Furniture News #409

Page 74

ECO CONSCIOUS TRADE SERVICES KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER? The pros and cons of targeted selling Kettle’s new lease of life Ensuring great customer service #409 October 2023 WALK THE WALK Think Rugs steps up on sustainable

Editor's Comment

Despite the theme at the heart of this month’s issue, I hadn’t expected the green debate to be raging quite so fiercely right now.

After pledging to increase the UK’s contribution to the global Green Climate Fund at last month’s G20 gathering, the PM later rolled back the Government’s commitments on net zero, giving fossil fuel cars and boilers a few more years’ breathing space (at the expense of ours?), triggering accusations of political point scoring at the planet’s expense.

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham inflamed passions on both sides of the argument in his documentary, Is It Time to Break the Law?, which explored biodiversity loss and the ethical boundaries of protest.

Meanwhile, the Bed Show saw the roll-out of a never-greener product offer, while industry experts seeking more effective fire safety regulations agreed on the need to move away from polluting chemicals (including flame retardants) in mattress and furniture manufacturing (see p7).

In a month in which the demise of Wilko (and the eye-watering number of jobs lost with it) brought the future of the high street back into sharp focus, with John Lewis’ chair calling for a royal commission review into the closures and criminal behaviour threatening town centres up and down the country, the voices calling for greener measures proved louder still. Whatever issues we might be facing right now, as a trade and a country, the pressure to go greener will only grow.

In our special feature starting on p34, we present the latest from the manufacturers and suppliers striving to deliver sustainable solutions, plus insight from Planet Mark, The Furniture Recycling Group and the National Bed Federation – while Hypnos’ Richard Naylor explores the potential of biomimicry in his regular column (p66) and we ask our regular contributors about the most recent ‘green’ changes they’ve made in their business (p74).

Whatever your perspective, there’s plenty of compelling evidence of greener practices leading to better outcomes – for business, and for the world around us.

But it’s not all just shades of green this month. Ian Kettle reveals what came before and after Kettle Interiors’ administration, and the outlook for his new company (p10), Sleepeezee’s Amy Curtis reflects on the brand’s laid-back press event (p14), and Julian Bowen’s Rob King shares his personal and professional views (p21).

We’ve canvassed the industry to discover how well it knows its customer, in a bid to reveal the pros and cons of better audience targeting (p62), while regular columnist Steve Pickering (Sussex Beds) considers the joys – and woes – of working with family (p67). On top of that, digital marketing expert Cristina Plamadeala gets back to basics (p70), the BFM’s Phil Spademan introduces the association’s next round of industry awards (p73), and long-time contributor Gordon Hecht returns to our pages to share his latest selling tips from across the pond (p68).

I hope you enjoy your read.

Paul Farley

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7 NEWS 10 INSIGHT 10 Kettle Home 14 Sleepeezee 16 Think Rugs 18 Gallery Direct 20 Getting personal 24 EVENTS 24 Autumn Furniture Show 26 Brussels Furniture Fair 28 Women In Furniture Network 28 INDX Furniture 30 Spring Fair 30 HawaExpo 32 PRODUCTS 34 Eco conscious 58 Trade services 62 OPINION 62 The pros and cons of customer targeting 66 Viva la biomimicry revolution! 67 Working with family 68 Are you a captain of great customer service? 70 The Golden Circle marketing approach 73 Partner comment 74 Feedback Contents EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paul Farley 01424 776101 Twitter @FurnitureNewsED SALES SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR (FURNITURE NEWS PORTFOLIO) Sam Horscroft 07764 650655 Twitter @FurnitureNewsAD SALES EXECUTIVE Caroline Littler 07861 231461 OVERSEAS AGENT Casey Loo (Asia) +65 973 00123 (WhatsApp) PRODUCTION PRODUCTION MANAGER James Ash DIGITAL MANAGER Nyall McCurrach COPY ADMINISTRATOR Steve Merrick 01424 776108
ECO CONSCIOUS TRADE SERVICES KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER? The pros and cons of targeted selling Kettle’s new lease of life Ensuring great customer service #409 October 2023 WALK THE WALK Think Rugs steps up on sustainable FN409_Pages.indd GENERAL INFORMATION No part of this publication may be reproduced without the specific prior written agreement of the Publisher and may not be stored on any type of retrieval system. Furniture News/ Gearing Media Group Ltd accepts no responsibility for variations in colour reproduction. Special colours (Pantone etc) can be catered for with prior arrangement. Some elements of the editorial content in this publication are submitted by the trade, however, all efforts are made to ensure that the editorial remains true to fact and unbiased. Monies may have been accepted to offset the costs of colour reproduction. Gearing Media Group Ltd reserves the right to alter without prior notice any content other than customers’ advertisements. No correspondence will be entered into regarding altered or adjusted editorial content. The editor’s decision is final. All material submitted for inclusion in Furniture News is done so entirely at the owner’s risk and no responsibility is accepted for the safekeeping or return thereof. Advertiser information is reproduced in good faith and Gearing Media Group accepts no responsibility in respect of adverts appearing in the magazine, and the magazines expressed do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s views. The Publisher accepts no liability for any loss arising from an advertisement’s late or non-appearance. Ian Kettle Kettle Home 10 22 38 68 Rob King Julian Bowen Zoë Lee Planet Mark Gordon Hecht Business growth and development consultant 5 COVER FEATURE 16 THINK RUGS

Next’s total group sales were up +5.4% in the six months to July, chiefly thanks to fashion sales gains driven by good weather and nominal wage increases. The retailer also says it plans to open a Made furniture concession in Sheffield by December

The NBF has entered a threeyear knowledge transfer partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, and has received funding to appoint postgraduate microbiologist Sophie Hibberd, who will research how the industry can measure the cleanliness of reused and recycled materials from beds and mattresses

French Bedroom has promoted head of brand Holly Yates to MD

DFS builds operational resilience in challenging year

Describing the period as “a year of significant challenge due to the weak economic backdrop”, DFS Furniture has announced its preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 25th June 2023.

Group revenue from continuing operations was £1088.9m, a decrease of -5.3% YoY, but +13.8% ahead of the pre-pandemic FY19 pro-forma period. Underlying PBTa was down -49.3% – “as anticipated, given strong post-pandemic sales in the prior year and very weak market demand in FY23, combined with inflationary pressures”, states the retailer.

However, the group also reports continued market share gains (+2% pts), taking its share to a record 38% of the UK upholstery market. It also says that operationally it is in the strongest position since the pandemic, reflected in its customer experience scores, with supply chains, order banks and customer lead times back to normal. It has established a cost efficiencies programme across its product, property and operating cost models (see overleaf), targeting some £50m in annualised savings by FY26.

DFS says its own-brand range continues to evolve, broadening appeal and extending into higher price points – while on the Sofology side, three further

showrooms have been opened, taking the total to 58 (from 38 at acquisition) and closer to the group’s nationwide target of 65-70. Sofology’s new leadership team has developed a new three-year growth plan entitled Drive to 25, supporting an ambition to become the UK’s second-largest sofa retailer.

“In the Home category, we continue to strengthen the foundations for growth in this £5b market opportunity, with a dropship delivery solution launched and exclusive brand partnerships extended to bed ranges, driving online beds and mattress sales up +69% YoY,” the group adds.

Looking ahead, DFS’ underlying PBTa guidance for FY24 is for a low single-digit YoY improvement (£30m-£35m), with profit weighted towards H2.

Call to end reliance on CFRs in UK mattresses

Harrison Spinks has partnered with Leeds-based charity Zarach to supply 20 custom-made mattresses each month to support children and families in poverty

Land of Beds’ team has conquered a 15km run, braving 31 obstacles, as part of the Tough Mudder endurance course – and raising £4475 for Claire House Children’s Hospice

Dunelm has reported ongoing sales growth of +6% (a record £1.64b), with further market share gains in the combined homewares and furniture markets

John Lewis Partnership has appointed Neptune chair Will Kernan as a non-executive director

In a consensus statement, 15 leading representatives from across the UK’s mattress and furniture industries (including the National Bed Federation, Silentnight and IKEA) have called for more effective and sustainable furniture fire safety regulations, highlighting concerns over the impacts of chemical flame retardants (CFRs) on industry innovation, product recycling, and public and environmental health.

The consensus came after environmental NGO Fidra hosted a roundtable event for industry experts and policy makers to discuss the UK’s current Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) regulations (FFRs) 1988 and resulting CFR use in mattresses.

The UK holds some of the most prescriptive fire

safety requirements for upholstered furniture items in the world, says Fidra, and these requirements are resulting in large volumes of CFRs being used in UK mattresses and other domestic furniture items, contributing to environmental chemical pollution throughout product manufacture, use and disposal processes.

While not mandated, many suppliers and manufacturers use CFRs as a cost-effective way of meeting the FFRs. However, growing doubt over their effectiveness and concerns of their impacts on health, the environment, and the circular economy, has encouraged industries to seek alternatives.

The UK FFRs are currently being reviewed under a Government consultation that closes on 24th October.

New management to lead record-breaking JYSK

Rami Jensen has been appointed president and CEO of JYSK. Although he has spent most of his career at JYSK, he rejoined the business a year ago as deputy president and CEO, and has now assumed overall responsibility for more than 3300 stores in 48 countries, and more than 30,000 employees. He replaces Jan Bøgh.

“JYSK is a company that has continuously delivered record results and growth since the company was founded in 1979 by Lars Larsen and later with Jan Bøgh as president and CEO,” he says. “It is quite the task to try to match it, but I am certain that if we stay true to the JYSK core values, we will be able to continue to grow and develop the company.”

Rami’s is just one of a series of management-level

appointments at JYSK, which include: Signe Lind Jacobsen as CFO; Carsten Nørgreen Weinkouff as executive VP; and Martin Amstrup Bang as executive VP of purchasing.

Last month, JYSK also reported that its turnover increased by +6.3% (to €5.2b) for FY 2022/23, which closed at the end of August, setting a new record for the global home furnishing company, while the number of customers shopping with the retailer increased by 1.2 million YoY.

“In the last year, we also reached an important milestone, with over two thirds of our stores now rearranged with our successful 3.0 store concept, and we have no plans for slowing down in the coming years,” Rami concludes.


JLP reports improved H1, but Home sales suffer

John Lewis Partnership has reported an improved performance for the half year, narrowing losses before tax by 41% to £59m.Before tax and exceptionals, losses fell to £57.3m (£66.8m a year earlier), a +14% improvement.

Total sales were £5.8b, up +2% YoY, while revenue was up +3%. Some 600,000 more customers shopped with the partnership during the half, taking the total number of customers to 21.4 million.

However, while Waitrose proved strong, John Lewis’ sales were £2.1b, down -2%. While spending more on clothing, customers were cautious about big-ticket items in Home and Tech (down -5% and -4% respectively) – “in effect it’s been a case of ‘more loafers and fewer sofas’,” says the retailer.

The balance between store and online purchases remained broadly unchanged, at 43% and 57% respectively. Shop sales improved by +2%, driven by increased footfall, while online declined -4% owing to weaker conversion.

The partnership says that it was hit hard by inflation

last year, which increased costs by £179m – and meaning it will take a further two years to deliver the proposed Partnership Plan (in 2027/28, rather than 2025/26). While the outlook remains uncertain, the partnership expects an improved full-year financial performance compared to last year’s £77.6m loss before tax, partnership bonus and exceptionals. Chair Sharon White says: “While change is never easy – and there is a long road ahead – there are reasons for optimism. Performance is improving. More customers are shopping with us. Trust in the brands and support for the partnership model remain high.”

DFS confirms closure of East Midlands factory

DFS plans to close its Berkeley Magna factory in Long Eaton, as well as the woodmill which supplies it, as part of a wider strategy to consolidate its UK manufacturing operations.

“Having made high-quality sofas in the UK for over 50 years, we’re extremely proud of our manufacturing heritage,” states the retailer. “Over the past few years we’ve improved performance by investing in our larger UK manufacturing sites, as well as our in-house design capabilities.

“Against the backdrop of increased manufacturing costs, we have comprehensively reviewed our manufacturing strategy. As a result, we are now proposing to consolidate our overall UK

manufacturing operations by closing Berkeley Magna, our smallest upholstery factory, along with the Heanor Gate woodmill which supplies it.

“Regrettably this will affect 225 colleagues across the sites. We’re currently supporting them through the process to explore what these plans mean for them.

“We don’t expect any impact on customer orders. Production from these sites would be redistributed to our two larger UK factories along with some trusted long-term supplier partners.”

DFS has also announced the completion of a new £200m Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) and £50m issue of US Private Placement (USPP) notes which, together, replace the group’s existing £215m RCF.

Troubled launch for exhibition matchmaking system

The closing day of this year’s Autumn Fair, which took place at the NEC Birmingham from 3rd-6th September, saw numerous exhibitors take to the aisle at the front of Hall 20 to voice their displeasure at the performance of new business-matching system Connect, launched at the event.

The Connect system – a compulsory element of the exhibitor package – was designed to enable visiting buyers to pre-book meetings with exhibitors before and during the show, as well as sharing special offers, discounts and announcements with those signed up.

Show organiser Hyve Group described Connect as “a transformational new approach to buying, designed to revolutionise the traditional trade show model by connecting retailers and brands on a scale never achieved before”. However, despite some evidence of success, on this occasion the platform failed to impress a sizeable number of exhibitors, who were frustrated by the perceived lack of uptake,

meetings and results it generated at launch. Their protest coincided with pressure to rebook stands for the coming year’s event.

Hyve quickly arranged to meet with a large group of those concerned, listened to their complaints, and attempted to find solutions – including a temporary extension of the on-site rebooking incentives.

Nicola Meadows, divisional MD at Hyve, said: “I really appreciated speaking to the group of exhibitors who shared their thoughts and feelings about the on-site experience, the delivery, and outcomes of Connect and the general feel across the show floor.

