We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s show!”

CONTRAST UPHOLSTERY

Contrast is pleased to be launching an additional four groups of upholstery to its existing collections at this month’s Long Point show.

The new ranges are produced locally and promise to be “a radical change” to anything currently available in the marketplace, says Contrast’s Janus Cooper, who can be reached at janus@contrastupholstery.co.uk, or by calling 07866 545729.

“We will also have our Harris Tweed models, occasional leather chairs and updated aspirational leather/fabric collections,” he adds. “We’re located at The Westgate Suites, just five minutes from Harrington Mills.”

35
Nimbus, from Duresta’s Contemporary Living Collection Boston three-seater with power footrest, in luna denim

Long Point bound? Heed Siren’s call

Long Eaton’s Siren Furniture was established in 2000, and has gone on to design and supply upholstered furniture for some of the UK’s best-known retail brands, plus the independent sector. Furniture News caught up with director Andrew Kerr before he flew out to I Saloni in Milan last month, to find out what visitors could expect from the business at this year’s spring Long Point show …

How’s business?

It’s good! We are targeting growth, so we’re expanding the breadth of the product range with new models. We’re also expanding our network of sales agents to enable us to offer improved service to customers in regions that weren’t as well served as we would have liked.

On top of all that, we’re expanding into the Republic of Ireland this summer, so overall I would say these are pretty exciting times here!

What do you expect to gain from visiting this year’s I Saloni?

It’s a great place to go for inspiration in fabric and shapes, and also an opportunity to see if we are on the right track with our own design direction. The espresso’s pretty good, too …

What launches do you have planned for this year’s spring Long Point?

We have new versions of Freya, as well as two completely new designs.

Where can visitors find you at the show?

Harrington Mill is our home – we can always be found on the second floor, just turn left out of the lift.

What’s your view on how the show has evolved in recent years?

The influx of brands to the mill and general area in recent years have made it an important destination for buyers looking for premium upholstery.

Are you seeing buyer tastes shifting in any particular directions?

Buyers are always looking for something new to excite them, be it styles or fabrics.

How are your manufacturing and design processes changing to suit?

We have fantastic supply chain partners that allow us to offer both fabric and leather covers on traditional looks through to modern modular and show-wood models, and we’re able to flex the factory mix to match demand.

Finally, is there anything in the pipeline at Siren that the trade should be aware of?

Look out for our new Alice range – it’s a great combination of on-trend style and comfort.

www.sirenfurniture.com

36 EVENTS LONG POINT
“We are targeting growth, so we’re expanding the breadth of the product range
Harrington Mill • Leopold Street • Long Eaton • Nottingham • NG10 4QE 01159 737070 • sales@sirenfurniture.com www.sirenfurniture.com

Richmond embraces the beauty of travertine

Through its English agent Richard Stamp Agencies, Richmond Interiors will launch new collections at this month’s Long Point show …

Visitors to this year’s spring Long Point will discover the latest “cutting-edge” lines from Richmond Interiors on display in West End Mills, on Leopold Street.

The Ebury range consists of an elegant oval dining table, console and several coffee tables. Boasting simple, clean lines, each model comes in solid, polished travertine stone, in a delicate creamy colour, with soft rounded profiles. The travertine is honed and filled to achieve a smooth finish, says agent Richard Stamp.

Richmond’s Indian Collection, meanwhile, mixes solid travertine and fluted metal or wooden frames in one truly unique, and very contemporary, concept. “This stunning collection, created in Rajasthan, is hand finished by highly skilled and dedicated craftsmen, and is shipped in very well-thought-out packing to ensure its arrival in perfect condition,” says Richard, adding that initial stocks are being shipped shortly, for summer delivery.

The range comprises a number of coffee tables as

well as stylish, tulip-based dining tables, sideboards and shelving units.

Travertine is a material common to both new ranges. A natural stone formed by mineral deposits around hot springs, travertine comes in several colours, and has been used in many famous structures, says Richard – from the Colosseum in ancient Rome to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. “The beauty of its natural production cannot be surpassed,” he adds, “which is a great reason to fashion it into tables to blend perfectly into any environment, either traditional rural, or urban and contemporary.”

Richmond has designed new dining chairs to complement these tables, and has chosen subtle new fabrics in soft pastel colours to enhance the collection.

www.richardstamp.co.uk

www.richmondinteriors.nl/en/

38 EVENTS LONG POINT
“The beauty of travertine’s natural production cannot be surpassed

Sold-out spring show promises diverse offer

All available stands have been sold at this year’s Spring Furniture & Bed Show, which is housed in two sizeable, dedicated exhibition halls in Stoneleigh – so visitors can look forward to seeing products from an extensive range of major British and overseas suppliers, says organiser

Minerva Furniture Group …

This year’s spring show will take place on 16-17th May at the NAEC in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, and is open to all furniture buyers. The benefits of the venue include free parking, and good road, rail and airport links.

In addition to free WiFi and a show catalogue, host Minerva is inviting all show visitors to enjoy a free lunch in the on-site Strollers restaurant – while coffee shops and seating on the showfloor also promise to contribute to the exhibition’s relaxed environment.

Minerva’s group chief executive, Jim Orr, confirms:

“Over 70 exhibitors will showcase their latest newseason ranges, making the Spring Furniture & Bed Show a terrific opportunity to see a comprehensive mix of upholstery, cabinet, bedroom cabinet, beds and accessories, all under one roof.”

Visit the show website to register for a complimentary entrance pass. “Don’t miss your chance to view fantastic products from great suppliers,” concludes Jim. “Register now!”

www.springfurnitureshow.co.uk

40 EVENTS
“Over 70 exhibitors will showcase their latest newseason ranges
Contact us 01536 444960 sales@kettleinteriorsagencies.com www.kettlehome.co.uk Choose from modern or traditional designs and a range of fabrics from fresh light linen to sumptuous velvets. Two of the designs include ottoman storage to maximize space without compromising style. Introducing 2 brand new collections. A classic dining and bedroom range featuring washed oak tops with a beautifully painted finish and a comfortable and cosy upholsetered bed range which will elevate your bedroom with sophistication and indulgence. EA Dining & Bedroom Collection | Fabric Bed Collection Our EA collection seamlessly blends rustic warmth with contemporary design. Available in 2 colours with items across living, dining and bedroom.

ALL NOWSTANDSSOLD OUT!

TO ALL FURNITURE www.springfurnitureshow.co.uk
FURNITURE BUYERS Easy to access venue Free parking Complimentary lunch Relaxed environment to view the new season’s arrivals under one roof ..andmany other Major Furniture and BedBrands! REGISTER NOW www.springfurnitureshow.co.uk 16-17 MAY 2023 AT NAEC STONELEIGH CV8 2LZ Hosted by

Great expectations

As King Charles III steps up for his coronation, this month sees the return of Furniture News’ popular Best of British feature – a celebration of furniture and furnishings made on our shores, and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities before the sector …

On Saturday 6th May, King Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey. A momentous occasion for Britain, the coronation will prompt many to reflect upon and celebrate what it means to be ‘British’. And for those manufacturing and selling British-made furniture and furnishings, it’s a vital opportunity to remind consumers of the qualities of their goods, and why buying them matters.

British-made goods have long jostled with imports for market share, with certain subsectors of domestic manufacturing enjoying greater success than others. While cabinetmaking has dwindled in the face of pressures from China and the Far East, Britain’s bed and sofamaking trades have proved resilient, resulting in a quality proposition that is globally unique.

When the pandemic shut down the international supply chain in 2020, homegrown product came to the fore – before a shortage of imported materials and components threatened to hold it back. Despite the challenges it faced, however, the British furnituremaking industry continued to evolve, and businesses adapted rapidly to meet changing consumer demand.

Today, with imports regaining momentum, it is imperative that British furniture manufacturers strive to become even more efficient, competitive, and vocal about what they do – all while maintaining the levels of quality for which they are known.

But the challenges are significant. A shortage of skilled labour, sky-high energy costs and inflation are just a handful of the ongoing issues manufacturers must negotiate, and retailers share a similar burden.

How might Britain’s furniture industry best negotiate the road ahead, and what part can our Government – and monarchy – play?

In this special feature, Furniture News attempts to answer these questions, while celebrating the very best of British. You’ll find an interview with British Furniture Confederation (BFC) chairman Jonathan Hindle, a discussion of the benefits and challenges of being a Royal Warrant holder, and a raft of business profiles outlining those working in and around the British furniture-manufacturing sector, together with their newest product lines.

If you’re looking for your next homegrown business partner, you’ve come to the right place …

44 BEST OF BRITISH
From left: Hypnos (p52); One Call Furniture (p64); and La-Z-Boy (p54)
“It’s a vital opportunity to remind consumers of the qualities of Britishmade goods, and why buying them matters
BFM is the voice of the furniture industry, providing representation and a range of services that meet the needs of its members and adds value to their brand. NEW BFM membership for retailers who stock British-made furniture Become a BFM Approved Retail member and gain access to a range of benefits, including; Employment and commercial legal advice POS toolkit to promote British-made, quality furniture to your customers Approved BFM Retail Member logo to promote your business Factsheets and industry news direct to your inbox ...and so much more www.bfm.org.uk Find out more: Quote FN510 for a 10% discount on your first year’s membership fee

Flying the flag

Despite making a significant contribution to the UK economy, furniture manufacturing suffers from lack of recognition at a political level – states the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), which strives to remedy this by lobbying Government on a range of crucial issues. Here, Jonathan Hindle, chairman of the BFC and president EMEA of contract furniture specialist KI, discusses the opportunities and challenges facing the British furniture sector, and what the confederation is doing to help …

On the eve of the coronation, where does the British furniture industry stand?

As with most industries in the current climate, with consumer spending power and confidence very low, it is challenging – not least due to the pressures of inflation, staff shortages and the cost of energy. We have significant concerns now that the energy subsidy has been removed by the Government.

Do you think the celebration will create any opportunities for the sector?

I’m sure retailers in particular will leverage the opportunity to celebrate not only the King’s coronation but everything that is great about Britain by promoting British-made furniture.

What are the key challenges facing the industry, and how is the BFC trying to address them?

Key challenges have to be the cost of energy, inflation and a shortage of appropriately skilled human resources. Energy and inflation are outside our control, but the trade associations are working closely together through the BFC and the Furnishing Industry Education Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) in partnership with The Furniture Makers’ Company to address the relationship between employers and training providers. A new skills co-ordinator has been appointed to help promote the industry to young people and support businesses looking for apprentices by connecting them to local providers.

Can you point to any upcoming legislation that is set to impact the sector, for better or worse?

We’re keeping a close eye on developments around the revision of the Furniture Fire Safety regulations –much delayed, but which should become clearer later this year. The new Extended Producer Responsibility scheme on packaging and the plastics tax needs bedding in … while the CMA clampdown on false or misleading green claims is important too. On the horizon also could be more legislation via UK REACH on restricting – and the eventual ban of – commonly used chemicals, and of course on carbon reduction and waste and recycling policies.

What is the most significant change Government could make in support of the industry?

Helping to develop the workforce of tomorrow with investment in skills and training and ensuring there are appropriate qualifications dedicated to the furniture industry would make a significant difference.

It’s also critical that the Government ensures a level playing field in pursuing any of these policies – they need to be mandatory to be effective. We are broadly in support of green measures, but they need to be supported by effective enforcement and similar requirements for imports which, again, need to be effectively monitored and enforced. Finally, we’d like to see a long-term, funded industrial strategy that supports British furniture manufacturing and encourages more UK-based supplier manufacturers to set up too.

What sets British furniture and bedmakers apart from their international competitors?

Quality, quality, quality. We have some of the best furniture designers and some of the best manufacturers of beds, cabinets and sofas on the planet. Our challenge as an industry is to promote this, along with the industry’s commitment to producing sustainable and environmentally friendly products so that consumers have the choice to buy British and help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

How much currency does ‘British made’ have with consumers right now?