“We have listened and were able to have a constructive conversation and would like to reassure all our exhibitors that while we evaluate the overall show, gain further feedback, and follow up with each of them, their location and rates will not change. In the meantime, will not be increasing rates, and the on-site offer will be frozen for the next 28 days.”

The BFM’s London Fabric Show will be merged with its new Furniture Component Expo, taking place at Telford International Centre on 24-25th April 2024

Loaf says it has taken its brand in a fresh direction with a new brand advertising campaign which “fights the stresses of modern life, in a protest for slow living”

Now Furniture, a growing online retailer, has launched a trade account facility, headed up by Tessa Samuels

Jay-Be has secured a £2.5m funding package with Santander UK to fuel its export growth, thanks to Government initiative UK Export Finance. The bedmaker says the money will enable it to invest in overseas facilities to house local stocks

Worthington Brougham

Furniture plans to open its first high street showroom on Chorley high street this month, after supplying furniture at discounted prices to customers both online and in-store for 14 years

Bensons for Beds has opened two stores in Edinburgh – a new store on Craigleith Retail Park, and relocating its existing Straiton Retail Park store to a new unit

The Furniture Makers’ Company and Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) will launch the Apprentice and Skills Plus Service this autumn, a free service that aims to help businesses in the industry close their skills gaps and take on apprentices, led by Natalie Cole


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Kettle’s fall and rise

In March this year, 20-year-old cabinet supplier Kettle Interiors entered administration, when the weight of price increases, driven by crisis after crisis, finally proved too much to bear. In its place, new company Kettle Home delivered continuity. Here, in the company’s first major statement following the management buyback, CEO Ian Kettle explains what caused the collapse, how events transpired, and what the future looks like for his namesake’s new iteration …

To start with, can you provide some context of the size and heritage of the business prior to its being put into administration this March?

My family have been in the furniture industry for over 30 years, establishing Kettle Interiors UK in 2003 and specialising in the wholesale of cabinet furniture. Predominantly importing from the Far East – in particular Vietnam and China – we established ourselves as a market leader in the UK furniture wholesale sector. We had developed a customer base of hundreds of active accounts, supplying over 2000 individual product lines.

Founded and initially led by my late dad, John, the day-to-day running of the business passed to me some 15 or so years ago. Furniture is in my blood and it’s an industry that I love.

What were the first indications that the business was in trouble?

Until the Covid pandemic in 2020, Kettle Interiors was a stable and profitable company which consistently outperformed the wider market, growing both turnover and profit YoY. But, as with many businesses, Covid presented huge challenges for Kettle Interiors. The first lockdown period in March 2020 caused a significant drop in trade which resulted in a depletion of cash reserves and reliance on Government schemes including CIBLS and CJRS.

After the initial lockdown, sales rebounded strongly, but problems with the supply chain soon began to cause issues. The company experienced prices increases from all the overseas suppliers who cited increases in the costs of raw materials including timber, lacquer, packaging materials and internal logistics. Along with the drop in value of the GBP against USD, this caused a sharp rise in the product cost, which adversely effected margin.

By far the biggest issue came in late 2020 when the price of shipping began to increase exponentially. In the space of 12 months, rates increased from a pre-Covid price of $1400 per 40ft HC to over $16,000. Given the bulky nature of the product Kettle sells,

this caused huge increases in the landed cost of the product. Some items such as chairs increased in cost by over +100%.

The company quickly began to raise selling prices, but due to contractual obligations and an extremely large back order book, the rate of increase in the sales price could not keep pace with the increase in the cost of the product. Throughout 2021/22, Kettle placed customer service at the forefront of our strategy and honoured all orders at the price they were placed. The battle continued, though, with a record rise in oil triggering a global energy crisis, in turn throttling consumer spend in our industry and further impacting the running costs of the business (namely the running of a vehicle fleet and the business’ own energy costs).

Coupled with the increased in freight and product cost, the furniture market saw a notable downturn in March 2022. This was caused by a combination of the Russia/Ukraine conflict, and also the lifting of Covid regulations, which prompted consumers to spend their money in different sectors. This drop in demand aligned with a large influx of stock, leaving the company with significant excess inventory. The stock produced to fulfil the forecasted demand had a huge impact on costs due to lack of storage space, so initially the business was penalised by demurrage and quay rent charges, followed by short- and mediumterm storage costs, resulting in inefficient, costly operations across 14 separate storage sites.

From the middle of 2022, our board worked tirelessly to reduce debt and stabilise the company. In December 2022, the company sold its main warehouse unit in a sale and leaseback agreement. The directors also injected personal loans into the company to sure up finances.

In February 2023, the board of directors sought external financial advice, as it had become clear that the situation was not retrievable and that the company was insolvent. After very careful consideration, the directors made the difficult decision to place the company into voluntary administration on 24th March this year.

“The rate of increase in the sales price could not keep pace with the increase in the cost of the product
Kettle Home’s CEO, Ian Kettle
The majority of Kettle Interiors’ staff were able to join the new company

Can you describe the steps leading up to and during the buyback?

The core group of directors were keen to try and secure as many jobs as possible and to create a new business drawing on the past success of Kettle and their combined experience. Once Kettle Interiors was under the control of the administrators – and separate to that process – Kettle Home was formed.

The only way we could form an operating company in time was to adopt the credentials of a business formed in October 2022. Kettle Home then launched a bid for the goodwill and some of the assets of Kettle Interiors and, as you know, we were successful in securing this. This gave us the platform to move forward and establish Kettle Home.

What was the hardest part of the process?

The toughest part of the process was informing our hard-working staff that Kettle Interiors was entering administration and that they were subsequently being made redundant. Many of them had been with us for a long time, and had played a vital role in the company’s success. It was also difficult to break the news to our customer base, many of whom we have done business with for a great number of years. At this point, all our futures were uncertain – we didn’t yet know that the possibility of Kettle Home was an option.

There has been some confusion regarding the order of events that unfolded – ie a statement after the fact that an open sale process had indeed taken place prior to the purchase, and the revelation that a creditor obtained that warehouse unit three months before the restructure. Why might some actions have been taken out of step, or not disclosed?

As referenced above, the sale and lease back of the main building was something that was undertaken to try and ensure the viability of Kettle Interiors UK, and is separate to anything that followed. The process surrounding an administration is fast paced and changeable. Our sole focus was on doing the right thing by everyone involved with the company in administration, whilst looking to try and secure a future as a new company.

In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?

We would have liked to have been able to communicate more openly with all stakeholders – but, as you can imagine, what we could say was limited by the rules of the administration process, and I am pleased to be able to share more details in this article.

Upon forming Kettle Home, did you set out with any different approaches to doing business?

We made the decision that to ensure the success of Kettle Home, we would return to focusing on the core product offering that brought Kettle Interiors so much success. We knew that we needed to ensure clearer internal processes and focus single-mindedly on our customers, putting them at the heart of everything

we do. Having a new start has enabled us to create a more agile business, and I hope our customers old and new can see that our emphasis on high in-stock levels, product quality, quick delivery and customer service is now bearing fruit.

Where does the product portfolio stand now? Are Kettle’s sub-brands still active?

Signature, Originals and Essentials are still the backbone of the Kettle Home ranges, and each category has been strengthened in both quality and depth. We firmly believe that we offer something for every level of the market and that our products represent excellent value.

Are your key personnel and operations the same? In terms of the board of directors, yes, we have the same top team at Kettle Home as we did at Kettle Interiors. We operate from the same building, and I am pleased to say that the majority of our dedicated and loyal staff were also able to join the new company, giving Kettle Home a breadth of experience from day one.

How did your summer at-home event go? Really well, thank you – it felt like we were able to give people the opportunity to see what we, as Kettle Home, are all about. Those that attended were able to get hands-on with the product, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They could also see that Kettle Home is buoyant – and that there’s a real positive energy about the place. I am pleased to report that the event also resulted in a number of significant orders.

“We would have liked to have been able to communicate more openly with all stakeholders
HO sideboard, from Kettle Home’s Originals Collection

What assurances can you offer potential stockists, given the recent upheaval and relative youth of the new business? Why should buyers choose Kettle Home?

For over 20 years, we’ve been at the forefront of the UK furniture industry. Our success was built over time on delivering the best choice, value and service, and these values will remain at the heart of the new Kettle Home brand. Admittedly, we have had our share of distractions, but having learned important lessons, listened to our customers and now, with our new leaner, agile business model, we have focused on going back to basics and exceeding the expectations of a trusted supply partner to the trade.

It is fundamental that the same core group of senior people that our customers know and trust remain at the top of Kettle Home – with around 100 years of combined experience in our industry, our team know the product, they known the business and they know the industry.

Under the new banner, Kettle Home’s branded portfolio will remain available across the UK and Ireland, but with more emphasis placed on bringing to market core dining, living and bedroom collections that meet current mass appeal trends. Backed by improved stock and more competitive pricing, the whole Kettle Home team are committed to best-inclass service.

We are leaving no stone unturned as we look to reaffirm the strength of our offer. Not only have we invested in our sales support teams, we also have a fully integrated delivery fleet. We now offer industryleading flexibility from our container, wholesale, stockist, and DHD delivery service, all supported by electronic PDAs, giving full visibility of deliveries.

Already twice this year we have implemented widespread price reductions across all established core ranges. Achieved by negotiating a long-term decrease in shipping prices and a strengthening

pound, we have passed these savings on as part of a commitment to offering the most competitive prices and the best possible service. With continued efforts to improve quality, the fantastic feedback of our recent EA collection being distributed has been testament to a strong start and a statement of what we stand for.

Furthermore, back in April, we set ourselves the ambitious target to reach an in-stock rate of over 80% of our core cabinet ranges by the end of September. Now we have reached this goal, it has prepared our business to cater for healthy autumn/ winter trading. We’re excited at the prospect of serving our retail partners with the quality they can count on, quickly and efficiently, working together to win sales.

Further investment has gone into the Kettle Home trade website, too. Recently redesigned from the ground up to give improved functionality with a smoother experience, the new website makes browsing, ordering, and paying for orders even more accessible, offering live updates on lead times, latest deals, product information, downloads, and more. And of course, the showroom is now open to appointments, with our sales team available to showcase everything we can do for our customers across the UK, Ireland and beyond. We’re keen to meet customers old and new who also want to play a part in an exciting new future for Kettle Home.

Can you share some of the feedback you’ve received from the trade? How does it make you feel?

We have been heartened and sincerely humbled by how much support our customer base has shown us through what has been an extremely difficult time. We would not be where we are now without the support of our customers, many of whom have also found the last few months worrying.

I think the fact that we were really honest with our customers throughout the whole process also helped – we have traded with many of them for so long that we have earned and built strong relationships. For their loyalty, trust and support, I – and the whole board of directors at Kettle Home –would like to thank them.

Can you reveal any new developments, or suggest what’s in the pipeline?

We’ve focused on building the in-stock level of our product catalogue, to ensure we can service our customers in the best way possible – but we have some exciting product launches in the pipeline for January 2024. Watch this space.

Where can interested parties find out more, or next see your products in person?

Our new website is the best way to reach our teams or book a showroom appointment. We look forward to welcoming our customers here, and supporting them for many years to come.

“Kettle Home is buoyant –there’s a real positive energy about the place
of the Fabric Bed Collection within Kettle Home’s Essentials Collection

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Lifestyle lessons from Sleepeezee

Last month, Sleepeezee started its centenary year celebrations with a press event at London’s Wild by Tart, hosted by the brand’s ambassador and former Olympic champion, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, which gave interiors and fitness journalists and influencers the chance to enjoy a yoga class with Lina Nielsen, brunch, and a Q&A on sleep with Jessica, and Mattress Online’s sleep expert, James Wilson. Furniture News asked Sleepeezee’s head of marketing, Amy Curtis, for her perspective …

What did Sleepeezee want to achieve from this event, and did you succeed?

Zzzen by Sleepeezee was designed to educate people on the importance of sleep and sleep routine. We wanted attendees to feel immersed in Sleepeezee as much as possible, without trying to pitch a sales angle to them.

We feel the event was a success, with a huge amount of social content from a lot of the content creators who attended being produced over the week, with high levels of engagement from their respective audiences.

Can you give us an idea of the media representation present?

As Zzzen by Sleepeezee was a project that came to light with the purpose of building relationships with consumer press and media, as well increasing brand awareness of our fantastic products (notably the brand-new Centurial range) to a wider consumer audience, our guestlist was made up of influencers and journalists from the interiors and fitness industries.

The intention behind tapping into these spaces was to highlight the link between sleep and exercise, but also to educate consumers on the importance of a good mattress and how a bed can transform a space. Influencers included interiors creator George Glynn, and fitness influencer Tally Rye. Also amongst the invitees were freelance fitness and wellbeing journalists as well as writers for Ideal Home, House Beautiful, Country Living and T3 Magazine.

How does this kind of outreach align with Sleepeezee’s wider marketing strategy?

Sleepeezee’s overall marketing strategy is to become the best-known bed brand in the UK – but also a credible brand, who can advise and communicate about the benefits and importance of sleep and the impact it has on our daily lives.

This is something we’re proud to be able to do alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill – during this event, we focused on a smaller, more intimate group of press and content creators, who have far-reaching audiences who are very engaged, to be able to communicate our message across to them.

In what other ways does Sleepeezee intend to bolster its consumer-facing presence in the coming year?

As we go into our 100th year during 2024, we will be running several consumer-facing campaigns to not only celebrate our birthday, but also to highlight the message of sleep health and how it can impact us.

Why do you think it is important for bed brands to have a dialogue with the consumer?

A bed purchase is typically an infrequent purchase, so creating a lasting relationship with your consumer, and engaging in regular dialogue with them, helps ensure your brand is front of mind when they’re back in the purchase journey again – not to mention the positive word of mouth it can generate.