We believe it has a lot. It is becoming more and more acceptable to champion Britishness – not just for patriotic reasons but to support the UK manufacturing industry and those who work in it, and also for sound environmental reasons. Retailers are leveraging campaigns such as the National Bed Federation’s Buy from an Approved NBF Member and the BFM’s recently launched Approved Retailer membership.

Should the benefits of buying British be better conveyed to consumers? If so, how?

The British consumer is savvy. They know when they see well-designed, well-made, quality furniture. The campaigns run by the respective trade associations and supported by the BFC serve to remind consumers that buying British means buying durability and quality – ie, value. The more manufacturers and retailers work together to promote these messages, the better.

Can you share any examples of businesses that are setting world-class standards?

The trade associations encourage excellence through a variety of award schemes. The Furniture Makers’ Company’s highlight various areas: superb craftmanship through its Bespoke Guild Mark; the Manufacturing Guild Mark is an accolade enjoyed by a select few which undergo vigorous auditing to achieve it; while the Design Guild Mark recognises the skills of our internationally recognised British designers and the manufacturers who invest in them. The NBF’s Bed Industry Awards are independently judged, while BFM Approved Manufacturing membership is audited by retailers keen to demonstrate transparency in their ESG reporting.

What’s coming up on the BFC’s agenda?

We are continuing to work with Government through the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG) and its chairman, Mark Eastwood, MP, to ensure there is a voice for furniture in the UK at the highest level. This is £41b industry, and as the BFC we have a responsibility to ensuring the sector gets the appropriate recognition and support from Government – particularly helping the companies we represent to gain engagement and financial support for skills and training, qualifications and access to international markets.

www.britishfurnitureconfederation.org.uk

BEST OF BRITISH 47
“We have some of the best furniture designers and some of the best manufacturers of beds, cabinets and sofas on the planet

Crowning glory

Reflecting “a commitment to the highest standards of service, quality, excellence and craftsmanship”, the Royal Warrant is one of the highest endorsements a business can boast. With the King’s coronation approaching, we asked five of the sector’s most prominent holders what the accolade means to them …

A seal of approval from the British monarchy, the Royal Warrant Holders Association (RWHA) describes the Royal Warrant of Appointment as “a document that permits a company to use the Royal Arms in connection with its business in an appointed trading capacity. It is granted for up to five years at a time as a mark of recognition for the ongoing supply of goods or services to the Royal Household.”

Today, there are some 800 Royal Warrant holders, across myriad trades and industries. In the furniture sector, holders comprise cabinetmakers, bedmakers, fabric manufacturers, retailers and more, and in this month’s Furniture News we’ve asked a handful of them to share their views on what it means to be a Royal Warrant holder.

How did they come to be awarded the accolade? What are its stipulations, and what does it mean for their business? Are they planning the mark King Charles III’s coronation accordingly, and how might

the change of monarchy affect their application?

It also seemed a good time to quiz these esteemed British institutions on the current state of trade, and their thoughts on what changes the Government might make to better support home-grown products.

Thanks to this month’s panel: Neil Stevenson, owner and MD of fine handmade furniture and bespoke specialist joinery maker, NEJ Stevenson; Steve Warren, MD of premium bedmaker Sleepeezee; Donald MacKay, MD of not-for-profit social enterprise Glencraft; Chris Payne, partner and Royal Warrant liaison at John Lewis Oxford Street; and James Keen, CEO of 120-year-old bedmaker, Hypnos.

www.nejstevenson.co.uk

www.sleepeezee.com

www.glencraft.luxury

www.johnlewis.com

www.hypnosbeds.com/uk

WHAT DOES BEING A ROYAL WARRANT HOLDER MEAN TO YOUR BUSINESS?

Neil Stevenson: Having a Royal Warrant is validation of the principles and ethics of the company, as well as an acknowledgement of the excellence of our design and manufacturing skills. The accolade is equally shared by the entire workforce, which is a great source of pride to us all.

As the warrant is a purely merit-based accolade, it provides reassurance to customers about the quality of the work and how they will be treated.

Steve Warren: As a British manufacturer who is coming up to our 100-year birthday, being a Royal Warrant holder for us further celebrates all that is British, reinforcing our credentials for making high-quality beds and mattresses, and helps demonstrate to our consumers that we are an established brand that they can trust. Holding a Royal Warrant has had a positive impact on

our export business too, where there is a real demand for British-made products and a keen interest in all things royal.

Donald MacKay: There are many benefits. It is seen by many as a sign of quality. It gives meaning and dignity to our employees in our work, knowing that amongst our clients are the Royal family. It gives credibility with customers. It is very beneficial in overseas markets.

Chris Payne: It’s a real privilege and honour to be a Royal Warrant holder, and it’s a role we take very seriously. We know how proud our partners and customers are to work and shop in a store that holds a Royal Warrant –particularly in the build-up to the King’s coronation.

To build on the excitement, we’ve launched Coronation Collections at both Waitrose and John Lewis, with our John Lewis Coronation Bear

one of the items that’s already proving extremely popular!

James Keen: For myself and the Keen family, holding a Royal Warrant is very special, and we have always considered it a great honour and privilege. It has helped to shape the principles within the business, retaining traditional skills and leading to Hypnos’ culture and the high standards we endorse. It has also encouraged the development of what we call our ‘strategy for good’ and, over the last 20 years, our pioneering firsts in sustainability.

Pictured: Neil Stevenson; Steve Warren; Donald MacKay; Chris Payne; and James Keen
48 BEST OF BRITISH
“We have always considered it a great honour and privilege

HOW DID YOUR BUSINESS COME TO HOLD A ROYAL WARRANT, AND HOW EASY IS IT TO MAINTAIN?

Neil Stevenson: NEJ Stevenson Ltd received their Royal Warrant of Appointment from Queen Elizabeth II in February 2003, after working consistently for the Royal Collection Trust and the Royal Household Property Section for 10 years on a wide variety of projects, from new display cabinets for the Masters’ Gallery and China Museum to the recreation of the State Dining Room sideboard, which was destroyed in the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle.

In order to maintain our warrant, we need to demonstrate that we are trading with the household consistently and have the support of the individual household departments. In addition, we need to show that we are operating ethically and sustainably.

Steve Warren: Reapplication for the Royal Warrant must be made every five years, and it is no easy task! The whole process can take around six months to complete, as a full audit is conducted across the entire business, including a particular focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and our environmental impact and strategy. To apply for a Royal Warrant, you also have to be actively supplying the Royal Family or Royal residences, too.

Donald MacKay: Glencraft has, since its inception, been a charity that has provided dignity through work for people with visual impairment or other significant barriers to work. It was originally known as the Aberdeen Asylum for the Blind, and had its name changed to the Royal Aberdeen Asylum for the Blind during a Royal visit on its 100th anniversary in 1943.

The late Queen visited on two occasions, first in 1959, and the Princess Royal has been a regular visitor. These visits later saw Glencraft (the business was renamed in the 1980s) supplying mattresses and furniture to the Balmoral Estate, and a Royal Warrant was granted in 1996.

Maintaining our Royal Warrant is not straightforward, as the mattresses we sell have a 5-8 year lifetime, which can make it difficult to fulfil the criteria for regular sales each year.

Chris Payne: Having supplied products to the Royal household for many years, we were

recommended to apply. Maintaining our Royal Warrant is extremely important to us, so our partners work hard to ensure that the quality and taste of our products, as well as the customer service we provide, remain at the highest level.

James Keen: We were first awarded the Royal Warrant in 1929 for supplying furniture and mattresses. In the 1920s, there was a request to supply goods to Buckingham Palace, and, following that successful project, further orders were placed, and subsequently we were awarded the Royal Warrant.

We comply with the strict rules and guidelines governed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office. Every five years we are invited to reapply for our Royal Warrant, and the application is rightly very detailed, and focuses on sustainability and the quality of the product and service – but you also have to evidence that you are still actively supplying the household.

Neil Stevenson: Currently, your warrant is reviewed on a regular basis and is assessed on your trading record, the reports from each department into your conduct. and your relevance to the household’s needs going forward, along with an extensive review of your business practices through Business in the Community.

A warrant is granted to you on merit and can be removed at any point – there is no process for appeal. At the moment we don’t know if there will be any change to the process, but we do know that there will be a continuing emphasis on sustainability and environmentalism, which King Charles introduced into the process a number of years ago.

Steve Warren: We are still waiting for official guidance from the RWHA on the next steps for Royal Warrant holders. As you can imagine, there are over 800 companies who hold Royal Warrants, so it is no easy task for the RWHA, nor something they have had to deal with in a considerably long time.

James Keen: With the sad passing of Her Majesty The Queen there are a lot of changes to many institutions to be considered, and all Royal Warrant holders will be updated in due course. We are tremendously proud to have held a Royal Warrant since 1929, and we continue to be an active supplier to all the Royal households.

“Reapplication for the Royal Warrant must be made every five years, and it is no easy task!
WHAT PROCESS MUST YOU GO THROUGH NOW THE MONARCH HAS CHANGED?
49 Sleepeezee first received the Royal Warrant in 1963
“It’s not something the RWHA have had to deal with in a considerably long time

ARE YOU PLANNING ANY SPECIAL CELEBRATIONS/PROMOTIONS AROUND THE CORONATION, OR LATER THIS YEAR?

Neil Stevenson: Our contribution to the coronation is a project to design and manufacture elements for the service, which will be made public after the event. Members of the company have been invited to the Coronation Garden Party on 3rd May, in recognition of their longstanding service.

Steve Warren: We do have a few selected promotions running during the coronation that our retailers can benefit from, but we also have special plans of our own for later in the year and into next year as we celebrate Sleepeezee’s 100th anniversary. You’ll start to see some of these plans come together at this year’s NBF Bed Show.

Donald MacKay: We plan to launch a specialedition mattress to commemorate the coronation. The mattress will be titled after our new sovereign and will use the finest materials. We

will also be working alongside our local Royal Warrant Holders Association on [community support initiative] the Big Help Out.

Chris Payne: We are hosting several coronation events at our Oxford Street and Peter Jones stores [both of which hold Royal Warrants] in the run-up to and across the Coronation weekend.

Events at Oxford Street include: a bookable Lego build session for children aged six and over; a coronation hunt; flag-making class in haberdashery; and live music on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th May by the New English Rose String Quartet.

Events at Peter Jones include: craft workshops with MakeBox & Co, where MyJL customers will get to make a Union Flag embroidery hoop;

tablescaping demonstrations from Talking Tables; Kocktail tastings and Aperol masterclasses; a coronation hunt; coronation children’s crafting; and live music.

We’ve launched Coronation Collections at both John Lewis and Waitrose, which include a range of limited-edition products. From a coronation bear to coronation-themed aprons and socks, we have a fantastic range of products available at John Lewis.

James Keen: We are looking forward to celebrating with our teams at both sites in Princes Risborough and Castle Donington. The coronation has coincided with our own 120-year anniversary, so there will be a lot to celebrate in the next year.

“We are hosting several coronation events at our Oxford Street and Peter Jones stores

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUR BUSINESS?

Neil Stevenson: Recruiting skilled people and finding young people that are interested in training as cabinetmakers is an ongoing problem, and then the increase in material and energy costs are a specific current issue. Fortunately, the company invested in a large solar array and air-source heat pumps a number of years ago, which has helped.

Steve Warren: The cost of living crisis and the impact that it’s having on consumer spending –

we’re going into another period of ‘unknown’ in terms of its impact on spending habits.

Donald MacKay: Access to suitable labour, and instability in our supply chain.

James Keen: Energy, and the transition to solar. We also challenge ourselves to ensure the continuous transfer and training of the required craft skills for hand production in an everdeveloping mechanised and digital workplace.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT COULD MAKE TO HELP BRITISH-MADE FURNISHINGS COMPETE AGAINST IMPORTED PRODUCT?

Neil Stevenson: It would help if Government acknowledged the size of the UK furniture industry and supported it accordingly, but sadly we are generally ignored and undervalued as a sector. We will never compete with cheap imports, and nor should we – but we should be promoting the quality of what we do, to justify the investment in excellence.

The best thing the Government can do generally is promote and value vocational and creative skills, particularly in schools where

numerous generations have been failed badly by an education system that thinks academic performance is the only measure of success and denigrates anybody that doesn’t meet this very narrow measure of achievement.

Steve Warren: I think as well as increasing tariffs for imported products, it could also consider grants or tax breaks for British companies to help combat some of the cost increases we are facing.

Donald MacKay: Raising awareness of Britain’s craft industry, raising awareness of the carbon footprint of products manufactured overseas, and promoting Britain as a brand, so that we are a more proud nation again, and value that which we make ourselves.

James Keen: Government could make the guidance, funding, planning and approach to green energy implementation easier for UK furniture-manufacturing businesses.

“Access to suitable labour, and instability in our supply chain
50 BEST OF BRITISH
“We will never compete with cheap imports, and nor should we –but we should be promoting the quality of what we do

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Hypnos’ responsible reign

With the UK celebrating the King’s Coronation, there can be little doubt that trusted British brands are front of mind for consumers right now, states famed bedmaker, Hypnos …

Known for its rich heritage, and for handcrafting comfortable and stylish beds, Hypnos has a longstanding Royal Warrant and connection with the royal households.

In the coronation year of His Majesty King Charles III, James Keen, CEO of Hypnos, reflects on the brand’s history with the royal households, and why this connection is so special for the business: “As the only bed manufacturer actively supplying all the royal households, Hypnos is extremely proud to provide the royal family and visiting dignitaries with mattresses and beds, as well as undertaking special upholstery commissions,” he says.

“It is thanks to Hypnos’ quality and design that we’ve held a prestigious Royal Warrant since 1929, with George V presenting the first to the business, and most recently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to my grandfather, my father and now to myself, part of the fifth generation of our family to run the business today.

“But it is astounding to think that the earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II in 1155! Royal Warrant holders today are strictly re-evaluated every five years for their value, service

and sustainability, and we are proud to have held a warrant for almost 94 years.

“It’s with great pride that Hypnos is, this coming year, celebrating 120 years of success and innovation, and it’s fair to say that family, and our family values, have always been at the heart of the business. And, whilst many things have changed in that time, one thing has remained constant for Hypnos –our dedication to providing our customers with a rejuvenating night’s sleep.

“In the last 20 years, we’ve been focused on creating beds that are healthy and natural, responsibly made, recyclable, and made with materials that are renewable. This strategy has led to a pioneering partnership with the Eden Project, and a new awareness of the fibres we use, leading to the development of the luxury Origins Organic collection, which is certified by the Soil Association – something we’re incredibly proud of.

“As pioneers in sustainable and ethical bedmaking, our approach is to make a positive environmental and social impact, investing in sourcing traceable fibres that support the communities and the land they come from. Responsible innovation, nature-based circular designs and initiatives will help to combat climate change.

“We are most proud of our relationship with British wool farmers, and being the first brand in any industry to support British wool certified to the Responsible Wool Standard. But we also support farmers in other countries, by buying materials such as cotton, nettle, latex and timber through initiatives such as the Better Cotton Initiative, CottonConnect, Himalaya and the FSC, that support more sustainable farming.

“To be a Royal Warrant holder is truly an honour and means a great deal to me, my family and everyone that works here. We’re looking forward to celebrating and commemorating the coronation at our sites in Castle Donington and Princes Risborough.”

www.hypnosbeds.com

“It is thanks to Hypnos’ quality and design that we’ve held a prestigious Royal Warrant since 1929
52 BEST OF BRITISH
James Keen Hypnos’ Peter Keen and Stephen Ward with Queen Elizabeth II
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Best of both worlds

La-Z-Boy may be known for its American roots, but British craftsmanship and quality manufacturing are at the heart of its UK business …

Famous around the world for its iconic recliner, La-Z-Boy UK now produces a number of Made in Britain collections at its factory in Colne, Lancashire, bringing together British manufacturing expertise and American heritage.

The brand made the decision to increase the number of products it manufactured in the UK to satisfy the growing appetite among consumers to buy British. Manufacturing collections in the UK has also given La-Z-Boy more control over production and lead times, allowing the company to guarantee supply for buyers and reducing its reliance on international shipping to fulfil orders.

A member of the Made in Britain campaign, all of La-Z-Boy’s British-manufactured products are clearly marked on its website with the official Made in Britain mark. The site also allows customers to personalise their product choice online so they can try out different finishes and colourways to help them make a decision.

The augmented reality (AR) ‘View in your room’ feature even allows consumers to get an idea of how the finished product would look in their home.

Since La-Z-Boy UK started manufacturing in Lancashire, the business has been pleased to play its part supporting not only the local economy, but the community too. Its initiatives have included being a sponsor of the local football club, Burnley FC, and supporting children’s sport by donating 70 footballs to youth teams in the area.

La-Z-Boy has also supported a number of good causes in the area – for example, through donations to Pendleside Hospice, which delivers palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses in the Burnley area, and Casual Minds Matter, a mental health charity in Lancashire.

To honour the British side of its business, the brand is running a competition to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III. The winner will be able to choose a two- or three-seater sofa, along with a chair from their favourite La-Z-Boy Made in Britain range.

The newest British-manufactured product to be released to market is the Lennox, which features a zero gravity-style mechanism that distributes the user’s weight evenly so they can fully relax in comfort.

www.la-z-boy.co.uk
“Manufacturing collections in the UK has also given La-Z-Boy more control over production and lead times
Baxter
54 BEST OF BRITISH
Lennox

Expanding Our British Made Ranges

Collins and Lennox are two of La-Z-Boy’s newest ranges and are representative of our ongoing commitment to increase the number of ranges that we manufacture in the UK.

www.la-z-boy.co.uk

Spectator Collins Lennox

Gallery gets hands-on in Westbury

At its factory in Westbury, Gallery Direct hand-makes a selection of upholstery, divans and mattresses, all designed and developed in-house to ensure complete control over their look and quality …

From the careful selection of components and materials to the expert skill of the production team, great attention to detail is paid across the process to ensure the desired results for all the products, states group manufacturing director, Chris Box.

“Our highly talented and experienced team use a combination of traditional skills and modern machinery to craft our high-quality handmade products,” he continues. “Each piece is built one by one, using a range of skilful techniques, including hand side-stitching and tufting on mattresses, and deep buttoning on upholstery.”

Gallery recently redeveloped its mattress collection to help make it easier for customers to select the right one. All can be white-labelled with the customer’s own brand, to create their own collection, if required. Gallery also produces its own high-quality sofabed mattresses, offering a choice of open-coil and pocketsprung options.

The new mattress collection includes the Cotton range, which offers tufted, quilted and pillowtop options. All feature generous layers of soft fillings and a 100% white cotton top, to provide a natural feel. The quilted and tufted mattresses offer a choice of three spring counts, and all can be made suitable for contract use.

For those looking for to help the environment, Gallery’s Simply Green mattresses feature 100% Seaqual polyester ticking, which is made using upcycled marine plastics. With a supportive feel, these pocket-sprung mattresses have features which optimise sleep comfort while reducing the problem plastics affecting marine life.

The House and Westbury collections, meanwhile, are Gallery’s entry-level ranges, and are ideal for projects on a budget. The House collection is designed for domestic use, while the Westbury collection is suitable for both domestic and commercial use, and offers a pocket-sprung version and two open-coil options.

Last, but by no means least, is Gallery’s Luxury collection, which offers “true luxurious comfort”. This top-of-the-range collection, suitable for domestic and

contract use, features luxury fillings including wool, cotton and silk, with a wool-tufted, viscose ticking. A range of spring counts (up to 8000) promise various levels of tension to suit different requirements.

To complement the mattresses, Gallery offers a range of UK-made divans and upholstered bedsteads and headboards. From practical storage options to eye-catching statement beds, all are crafted to high standards to offer quality, stylish pieces, in a choice of up to 78 fabric options.

The bedsteads include the Cheltenham, which combines a traditional roll-top bed with stitched central detail on the headboard to create a curvy and sumptuously modern model, which promises to bring elegance to any interior. There are also the new House Collection bedsteads, Brookes, Radfield and Woolwich, all of which are available with a choice of three bases – no drawers, two drawers or ottoman. Gallery also offers a selection of made-to-order sofas and chairs, again available in a choice of up to 78 fabrics. These include a selection of lines that the manufacturer launched this year – including an extension to the successful modular Liberty range, with the addition of a corner unit. This allows even greater layout flexibility, with the option to create straight and corner sofas.

Gallery’s popular Sofa in a Box collection is also produced in Westbury, and the models are now offered as made-to-order lines in a choice of 78 fabrics. The designs allow all the products to be easily delivered even when there are awkward stairs or narrow doorways. Assembly is quick and easy too, with no tools required.

Gallery says its manufacturing site is possibly the only one in the country that makes divans, mattresses and upholstery all in one place, enabling customers can easily order a mattress and bedstead or divan for delivery together – while ordering a sofa or chair in the same fabric as the bed, for a co-ordinated look. The made-to-order products have production lead times of only 6-8 weeks, and express delivery is available on a limited selection of fabrics for the House Collection bedstead and sofas, and the Sofa in a Box collection.

www.gallerydirect.co.uk
Liberty
“Our team use a combination of traditional skills and modern machinery to craft our highquality handmade products
56 BEST OF BRITISH
Cheltenham

MADE TO ORDER

Our Made to Order product is always something we’ve been proud of, and for good reason. All made at our Westbury Factory, by our skilled craftsmen with years of experience and passion for what they do, with the finest materials we can source, creating what we think is unrivalled in the industry. By bringing the design and development of every piece under one roof, we have complete control from start to finish, with no compromises.

Our Liberty (shown) can sit in any space. The modular system allows function and form, with the ability to make the sofa fit all spaces. Left and right hand modules, corners, centers and a footstool can combine to make a range of variations. Each piece is available in our 78 fabrics, so not only can you fit it into any room, but you can fit it into any style.

Scan the QR code for more

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

Leading innovation and international trade

Leeds-based, fifth-generation family-run bedmaker Harrison Spinks has achieved two prestigious King’s Awards for Innovation and International Trade, bringing the total number awarded to the company to seven.

The luxury bed brand, which is active in 13 European countries, plus the US, Canada, Korea and Australia, secured the King’s Award for Innovation thanks to significant work as an industry leader in innovation and design, including its design and manufacture of the glue-less, fine-wire pocket springs used in its 100% recyclable mattresses.

Since its last successful award win in 2019 – the Queen’s Award it holds for Sustainable Development – the business has made progressive leaps in innovation, developing and patenting new technology and design. To reach the goal of affordable, ecological luxury, it has focused on developing an innovative pocket-sprung mattress design, leading the way in which it transforms raw materials into world-leading innovation.

Harrison Spinks also secured the King’s Award for International Trade, thanks to its continued focus on manufacturing premium, sustainable handmade beds in international markets.

Chairman Simon Spinks says: “It is a huge honour to be recognised with two inaugural King’s Awards

this year, which sit proudly alongside the Queen’s Award we hold for Sustainable Development. These awards are a reflection of the hard work the team has delivered, ensuring we are constantly championing innovation and high-quality, sustainable design.

“From an international trade perspective, we’re proud that our British values of sustainable innovation and quality have truly set us up for success in a global marketplace.

“These awards are especially important to us as a British business – we are a company that champions homemade and homegrown materials and supports businesses that manufacture in the UK, and one which works with organisations such as British Wool on campaigns like the Traceable Wool Scheme.