It’s important for us to create meaningful and lasting relationships with our consumers that are not all about selling – we want to educate and inform consumers regularly, helping them in their everyday lives, and being a knowledgeable outlet to them for all things sleep and bedroom related.

Where does the new Centurial range sit within your portfolio?

Centurial is a collection of three mattresses named and designed in celebration of Sleepeezee’s

“Sleepeezee’s strategy is to become the best-known bed brand in the UK – but also a credible brand
From left: athlete and yoga instructor Lina Nielsen; ‘Sleep Geek’ James Wilson; Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sleepeezee MD Steve Warren 14 INSIGHT

upcoming 100-year birthday. Featuring only 100% natural fillings, a chemical-free Damask, up to 7000 pocket springs and traditional techniques such as hand side stitching on each model, the Centurial collection will become Sleepeezee’s premium natural offering.

Each model will feature the special 100-year logo markings embroidered into the mattress to commemorate the occasion. We’ve already had great feedback from the guests at the event, not to mention a couple of retailers who have been able to get an early viewing of the range.

What sort of feedback did you hear from attendees?

We had amazing positive feedback from our attendees, even on the day itself. I think the guests were surprised to hear such detail about the importance sleep plays in our everyday lives, from performance to our mood, and hearing from Jessica just how important sleep was for her when performing at the highest level.

It was really interesting to educate the attendees about the important role a good-quality mattress plays in the quality of sleep you get, and the fact they were able to try one of our mattresses at the event only demonstrated to a lot of them how awful their bed at home is!

Did the discussion between Jessica and James touch on any areas we might not have considered before?

I think the guests were surprised to hear James talk about how you need to listen to your body in terms of what sleep it needs, and not worrying about trying to stick to exact times for what you think is appropriate for sleep or going to bed – for instance, trying not to get too hung up on the ‘eight hours’ of sleep, if you

think your body needs more or less, or going to bed when you’re tired, not when you think you should be just to try and hit a certain level of hours slept. But also prioritising sleep if you need it, even if it means you can’t get a workout in the morning. Sleep health is just as important as daily exercise, and we need to pay close attention to what our body is telling us with regards to what sleep it needs.

What other special events does Sleepeezee have planned to celebrate its centenary?

In the wake of last month’s Bed Show, we have several events planned for both staff and customers next year to celebrate our 100 years, so watch this space!

“It’s important for us to create meaningful and lasting relationships with our consumers that are not all about selling

Thinking ahead

Think Rugs, this month’s cover star, has strived to lead the rug industry for over a quarter of a century. As the UK’s Best Rug Supplier 2023, as voted for by the readers of Furniture News, the supplier’s name has become synonymous with quality, innovation, and timeless design –and, with its roots embedded in the art and science of rugmaking, its story is as intricate and colourful as the products it offers …

Think Rugs’ journey began more than 25 years ago, with a singular mission – to provide a product range that was not only varied and versatile, but also synonymous with excellence. By collaborating with artisans from India and China, the supplier has crafted a catalogue that comprises handmade contemporary, modern, and traditionally designed rugs in both wool and acrylic.

And the story does not end there – its vast collection of machine-made polypropylene ranges from Europe showcases its commitment to diversifying and refining its offering.

Yet, says Think Rugs, what truly sets it apart is its dedication to keeping a pulse on the ever-evolving world of interior design: “We are not just in the business of rugs – we are in the business of art, design, and innovation. We recognise that to stay relevant, we must remain fashion-forward. Thus, we consistently invest our efforts in identifying and developing key trends that resonate with contemporary tastes and preferences.”

Customer-centric commitment

At the heart of Think Rugs’ operations is an unwavering commitment to its customers: “We pride ourselves on offering an efficient, friendly, and excellent service. In a world that’s increasingly digital, we’ve adapted by integrating advanced digital works and processes, ensuring a seamless experience for our clientele. Every rug, every design, every stitch speaks of our dedication to quality – but it’s our exemplary service that truly captures the essence of who we are.”

Introducing the 2024 collection

“The world of design is not static, and neither are we,” Think Rugs continues. “It brings us immense pleasure to announce that our brand-new 2024 brochure is set to launch at the beginning of October. With 14 new product ranges, we are introducing over 400 new

products, offering unparalleled variety and choices to our valued customers.

“Eager to offer a glimpse into our latest masterpieces? All product imagery and detailed information are now readily available.”

Among the latest collections are: Vintage, a machine-made traditional rug range which “encapsulates the beauty of the past with the quality of the present”, and is available in three distinct designs, each in four or five colours; next, the successful Creation range has been expanded, with the addition of 20 new options – multi-textured pieces, interwoven with metallic effect yarn, these come in a variety of geometric and abstract designs; and, venturing into new territory, Think Rugs has introduced a wide range of coir mats, with diverse qualities, styles and sizes.

The road ahead

“Our past has been defined by our commitment to excellence and our unyielding dedication to our customers,” concludes Think Rugs.

“Today, our journey continues, and we invite you to be a part of our tapestry of innovation, design, and outstanding service. To view our latest ranges in our digital brochure, or to register to receive the physical brochure in October, please call 01782 747713 or email”

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“We are not just in the business of rugs – we are in the business of art, design, and innovation
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Gallery Direct’s furniture focus

Gallery Direct has developed its business over recent years, extending its offering of furniture items to become one of the largest furniture suppliers in the UK …

Featuring 25 main collections, plus a wide selection of smaller ranges and individual occasional pieces, Gallery’s extensive furniture catalogue now represents over 50% of its business. From contemporary to traditional, rustic to luxe, there is a variety of styles to suit different requirements –Gallery’s furniture development team has worked hard to broaden the catalogue to cater for a range of price points, ranging from high-value collections to luxury propositions.

Peter Delaney, sales and product director, comments: “With the development, we now feel we have got the balance right – we offer an amazing, varied selection of furniture, as well as all the other product categories to complement it, including madeto-order upholstery and mattresses, accessories, lighting, textiles, wall decor and outdoor living, so customers can buy the complete look in one place.

“As part of the development, we implemented a planned move to our purpose-built distribution centre just off junction 29A of the M1, near Chesterfield, so all stock will be in one location for quick and efficient delivery to customers.

“We are now in the final stage of this move. We’ve invested heavily in physical pallet space and stock across our categories, with over 36,000 pallets here in the UK and fresh stock continually arriving at the DC.” Gallery’s catalogue also features made-to-order upholstery, beds and mattresses, to complement the ‘ready-to-go’ furniture. All made-to-order lines are handmade by the team at Gallery’s manufacturing unit in Wiltshire.

Gallery also offers a huge selection of accessories, textiles and wall decor (recently strengthened through the acquisition of Art Marketing), and works with customers to offer own-label exclusive ranges.

Over the years, Gallery has worked closely with its suppliers around the world to build trusted partnerships, which aids supply chain management and efficient product development. Gallery boasts over 70 direct group employees in overseas offices, who help maintain these vital relationships, as well as providing effective QC of products and monitoring of factories to ensure they consistently meet Gallery’s high standards.

Recent months have seen the development teams design and develop Gallery’s SS24 Collection, working with these suppliers. There is even more expansion planned on the furniture side, with around +50% growth, including some brand-new ranges which will launch at the January Furniture Show.

James Hudson, furniture development director, says: “Myself and the team look forward to showing you these magnificent collections in the new year. We are really thrilled about this extensive and exciting new furniture collection, all created in-house by the Gallery team to create exclusive designs.”

“We feel we’ve got the balance right
DC Datsun
Madison sideboard
Gallery’s Chesterfield
armchairs, Burley coffee and side tables, and Liberty sofa


The impressive Madison Collection features beautiful marquetry design. The range includes a selection of living and dining pieces, including extending dining tables in both round and rectangle, and two sizes of sideboards all in a dark walnut finish, offering a ‘new traditional’ look, with its timeless elegant style with a modern touch.

Leading by Design is key to our ethos across all our product categories, offering a wide range of styles to give customers choice to suit their client base, as well as putting key looks together to help select products that work well.

View our full collection online at Scan the QR code for more 


Rob is national sales manager at furniture supply giant Julian Bowen, which operates from a 129,120ft2 facility in Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. Although Rob now oversees a range of product categories, his background has seen him closest to beds and upholstery – prior to joining Julian Bowen early last year, he worked for bed brands including Breasley, Myer’s and Sealy.

How might a child describe what you do ? My own daughter used to think I visited my second family when she was younger and I was away, but now she knows I sell furniture.

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face? The supply chain changes have been horrendous over the past few years, and differing views on ‘living with Covid’ around the world have led to uncertainty , which is no good for retailer, consumer or wholesaler. A return to a calmer, forecasted position of trading would certainly see the biggest benefit for all in our industry.

If you had 10 x your working budget , what would you spend it on ? More warehousing for more stock.

What would be the title of your autobiography ? ‘Director of Entertainment’.

What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you ? You must be committed to the job, your staff and the needs of your customers. However, you can’t do this without a committed family behind you, with whom to enjoy your Sunday.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

I have been very fortunate to work with some of the biggest families in the trade – more recently with the Crowshaws and Stuart Hibbert at Breasley, and before that with Jonathan and Rodney Myer. However, I still hold dearly and apply the principles I learnt over 25 years ago with John Hancock, Jeff Davies, Shane Harding and (particularly) Phil Dawson when I was at Sealy.

What advice would you give your younger self? Go to bed earlier at the Silentnight shows.

What’s been your best day in business to date? I have been doing this far too long to remember one particular day!

What’s the biggest myth about the industry?

That’s it’s a cottage industry. It’s a horrible phrase, that downplays the innovation and hard work that new product development teams put in.

We have an industry that values traditional, hand-crafted techniques, and retails them alongside technology-led products and futuristic design and manufacturing.

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

Feature-led selling is the main fault in our industry. It’s horrible, adds cost, and pays no attention to the needs of the consumer or retail partner. That’s why the new bedding players have taken market share. We should be selling comfort, design and service for furniture and beds, rather than focusing on product features that are not customer targeted.

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

There will be little change if it sees itself as a cottage industry. If it does move forward, it will be embracing technology, with in-store AI presentations, more customer-focused partnerships and better delivery of products. We’ve got to be looking for continual improvement.

What question do you wished we’d asked, and how would you have answered?

Probably something around the decline of exhibitions, and ideas to drive them forward. I would probably point out that you need to address the needs of your customers to achieve great sales and this, in my opinion, is the failure of all exhibition teams.

The shows would be great again if all wholesalers and manufacturers felt the need to go – therefore, fill the halls, and we need to go. Incentivise the clients, don’t drive costs up, be creative in their pitch, and work with our side to make the exhibitions big again – this would bring in the retailers , create buzz and turnover, and drive the need to go next year.

“The notion that furniture is a ‘cottage industry’ is a myth. It’s a horrible phrase, that downplays the innovation and hard work new product development teams put in

Next month, we’ll be looking back at this season’s trade show successes, and celebrating the champions of the 2023

“…A remarkable result when you factor in the dreadful state of the current market. One supplier rang to ask why we were so busy when everyone else is doing nothing! And your Event Manager, what a lovely guy. Everyone liked him and we would have him back – I would employ him tomorrow! We’ve already booked the next Greenwood Sale!”

Paul Meehan. M.D. Time for Bed Ltd, Sale, Gtr. Manchester.

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* Our o cial NBF Bed Industry
special * Reviews of the Bed Show, Long Point and Autumn Furniture Show * Nursery and children’s furniture * Plus the latest in Bedroom, Dining, Living and Trade Services Book by Friday 13th October Want to be part of the furniture trade's favourite read? Contact Sam Horscroft on 07764 650655 or email or Caroline Littler on 07861 231461 or email * Don’t forget to secure your spot in our revered January issue and o cial JFS publications! JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW TAKE YOUR SEAT Lebus set impress at JFS World Furniture’s clarity of vision COMPROMISE JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX BEDS & BEDROOM DINING Get ahead with predictive SEO Illuminating approaches from Chilli Pepper Designs Negotiating the cost of living crisis 400th The voyage continues FN Nxt Month Advert vertical.indd 1 22/09/2023 15:05
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NAEC Stoneleigh in Kenilworth CV8 2LZ easily accessible by major road, rail, and air links.


Enough space for dedicated exhibition halls. Its excellent Strollers Restaurant.


The event is open to ALL BUYERS.


Over 70 leading global suppliers exhibiting.

Huge selection of both major British and Overseas companies, showcasing their latest new Autumn/Winter product ranges. A great mix of all product categories, including upholstery, cabinet, bedroom cabinet, beds, and accessories.

Upholstery suppliers including HTL, Violino, Primavera and Sherborne.

Cabinet and Bedroom Cabinet exhibitors such as Wiemann

Julian Bowen and Devonshire.

Bed suppliers including Sealy, Highgrove, Relyon and Healthbeds.



We have an In-Show Coffee Shop and a Juice Bar –both with seating for you to meet and relax with Suppliers and Colleagues!



NOT TO BE MISSED 3rd & 4th OCTOBER 2023 Register Now
A FREE LUNCH in the Strollers restaurant. FREE entrance ticket. FREE SHOW E-Catalogue. FREE WIFI.
go to for your Complimentary Entrance Pass.

Autumn showcase promises leading brands

Organised by the Minerva Furniture Group, showcasing leading furniture brands from around the world, and featuring the latest upholstery, dining, bedroom, bed and accessory ranges, alongside various trade service offerings, the show promises to be a valuable sourcing opportunity.

Confirmed exhibitors include Abacus, Alstons, Bluebone, Carlton Furniture, Celebrity, Dar Lighting, Protect-A-Bed, Sealy, Sherborne Upholstery, Smart Occasional and Value Mark Furniture – visit the show’s website to see the full roster.

German bedroom manufacturer Wiemann ( will display its latest awardwinning range at the show – VIP choice Denver was named Best Bedroom Collection at Dublin’s IFHS in July, and features a unique decking-style panel which offers both versatility and striking looks. A

sliding and hinged wardrobe, it is available in a range of bestselling finishes and, with options for outer or centre doors in matching or contrasting colours, the range gives a variety of bold or subtle finishes. Every Denver finish combination gives a different look, demonstrating the flexibility of this product.