“Our team has put in a lot of hard work this year, and we’re proud this has been recognised with an award for International Trade. We’re also thrilled to have been awarded the title for Innovation as we continue to be industry leaders while maintaining the highest standards of production.”

The two King’s Awards follow a stand-out year for the company, which saw it awarded Bed Manufacturer of the Year at the 2022/23 NBF Bed Industry Awards, as well as becoming C2C accredited, a process which verifies that products are safe, sustainable and ethically sourced, and consists of a rigorous 18-month third-party product certification programme.

The King’s Awards for Enterprise was previously known as The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, and the new name reflects His Majesty The King’s desire to continue the legacy of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s by recognising outstanding UK businesses. The programme, now in its 57th year, is one of the most prestigious business awards in the country, with successful businesses able to use the esteemed King’s Awards Emblem for the next five years.

www.harrisonspinks.co.uk

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“We are constantly championing innovation and high-quality, sustainable design
Harrison Spinks’ proud team The Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson, visited Harrison Spinks in 2019 to present the Leeds-based company with a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development Marquis

We’re honoured that our commitment to innovation and international trade has once again been recognised, with two King’s Awards for Enterprise. We are delighted to retain these two awards, which sit proudly with our Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.

A family business since 1840, and holders of seven Enterprise Awards in our time, we’re committed to making the most luxurious beds in the most sustainable way. It’s why we have developed our own unique spring technology, grow our natural fillings on our farm and weave our FR chem free mattress fabrics for a cleaner night’s sleep.

HARRISONSPINKS

. CO .UK
An honour like no other, for beds like no other.

Buy British and embrace quality

There is a growing demand for locally made products, particularly in the wake of recent global supply chain issues, states Derbyshirebased mattress, pillow and topper manufacturer, Breasley (UK) …

The ‘Best of British’ movement celebrates the quality, craftsmanship, and innovation of UK manufacturers, with Breasley a prime example from the furniture and bed industry.

A proud British manufacturer, Breasley designs and manufactures a diverse range of mattresses, pillows, and mattress toppers under its key B2B and consumer-facing brands – Uno, Salus, Amor Signature, Amor Pillow, and EcoBrease.

Breasley plays a vital role in the local economy, providing employment opportunities and skills training. The company’s recent expansion has led to increased production capabilities and storage facilities, which, in turn, has created more job opportunities for the local workforce.

Lauren Barreau, Breasley’s group HR manager, says: “By purchasing Breasley products, customers support the local economy and contribute to the prosperity of the region.”

Breasley’s success can be attributed in part to its highly productive and focused workforce. The company’s dedication to investing in employee training and development ensures that staff possess the necessary skills and expertise to produce topquality products, and this commitment to excellence is evident in the craftsmanship and durability of Breasley’s product range.

Breasley offers a wide range of products, with price points ranging from £60-600 to suit all customer requirements. This affordability enables customers to experience the comfort and quality of Britishmade products without breaking the bank, says the bedmaker, adding that the five-year guarantee it offers across all products demonstrates the brand’s confidence in the quality and longevity of its offering.

One of the key advantages of buying British-made products is reduced lead times for delivery. Breasley prides itself on its fast production and lead times, which range from just 24 hours to a maximum of five days, ensuring customers can enjoy their new mattresses, pillows, or mattress toppers as quickly as possible.

Breasley also prioritises sustainability and environmental consciousness in its manufacturing processes. The Uno Series, featuring soya foam, and the EcoBrease collection, which utilises recycled foam, are prime examples of the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.

“By purchasing Breasley products, customers support the local economy and contribute to the prosperity of the region
Breasley’s HQ in Ilkeston,
(photo courtesy Meg
State-of-the-art machinery ensures efficient, rapid production 60 BEST OF BRITISH
(photo courtesy Meg Thornton Photography) Derbyshire
Thornton Photography)

Breasley says that, by choosing its eco-friendly products, customers can sleep soundly knowing that they are contributing to a greener future.

Breasley recognises that its customers may also have their own unique needs and requirements when it comes to mattresses – which is why the company offers bespoke mattress solutions, designed to fit the specifications and price points of individual retailers. This personalised approach ensures that each retailer receives a product tailored to their requirements, resulting in turn in a more comfortable and satisfying sleep experience for the consumer.

At a time in which consumers are increasingly conscious of their purchasing decisions, it is essential

to support local manufacturers that contribute to the economy, the environment, and the overall wellbeing of society, says Breasley’s UK sales director, Mark Hughes

“At Breasley, we exemplify the ‘Best of British’ movement through our dedication to quality, craftsmanship, and ongoing sustainability plans,” he adds. “By choosing Breasley’s products, retailers and the end-consumer not only enjoy the myriad benefits of buying British-made goods, but also actively support the local economy and the environment. Let us all embrace the best of British, and celebrate the exceptional offerings of Breasley (UK)!”

www.breasley.co.uk

“We exemplify the ‘Best of British’ movement through our dedication to quality, craftsmanship, and ongoing sustainability plans
61

Keeping British-made furniture Buoyant

What sets British-made furniture apart, and is the trade doing enough to convey its strengths? BFM board member Mike Aramayo, MD of one of the UK’s biggest furniture manufacturers, Buoyant Upholstery, shares his perspective …

Are you seeing any new design or selling trends?

Yes, we are seeing many new designs coming through from our design team. The shift in the industry and the selling trends of retailers appear to be moving away from the bottom end, and more towards the middle- to top-end of the market.

There seems to be a demand for UK-manufactured leather right now, with people moving away from Chinese imports in favour of a higher-quality, Britishmade product.

How are you managing lead time pressures, and what are you doing to future-proof staffing and skills at Buoyant?

Lead time pressures are always going to be around. The infrastructure we have is phenomenal, and the team we have do an amazing job of working with our trusted suppliers.

Future-proofing staffing and skills has been on our agenda for many years – we are a huge employer in the area and we are constantly running training within the factory, which I feel is incredibly important to keep our skill levels up to date.

Have you developed any new strategies for material cost management?

Material cost management has been and will always be a focus for us, in order to keep our selling prices in line for the years to come. Throughout the pandemic, and indeed the last three years, this was obviously more of a challenge.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a business now is trying to retrieve any price reductions – this is proving to be very difficult indeed.

What elevates British-made upholstery above the imports?

British-made furniture is and has always has been, in my opinion, the go-to furniture if you are looking for craftsmanship. We are renowned worldwide for producing well-built and reliable sofas – and the public want British-made furniture in their homes.

The BFM trade association are constantly promoting this across the country, and play a key role in upholding the values of British-made furniture.

How do you convey the strength of ‘British made’ to stockists and consumers?

The strength of British-made furniture has been around for decades. The UK has some amazing manufacturers, and one of the main assets are the people behind the product. Around the world. the UK label on furniture is held in high regard, and continues to be a benchmark of quality.

www.buoyant-upholstery.co.uk
“British-made furniture is, and has always has been, the go-to if you are looking for craftsmanship
Harlow Mike Aramayo
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Miller

Who you gonna call?

Leading the charge for British-made, assembled bedroom furniture for over 20 years, Barking-based One Call Furniture has gone from strength to strength following a multi-million-pound investment in plant and machinery in 2015, says sales director Paul James …

As part of the business’ expansion, One Call has since enjoyed increased investment each year in factory machinery, enabling much of its product to be manufactured completely in-house.

A proud British manufacturer, the business currently employs over 100 staff from its local community. And, given its progressive nature, it is little surprise that One Call is constantly developing its product offer – most recently in the form of a new collection of lounge products.

“In an ever-changing market, it made complete sense to respond to our customers’ needs and introduce lounge furniture to our cabinet offer,” Paul explains. “We have been working on designs for a couple of years, and with the recent challenges of importing goods, a weak pound and expensive warehouse costs faced by our customers and the furniture industry in general, more and more of our customers were asking us for sensibly priced,

innovatively designed, British-made lounge cabinet.

“We answered that call from our customers with a complete range of new lounge products, utilising mostly UK-sourced materials. We have since secured excellent orders and listings from our customers, which comprise leading names across the independent retail, national group and mail order sectors. With our speedy lead times and delivery coverage across the UK, we have seen more and more retailers trust us with supplying their cabinet offer.”

Given the import challenges Paul mentions, One Call Furniture has potential for yet another strong year of business. While its impressive bedroom cabinet offer continues to grow – now complemented by stylish new lounge ranges, and supported by quick and flexible delivery services – One Call Furniture is further strengthening the case for buying British.

www.onecall.furniture

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“More of our customers were asking for sensibly priced, innovatively designed, British-made lounge cabinet
Oakleigh Portland
0208 5174756 www.onecall.furniture sales@1cfl.com

Buy British in Birmingham this January

The January Furniture Show will return to the Birmingham NEC from 21st-24th January 2024, and the Best of Britain’s furniture and interior brands are looking forward to getting back out and meeting buyers there …

Visitors can expect plenty of new launches, fresh brands, industry insights, emerging trends, and much more.

The coming edition is set to be better than ever, says organiser Clarion Events – buyers will have the opportunity to explore four halls of contemporary furniture, innovative design concepts and homewares to suit all retail and customer styles, and will be able to discover everything from beds and cabinet, to home decor and upholstery from leading suppliers, all under one roof.

With over 10,000 new products, and exclusive launches from some 350 premium exhibitors, there promises to be a vast choice of products and inspiration from the many of the industry’s best brands at the upcoming show.

The 2024 show will again feature The Furniture Awards, delivered in association with Furniture News. An esteemed panel of industry judges will crown the best in show across categories including Sustainability, Global Player, Best of British, Design Innovation and Superior Service.

Crucially, the exhibition gives the trade an opportunity to see many of the best British manufacturers in one place – brands such as Alpha Designs, Westbridge, Whitemeadow and Tetrad, to name just a few – alongside the likes of Baker, Ross Fabrics, Iconography, Kettle and many more. The Young Furniture Makers delegation will also make an appearance, in a celebration of fresh design talent.

“Having been an essential part of the furniture industry for almost 40 years, the January Furniture Show is the best place to see all the new and established names,” concludes Clarion. “Gain new contacts, see your favourite suppliers, and learn more about how to get ahead in the furniture industry by visiting the exhibition this coming January!”

www.januaryfurnitureshow.com
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“January Furniture Show is the best place to see all the new and established names
Duxiana London
21-24 January 2024 • NEC Birmingham Revitalised. Refreshed. Refined. Revitalised. Refreshed. Refined. Revitalised. Refreshed. Refined. Revitalised Refreshed. Refined. Revitalised. Refreshed. Refined View more brands via our website www.thefurnitureshows.com
Skovby
See the best of British manufacturing...
Kettle Interiors

Leading the way in matressmaking

As the country celebrates the coronation of King Charles III, Yorkshire-based mattress manufacturer GNG Group continues to lead the way in British-made products, with its innovative portfolio seeing growing demand from retailers …

With a 40-year manufacturing heritage, GNG is renowned for quality and service, with all of its products developed and made in the UK.

Last year, the company marked another important milestone, with the opening of a 40,000ft2 factory and warehouse dedicated to its fast-growing mattress division. Its reputation as a leading UK manufacturer and international brand leader was also recognised with a number of award wins during 2022.

GNG’s extensive portfolio includes well-known British brands such as the Komfi range, which has been developed in response to consumer concern for sustainability and recycling. It features the unique Ecofoam, which is made from 100% recycled and re-engineered foam, resulting in a much ‘greener’ product and providing a range of environmentally friendly options for retailers. The long-term benefit of an Ecofoam mattress comes when it reaches the end of its natural life. as it can be entirely recycled.

Last year, GNG also added the affordably priced Unity vacuum-packed mattress collection.

In addition, the company offers luxury Sonlevo mattresses, with a unique, grid-system TrueGel technology offering support while minimising pressure and regulating temperature. The entire range is recommended by the Football Medicine and Performance Association to its members as the products promise “correct posture support and ultimate comfort, ensuring the best sleep and, therefore, the best performance”.