Versatility is a central theme for Wiemann wardrobes. The company prides itself on making products which truly offer a total bedroom solution, whatever the style or size of home. Reflecting this, slider range Miami Plus, and hinged choice, Tampa, come in plenty of contemporary colourways and are enjoying strong sales this year, given their high quality and competitive price. Both will be on show in Stoneleigh.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “Denver has proved a highly successful range so far this year and we are looking forward to showcasing it at the Autumn Furniture Show, alongside our marketleading VIP Monaco system, which suits any style of bedroom imaginable.”

The show’s central provides easy access from around the UK, and visitors will enjoy free parking and entry. Complimentary lunch is also provided for all visitors at the on-site restaurant.

24 EVENTS Two different looks, one range –Wiemann’s Denver in champagne (top) and graphite (bottom)
Extending an open invitation to all furniture buyers, the Autumn Furniture Show will take place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th October.


At Kettle Home, we are your go-to source for top-quality furniture solutions, With design-led collections our extensive product range, competitive prices, and unwavering commitment to maintaining robust stock levels, we are here to help you grow your furniture business. Choose Kettle Home and experience the convenience of a supplier that understands your unique needs and delivers exceptional value every time.

Contact us 01536 444 960
Dedicated customer service team Online ordering and account management
access to UK held stock

Natural directions for Brussels show

Brussels Furniture Fair returns to Brussels Expo from 5-8th November, and is all set to deliver more of the product, presentation and hospitality for which it is known, now with an overtly natural theme …

With its strong offer, clear segmentation and engaging scale, Brussels Furniture Fair remains a popular B2B platform for furniture buyers. This year’s event again promises to embrace progressive business, but will encompass other core elements of the furniture and design business – aesthetics, inspiration and planning – all underpinned by nature.

This theme will be reflected in the fair’s look and marketing, as well as in the introduction of the ECOStories label, which will enable visitors to quickly identify those exhibitors actively working on and/or looking for environmentally friendly solutions.

This year’s show is already shaping up to be significantly larger than the last edition, with, for example, every square metre in Hall 4 being sold for the first time since 2018 (assisted by a relocation of Passe Partout and Recor Group).

Having noted a strong increase in demand from ‘traditional’ exhibitors, Hall 3’s Square segment had to be completely overhauled, while the Sleep segment in Hall 6 is filling up fast too. There has also been a significant increase in the number of exhibitors from

the Nordic region, with newcomers Ecolife Beds, Dan-Form, Tenzo, Innovation Living and Torpe joining the roster.

The Square, which in recent years has become the go-to destination for inspiration and discovery, will be refined to deliver even greater relevance. For example, Design Street and Design Academy were merged into Design Academy Masters & Scholars, showcasing a range of products from established names in the design world, combined with creations by promising furniture design students. Square also continues to host the Bubble up your Store concept, whereby retailers can engage with suppliers of goods and services that can assist them in optimising their retail spaces.

Despite these various developments, doing business efficiently, in a pleasant and hospitable atmosphere, remains at the heart of the show. With a contract route, the Balthazar awards and various trend corridors continuing to enrich the overall event, Brussels Furniture Fair again promises visitors a balanced mix of exhibitors and interesting features.

“Brussels Furniture Fair again promises visitors a balanced mix of exhibitors and interesting features





INDX Furniture promises opportunities to explore leading brands, discover new product, meet new suppliers and celebrate the industry, as the trade show returns to the Cranmore Park exhibition venue from 19th-22nd January.

Organised by Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying and services group for fashion, home, and leisure, day one of the show will be reserved for AIS members, with the

show opening to general trade visitors on the subsequent days.

Promising a friendly, business and buyerfocused environment, INDX Furniture will showcase a curated, trend-led product selection across upholstery, living room, dining room, garden, and accessories.

Emma Rackley, director of furniture and home, AIS, says: “Through our continuing

work with Scarlet Opus, our trend and insight forecasting partner, we are focused on key shifts in consumer behaviour, with regards to the products customers are purchasing, and the retail experience they expect – our January 2024 show will reflect this.”

As part of the INDX portfolio of shows, INDX Furniture also offers visitors free on-site parking and complimentary refreshments.


Harrison - An off-the-floor design, bringing a chic, low silhouette to your living room, this power recliner range features an adjustable headrest. Put your feet up with ease with the hidden footrest which curls out whenever you want to relax. Choose from an armchair, two seater or three seater with optional chaise end.


Spring Fair is the UK’s most diverse marketplace for wholesale home, gift and fashion, and is easily accessible for both UK and international visitors.

Next year’s show will run from 4-7th February at NEC Birmingham, and brands already confirmed include Coach House, Gallery Direct, Malini, Pacific Lifestyle, Searchlight Electric, CIMC, Hill Interiors, Garden Trading

Co, Bloomingville, The Libra Company, Laura Ashley, Art Marketing, Artko, Bizotto, Walton & Co, The Art Group, Ivyline, Piffany Copenhagen, Shepherd of Sweeden, Quirky Barn by Besp-Oak, Febland Group, McGowan & Rutherford, Minster Stylish Living, Wikholm Form, Edge Company, Edge Sculpture, Richard Cooper Bronze, Bronte by Moon, Hanlin, Tweedmill Textiles, My Gifts Trade, Biggie Best, Bronte by Moon, Deluxe HomeArt, Peggie Wilkins, Morgan Wright, Also Home, Kaemingk, Lows of Dundee, Ascalon, Dutch Imports & Daughters, London Ornaments,

Esselle, Captivate Brands, Likewise Matting, Terrace & Garden, and many more.

With 14 product sectors across Home, Gift and Fashion, the variety of products at Spring Fair is unmatched – and, more than just a trade show, it is a hub for knowledge and inspiration, with leading industry experts and rising stars taking to the Inspiring Retail Stage to offer exclusive trend forecasts, insights and Q&A sessions.

With over 85% of Home & The Summerhouse already sold, Spring Fair is set to be a vibrant showcase of new and returning brands.

Vietnamese furniture and wood export fair HawaExpo will return to Ho Chi Minh City on 6-9th March, and expects to welcome some 30,000 visitors across an event three times the size of this year’s.

Promising around 700 exhibitors, the exhibition promises to help buyers unlock the potential of Vietnam’s manufacturing base, incorporating new segments such as interior design, decorative products and hospitality –alongside the key sectors that have secured Vietnam’s place as the world’s sixth-largest exporter.

Spanning three locations from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Duong, the fair aims to cover the Vietnamese furniture industry’s entire supply chain, making it of even greater use to international buyers.

Visitors are promised a warm welcome, including transport, hospitality and accommodation – further enabled by the HawaExpo app and communication ecosystem, enabling visitors to customise their plans, demands, and matchmaking opportunities.

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Since Bluebone first announced its collaboration with Bramble Co and Steven Shell London back in August, the initial reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, says the supplier, adding that it has already confirmed several partners, whose first containers are now in production.

An impressive collection of lifestyle photography, and a comprehensive selection of swatches and samples back up the Brambleco. com website, making the selection process creative and enjoyable.

The timeless elegance and style of the collections have resonated with retailers, states Bluebone, adding that this is an opportunity to create individual, bespoke displays in-store, and become one of a select few exclusive UK and

Irish Steven Shell/Bramble partners.

“We are delighted to welcome Woodgreen in Ballymena and JA Lyttle of Banbridge as official Bramble stockists for Northern Ireland,” states the supplier. “This territory is now full. We are still looking for key, exclusive partners in other areas nationwide. You would have full flexibility, with no minimum order quantities, enabling you to select unique pieces in line with your own store’s style and pricing.”

The combined Steven Shell/Bramble Co collections offer perhaps the most extensive customisable furniture range on the market, says Bluebone: “They understand the desire for unique, without compromising on their exceptional quality and design.


Core Products has introduced a selection of home dining options ready for autumn. The collection encompasses dining sets which are ideal for casual dining, living and kitchens, in a variety of materials including wood, metal, upholstery and plastics.

The Aspen dining set is ideal for demanding busy home environments, boasting a wipeclean, oak-effect top and sturdy metal underframe.

The chairs are made from solid coloured plastic on real metal legs, which can easily cope with the breakfast time rush.

Core’s range of solid wood casual dining sets assist the transition between dining and

“The pieces exude sleek, elegant and timeless style. All the furniture is constructed using state-of-the-art technology, alongside traditional woodworking methods – drawers are constructed with dovetail joints, and superior solid wood tongue-and-groove backing techniques result in products of genuine craftsmanship.”

Containing over 1300 lines, with an array of paint colours, finishes and artwork options, Bramble Co offers a fully bespoke service on every container.

Bluebone will preview the collections at the Autumn Furniture Show (3rd-4th October in Stoneleigh), and the brands will be revealed in full at next year’s January Furniture Show (stand 2-B21).

living space, and are available with a choice of seating including wooden chairs, benches or upholstered chairs in a choice of colours.

“Whatever your preference, these great value sets are sure to be a boost to your sales as consumers seek better value than ever before,” says Core.

See the full range of products on Core’s website.

BLUEBONE Mornington
bedroom range, Bramble Co Round Archer

Flair and Kinsley are designed to bring a feeling of modern chic to any living space. Scatters are also available, adding extra opulence and elegance with both ranges available in a range of fabric styles and options.

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

Recycled plastic lifts Advansa’s cushions

Quallofil Blue, from Advansa, is an eco-friendly upgrade of the supplier’s well-known premium fibre filling, which promises long-lasting, comfortable sofa cushions.

Designed to minimise its environmental impact, the fibrefill is now made with 100% recycled plastic waste as a raw material – of which 50% is ocean-bound recycled plastic collected by Prevented Ocean Plastic, a programme which aims to offer monetary value for ocean-bound plastic collected, incentivising its collection, elevating recycling, and championing the circular model. Utilising sophisticated technology, the collected plastic waste is cleaned, recycled and processed by Advansa into top-grade Quallofil Blue.

In co-operation with Prevented Ocean Plastic, Advansa’s mission is to help prevent and reduce the flow of plastic waste into the oceans or beaches, which mainly happens in coastal regions around the world that do not have efficient and formal waste or recycling systems. Around 10 rivers, of which eight are in Asia and two in Africa, carry 90% of the planet’s plastic waste to the oceans. For example, the Nile contributes over 40% of the plastic waste to the Mediterranean Sea, which corresponds to over 15,000 bottles per minute, states Advansa.

According to the supplier, the initial look and feel of a sofa cushion is what many furniture designers look for – and its filling fibre indeed offers a soft look and feel, while also meeting the highest quality standards for sofa cushions, delivering long-lasting performance while enabling them to spring back to their original shape and feel, with a negligible rate of returns.

In addition, it has a significantly positive effect on the environment, says Advansa – one Quallofil Blue sofa cushion, using 100% recycled plastic, is made from approximately 250 recycled bottles.

FIRA Gold certified, the Quallofil Blue fibre filling also offers reassurance to customers, as the quality of the products is guaranteed through ongoing independent third-party audits and re-testing to stringent standards by this independent source. The FIRA Gold product certification is a recognised mark of product excellence within the industry.

Over 350 million tons of plastic are produced every year worldwide for use in a wide variety of applications, and up to 10 million tons of plastic waste

end up in the oceans from coastal communities each year. Once there, marine species like sea turtles, whales, sea birds, fish, coral reefs, and countless other species are severely impacted, as they ingest or are entangled by plastic waste, which can cause severe injuries and deaths.

“Marine and bay areas are increasingly becoming less viable environments for humans and animals alike,” states Advansa. “By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea – if we don’t act now!”

But consumers are taking notice, with more and more shoppers inclined to purchase eco-friendly products. “Most Britons are trying to cut down on plastic, and are considering changes in their behavior, looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives,” says Advansa. “In a recent survey, 81% believed that the seas surrounding the UK would be full of plastic within 50 years, while 72% believed there would be floating islands of rubbish. Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is growing, which has drawn great attention from the end-consumer towards sustainable products.”

Advansa, a leading European fibre supplier, offers sustainable fibre solutions to customers worldwide through a network of logistic centres and representative offices. The company is recognised for its wide portfolio of high-tech and branded fibres, and as a leader in innovation, Advansa takes the lead in R&D, and is committed to sustainability and the environment in its product design and processes.

“Collecting plastic before it enters the oceans can make a significant change towards protecting the environment,” states the supplier. “People in these coastal regions are rewarded for collecting plastic waste before it enters the oceans and rivers, in exchange for a source of income. This makes an impactful change towards protecting the environment, while improving the lives of people in some of the poorest regions of the world.”

Advansa is also committed to transparency and traceability, and is certified by Global Recycled Standard (GRS), an independent auditing body which certifies the production of fibre using post-consumer recycled plastic.

Cushions filled with Quallofil Blue are available from licensed UK producers Platt & Hill and United Fillings.

“Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is growing
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock/Yingyaipumi
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock/Africa Studio Photo courtesy Adobe Stock/s1llu

Help us to keep the oceans clean!

Quallofil® Blue from ADVANSA is an upgrade of the well-known premium fibrefilling for eco-friendly, comfortable sofa cushions. The fibrefill is made from 100% recycled plastic waste, 50 % of which is collected by Prevented Ocean Plastic™, a program that puts a monetary value on ocean-bound plastic and promotes the circular economy model, helping to keep our ocean’s clean.

One Quallofil® Blue sofa cushion is made from more than 250 recycled plastic bottles.

FIRA Gold certified, the Quallofil® Blue fibre filling lasts for the lifetime of your sofa cushions and is available from licensed cushion manufacturers: Platt & Hill Ltd. and United Fillings Ltd.