GNG also represents Nectar Sleep. With a focus on exceptional comfort, combined with a 365-night trial and lifetime warranty, Nectar Sleep mattresses are designed to meet the demands of modern living. With more than two million satisfied sleepers, the brand can help boost retail revenue by driving customers that want to try before they buy directly to a store.

As an NHS-approved supplier, GNG manufactures to high standards. All mattresses are made in the UK to National Bed Federation- approved standards, and come with a reassuring 10-year guarantee. The business also prides itself on being an environmentally responsible organisation.

MD Darren Potterton says: “With a proud heritage in British manufacturing, we are committed to leading the way in product innovation, with our expert inhouse R&D team helping to keep us at the forefront of the industry. For example, we are continuing to focus on sustainability by developing ‘greener’ options in response to demand from consumers and retailers.

“Global supply chain issues in recent years demonstrate the importance of buying ‘local’, with British-made products giving customers the peace of mind of knowing they are buying high-quality, ethically manufactured products, delivered on time, every time. British manufacturing is at the heart of the UK economy, and we are proud to be continuing to invest in the facilities and jobs that will enable it to continue to flourish.”

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

“British-made products give customers the peace of mind of knowing they are buying highquality, ethically manufactured products
Komfi Nectar Sleep Sonlevo
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An NHS-approved supplier, GNG manufactures to high standards
gnggroup.co.uk Carbon Neutral Organisation BEST OF BRITISH CATEGORY

Long Eaton – the heart of an industry

Once the heart of a thriving lacemaking industry, Long Eaton is now the UK Centre of Quality Upholstery Manufacture, home to over 50 makers of sofas, frames, cushions, springs and more …

The town of Long Eaton, situated between Nottingham and Derby in the East Midlands, just north of the river Trent, was, in the 19th century, a thriving industrial hub, manufacturing the lion’s share of ‘Nottingham’ lace.

By 1905 there was in excess of 800 lace machines, with the industry employing over 1700 twist hands and card punchers – but, by the middle of the 20th century, demand for lace had fallen sharply, leading to the loss of a highly skilled workforce.

Fortunately, many were able to retrain and adapt to other industries. At this this time, upholstery manufacturing was on the increase in the area – and the trade continued to grow to a point at

which, in 2014, Long Eaton was recognised as the UK Centre of Quality Upholstery Manufacture. Here, over 50 manufacturers of everything from frames, cushions and springs, employing more than 2700 people and exporting worldwide, found their community recognised for its commercial and cultural significance.

Long Eaton remains a town proud of its traditional skills, many of which have been handed down from one generation to the next for over 100 years, in a trade which continues to grow.

In any celebration of the ‘best of British’, Long Eaton’s business community stands out as an exemplar of national industry.

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“Long Eaton remains a town proud of its traditional skills
Long Eaton’s sofamakers are renowned for their craftsmanship
Long Eaton Chamber of Trade in partnership with Erewash Borough Council www.longeatonfurnituremakers.co.uk To find out more, visit LONG EATON

Flexible Furnico takes pride of place

Known throughout the industry for its high-quality static and motion furniture, Furnico has manufactured upholstered furniture at its factories in Colne, Lancashire for more than 36 years …

Furnico Ltd was purchased by La-Z-Boy UK in 2021, and now operates as La-Z-Boy Manufacturing UK Ltd, producing both the Furnico and British-made La-Z-Boy lines. With 283 employees working in Colne, Furnico has a strong presence in the local area, supporting both the community and economy. Two on-site tuck shops run by staff help raise money for local charities, including Pendleside Hospice, which was given a donation of more than £3600 last year – while Furnico recently donated 60 Easter eggs to financially vulnerable families living in the local area. Other initiatives include donating to local sports teams, a food bank and a mental health charity.

Many of Furnico’s staff have worked for the company for many years, passing on their skills and knowledge to younger generations. Last month, Furnico recognised a number of staff members who had achieved 30 years of service.

Furnico’s models are designed by an in-house team and developed from the initial concept to create the finished product. Rather than being mass produced, all items are produced to order and hand crafted and finished by skilled members of the Furnico team, who

have many years of British manufacturing experience.

Furnico does not sell directly to the endconsumer, instead selling its fabric sofas and chairs exclusively through a variety of independent and national retailers. Each collection has a number of customisation options, allowing retailers to choose products which reflect their own brand’s sense of style and the preferences of their customer base.

Furnico’s designers are constantly updating both the product ranges and upholstery options to meet market trends. The collections include both traditional classics and stylish contemporary pieces, and an extensive range of fabrics and colourways is available. Useability is also central to the design and production process, with each sofa and chair tested for comfort, durability and ease of use.

Furnico unveiled four new British-manufactured products at this year’s January Furniture Show –Kinsley, Buxton, Cantwell and Longton. All the new collections are available with a motion option and are designed to be versatile to meet retailers’ needs. The ranges come with a number of customisation options, including a wide selection of fabrics and, in some cases, a choice of feet and trims.

The Longton is a particularly flexible product, and is currently the brand’s only offering which includes the option of a chaise. Its interchangeable units give customers the freedom to choose on which side the chaise is placed, so it will suit the layout of more people’s homes.

Trevor Hailes, product merchandising director at La-Z-Boy International, says the British furniture industry is generally resilient, and that the Furnico brand is in a strong position: “We will continue to demonstrate agility to help us navigate the everchallenging market conditions, whilst continuing to design and manufacture outstanding fully upholstered, motion and static furniture.” To find out more, call 01282 869888 and select option 1.

“We’ll continue to demonstrate agility, whilst designing and manufacturing outstanding furniture
Furnico’s staff work hard to raise money for local charities
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Furnico was purchased by La-Z-Boy UK in 2021, and now makes La-Z-Boy’s British-made lines in addition to the Furnico product The Longton offers a chaise option

For more than 36 years, Furnico has been designing and manufacturing furniture here in the UK.

Longton and Buxton build upon that heritage, offering a choice of contemporary or traditional style.

La-Z-Boy UK Manufacturing, Bradford House, Phillips Lane, Colne, BB8 9PQ Suppliers of handmade furniture to retail 01282 869888 • ukmanufacturing.orders@la-z-boy.co.uk
British Made

Multifaceted Sofa-UK’s quality promise

For upholstery manufacturer and foam converter Sofa-UK, the watchword is ‘quality’ – quality of manufacture, quality of materials, and high-quality customer service. The business, which is based in South Yorkshire, prides itself on meeting myriad customer needs, while upholding standards of quality that set it apart …

A family-run business, established in 1975 in Rotherham, Sofa UK provides quality upholstery for a range of customers. While the business specialises in the manufacture of bespoke sofas, it is also a foam converter, and makes its own fibre-filled cushions and upholstery sundries.

This broad remit means Sofa-UK is able to offer many customers a ‘one-stop’ solution for most of their furniture-buying needs.

Sofa-UK’s Tawqeer Hussain says that, in keeping with the quality of its products, the company’s honest, friendly staff pride themselves on delivering customer service to a similarly high standard, maintaining close ties with retailers, and working with them to develop solutions that meet their individual requirements.

“Unlike some manufacturers, we keep most of our operations in house at Sofa-UK,” Tawqeer continues, “which means we can deliver a more joined-up service. We hold good stock levels of components, and are constantly developing new ideas, models and manufacturing techniques to ensure we stay ahead.

“We always have something new and exciting to offer our customers,” he concludes.

Sofa-UK can be reached by calling 01709 581188 or via email at sales@sofauk.com

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“We always have something new and exciting to offer our customers
Sofa-UK
a
Sofa-UK majors in the provision of quality upholstery
also supplies
range of beds
The manufacturer works hard to achieve a comfortable feel across its portfolio (photo courtesy Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)
01709 581188 sales@sofauk.com www.sofauk.com Sofa-UK Ltd, Doncaster Road, Rotherham S65 2UF Upholstery Manufacturer • Foam Converter • Fibre Cushions • Upholstery Sundries

SHIRE BEDS

www.shirebeds.co.uk

Award-winning manufacturer Shire Beds is entering a new phase in its history. The winner of major awards including the NBF Product of the Year and The Furniture Awards’ Best of British, the company has now started on an expansion programme, starting with the appointment of former NBF president, Stuart Hibbert.

The company was formed in 1997, and has gone on to become a multi-award-winning British manufacturing brand. It is a family business that is built on strong British values – “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” – and, with this basic principle at the core of its manufacturing process, Shire Beds continues to go from strength to strength.

SWEET DREAMS

www.sweetdreamsuk.com

Burnley-based manufacturer Sweet Dreams has launched a spring initiative promoting its FSCcertified, British-made range of divan bases.

As a member of the NBF, and enrolled in the federation’s Pledge for Our Planet initiative, Sweet Dreams uses only FSC-certified timber in its divan bases, and 2022 saw the introduction of a recycled fabric option.

Sweet Dreams now offers 16 high-quality fabrics on the bestselling Artisan range, and five new recycled fabrics made from PET plastic bottles on the popular Meadow range.

Both base ranges come with a wide selection of matching headboards, and sit well with the manufacturer’s vast choice of mattresses, with “a price point to suit every pocket”.

“New products, innovation in manufacturing and a strong focus on sustainability are key to our future programme,” says sales and marketing director, Fara Butt.

The company’s ambitious expansion plan includes building on its ‘must-have’ products, following the success of the Picasso, an encapsulated pocket-sprung mattress with a supporting layer of memory foam and cooling KGel, plus a high-quality Belgian Tencel-rich fabric.

Fara says Shire’s strength comes from its ability to respond to market demands while putting the retailer at the forefront of everything it does – ensuring their retailers can sell its products with confidence is its number-one priority. “It is with this in mind that Shire Beds manufactures products that are an ‘easy sure sell’ for our customers,” she continues, adding that she and fellow director Sajid Butt are excited to have Stuart on board to help the company achieve its ambitious expansion goals.

With FSC-certified timber throughout, contemporary glides, oak-effect storage drawers and an enhanced build specification in the side- and front-lifting ottomans, a highquality, value-for-money divan bed is ensured, says sales manager Nick Williams: “In tough trading conditions, Sweet Dreams have shown resilience in maintaining safety, sustainability

and service standards whilst not compromising on quality or value for money. Our spring promotion for bases and ottomans, coupled with our mattress range, is really exciting.”

For more information on Sweet Dreams’ British-made divan base promotions, and a range of deals, email the company at info@ sweetdreamsuk.com.

Raphael 3000 on Dumfries latte base Raphael 2000 on Opulence baby blue base
76 BEST OF BRITISH

CORE PRODUCTS

www.coreproducts.co.uk

DEVONSHIRE

www.devonshireliving.co.uk

Devonshire’s brand-new painted bedroom range, Lydford, is now available for purchase, with stock due to arrive at the end of this month.

An upgrade to the supplier’s previous Pebble range, Lydford features soft curves, a commercial, light-grey paint finish (with nine premium colours also available), solid oak tops and – perhaps most importantly – a more attractive price point.

To request more information or a visit from Mike (North) or Anthony (South) with the show van, get in touch with the supplier by emailing enquiries@devonshireliving.co.uk.

Since 1986, Core Products has pioneered the design of products specifically for direct home delivery. With large UK stockholdings and fully integrated online ordering and customer support, it is little surprise the company was named Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier in last year’s

Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards.

An extensive collection of furniture ranges can be found in the Core Products 2023 product guide – view the entire collection on the supplier’s website, or request more details by calling 01738 630555 or emailing sales@coreproducts.co.uk.

GALLERY DIRECT

www.gallerydirect.co.uk

The Eton Collection from Gallery Direct offers a range of living and dining pieces with an updated classic farmhouse style, featuring clean lines and a stylish painted finish, paired with the natural beauty of wood. The core pieces are offered in a choice of two colours, Meteor and Prairie, with personality pieces available in two contrasting hues, Clay and Moss, which can be used as standalone furniture or combined with other pieces from the range to create a more eclectic colour palette.

The practical sideboard in Meteor, pictured, features adjustable shelves in the cupboards plus additional shelves in the centre section. The handpainted, subtly textured grooved doors, metal handles and grooved-and-planked oak top create a modern country feel that is well suited to both rustic and contemporary interiors.

78 PRODUCTS
Texas
See our new 2023 catalogue online at www.coreproducts.co.uk DUNKELD CAPRI CARBON IN STOCK IN THE UK, READY TO DISPATCH CORE PRODUCTS AWARD WINNING FLAT PACKED FURNITURE EST. 1986 EXTENSIVE UK STOCKHOLDING QUICK DELIVERY TIMES TRADE PREMISES DELIVERIES DIRECT HOME DELIVERY COMO WHITE OPTIONS GREY t: 01738 630555 e: sales@coreproducts.co.uk

WOODMAN CHAIRS

www.woodmanchairs.co.uk

Woodman Chairs is not only a long-established wholesale manufacturer/supplier of its own styles of traditional and modern wooden chairs for the retail and contract sectors, but is also a leading producer of bespoke chair frames and components for UK-based manufacturers and providers.

Woodman can make customers’ own chair or stool frames in large or smaller quantities –though some minimum order quantities may apply. Chair and sofa frames can be provided for upholstery with show-wood legs and arms, alongside individual component parts for many end applications (not necessarily just chairs). These can be made in beech, oak, pine, ash,

lime, cherry and walnut – and tabletops and legs and bespoke worktops are also offered.

Woodman Chairs offers unfinished and finished chairs, carver chairs and stools for pubs, bars and the hospitality sectors, and can also meet the often-special needs of institutions such as the NHS and MOD.

“If you are having difficulty sourcing wooden

frames or components, finding chairs difficult and not cost effective to make yourself, or simply want an alternative quote for supply, why not just make contact with Tom or Peter at Woodman Chairs today?”

The supplier can be reached at sales@ woodmanchairs.co.uk or by calling 01884 841789.

a
80 PRODUCTS Who gets your vote? Our Readers’ Choice Awards are back, and we want to know which suppliers are on top in 2023! * Vote for a suggested nominee in each category, or put forward your own * One set of nominations per reader Cast your votes by Friday 9th June at www.bit.ly/fn-readers-choice-awards-2023 Who’s the best in the business? Let us know what you think – we’ll reveal the winners in August’s issue RCALandscape.indd 1 24/04/2023 13:47
Woodman Chairs is able to provide
host of frames and components Woodman can meet the needs of specialist clients
these chairs were made for the MOD

Sleep like a geek

Where is the innovation in today’s bed industry, and why does it matter? Furniture News caught up with sleep expert James Wilson (AKA The Sleep Geek) to find out the latest from the (sprung?) edge of sleep technology …

James Wilson (AKA The Sleep Geek) is the founder of ‘sleep toolbox’ Kip Mate, which helps de-stress sleep to deliver better-quality shuteye for organisations, sports teams and individuals. He is currently the sleep expert at West Ham United FC, and has worked extensively in the media, making regular appearances on BBC Breakfast and This Morning.

James is the third generation of his family to be involved with the bed industry, and now works with Mattress Online, as the multichannel retailer’s inhouse sleep expert.

Would you define the bed sector as innovative?

Not really, no. I think the last truly disruptive innovation was the introduction of memory foam, and this happened more than 30 years ago. Often, me-too products are heralded as true innovation, and what the industry sees as innovative doesn’t really register with customers generally (and poor sleepers in particular).

Why is innovation so important in this sector? Sleep is one of the four things we need to live (along with food, water and air), and therefore everyone does it, and everyone needs something to sleep on and under. It feels to me like innovation in the sleep world is coming from other sectors – whether it is wearables, supplements, sleep tech or digital solutions – but the products we sell are ones that people spend more time with than anything else they

own, and, with sleep being so fundamental to our physical and mental health, there is real opportunity for those who truly innovate.

What’s driving innovation?

There is huge potential out there. I speak to tens of thousands of poor sleepers every year, and they are incredibly frustrated at how the products they end up with don’t always meet their needs. In general, they are looking for something that: feels personalised; solves their issues (usually around posture support and temperature – and often what the industry thinks solves these problems doesn’t always translate into the customer’s experience); and is affordable (which doesn’t mean cheap – poor sleepers are more than willing to pay for features that solve their issues, but they are wary of gimmicks). We need to be better at linking product to problems, and understanding the needs of individual customers. However, I see glimmers of hope. More and more manufacturers are taking control of their supply chains, with the likes of Harrison Spinks and its use of its own farms for fillings, and brands adding their own spring production lines, like Sealy have done recently, giving them more chance to create products that are truly innovative.

I applaud the fact more brands are linking up with academic institutions to try and independently prove the claims they make about their products – like Silentnight have done with the University of Central Lancashire – but there are some who are claiming very small pilot studies as proof that their products are scientifically validated, and I don’t think that is helpful. Working with academic institutions can seem expensive, but Knowledge Transfer Partnerships make this more affordable, and I think it would be great if industry bodies like the NBF helped facilitate these relationships.

What’s holding back innovation?

At times there is too much of a focus on gimmicks. My dad (Mike Wilson, who was sales director at the family business, Duckers), tells a story of one of his sales reps coming and saying to him, “Mike, they are running out of gimmicks, someone will start putting drawers in the mattresses next”. And although this happened about 40 years ago, unfortunately I think sometimes this attitude still exists in the industry – a focus on gimmicks rather than features that are proven to help customers sleep better.

There are structural issues in the industry that contribute to a lack of innovation, too. I think high barriers of entry for overseas brands (fire regulations), a consolidation of suppliers in the supply chain so most brands are using the same limited choice of raw materials, and a customer who, due to lack of confidence, is too focused on getting the cheapest option available, means we are not as innovative as we could be.

82 PRODUCTS INNOVATION IN BEDDING
“We need to be better at linking product to problems, and understanding the needs of individual customers
James Wilson

Have you seen any recent innovations that actually improve the quality of people’s sleep?

I think products that focus on sleeping in the most comfortable position and at the right temperature are the most exciting to me. I love the Finnish brand Unikulma (UnikBed in the UK), who use body mapping, an individual’s health data and trained sleep physios to create personalised products that help improve sleep posture.

Although the technology has been around a while, products from the likes of Eight Sleep, Fresh Bed, Moona and Chillisleep are exciting, as they have refined the technology to offer a more personalised experience that reacts to the temperature in the sleep environment and endeavours to keep the sleeper at the right temperature for them.

I am really interested in what Variowell Development is doing. They’re a German company who are creating end-consumer products and raw materials that focus on temperature regulation and personalised sleep support. One of their advisors is Roy Rayman, who is one of the only sleep researchers to focus on the temperature in the immediate sleep environment (between the mattress and the duvet).

Do you feel the way beds are sold and marketed is changing too?

I think we are seeing a trend for brands to work with sleep and non-sleep medical experts, but at times it feels like ‘sleepwashing’, with brands looking for expert valuation from experts who don’t really understand the products properly.

My eagerness to work with Mattress Online came from their commitment to offering their people sleep

support, for their desire for me to help train their people (who help customers make buying decisions on sleep products), and them sharing my aim to link products to problems for a better consumer experience.

I know at Mattress Online we are wanting to help people understand what it is that is preventing them sleeping, and then offer them products that will help – trying to get away from the idea that there’s a magic bullet (or mattress) that will solve everyone’s problems, and getting customers the products that help their issues.

The products we sell as an industry are fundamental to getting a good night’s sleep, but the consumer often goes for other options when solving their sleep issues. As I often say, if your mattress isn’t right, you can meditate until the cows come home –but it won’t help you sleep better.

Can you share news of anything we might not have heard of yet?

I think the thing I’m most excited about is contactless sleep tracking. Currently, sleep trackers often make poor sleepers sleep worse, (known as orthosomnia), and if our sleep products and sleep environment actually tracks our sleep without us knowing, and makes changes to the temperature and support based on this non-touch tracking, that takes a lot of the stress out of sleeping better – then experts like me can intervene only when vital, rather than having a constant dialogue with poor sleepers.

Sleep well!

www.kipmate.com

“If your mattress isn’t right, you can meditate until the cows come home – but it won’t help you sleep better
83
James delivers sleep training to Mattress Online’s staff in Rotherham

Bright ideas from H Living

The creative cogs are always turning at Huddersfield manufacturer/ importer H Living, where R&D is integral to the supplier’s output, bringing fresh ideas to a wide range of bedframes and mattresses …

“What’s out there in the marketplace? What’s performing well? And how can we get ahead of the curve?”

H Living’s MD, Biny Hyder, has long recognised the importance of innovation, and the brand’s models reflect his hunger for newness. This impetus can take the form of incorporated technology (headboard and under-bed LED lighting, built-in USB sockets, or electric ottoman risers, for example), sustainable directions (such as fabrics that are 100% recycled, or make use of ocean-bound plastic waste), or a plethora of other stimuli.

“We’re always looking at and developing new designs,” says Biny. “At H Living, we believe that

staying still is the same as moving backwards.”

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. Newness can be seen across the supplier’s portfolio – from bedframes incorporating new designs, high-quality materials and new fabrics, to mattresses, which might employ new natural fillings or different materials, or be manufactured in increasingly efficient ways.

Ongoing investment in machinery means H Living is rarely unable to pursue its creative ambitions for long. Biny reveals that he is currently exploring further natural directions (augmenting the brand’s higher-end mattress line, The Natural Collection), new underbed adjustable movement mechanisms, and a collection of products suitable for children.

“We find inspiration in all kinds of places,” says Biny, “and travelling remains a great source of fresh ideas. Visiting trade shows, and learning from the designers and installers working in the commercial sectors we cover, really helps open the doors – but fundamentally it’s about knowing the customer.”

H Living’s umbrella encompasses several brands: Hyder Living; Easy Sofa; The Natural Collection; contract and healthcare divisions; and a bespoke offer. 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.

www.hyderliving.com
… and
“Staying still is the same as moving backwards
by night, when LED lighting and built-in USB sockets help the model truly come alive
84 PRODUCTS INNOVATION IN BEDDING
H Living’s Buckingham ottoman by day …
in unparalleled comfort and sophistication with our luxury beds” PERFECTION IS A JOURNEY. At H Living, we’re always finding new ways to make better beds – so your customers can indulge in the finest possible luxury. 01484 531000 www.hyderliving.com enquiries@hyderint.com
“Indulge

Recycle, remanufacture, Reborn

Bye Bye Bed is on a mission to “rebuild the world”. The Yorkshirebased mattress recycler/ manufacturer is the brainchild of Paul Beckett, who has developed a circular manufacturing model to deliver a new mattress brand, Reborn …

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” says Paul, who is striving to lead the way in sustainable manufacturing, “setting worldwide remanufacturing benchmarks and standards for eco-design, flammability, integrity and cleanliness”.

The need for new thinking has never been more pressing. According to Paul, allocated lanfill space is dwindling fast, so the costs of mattress disposal will soon become prohibitive. When considered against a backdrop of material shortages and the looming climate change crisis, Paul’s solution offers the bed sector a timely opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

“Recycling alone isn’t enough,” he explains. “Some 70% of the components that come out of a deconstructed mattress have little or negative financial value when diverted to reprocessors (which are already at capacity), and the value of the remaining 30% doesn’t offer a financially viable and sustainable revenue stream unless it is sold back into industry.

“In the 30+ years that I’ve been active in the mattress and mattress fillings industry, I’ve seen margins reduce, standards drop, businesses fail and shortcuts taken, just to be able to compete. The mattress industry in the UK has declined faster than the consumer goods and services sector overall – but we’re confident that our circular-economy solution is a crucial step in tackling the primary negative factors of declining life cycles and high competition.”