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Hotel sector can rest easy, says Simba

In the world of hospitality, a good night’s sleep isn’t just about comfort – it’s the cornerstone of glowing reviews and unwavering guest loyalty, says sleep pioneer Simba, and holds the power to shape a venue’s reputation and financial success, whether a private rental, serviced apartment, or luxury resort or hotel. Luckily, there’s a new solution in town …

When it comes to pioneering sleep innovation, Simba has built a reputation of constantly developing new sleep technology across a range of products for the home, including mattresses, pillows, duvets and weighted blankets, as part of its mission to solve the world’s “sleep crisis”.

Now, the sleep tech brand is turning its attention towards the hotel and holiday rental sector, and has applied its engineering prowess to introduce its cutting-edge Contract Mattress Collection, designed specifically for hospitality sector business owners who strive to give their customers the perfect night’s sleep.

A collection curated for all Simba says the new Contract Mattress collection blends “the world’s most 5-star-rated mattress brand’s” renowned sleep technology and nextgeneration performance to create a comfortable sleep experience for everyone.

Catering to different price points, preferences and accommodation, regardless of scale, the collection features three distinctive offerings – the Simba Pro Contract, the Simba Luxe Contract, and the Simba Green Label Contract mattress, Simba’s most sustainable mattress yet.

The upper layers feature thousands of Simba’s titanium Aerocoil springs. These patented, pocketed springs flex and compress individually to absorb impact as people move and in response to pressure,

delivering “a hugged, floating sensation” to suit most sizes or sleeping styles. Simba’s Aerocoils also provide localised support and weight distribution so the movements of a partner are absorbed more easily and not passed on to the other side of the bed.

Meanwhile, the base layers play a vital role in maintaining body alignment, offering gentler support and additional cushioning for the shoulders and lower back.

And, for an added layer of luxury, Simba offers a range of thoughtfully crafted sleep accessories, including mattress toppers, pillows, duvets and bedding.

Simba says its end-to-end service ensures a seamless experience, from design to delivery, installation and even mattress removal and recycling. Earlier this year, Simba introduced its state-of-the-art recycling service to accept and responsibly recycle any brand of mattress, meaning Simba will even take away old mattresses and ensure they are recycled or repurposed.

Engineered for excellence, crafted for comfort

With over 260,000 five-star reviews and 60 industry awards, Simba continues to impress with comfortdriven innovation. Each mattress in the collection features Simba’s innovative Hybrid technology, which combines layers of patented Aerocoil springs and cooling, graphite-infused Simbatex foam.

“Both hoteliers and guests can rest assured in Simba’s commitment to their wellbeing

Simbatex foam has been engineered for “pitchperfect temperature control”. Allowing 30 times more airflow than dense, standard memory foam, it is infused with natural graphite that works to draw excess heat away from the body, says Simba.

The result is a range of mattresses that promise to dynamically adjust to the sleeper’s body, offering personalised support, temperature regulation and pressure relief, all while minimising motion transfer. “The Simba sleep experience ensures guests enjoy uninterrupted sleep,” states the brand, “waking refreshed and rejuvenated.”

Every Simba Contract mattress adheres rigorously to Crib 5 fire regulations, ensuring both comfort and safety: “The UK Fire Regulations Act of 1988 has been surpassed,” says Simba, “allowing both hoteliers and guests to rest assured in Simba’s commitment to their wellbeing.”

Sustainability as a guiding principle

According to a recent survey, a growing percentage of hotel and rental guests are willing to pay significantly more per night – up to +75% in some cases – for accommodation that can demonstrate genuinely green policies.

Committed to reducing its impact on the planet, this year Simba became the first UK sleep brand to secure global B Corporation status, marking a significant step toward its ambitious goal of achieving net zero status by 2030.

Simba mattresses are crafted in zero-waste, “ecofactories” powered by renewable energy sources, and adhere to ISO 14001 accreditation. What is more, these mattresses are constructed from 100% recyclable materials, with minimised foam content to reduce the carbon footprint. The CertiPUR standard foam used is devoid of pollutants and toxic

substances, ensuring a healthier sleep environment. And of course, for businesses that are looking for further green credentials, the Simba Green Label Contract Mattress is the brand’s most sustainable option yet.

Where to experience Simba

Eager to showcase the future of hospitality sleep, Simba is set to make its presence felt at two upcoming London events: the Independent Hotel Show on October 16-17th, on stand 1230; and, the following month, at HIX, on 16-17th November, on stand U16.

To find out more about the Simba Contract Collection, email

“The Simba sleep experience ensures guests enjoy uninterrupted sleep

Bolster your brand by avoiding greenwashing

How can your organisation strengthen its brand position by avoiding greenwashing and more effectively communicating its sustainability journey? Dr Zoë Lee, head of strategy, advisory and member communications at sustainability certification and net zero provider (and BFM partner) Planet Mark, offers her view …

Greenwashing – which can be defined as actions by companies to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it is – has become more widespread than ever. In 2021 alone, 42% of green claims were exaggerated, false, or deceptive.

As global efforts to halt climate change accelerate, so too have efforts to crack down on greenwashing. Tighter legislation has been introduced, and hefty fines have been imposed on some of the world’s biggest brands to deter organisations from this deceptive method of communication.

Aside from being ethically unsound, one of the biggest problems with greenwashing is that it fundamentally damages your brand reputation by creating distrust and tarnishing key relationships with stakeholders, as well as reducing consumer confidence and purchase intent.

False claims revealed to be untrue will stick to your organisation’s digital footprint, creating negative brand perception. Contrary to the saying, not all publicity is good publicity – and the negative brand perception associated with your organisation may alter consumer behaviour (and a recent study highlighted that 81% of consumers research a brand before making a purchase). This weakened perception can falsely cast doubt on other claims you’ve made that are potentially accurate, and can ultimately erode consumer trust in your organisation.

It goes without saying that your organisation should avoid greenwashing because it’s fundamentally wrong, misleading and unethical. When your organisation releases deceptive messaging, it only adds to the negative haze of misleading information, and ultimately damages the impact of truly good action. Consumers, clients and investors are thinking more ethically. As a result, your organisation will be held accountable for acting unethically.

Communicating credibly

Credibly communicating your sustainability journey has the opposite effect on an organisation’s brand position. Your organisation can build trust and help lead by example by telling your sustainability story with accuracy and honesty, which helps present clear, transparent and robust messaging to your stakeholders. Communicating your sustainability story, substantiated by data and fact, is in your organisation’s best interest if you wish to help

stakeholders make better-informed decisions and build advocacy.

Accurate messaging can also help your organisation attract and retain the best talent. We’re finding that brands that embed sustainability into their strategy and messaging are generally better able to attract and retain talent. Similar to consumer confidence, individuals are looking to work for brands that are authentic and accurate in their messaging. According to Forbes, 79% of millennial employees are loyal to companies that care about their effect on society, and will increasingly favour employers with progressive environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. With better-informed stakeholders, now is the time for your organisation to share its sustainability efforts with confidence and credibility.

Demonstrating intent

Companies can avoid greenwashing by ensuring their sustainability claims are fact-checked and third-party verified to remove any bias. Our third-party verification, for example, can help your organisation demonstrate its sustainability credentials with accuracy and confidence. Backed by data, we help organisations measure their carbon footprint, engage their employees and stakeholders, and communicate their efforts effectively.

The certificates are external facing, providing your stakeholders with a holistic view of your sustainability efforts. They include your organisation’s carbon footprint, YoY reductions, how many sustainable development goals you have contributed to, and more – and our communication experts help your organisation bring your data to life, to ensure your external messaging is engaging and accurate.

Aligning sustainability efforts with global and national targets, frameworks and standards also puts organisations in the best position to ensure they’re doing good. Our services are underpinned by clear, reputable sustainability frameworks. For example, our business certification is aligned with GHG protocol, and our net zero programme is aligned with the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Stakeholders appreciate organisations who don’t just tell their story, but show it – accessibility to your data is crucial to avoiding greenwashing and building consumer confidence.

“This weakened brand perception can falsely cast doubt on other claims you’ve made that are potentially accurate
TOP RATED 260,000 five star reviews - more than any other mattress brand. EXPERT SLEEP SCIENCE High-tech mattress based on data from ten million sleepers. AWARD-WINNING Proud winners of over 60 sleep industry awards. Come and see us at the Independent Hotel Show Stand Number 1230 Contact: THE SIMBA GREEN LABEL CONTRACT MATTRESS Coming to a hotel near you… Looking for award-winning comfort with B Corp sustainability? You’re in luck. Our top-rated mattresses now come in hotel-friendly designs.

GNG expands Ecofoam range

With ongoing demand from both consumers and retailers for more environmentally friendly products, mattress manufacturer GNG has added to its Komfi collection –which features its unique Ecofoam filling, designed to offer greater sustainability and recycling benefits.

Developed in-house by GNG, Ecofoam is an innovative material made from 100% recycled and re-engineered foam, resulting in a much ‘greener’ product with a reduced carbon footprint. In addition, when an Ecofoam mattress reaches the end of its natural life, it can be entirely recycled.

Other benefits include Ecofoam’s resilience and durability, as well as being naturally dust mite resistant and offering an impressive level of body support. Featuring throughout the NBF Approved Komfi mattress collection, the mattresses also have a 10-year warranty.

The Komfi collection, which includes the vacuumpacked Unity range, provide affordable mattresses, offering value as well as quality and comfort. Using its experience as an approved supplier to the NHS, GNG recently extended the brand with the launch of its brand-new KomfiMed range, an industry first which combines medically proven foam with TrueGel technology, plus the environmental benefits of Ecofoam. This product delivers excellent pressure relief, says GNG, while minimising motion transfer and regulating temperature to provide a peaceful night’s sleep.

Specifically engineered for enhanced support, the range promises effective spinal alignment and to relieve stress on joints. A highly advanced material known for its comfort and therapeutic benefits, medically proven foam is crafted with precision and adherence to strict quality standards. It offers a supportive sleep surface while conforming to the body’s contours. The range is available in soft, medium and firm options.

Richard Gretton, commercial director at GNG, comments: “Given our long heritage in British mattress manufacture, together with the strength of our experienced in-house R&D team, we are in an excellent position to innovate and develop products that specifically meet market needs. The concern for sustainability is gathering momentum across all sectors, and the ‘green’ credentials of Ecofoam put us at the forefront of meeting this demand.

“With many models in our popular Komfi range featuring Ecofoam, we’ve built on this success, combined with our strong track record as an approved supplier to the NHS, to launch our brand-new KomfiMed range, which delivers the environmental benefits of Ecofoam along with the health benefits of medically proven foam with TrueGel technology. An industry first, the range is already generating lots of interest.”

Many products in the Komfi Unity range recently achieved Crib 5 (Ignition Source 5) accreditation, making them suitable for the contract market. Following rigorous testing, these models have met the requirements of the UK Fire Regulations 1988 and are now categorised as being Crib 5 Medium Hazard, in line with BS7177.

The Komfi range is suitable for the rental market, student accommodation, hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday parks and boarding schools. With purpose-built 40,000ft2 manufacturing facilities in West Yorkshire, GNG is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of rolled mattresses, and has been accredited as a carbon neutral company. To find out more about stocking the Komfi collection, contact GNG on 01924 950300, or email info@gng-group.

“We are in an excellent position to innovate and develop products that specifically meet market needs A division of the GNG Group. NHS Approved Supplier Email: Telephone: 01924 950 300 Chris Lester All of Ireland. Tel: 00353 87 7779993 Edward Bacon North West & East Midlands. Tel: 07976 061173 Graham Dickinson North East & Yorkshire. Tel: 07734 853473 Mike Marshall Scotland. Tel: 07972 292877 Jason Hillier South East & East Anglia. Tel: 07876 508913 Nigel Hillier South West, South Wales & West Midlands. Tel: 07971 484550 Please contact your local agent for more information 10 Year Warranty Made in the UK PMS 354 PMS 5470 Medically Proven Foam Naturally Cooling TrueGel Technology Ultimate Support & Comfort Excellent Pressure Relief


Following the establishment of its partnership two years ago, family-owned, fifth-generation bedmaker Harrison Spinks is continuing to champion British Wool throughout its mattresses.

In 2021, Harrison Spinks became the first bedmaker to partner with British Wool, and pledged to use 100% traceable homegrown wool within its mattresses for the foreseeable future. With traceability and the provenance of products becoming increasingly important to an evermore socially and environmentally conscious consumer, in 2021 Harrison Spinks was the only bedmaker to be part of the launch of the Authentic Traceable British Wool Scheme, which traces the origin of the wool from the farm gate to the shop floor.


Louis De Poortere has always been associated with well-crafted cotton rugs for homes, with a collection that references design archives, culture and heritage. With the launch of Ecorugs and the Take Care programme, it is also striving to be recognised as a pioneer in the retail flooring industry, as, for the first time, customers will be able to return their rugs to Louis De Poortere for reuse or recycling into a new rug, with the launch of Ecorugs and the Take Care programme.

To make this possible, Louis De Poortere has moved away from cotton and now only makes its rugs from a 100% recyclable construction. Every part of the rug is made from the same material –even the label can be recycled. In tandem, it has set up the Take Care programme, which makes it easy to return the rug directly to Louis De Poortere so it can control the recycling process.

The 100% polyester construction (currently with 20% recycled content) has been chosen for the material’s easy recyclability, and because it stays close to the look and feel of the cotton it replaces. Polyester can also be recycled without loss of integrity.

Bert Schollier, production and development director, explains: “We have taken the decision

It is with this unique approach from the partnership with British Wool that the Yorkshirebased manufacturer continues to create highquality natural products, designed to ensure a restful night’s sleep with little impact to the environment.

Harrison Spinks’ MD Nick Booth says: “We are proud to be the first bedmaker to have partnered with British Wool, which has enabled us to use traceable, homegrown wool as a central filling

within all our mattresses.