Paul says Bye Bye Bed has found a sustainable, ethical and circular solution for 100% of the separated components, and is steadily building up its portfolio

of sustainably manufactured products, which include solutions for a range of sectors including pet, packaging, insulation, horticultural and leisure – plus recycled mattresses, pillows and toppers.

“Our pocket mattress will hopefully soon achieve 100% recycled content verification,” Paul continues. “It has a highly competitive breakeven manufacturing cost, and offers eco-conscious organisations perhaps the most environmentally friendly (non-greenwashed) mattress to date.”

Paul says his business has the ability to remanufacture 100% recycled and 100% recyclable products, and offers those wishing to dispose of products a firm assurance that their end-of-life mattresses will not end up in landfill.

“As well as helping businesses achieve Scope 3 and a fast track to net zero, we’re offering the consumer a choice they’ve never had before – either purchase a product manufactured from virgin raw materials (and pay the economic and ecological price), or choose a Reborn product, of the same integrity and legal compliance, but at a fraction of the price and a tiny fraction of the ecological impact,” he concludes.

With continuous improvements taking place, and a potential crowdfunding drive in Paul’s sights, expansion is just around the corner – many will be hoping that it comes soon enough to help deliver the change the industry so sorely needs.

www.reborn-products.com

www.byebyebed.com

86 PRODUCTS INNOVATION IN BEDDING
Reborn 100%
“Our circulareconomy solution is a crucial step in tackling the primary negative factors of declining life cycles and high competition
recycled mattress

RHENUS HOME DELIVERY

Mattress testing at SATRA

SATRA has recently invested in a second mattress roller for testing mattresses to BS EN 1957:2012, for assessing the durability of all kinds of mattresses.

Benefits of testing include;

• Rigorous fitness-for-purpose assessment

• 30,000 cycles test duration

• Firmness rating, correlating with subjective human assessment

• Firmness and hardness measured before and after rolling

• Bed edge testing

• Overall construction assessed, for issues such as broken springs and displaced filling

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our furniture testing team at furniture@satra.com to discuss your bed or mattress testing requirements. Project2_furniture news half page 30/03/2023 14:18 Page 1 87
Contact

Just another Retail Apocalypse …

Whatever happened to the ‘Retail Apocalypse’? Some say it’s coming back – but perhaps it’s all just a question of context, argues Bill McLoughlin, the editor-in-chief of US trade magazine Furniture Today …

Remember way back before the pandemic, when the term ‘Retail Apocalypse’ became so prevalent it seemed we’d all wake up one day and find that all the stores were closed?

Then, of course, sales went crazy, and stores had so much business they couldn’t keep up with it.

On top of that, the explosive growth of major ecommerce bellwethers slowed, and one-time pureplays started rushing to open physical locations. At the same time, leading retail giants here in the US started using their stores to deliver (literally) a more convenient shopping experience. You may remember reading about that in this space recently in regard to Target, Amazon and Walmart.

Well, guess what. Apparently the so-called Retail Apocalypse is back.

A growing number of financial analysts are once again digging up that old trope and predicting that stores will soon go the way of the dodo bird.

The rationale goes something like this – without the boost of government money and consumers being locked in their homes, spending has shifted from goods to services. At the same time, rising inflation and higher borrowing costs have put pressure on challenged retail organisations, fuelling store closings, layoffs and a rising wave of bankruptcies.

They point to names like Tuesday Morning, Bed Bath & Beyond and Party City as evidence of the inevitable decline of brick and mortar.

There’s only one problem. It’s not true.

Certainly, those three stores are struggling. And there are others struggling as well. And next year there will be others that struggle, and ultimately close. The year after that it will happen again … and the year

after that, and the year after that, and so on and so on.

Do you know how I know that?

Because retail stores have been closing for decades. It’s called Retail Evolution, not Retail Apocalypse. Retail concepts that outlive their unique appeal eventually go away. Anyone shopped at the general store lately? A five-and-10 (if you don’t know what a five-and-10 is, shoot me an email, I’ll explain)?

How about a catalogue showroom? Thousands upon thousands of those shut down in the 1990s, and nobody called it a Retail Apocalypse.

Store concepts have a life cycle. They emerge to address un-met needs, offer a unique experience, sell cheaper goods or offer more convenience. They spawn imitators, and the concepts proliferate. Eventually they saturate the market, and the weaker operators start to fall by the wayside. And eventually, those concepts are replaced by newer ones.

When Seinfeld went off the air, nobody said sitcoms were dying. When Friends finished its run, nobody wrote ‘Sitcom Apocalypse’ stories. After a while, even the most popular things lose their shiny, new appeal.

It’s no different with retail concepts. It doesn’t mean that ‘retail’ is dying. It means that new formats, concepts and channels are emerging.

Remember when boxed beds were going to put bedding retailers out of business? Now those same bedding companies are opening stores or trying to get into existing retail stores as fast as they can.

There’s no question that retail is evolving. There’s no question that some retailers will close stores or even shut down. But retail is alive and well.

88 OPINION
www.furnituretoday.com
“It doesn’t mean ‘retail’ is dying. It means that new formats, concepts and channels are emerging
The end is nigh … or is it just a little bad weather? (Photo courtesy
iStock/dwleindecker)

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Consumers find comfort in home furnishings

The cost of living crisis has impacted our furnishings purchasing behaviour in two ways, writes

MD of sustainable packaging specialist, Greyhound Box – people are putting their pennies towards needs, not wants, and are also investing more in their homes. And, despite the financial pressures, sustainable choices are still at the forefront of consumers’ minds …

I recently read that the sustainable home decor market is expected to grow by almost $200b by 2029. Consumer preference for making more environmentally-friendly purchases has risen during recent years, and it looked to expand into the home textiles and accessories sector well into 2023.

Furniture and household appliance sales showed growth during Black Friday 2022, despite a year that saw inflation reach double figures for the first time in 40 years. The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ has never rung more true – nor has the popularity of investing in home furnishings.

Consumer behaviour during this cost crisis is drawing parallels with that of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Not that we’re under restrictions on where we can go, and who with – more that we’re self-imposing our own spending restrictions as the purse strings tighten.

Once again, staying in looks set to become the new going out. Last year’s Black Friday discounts “boosted sales of home furnishings as many households traded big nights out for budget nights in”, said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson – and, much like we invested cash to improve the four walls we became so accustomed to during the lockdowns, shoppers looked to soft furnishings and home accessories to spruce up their homes last Christmas.

Though we might not necessarily have the same levels of disposable income to fund major renovations, we’ve got the freedom to entertain at home – I reckon more of us will look to play host over eating or drinking out in the run-up to summer.

Given that many high-street retailers now offer home furnishings under the same roof as footwear and fashion, velvet cushions, stylish lampshades or snuggly rugs have never been more accessible. Or affordable.

Back in 2018, fashion giant ASOS announced their own-brand homeware and textiles line. A year later, high-street staple Zara made their Zara Home goods available online – they’ve been present on the high street for over a decade. More recently, Mango’s UK ecommerce site began selling its homeware collection. Getting hands on this week’s most popular home accessory has become as competitive as jumping on the latest fashion trend.

And though delivery delays and supply chain problems sent Made.com into a regretful demise in

late 2022, multinational retailer Next spent £3.4m buying the brand, its domain names, and IP. Though it had been valued at £775m the year before, the move still suggests confidence in the future of the home furnishings market. With Poundland next to jump onto the homeware hype – they’re looking to offer a range sometime between now and the autumn – it seems that homeware’s not the only thing trending right now. Affordable homeware is.

But, despite our financial caution growing, it doesn’t seem to have dampened our sustainability awareness. We’re taking more time to really look at what we’re purchasing – where it’s from, how it’s made, and the waste associated with it. Tighter budgets are initiating positive consumer behaviour changes – for instance, the Boston Consulting Group found that 59% of Brits are now opting to buy for long-lasting quality (including products that are easier to repair).

So, as we enter what I hope to be the most ‘genuine’ green era of retail yet, let’s not leave the sustainability element at the product. As retailers seek efficiencies that help to ease cost pressures, there’s opportunities to enhance sustainability: the materials of the product; the packaging it’s stored, shipped, and displayed in; the players in the supply chain.

The full impact of the combined cost and energy crisis remains to be seen. But as we snuggle with family under a thermal blanket, the scent of Zara Home’s latest candle fragrance around us, the sentiment of ‘home is where the heart is’ continues to ring clear. www.greyhoundbox.co.uk

90 OPINION
“Once again, staying in looks set to become the new going out
“As we enter what I hope to be the most ‘genuine’ green era of retail yet, let’s not leave the sustainability element at the product
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Smarter smartphone photography

Have you ever wanted to create engaging marketing content for your brand, but lacked the funds to do so? Here, editorial and lifestyle photographer Jonathan Jacob, who principally works in the automotive industry (although you might have spotted him at one of our sector’s trade shows) explains how, in the right hands, the humble smartphone can be an effective solution …

For me, photography is a powerful tool that can grab people’s attention and draw them into your story and brand. The content of an image, how it is constructed and created, are all read by the viewer.

You don’t need me to remind you that our mobile phones have become our primary source of contact, search and entertainment, to name just a few functions. But think about the brands and companies you like and buy from … what attracts you to their online content?

More to the point, I want to talk to you about their visual content. Quality photography and video are an essential tool for marketing your product and services, but can be a serious investment. This is where the ‘humble’ smartphone can be a very useful tool for your marketing and exposure (no pun intended!).Technically, I don’t think the smartphone will take over from a dedicated photographic camera, but it has opened the door to create content straight from your pocket.

1. Pick a subject

Why do people buy your product/service? Is it design, a quality service, customer care, or value for money? Whatever it may be, then that is a great place to start, through your social media, case studies and marketing. For me, buying into a brand is about getting to know the people behind and within that brand. That old saying of ‘people buy from people’ is also true when it comes to your brand.

Showcase your staff, the parts of your location and business that your potential customers don’t see. The craftsmanship, the design process, the build process … or offer advice. These topics could become a miniseries, of say four or five posts each.

We view content a whole lot differently these days than we used to – you have multiple platforms which people have access to, right on their smartphones.

I make a living from photography and I’m an advocate for quality imagery, but the smartphone has found a place to achieve enough quality imagery for social media and online applications.

2. Shift your focus

There are a few things you can control on your phone when it comes to helping you put a little more thought into the process, and to move away from a simply ‘point & shoot’ approach.

If you’re using an iPhone, for example, when

composing an image you can tap anywhere on screen to chose an area to focus on. A step further is to tap and hold on screen for a few seconds on the area/ subject you are photographing, which will lock the focus and exposure (‘AF/AE Lock’). This will allow you to re-compose the shot, and find the most creative or best angle.

The other way you have control over the shot on an iPhone is while the yellow box is on screen, you have a little sun symbol to the right. This is a slider, so you can expose more or underexpose the phone’s chosen setting for that particular scene.

3. Clarify your objectives

If you have no intention of learning or getting a solid theory knowledge of photography, I would encourage you to think about a few questions.

Where is the image going to be used? Does it need to be vertical, landscape, or somehting else? This will help you to capture an image that is fit for its end purpose (this could be the extent of the technical knowledge you may need or want to know).

The other question I always ask my clients for every job/project/commissioned work is what the image is for. What do you want to say with these images? The majority of time, it’s to tell a story, like I mentioned above. We read so much from photography, both consciously and subconsciously.

Then ask yourself what elements within the image are you including to build an image that tells a story? When I worked in the national press, it was sometimes referred to as a ‘stand-alone’ image – if you had only one image to capture a story, what would you want or need to include within that image to best portray your story or message?