“Using the finest-quality British wool for our luxury fillings and home-woven fabrics means it keeps us warm in winter, cool in summer, and is heat and moisture regulating. We utilise locally sourced wool, which allows each mattress to be created with British fillings at its core, while being naturally glue-free and FR chemical treatment-free throughout our extensive range of products.”

to make our rugs circular, where the product can be recycled back into itself time and time again, so it was important to find a material that allowed us to do that with existing recycling technology – even more so as we’ve set a target of seeing a transition to the first 100% recycled rugs in 2025. Polyester gives us that opportunity, while still being able to manufacture rugs that uphold our design and quality standards.”

While there are other ‘recyclable’ rugs on the market, these are commonly returned to household recycling points which do not have the infrastructure to ensure they are returned to new product.

They are often downcycled into lower-grade

products or incinerated for energy recovery.

Louis De Poortere has created Take Care to solve this problem. Once the rug has reached the end of its useful life for the customer, they simply scan the QR code on the label and Take Care continues its journey back into a new rug.

Louis Dryon, COO, says: “We had to make sure that unwanted rugs were returned to us, so that we could process them properly and ensure they were either reused or recycled into a new rug. Take Care achieves this by keeping out of household recycling streams and making it really easy for the customer to return their rug to us. More than this, it makes circularity possible in the now, rather than an ambition of the future.”

Liam and Becky McPartland, from Harrison Spinks’ farm

Cut from a different cloth

We’re passionate about making luxury mattresses and beds in the most responsible way. And for us, that means caring where everything comes from. It’s why we grow natural comfort fillings on our Yorkshire farm, weave our fabrics in-house and make our own award-winning springs.

Our unique approach to luxury bed making makes us different. It’s why each and everyone we lovingly handcraft is proudly cut from a different cloth.


Leading the way on sustainability

Tom Williams, sustainability and circular economy lead at the National Bed Federation (NBF), explains how the association is working hard to encourage a greener bed sector …

In a world that seems to be perpetually either on fire or under water, the need for a more sustainable approach to life is becoming unavoidable. In our world of misinformation and apathy towards sustainability, the NBF has been working hard to ensure that a near-ubiquitous product like beds is as sustainable as possible.

We know we can’t change everything, but what we can do is make our specific part of the world as sustainable as possible. At the forefront of this lies our Pledge for Our Planet initiative, which signifies a collective effort to commit to a journey of continuous environmental improvement at both a company and product level. By taking a proactive approach, it will help the industry to future-proof for upcoming legislation and market changes.

The pledge is by no means the only work we are doing at the NBF. Through our regular stakeholder meetings and general conversations and observations, we are looking at several areas which could make the most difference to the sustainability of the industry. We do this in a variety of ways, from providing support to understand sustainability issues to instigating research to remove key blockers to sustainability and circularity.

Most recently we have embarked on a knowledge transfer partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, where we will be working with a postgraduate who is going to look at ways in which we can measure the cleanliness of recovered and recycled materials. We are aiming to create an easily

replicable, laboratory-free test that will quickly and easily indicate the cleanliness of a filling/product. This, we hope, will allow for more materials to be reused, but will also provide consumers with the peace of mind that reused doesn’t mean dirty. One of the areas we believe is integral to achieving industry-wide sustainability goals is ecodesign. This involves building ecological considerations into the design and development process, ensuring that products not only function as they should, but that they are also environmentally friendly. Ecodesign encourages innovative thinking, pushing manufacturers to rethink traditional approaches and finding new ways to minimise environmental impact. We have long recognised that this is an important area, and have worked hard to identify the key areas for improvement and challenges to overcome. So far, we have:

• Set up an NBF Circular Economy Committee to guide and advise us on what’s important for the industry

• Published our 10 key Ecodesign Principles for the UK Bed Sector, which is freely and openly available to all. The guide is organised into three categories: people and relationships; products and services; and processes. We have briefly described each principle and explained why it is important, along with some practical advice on how the principle might be interpreted

“What we need is progress, not perfection
The NBF’s Pledge for Our Planet initiative has attracted signatories from across the sector
“Our Pledge for Our Planet helps our members move together towards a shared goal of effecting positive change

• Developed a practical toolkit to help members assess their products according to those ecodesign principles

• Published the NBF Policy on the Sale of Used and Reconditioned Mattresses and Used Components and Materials

• Worked with the mattress recycling sector to set up the Register of Approved Mattress Recyclers (RAMR), which was officially launched earlier this year

• Set an ambitious target of 75% diversion of mattresses from landfill by 2028

• Since 2014, measured our progress towards that target with our mattress End of Life (EoL) surveys, which keep tabs on how many mattresses are disposed of and what happens to them. According to the most recent EoL report, published in 2022, the topline recycling rate has reached 24%, while the real (materials-based) rate is just 14%. It could take 50 years to reach our target at the current rate, without intervention!

• Worked in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and other stakeholders in the industry to develop an outline business case for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for old mattresses. Currently, the Government has indicated it has

no immediate plans to look at an EPR scheme for mattresses or furniture – although it will keep this decision under review. We will be ready

• Kept governments across the UK informed of our progress – resulting in our work on ecodesign being highlighted as best practice in the Waste Prevention Plan for England, published in July

The need for a more sustainable approach to the way we work transcends the individual company and requires a collaborative approach – collaboration holds the key to magnifying our collective impact. Our Pledge for Our Planet actively encourages this, by helping our members move together towards a shared goal of effecting positive change. This is important for us as a trade association as well. We need to be visible and active in sustainability conversations, to ensure that we not only represent our members’ interests, but also that we aren’t left behind.

The journey towards sustainability and circularity is a complex and ongoing process, and the NBF recognises that perfection won’t be an immediate outcome. What we need is progress, not perfection.

We encourage readers to keep abreast of the NBF’s sustainability work by visiting the NBF Green pages on our website.

“Collaboration holds the key to magnifying our collective impact
The NBF is working hard to unlock a greener future for the UK bed sector and its customers (image courtesy 123RF/jmimagefactory) The NBF’s ecodesign guidelines are freely available to any interested party

Why we need a circular economy

The move from ‘fast furniture’ to sustainable living presents significant challenges for both sellers and buyers of furniture – but, judging by the statistics, it looks like we need a circular economy more than ever, writes Nick Oettinger, a circular economist and the CEO of The Furniture Recycling Group …

In the UK alone, 22 million pieces of furniture are discarded each year, the majority sent directly to landfill. This astonishing statistic is a harsh reminder of the environmental crisis we’re facing due to the rise of ‘fast furniture’ – mass-produced, short-lived items that end up contributing to our burgeoning waste problem.

Like its fashion industry counterpart, fast furniture is typically made from lower-quality, plastic-based materials. Its lifespan is remarkably short, and the cheap price point encourages a ‘throwaway culture’, which adds to our escalating environmental waste problem. Unfortunately, less than one in 10 people consider repairing these items to extend their lifespan, resulting in a shocking 670,000 tonnes of furniture waste annually in the UK.

Our throwaway culture doesn’t just harm the environment – it also hits consumers in the pocket. Taxes increase to manage the ever-growing waste, and the manufacturing of new furniture can emit up to 1000 x more CO2 than refurbishing what we already have – add to this the concerning fact that fly-tipping incidents involving bulky items like furniture and mattresses have reached 1.09 million between 2021 and 2022.

The rise of fast furniture is, in large part, due to our modern, mobile lifestyles. We move from home to home and often feel compelled to update our interiors to match the latest trends promoted on social media. In the pursuit of affordable, fashionable items, the longevity and recyclability of furniture are often overlooked – as they are made of lower quality they are not only prone to damage but also difficult to recycle, increasing landfill waste and contributing to deforestation.

The circular solution

The UK Government’s introduction of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, a policy measure under which producers are given significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of postconsumer products, is a step in the right direction. It forces the makers of products like mattresses and cabinet furniture, rather than local councils to bear the cost of recycling their goods. This not only incentivises producers to design products that are more sustainable and easier to recycle, but also reduces the burden on local authorities.

But the question remains, is it enough? Considering the fact that 8.5 million mattresses are thrown away every year, creating 300,000 tonnes of materials we need to find a home for, it’s clear that legislative changes alone are insufficient. We need a paradigm shift in consumer attitudes and industry practices.

Companies like IKEA are leading the way by committing to only use renewable or recyclable materials by 2030 and introducing a Buyback & Resell scheme for used furniture. Likewise, West Elm offers a wide range of sustainable furniture, including wooden furniture from certified sustainable forests, reclaimed wooden furniture, and furniture made from recycled materials.

However, a transformation towards sustainability is not just the responsibility of businesses – consumers have a pivotal role to play. Whether that’s purchasing products that are more sustainable, or upcycling vintage furniture.

As a circular economist, I urge businesses to champion sustainability by producing durable, repairable and recyclable products, and for consumers to prioritise buying such items.

This shift isn’t just about protecting our planet –it’s about creating a world where economic growth and sustainability coexist. We all have a role to play in investing in the longevity of our furniture and, by extension, the longevity of our planet.

“I urge businesses to champion sustainability by producing durable, repairable and recyclable products
Image courtesy iStock/jgfoto

The NBF is going Green

NBF Green is our response to the Global Climate Crisis

To find out more contact

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

Some of the things we are doing to help include:

• Introducing the NBF Pledge for our Planet

• Developing an ecodesign framework for mattresses

• Actively engaging with UK governments on climate action plans

Making green dreams a reality

The environment is changing at Airsprung Beds, where an emphasis on eco-friendly operations is paramount – most notably across its product range, reports the manufacturer …

Airsprung’s Eco range utilises sustainable production methods and responsibly sourced materials. Components are headlined by the internationally renowned Repreve Our Ocean fabric, which directly and traceably diverts ocean-bound plastic into a soft ,100%-recycled polyester fabric – used within fashion and sportswear brands and now, in a UK first, on Airsprung Eco.

This significant range is also supported by a full range of marketing assets. MD Paul Little says: “Our Eco range was designed from first principles to offer maximum recyclability and affordability. I firmly believe that making sustainability accessible broadens its positive impact, which is why our Eco range remains affordable.

“As a leading voice in our industry, we were amongst the first to sign the NBF Pledge for Our Planet, which is an important step in addressing global environmental damage. This imperative is also being driven by our retailers, who have their own net zero plans that they will expect all suppliers to sign up to.

“So, together, we can also be enablers – this means putting Eco models out there that enable a greener choice, and presenting a sustainable mattress range that proves that ‘going eco’ doesn’t have to break the bank.

“The entire range is rolled, of course. As we explained in Furniture News’ rolled mattress feature earlier in the summer, it’s not just the consumer that benefits – an ever-increasing driver when making

a considered choice is the environmental impact. Simply put, the compact packaging reduces the need for bulky transportation and reduces carbon emissions during shipping – smaller packages equate to more on a lorry, equating to fewer lorries and lower emissions.”

Eco as a range has continued to grow in Q3, says Paul. Whether white label or Airsprung badged, it is available to online retailers, as well as on the high street, nationwide, and continues to prove popular, consistently attracting positive reviews.

On top of its overt sustainability goals, Airsprung Beds is continuing to invest in automation technologies for the future. “Our focus for investment in the short-to-medium term is automating the end-ofline processes,” says Paul. “This will be made possible through the recent purchase of automated wrapping machines, which feeds through conveyors to the automated rolling and compression machines.

“This greatly increases our productivity, and enables some of our people to to use their skills more effectively further up the production line. Automation and energy efficiencies all collectively contribute to our 2030 Pledge for Our Planet commitment.

“It’s no longer a ‘green dream’, this is real – we’re definitely on our way.”

To learn more about how Airsprung Beds can enrich a green offer, email Paul Little at opportunity@

“I firmly believe that making sustainability accessible broadens its positive impact
Eco 1500 Pocket MemoryFibre Repreve’s Our Ocean fabric directly and traceably diverts ocean-bound plastic (image courtesy Adobe Stock/piai)

Image Furnishings embraces a greener future

Over the past 20 years, Ireland’s Image Furnishings has achieved some significant milestones and learnt invaluable lessons that have contributed to its growth and success. The company is now looking to the future, ensuring that its operations have a positive impact on all stakeholders as well as the environment, while fostering a strong social impact on society …

From manufacturing to distribution, every aspect of Image Furnishings’ business has an ecological footprint. Image recognises that organisations have a responsibility to adopt energy efficiency practices, as well as to derive energy from clean sources.

The installation of new solar panel system on Image’s distribution centre is the first step to reducing its carbon footprint. Image says these panels will result in a significant amount of the on-site energy used being generated from a renewable energy source. As a result, 40% of the total energy used in the DC will be generated by a renewable source of energy.

To further increase energy efficiency, LED high-bay lighting has been installed in Image’s facility, with occupancy sensors and light sensors. The use of LED lighting provides a clean and efficient source of light in the office and DC.

The packaging and distribution of products, meanwhile, can have a long-lasting impact on the environment – and adopting sustainable packaging practices is no longer just a trend, but a necessity, says Image. As part of the supplier’s eco-packaging initiative, Image is now using FSC-certified carton boxes, which ensures all of the materials used in the packaging are sourced from sustainably managed forests.

In addition, the business is now using only GRScertified recycled plastic, which will reduce the use of virgin plastic in its packaging by approximately -90%.

Image Furnishings is committed to pursuing its goals towards a more sustainable future. As a result, the business is not only reducing its environmental impact, but also driving innovation, creating opportunities for employees, and making a positive contribution to the community.

Continuously bringing customers on-trend furniture designs, while consciously taking steps towards a more sustainable future, Image promises “exciting things to come”.

“The business is not only reducing its environmental impact, but driving innovation
fifths (40%) of the energy used in Image’s DC will be generated by the new solar panel system Image is now using FSC-certified carton boxes, ensuring all the materials used are sourced from sustainably managed forests
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Aquinos embraces sustainable change

In an era where climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and deforestation have emerged as prevailing themes, concern for the planet’s wellbeing is growing, and responsible furniture businesses are embracing major transformation –Portuguese sofamaker Aquinos, for example, has made a commitment to embrace change and become a more responsible company …

Aquinos Sofas, a member of the Aquinos Group, says it aims to strike “a harmonious balance between the growing demand for sustainable products and the uncompromising standards for value, availability and quality” for which it is known – which is why it is implementing a new strategy, Zero Concept, that encompasses the changes it must make to reduce its impact on the planet.

“Some of the major actions we have achieved through the years are due to the implementation of vertical integration within our company,” states a spokesperson.

“The establishment of two pivotal companies –Eurotabua in 1994 and Clibed in 2006, each assuming a distinct role as our primary suppliers of wood and fibre, respectively – was the first step towards vertical integration.

“By opening Eurotabua, a wood-cutting and transformation company vital to our sofa production, we have improved our control over quality and the supply chain. In addition, the introduction of wood that has FSC certification amplifies our commitment to sourcing materials from responsibly managed forests (which provide environmental, social and economic benefits).

“In parallel, Clibed has, since 2006, supplied the company with fibre for our sofa fillings, made with 100% recycled polyester, derived from repurposed fibre remnants. This approach perpetuates the lifecycle of our products seamlessly, eliminating waste and reinforcing our ethos of sustainability.”

Foam forward

As the company’s demands – and the concurrent drive for ongoing improvement – grew, an important element of its vertical integration emerged in 2015. Specialised foam production facility Gofoam now serves as the primary source for the foam utilised in Aquinos’ sofas.

Gofoam sets itself apart by eschewing the use of CFCs in the foam production process, and refraining from incorporating ‘filler’ materials, says Aquinos. The foam specialist boasts a prestigious array of certifications, including OEKOTEX and IOS MAT, while actively pursuing CERTIPUR USA certification.

“The raw materials supplied to Gofoam to produce our foam meet the specific requirements of low emissions of chemical compounds – a low VOC value – which assures our ability to deliver a product to the market that is not only of exceptional quality, but also environmentally conscientious, aligning with our steadfast commitment to both excellence and sustainability,” states Aquinos.

“When applying this process, we exercise rigorous oversight across every facet of sofa manufacturing, meaning a degree of QC that can reduce the risk of defects and recalls, which are both costly and environmentally harmful. By minimising the need for extensive freight transport, our comprehensive control measures can effectively reduce CO2 emissions, contributing to a more sustainable operational model.”

Source code

“In addition, our commitment to sustainable sourcing grants us the capacity to directly manage and enforce sustainable sourcing practices in parallel with our partners, to enforce habits such as responsible forestry, ethical mining or water conservation throughout their supply chains,” Aquinos continues.

“The meticulous sourcing and selection of our materials is a very thorough and conscientious step in ensuring product quality. Additionally, the deliberate choice of sustainable materials minimises the introduction of harmful materials in circulation.

“Our fabric selection epitomises just that, by introducing fabrics crafted from natural fibres like cotton and linen, as well as those entirely derived from recycled sources, such as 100% recycled polyester, or fabric produced from 100% recycled PET bottles (for which 37 recycled PET bottles yield one metre of fabric).

“Our fabrics are also OEKOTEX (an international certification system for the textile sector that

“It is possible to harmonise comfort and conscience in the world of furniture design
Aquinos Sofas aims to strike a balance between growing demand for sustainable products and its existing high standards

covers the different stages of the process, from the raw material to the final finishing of the fabrics) and REACH (an EU regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, establishing the framework policy for chemicals in force in the EU) compliant.”

Daily dedication

However, says the sofamaker, it is the daily changes that have the most lasting impact – which is why Aquinos is committed to reducing resource consumption, year by year.

“Our goal is to continually shrink our ecological footprint while maximising our positive contribution to the environment,” states the spokesperson.

“In 2022, we achieved substantial milestones in our sustainability journey. We conserved a remarkable 27.5 million litres of water, saved 275 tons of recycled

cardboard, spared 123 tons of recycled plastic from further production, and preserved 4675 trees. These achievements underscore our unwavering dedication to resource conservation and environmental preservation. Moreover, we have implemented energy-saving measures such as: skylights for natural light; the majority of our lighting is now LED; and the implementation of photovoltaic panels.

“In conclusion, our company’s journey through sustainable practices and the adoption of ecoconscious materials in our production serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the realm of modern business. With unwavering commitment, we’ve shown that it is indeed possible to harmonise comfort and conscience in the world of furniture design.”

“Our goal is to continually shrink our ecological footprint while maximising our positive contribution to the environment
The use of FSC-certified timber reinforces Aquinos’ commitment to responsibly managed forests Clibed, part of the Aquinos Group, has supplied the business with fibre for sofa fillings since 2006


Woodman Chairs says it works hard in its quest for greater sustainability, and to reduce its carbon footprint: “In offering solid wooden chairs we consciously draw comfort from the start, in that carbon remains locked in for the whole life of the product.

“And that start begins by only sourcing from sustainable and certified forests. We keep our timber usage to a minimum, preferring to leave some character and individuality in each piece rather than creating unnecessary waste or blandness. You might say a little tolerance of the imperfect – but naturally occurring – is preferred,

As one of the world’s largest upholstery fabric producers, Weavers is well aware of the significance of recyclable materials, and strives to prevent waste in its production processes.

Recycled yarn, which Weavers uses as a raw material based on environmentally friendly recycling, is produced after waste PET bottles are collected and the crystals and fibre tissues inside them are transformed into new fibres. Indeed, the key raw material utilised in Weavers’ upholstery fabrics is produced using recycled yarn obtained from recycled plastic bottles.

against vanity and the cost for our planet.

“Structural soundness still remains a key, and we believe this gives our chairs a longer-thanaverage useful life and, with good design, also helps keep a freshness over time.

“Increasingly, we see painted chairs as another positive way forward. Using waterbased, eco-friendly paints, and allowing for

faster-growing hardwoods – again allied to solid build and careful design – this offers another sustainable option for future upcycling.

“There is no doubt that there is a long way for all of us to go before we get to full sustainability, but we are well on that path to carbon neutral by 2030. Join us on that journey, and invest in the future with Woodman Chairs.”

Besides recycled fabrics, Weavers offers a wide range of innovative and eco-concious products, including C-Zero Eco Plus, waterfree and biodegradable fabrics, as well as environmentally friendly flame-retardant options.

C-Zero Eco Plus is an environmentally friendly, easy-clean treatment that is both biodegradable and flourine-free. Thanks to these features, it has the potential to help households save energy,

while protecting the environment. Weavers’ water-free fabrics are produced with up to 99% of water saved during the yarn and fabric production process, thus helping to decrease the usage of water and energy. Its biodegradable fabrics, meanwhile, might also be described as natural vegan fabrics, as they boast 100% natural content including hemp, cotton, viscose and bamboo.

Nordic Hexham

Circularity is a huge part of sustaining the planet, and the Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) is actively working to reduce waste and divert items away from disposal.

As the largest charity-owned textiles collector in the UK, SATCoL provides a hub for businesses to donate excess, returned or faulty stock that

can be reused, repurposed or recycled. Each year it diverts over 250 million items to good uses, including over 62,000 tonnes of textiles. Working together with brand partners, SATCoL lessens the environmental impact by extending the useful life of products.

SATCoLs latest furniture reuse scheme calls for businesses to donate their end-of-line, sample and showroom furniture stock. As part of the trading arm’s commitment to extending the

useful life of products, this scheme is designed to prevent even more items from entering the waste stream.

What is more, the profit SATCoL receives from the resale of the received donations is given to The Salvation Army to continue to support the work it does across the country, such as specialist support for survivors and potential victims of modern slavery, shelter for those experiencing homelessness, and much more.

SATCoL promises to give furniture a new lease of life 56 PRODUCTS ECO CONSCIOUS As the charity for the furnishing industry, we have been supporting the welfare of people working in the trade since 1903. We help furnishing industry people by providing financial grants and practical, useful advice. 020 7256 5558 07366 568 458 SUPPORT FOR FURNISHING INDUSTRY PEOPLE The Furniture Makers’ Company the furnishing industry’s charit y Struggling financially? We’re here to help! The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ Charitable Funds incorporating the Furnishing Trades Benevolent Association is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1015519) and a registered company (no. 02759359) in England and Wales Supporting Furnishing Industry 1-2 page.indd 1 24/08/2022 16:01

Quality, Integrity & Sustainability

It’s no surprise that quality sits at the heart of Hydeline Furniture’s product development programs. It is an integral element of the company’s ‘Guaranteed for Life' commitment on the structural integrity of all of its products. A lesser known yet equally essential part of Hydeline's DNA is its evolving commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing.

"Hydeline has implemented a 4-pillar commitment to product, processes, supply chain and people; ensuring it is reducing its impact on the environment and to create a better everyday life for many people" explains managing director, Jonathan Burrage.

“As a rapidly growing business, we recognise the growing need to learn and understand the importance of sustainability and the positive impact on the people and the planet. We are already taking huge steps to become one of the leading companies in the industry to work towards sustainable practices and introduce more of these not only into our products, but also rigorous management of our processes. ‘Reuse and recycle’ is a great strategy to implement within everyday operational culture. We are already making significant changes through the use of recycled and sustainable premium materials such as Dacron-alternatives made from recycled plastic bottles, pocket springs instead of copious amounts of foam and a 5-year plan to transition to the use of FSC-Certified timber throughout all our products” says managing director, Jonathan Burrage.

Jonathan continues; “Our reputation is built on trust and that requires honesty throughout our supply chains. Our teams are growing across the globe, and we have recently employed our own fulltime factory-based quality manager as well as a UK-based head of operations. We are also engaging more international partners in the delivery of our products. We are committed to working with trusted, sustainable suppliers who can support our business as well as we can support theirs to ensure we are all moving towards a sustainable future.

From the sourcing of materials to the delivery of every order – and everything in between – Hydeline is committed to delivering thoughtful, ecologically mindful, beautiful pieces of furniture.

Hydeline implements 4-pillar commitment to product, processes, supply chain and people
For more information on sustainable products, please contact your local Regional Area Manager or Head Office on 01908 968228 Leo in Explorer Sandstone Grace in Explorer Dragonstone


The new HPL for Doors collection from Unilin Panels has been designed for projects requiring high-quality designs that are durable, impact and scratch resistant, will not fade, and are easy to maintain.

Johnny Maris, product manager, Unilin Panels, says: “We produce our HPL entirely in-house using the newest production technology, to give us complete control over the design and quality of every detail.”

The HPL for Doors collection is available in three formats that are immediately available from stock. There is also a matching standard HPL panel instantly available, so a co-ordinated look can be created across an interior – doors, walls, desks, shelves and furniture can all be given the same high-quality look, and tough, low-maintenance surface.

HPL is durable, highly impact and scratch resistant, resists fading, staining and moisture, and is easy to maintain. Whether choosing doors for a busy retail store, healthcare centre, school, hotel or office, specifiers can be confident in a cost-effective finish that is made to last, selected from a collection of 86 designs.


“Our protection plans now offer the best levels of cover on the market for leather, fabric, dining and bedroom cabinet, beds and carpet,” says Castelan’s CEO, Martin Napper. “We have also recently expanded our offering to outdoor furniture, and many of our clients have been excited to include this in their warranty offering.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to create the very best, compliant schemes to ensure that we are able to ensure the best possible outcomes for your customer and that we deliver a service that meets their (and your) expectations. This

is not only a key expectation of the regulator (FCA) but is also, simply, the right thing to do for your customer, and means that we become an extension of the service that you want to deliver.

“Our Furniture Care Network is a key element of our protection plan offering and, with almost 100 technicians, we have all areas of the UK and Ireland covered, and are delivering an average lead time of five working days in most areas. This is the kind of service that your customer has come to expect, and we are committed to growing our network of technicians as the volume of our work increases.”

Castelan’s HQ in Weston-super-Mare
Stain removal is just one of Castelan’s many areas of expertise
Trust has to be earned. That’s why so many clients trust us, year after year, to provide: Compliant insured warranty schemes ‘First Year Liability’ service delivery Comprehensive Care Product ranges Commercial build and refurbishment To find out how we can help your business call our Business Development Team on 0330 024 0315 or email Your customers love us too!

Following a major investment, Rehau is expanding its existing distribution facility in Manchester this autumn, enabling it to introduce a next-day delivery service on an extensive UK collection.

With increased stockholding and a highly experienced sales team in place, the opening of the new distribution centre represents a major advance in the company’s customer service offer for the UK market.

As a high-quality German manufacturer with 70 years’ expertise, edgebands are at the heart of Rehau’s dynamic and expanding furniture business. Today, the company boasts a more comprehensive range than any other on the market.

Rehau edgebands are 100% matched to the decors and designs of all the major decorative board producers, as well its own. Rehau works with leading manufacturers around the world to complement their board and panel ranges, and in turn makes product design and manufacturing easier and more reliable for furniture and joinery specialists.

The main edgeband collections matching Egger, Kronospan and Pfleiderer are just some of the ranges that will be readily available, next day. There are no minimum quantities in dimensions 23/0.8mm, 23/2.0mm, 43/2.00mm, while Rehau’s wider collection of edgeband, surfaces and tambour doors continues to prove popular.

Rehau’s website enables customers to browse through the wide range of colour and design options on offer, and can order samples quickly and easily.

Sales manager Scott Williams says: “Our extensive range and increased presence in Manchester will represent a significant uplift in the service we are able to offer our UK customers.

“The quality of our product is renowned, and now being able to offer such a comprehensive range of decors, in a variety of sizes, with no minimum order and immediate availability, offers new and existing customers total flexibility and convenience.”










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Know your customer?