Don’t underestimate the powerful language of photography. It’s the first thing people will see in your marketing material, be it online or in print – if it doesn’t grab your audience’s attention, they won’t read the main message or copy. Someone once said the best camera you can have is the one in your hands – for many of us, that’s our smartphone. You can create your own marketing content to attract, engage and open dialogue with your customers and target audience, and it needn’t cost the earth. But it’s certainly worth getting to know what your device is capable of first …

92 OPINION
www.jjacobphotography.co.uk
“I don’t think the smartphone will take over from a dedicated photographic camera, but it has opened the door to create content straight from your pocket

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Start

Choosing competitive retail finance options

Retail finance products such as BNPL and digital credit are in high demand – but what options are best suited to your business? The sustained rise of flexible payment types, which continue to erode the market dominance of traditional options like debit and credit cards, is mirroring the changing demands of consumers, helping them to buy what they want, when they want and how they want, according to Melanie Vala,

Retail finance is essential for successful ecommerce operations, and furniture merchants need to consider their customers’ needs when deciding on the best payment products. It’s clear that shoppers want choice and are shying away from the more traditional lines of credit, which is why businesses must explore the full range of retail finance options available.

One important factor furniture merchants need to consider when choosing a product is the typical interest charged to repayments. Interest-free options allow customers to spread the cost of their purchase without incurring any additional interest on payments. In contrast, interest-bearing options see shoppers paying the interest on top of the repayment amount.

For furniture merchants, it’s not necessarily a question of one versus the other, as often a combination approach is optimal. For example, many merchants would benefit from offering interest-free finance on furniture products with lower price points, whilst also offering interest-bearing options for higher priced products that require a longer repayment period.

BNPL is one of the most popular payment methods among shoppers, providing an alternative option to traditional credit and allowing customers to spread the cost of a purchase over long-term instalments. Many BNPL products are interest-free, which is extremely appealing to shoppers at the moment.

Credit limits on typical BNPL solutions are often lower than finance instalment products, making it a more suitable option for furniture businesses with low-mid-range AOVs. However, furniture retailers are increasingly turning to digital credit products, which give customers more flexibility and improve repeat purchase rates and loyalty levels.

Digital credit offers the simplicity of BNPL and the functionality of a credit card account. It differs from traditional forms of credit, by using smartphone technology or web platforms to register, score, approve, and distribute. Credit amounts are higher, with customers often able to borrow up to a total of £5000 across purchases, spreading the cost over set repayment dates. Once consumers are approved for this credit product, they can seamlessly make regular purchases on your website, and won’t have to reapply. So, it’s the perfect option for those furniture merchants who are looking to turn customers into repeat buyers.

Businesses are unique, and what works for some furniture stores might not be the best fit for a company selling a different product range, or who is targeting a different target market. Therefore, understanding the customer’s wants and needs will help businesses decide on the best retail finance option – one that is tailored to meet the needs of their individual shoppers.

According to a survey from PYMNTS, 60% of consumers prefer retail finance solutions such as BNPL to credit cards due to simple set payments, a smooth approval process and a lack of interest charges. Retail finance solutions offer a lower-impact spending tool, which has in particular, turned the heads of young consumers that are facing everincreasing credit card interest rates. It is vital that retailers not only offer finance at checkout, but provide an option that is tailored to their customers’ needs.

Today’s customers are savvier and expect different payment options from online stores as well as brickand-mortar outlets. Retail finance helps furniture businesses sell more, boost revenue, build customer loyalty, and improve the chance of generating repeat business.

www.dekopay.com

“Shoppers want choice, and are shying away from the more traditional lines of credit
It is important to offer consumers a range of payment options, 94 OPINION
says Melanie (photo courtesy iStock/diego_cervo)

Business continuity in the event of death

Private limited businesses commonly have a lone director who is also sole shareholder. However, difficulties might occur if there is no succession plan in place should that sole director shareholder die, writes Katy

When a firm has many directors and one of them dies, the surviving director(s) can continue to govern the business as before. Should a company have a single shareholder who dies, the directors can continue to run the company until the deceased’s shares are transferred to their beneficiaries.

a senior associate at regional law firm Buckles Solicitors.

Both scenarios allow for ‘business as usual’. However, with no director, assets may be frozen, company accounts inaccessible, and transactions crucial to business continuity impossible.

But how will a sole director shareholder’s shares be distributed upon their death, and how will a new director be nominated?

If the deceased left a will, their shares will most likely pass to their personal representatives (PRs), who may be added onto the company’s register of members. However, to register a shareholder, director authorisation is required, and when a lone director shareholder dies, there will be no director in office.

The firm’s articles of association could resolve the issue, depending on whether table A articles, model articles, or custom articles have been adopted.

Articles of association

Whether a PR can appoint a director to a company following the death of its sole director shareholder depends on when the company was incorporated and whether its articles have been updated since.

Companies founded under the Companies Act 1985 (or an earlier act), for example, are likely to have adopted table A articles, which contain no provision for a PR to appoint a director.

A court application may be necessary to add a PR as a shareholder on the register of members. This can be a lengthy process, which potentially results in assets being frozen.

Companies incorporated under the Companies Act 2006 using model articles may afford PRs the power to appoint a new director. This avoids a prolonged judicial process, allowing the firm’s continued operation while the new director registers the PR as a shareholder. Companies with custom articles should have their articles thoroughly reviewed to determine whether such actions are possible.

Wills

Sole director shareholders should have valid wills, consistent with the company’s articles of association.

This reduces the possibility of disagreement or confusion with regards to the transferal of shares upon a single shareholder’s death.

This applies to all shareholders, as leaving shares to a specified beneficiary may be prohibited under the articles of association.

Decision-making

One High Court judge recently ruled that because the articles of association of a corporation required two directors to make decisions, a solitary director could not act on the firm’s behalf. This surprise ruling called into question the legitimacy of decisions made by several corporations’ single directors.

However, another High Court judge since ruled that the necessity under the model articles for at least two directors to make decisions did not supersede the decision-making powers of a solitary director in cases where there was only ever one director.

This has created uncertainty about the validity of sole director decisions where model articles have not been amended because these judgements are not binding, and it adds ambiguity to the position of companies that had more than one director but were reduced to one.

Reviewing articles

If a business has altered the model articles or previously had several directors, there remains the danger that a provision in those articles may demand more than one director to make decisions, rendering the choices made by a solo director invalid.

Another director may need to be appointed or articles adapted to clarify a sole director’s decisionmaking powers. Shareholder resolutions may need to be passed to ratify the historic decisions of a sole director, to avoid them being ruled untenable.

In summary, it’s prudent to have the provisions in your articles and your will examined to ensure consistency across the board.

www.buckles-law.co.uk

95
“With no director, assets may be frozen, company accounts inaccessible, and transactions crucial to business continuity impossible
“Leaving shares to a specified beneficiary may be prohibited
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ANTI COPYING IN DESIGN (ACID)

How to tackle design theft? Ask AI

The UK Government’s policy on Articial Intelligence (AI) in the creative industries aims to fund and promote the use of AI in the creative industries. With its AI Sector Deal, the Government plans to support innovation, increase employment, and drive economic growth. It also recognises that AI has the potential to improve productivity and efficiency in the creative sectors, while providing new opportunities for artists and designers. So, why not ask AI to resolve some of the most difficult and controversial issues in the IP world today?

Over the past 20 years, and a myriad of correspondence, dialogue and meetings with Government and policymakers, ACID has been intent on promoting a level playing field for the legal protection of designs and the intentional infringement of an unregistered design right to be made a crime.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money have been spent on very expensive intellectual property (IP) research for over two decades, especially into designs – but this has rarely translated into game-changing action on the above two important issues affecting the design sector, so we asked Chat AI two questions and, within a matter of seconds, discovered that ACID’s decades of campaigning for design law reform is 100% aligned with AI’s summary.

The first question we asked was, ‘How can the UK promote a level playing field for the legal protection of designs?’ Chat AI replied …

1. Clear legal framework

“The UK Government can create a clear legal framework that defines the scope and limits of design protection, including what can be registered and what cannot, and the criteria for infringement.

2. Improved IP enforcement

“The UK Government can enhance IP enforcement by providing stronger penalties for infringement, more resources for enforcement agencies, and a streamlined IP court system.

3. Education and awareness-raising

“The UK Government can work with industry bodies, universities, and legal practitioners to educate designers and businesses on the importance of design protection and how to obtain it.

4. Modern design laws

“The UK Government can develop modern design laws that meet the changing needs of businesses

and designers, including laws that recognise digital design and protect global brands.

5. International co-operation

“The UK Government can collaborate with international organisations and other countries to harmonise design laws and protect UK designs overseas. This will help UK designers compete on an equal playing field with their foreign counterparts.”

Unsurprisingly, the second question we asked was, ‘What is the argument in support of criminalising infringement of the UK unregistered design right?’

Chat AI replied: “The protection of intellectual property rights is crucial in encouraging innovation and creativity. However, the current civil remedy for infringement of unregistered design right is not effective enough to deter unauthorised use of design rights. Therefore, criminalising the infringement of UK unregistered design right would provide a stronger deterrent to individuals and companies who may seek to copy or reproduce original designs without permission.

“Moreover, criminalising the infringement of unregistered design right would create a level playing field for all businesses, whether small or large. By making infringement of design rights a criminal offence, all businesses would be held to the same standard and would face potential legal consequences.

“In conclusion, criminalising infringement of the UK unregistered design right would provide a stronger deterrent to infringers, encourage innovation, and create a level playing field for all businesses.”

Nick Kounoupias, ACID’s chief counsel, comments: “The Government are pro-AI, so maybe the IPO should reconsider its policy and enforcement approach to reap the benefits of what AI offers in support of these two objectives.”

www.acid.uk.com

PARTNER COMMENT OPINION 97
INDUSTRY PARTNERS
“ACID’s decades of campaigning for design law reform is 100% aligned with AI’s summary
Young Furniture kers exhibition.

THIS MONTH, WE’RE ASKING … How are you

working smarter?

The Level 10 meeting format, as presented in the book Traction. It has ensured all departmental meetings remain engaging and focused on the most important priorities

Having used the various lockdowns to carry out several technology replatforming projects, we now have an even better oversight of the business from anywhere at any time, meaning less reliance on being in the office, which frees up plenty of time

Making sure that when I receive inquiries for furniture products, I get as much information from the potential customer so as not to waste my time and theirs

Engaging with a broader ACID community through Zoom

We’ve orchestrated a change in the culture of our company, and have worked on modernising our processes and developing more transparency for both our management team and myself. To do this, we introduced a cloud-based management system to create dashboards, which enable us to follow sales and project pipelines. We also harnessed the energies of our retail system to give us more clarity with orders and stock (we’re not yet paperless, but we do use much less paper!). All this has enabled us to quickly see the numbers and data we require in our decision-making, to track jobs and have customer information at our fingertips, all of which saves time and makes for less mistakes

We’re using data and analytics more consistently internally in order to make smarter merchandising decisions. We’ve embedded enhanced analytics software into our website, which has enables us to double down on the key decisions that really move the dial

Allocated diary appointments with myself for specific deep-dive project work. Ignoring my inbox and phone for this time takes discipline, but it’s vital to carve the time out to get into the flow

Many businesses have space that is not fully utilised within their buildings. At Toons, we had a number of these – for example, we took an area which was used to store rugs but was no longer in use, and turned it into a kitchen and bathroom showroom concession. Not only does this contribute to the bottom line via rent payments, but we pick up incremental sales on flooring , blinds and lighting. We’ve done a number of these concessions, which contribute significantly to footfall and profit

Iconography started as an ecommerce-only business, that integrated with traditional EPoS and RMS solutions. After years of chasing down bugs in these integrations, we built a unified commerce solution that eliminates them completely. That frees us up to improve our award-winning platform and support furniture retailers, rather than wasting time fighting fires

98 OPINION FEEDBACK WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! • Follow Furniture News on LinkedIn • Join us on Twitter @FurnitureNewsED • Contact editorial at paul@gearingmediagroup.com • For advertising and subscription enquiries, see p3
I’m making more use of social media, in particular messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger

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