Who exactly is your customer? It might seem a simple question, but it’s surprising how many businesses try to sell to everyone and anyone, when a clearly targeted approach will generally yield better results. This month, Furniture News asks businesses to discuss the benefits – and the drawbacks – of having a well-defined audience base …

Come one, come all! The notion that everyone is a potential customer is undeniably attractive – but unless you have the vast resources of a search engine or marketplace behind you, it’s unrealistic. Most businesses recognise that it’s impossible to be all things to all people, and choose to focus on identifying and pursuing a defined customer demographic – by age, location, budget, or other.

Given the cost of acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones, it pays to know your targets’ wants, needs, frustrations, budgets and behaviours, and to tailor your approach accordingly. It might mean excluding certain product segments or price brackets from your offer, and turning down some opportunities. But it can also make your selling, your marketing –and your overall business – more effective.

This month, Furniture News asks a range of retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and service providers to explain how clearly they define their target customer base, and the pros and cons of doing so …

Andrew Kerr, director, Siren Furniture: Our current board of directors took the helm of Siren in 2020, and as part of a holistic brand review it was vital to determine the distinctive brand positioning and USPs to communicate and set us apart from competitors.

We identified that ‘comfort’ was at the heart of Siren, enhanced by our commitment to the innovative design, development and sourcing of the high-quality, luxury furniture we’ve become renowned for.

We’ve maintained this commitment to product development as our furniture collections continue to evolve, working closely with our customers to meet their consumer demands – ensuring confidence and consistency in the on-brand messaging communicated to our target market, which has been pivotal in engaging new customers.

Targeted promotions and campaigns with a purpose can be effective, though success truly lies in staying true to our ethos and delivering to the expectation we’ve established amongst our target market. This has seen Siren gain a desirable brand reputation amongst respected retail brands in the UK including John Lewis, Swoon and Furniture Village, as well as the independent furniture retail sector.

Andy Stockwell, senior retail manager, Gardiner Haskins: You can’t be all things to all people, certainly not in a physical retail environment, so having a clear identity is vital. It gives direction and focus to the business, and creates a destination for customers who have a clear idea of their needs and wants.

But which comes first? Do you create your identity and hope it attracts the audience you want, or do you identify the audience you want and create your identity to satisfy its demands?

Either way, having a customer base which identifies with your business gives you an edge and a greater chance of success. We know our customer base is largely approaching or past retirement age (55+), reasonably affluent, mortgage free home owners and empty-nesters. There is also an element of Londonbased second home owners, with high-value holiday lets or weekend residences.

It’s a demographic with fluid finances and discerning tastes, which appreciates the difference between price and value, which still prefers to visit physical stores, experience product firsthand and receive face-to-face advice and personal service from experienced and engaged staff.

We know our customers have traditional values and traditional tastes. We also know that, whilst they may be from more senior generations, they don’t want to be perceived as being ‘old’. Comfort and durability are important, but not at the expense of aesthetics. And not only does their furniture have to look good, it has to reflect the character of their property too and be a reflection of their personal status.

It’s why brands like G-Plan, Parker Knoll and Harrison Spinks are so important to our business. They have their own strong identities, renowned quality, great design, longevity, and carry a reputation sure to impress the neighbours.

Of course, real quality comes at a price, and physical retail comes with limitations, which is why it’s important to know and target your market. If we try to split our offer to cover numerous demographics, we risk not having enough depth in any area to meet the demands of any of them. Our customers could become confused as to who we are as a business, and look elsewhere for retailers more aligned to their needs.

“Given the cost of acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones, it pays to know your customer
From left: Andrew Kerr, James Dunne, Jonathan Burrage, Michael
and Mike Murray

So, whilst we know there are potential customers who are looking for more affordable options, we have to be true to our values and identity. Yes, we could be missing out on some short-term sales, but it’s important to educate the next generation of customers that value is more important than price when it comes to big-ticket purchases. We are in business for the long haul, and our aim is to create lifelong customers.

Brian Levitt, owner, Brian Levitt Sales Agencies: Being a sales agent, I’m always targeting the right customers for the products I sell within my sales area. This demonstrates a couple of things: first, that you have given thought to their business; and second, that the retailer is targeting the right consumers to sell through the products floored.

James Dunne, operations director, Prestige Beds: It can certainly be argued that better-targeted selling yields better results, and I can clearly identify who our target customer has been over recent years. However, nowadays, with the increased awareness of health benefits and performance enhancement attributed to a good night’s sleep for all people in any profession being broadcasted regularly and being very much in the public domain, that target customer fits into a much broader spectrum.

More and more people of varying ages, incomes and stages of life are willing to invest more into a quality bed that will accommodate their needs consistently over many years, which is backed up by our ever-increasing ATV. This is reflected with our offering at the top end of the market which has expanded over the last few years as there is more demand for the best quality, so we accommodate this by displaying the best brands across every type of bed and mattress.

We feel these days there are more limitations than benefits of targeting one specific customer profile, when there’s a plethora of profiles who wish to spend a considerable amount of their disposable income on big-ticket products. Even those who find the top end out of their budget are able utilise our finance options so they can afford what they want.

Jonathan Burrage, MD, Hydeline Furniture: We have an absolute focus on design, comfort and

build quality in all the products we manufacture. Consumers are surprised with the level of comfort offered in both our Hydeline and At The Helm products. Every single one of our products is built to last with a lifetime frame guarantee – consumers recognise the environmental benefit of buying products that will last a lifetime. We would argue that no other brand comes close to matching our combined focus on design, comfort and build quality.

Michael Jervis, head of digital, Mattress Online: We don’t want to be a platform, like Amazon or eBay, and risk bewildering the customer with so much choice they are unable to make a purchase, or struggle to establish which product is the right one for them.

We aim to curate the right range of products onsite so we can provide the right choice for everyone. We can explain why a particular product is in our range, and what it provides that may be different from another product. We work to make the range clear and help the customer through the journey to select the right mattress or bed for their needs.

It’s about providing the right mix of information through all the touchpoints with a customer, to present the right information at the right point and provide reassurance that the customer is making the right choice. We lean on our retail teams here to help our digital team learn about the in-store customer experience, tailoring information and understanding the customer needs in person.

Mike Murray, CEO, Land of Beds: We recognise that better-targeted selling yields superior results. We have a clear understanding of our target customer and utilise data-driven insights to tailor our offers to their specific needs. By creating 3-5 customer personas, we develop a deep understanding of our core demographics and ensure that our marketing messages directly resonate with them.

Our offer reflects the particular needs of our target customers by prioritising good value for money. We focus on providing quality products at competitive prices, which aligns with their desire for high-quality items without compromising on affordability. This approach enables us to deliver the best possible value to our customers, and to meet their expectations.

From left: Paul Little, Peter Harding, Sam Jackson, Steve Pickering and David Baldry
63 ››
“There are more limitations than benefits of targeting one specific customer profile

The benefits of focusing our efforts on our target customers are numerous. Firstly, by understanding their specific needs and preferences, we can tailor our products, services and marketing strategies to cater to them effectively. This enables us to create a personalised experience that resonates with our target customers, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Alignment between our marketing, sales and buying teams is fundamental to our success, and is a key factor in our ability to attract, engage and retain customers. When these departments work cohesively, it ensures a seamless customer experience from initial marketing touchpoints to the final purchase. By aligning our strategies, goals, and communication, we can effectively deliver our value proposition, meet customer expectations, and drive conversions. This alignment also allows us to identify market trends, adjust our offerings, and make datadriven decisions that optimise our resources.

However, there are limitations to solely focusing on our target customers. By narrowing our focus, there is a risk of neglecting potential customers outside of our core demographics who could still benefit from our products. While our target customers are our primary focus, we also strive to attract and serve a wider range of customers by ensuring our offerings have broad appeal.

There have been instances where we’ve turned down opportunities that did not align with our target customer’s focus. While it may be tempting to pursue every potential sale, staying true to our target customer strategy helps us maintain a consistent brand identity and deliver the best value to our core audience. By focusing our efforts on our target customers, we can refine our offerings and deliver exceptional experiences that cater specifically to their needs.

In summary, clearly identifying our target customers and aligning our offers with their needs allows us to deliver value, personalisation, and optimal resource allocation. While there are limitations to this approach, we believe that staying focused on our target customers leads to better results and a stronger brand presence in the market.

Peter Harding, CEO, Fairway Furniture: Reviewing our target customer is something we do periodically, using a variety of methods. From running focus groups across our region to using data analysis of our customer database, we can build up a picture of the typical customer by store. This feeds into range planning, such that we can ensure the offer in each store is best matched to the local audience.

Our store in the heart of a rural and primarily agricultural area has a very different customer profile to that of our store in the heart of Cornwall, where local customers and second home owners shop alongside each other but with vastly different budgets.

In terms of media used for marketing, it’s about ensuring that each campaign is targeted to reach the right audience. Using socio-economic profiling, we

target direct mail and leaflet campaigns, reducing wastage. Similarly, we can also use it to try smaller, even more targeted campaigns, to establish effectiveness and penetration. The pandemic actually gave a very useful opportunity to do this – coming out of the very first lockdown, we used one specific mass-market media in isolation, to directly assess how well it worked.

Recently, I’ve been looking at whether or not we should be using advertising on streaming platforms. Reviewing the demographic breakdowns of the various services, we could identify those that might offer an opportunity and those that wouldn’t. This led me to turn down using a service that I had considered a very real possibility, as the likelihood of wastage would be too high.

Sam Jackson, commercial director, Bluebone Imports: At present our target customers are 50+ (silver surfers) that desire quality products with a personalised approach. However, we are seeing a movement towards inexpensive, sustainable products that can be recycled as the current population becomes older.

The balance between these two is shifting, so it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure that our offer changes over time to meet these needs. I genuinely believe that there is a cycle to everything, and whilst we may be experiencing the desire for inexpensive, fashionable items on a shorter repeat cycle currently, there will be a move back to quality products with longevity. It is important for everything we provide to be of quality, so that it’s built to last in order to address the pendulum swinging back later. This in turn would therefore address ‘buyer’s remorse’ in later years.

Steve Pickering, CEO, Sussex Beds: It’s going to hurt, but we’ve committed ourselves to only supply product which will provide a quality night’s sleep.

You will not find basic, low-cost, entry-level product lines, either in-store or on our ecommerce website –which means we continue to turn down purchasing opportunities for those consumers seeking these types of product lines.

We have committed to our purpose – to help people sleep, and sleep well, to experience quality sleep. This is reflected in our products, our service and in everything we do.

“Better-targeted selling yields superior results – but there is a risk of neglecting potential customers outside of our core demographics
Is everyone in your business focused on the same customer base? (image courtesy iStock/alexsl)

I can honestly say I would personally sleep on any of our products we supply today. This is a powerful statement, which, together with our purpose, will see Sussex Beds recognised as the place to purchase quality product from.

By not compromising, and turning down those sales opportunities which would not meet our purpose, we’re underlining our commitment to the quality sleep cause.

Tim Hobbs, MD, Prestige Furniture Logistics: Our target customers are furniture manufacturers and retailers who prioritise quality and professionalism in their delivery services over merely the lowest cost. This focus on a specific customer base has been a strategic decision that shapes our business model, services, and the value we provide to our customers.

Our two-man, white-glove delivery service is specifically tailored to meet the needs of this customer segment. We deliver more than just furniture – we provide a seamless, hassle-free experience that matches the high-quality products our clients offer. We handle every piece of furniture with extreme care and attention to detail, ensuring that the end-customers are fully satisfied with their delivery.

This focus has numerous benefits. Firstly, it ensures consistency in the quality of our service, which enhances our reputation and strengthens our relationships with our clients. Secondly, it aligns our company’s resources, enabling us to invest in the right personnel, equipment and training. Lastly, it allows us to price our services in a way that reflects their true value, supporting the financial sustainability of our operations.

There have been instances where we’ve had to turn down opportunities because they didn’t align with our core values and business model. We are not the right fit for every manufacturer or retailer, and that’s okay. By ensuring our services align with our clients’ needs, we can guarantee a partnership that benefits both parties in the long run. This approach may not maximise short-term profits, but it builds a more sustainable business with satisfied clients, a committed team, and a strong reputation within the industry.

Paul Little, MD, Airsprung Beds: In our business, we believe that better-targeted product does indeed yield superior results. Identifying our target customer has been a core focus of our strategy, and working with the leading online channels gives us a real edge.

Being omnichannel, we spend time to aggregate customer feedback, which is almost instant in the digital realm. This rapid feedback loop allows us to iterate and improve our products and services swiftly, based on real-time customer preferences and pain points.

While our customers know their customers on a granular level, we pride ourselves on knowing our products on a granular level. This deep understanding helps us create solutions that resonate with our target audience.

In the pursuit of better-targeted selling, we have

occasionally turned down opportunities that didn’t align with our core customer base. Good businesses recognise when to say no, as pursuing unrelated ventures risks diverting focus from essential products and innovations that truly matter to our customers. By staying focused, we ensure that our efforts lead to meaningful growth and enduring success, and we don’t just become busy fools.

David Baldry, group MD, Hypnos Beds: It’s a simple fact that if you are customer obsessed, you cannot adopt an ‘everyone is your customer’ approach. Whether business or consumer, there needs to be a synergy – the solution your potential customer needs in reality may be a different service or product, or not aligned to your brand position or values.

This is not about price points and aspirations (though they are a factor). I believe in looking at the customer journey and how your product, services and brand fit into that. First of all, understand your proposition and the best fit to support the consumer in that journey – is that journey speed and price, or service and experience? From inspiration to delivery, these need to match as well as is possible. We then achieve ‘value for money’ – this can be £1 or £1m, as value for money is always personal to those in the transaction.

None of this can be assumed. I encourage breaking bread with our retail partners to gain open feedback, and ask my favourite question, ‘What’s the one thing we could do better?’ The answers vary, and frankly, yes, you are asking for punishment, but this feedback is so valuable, and has led to a lot of the changes Hypnos has made in the last year.

Now, the real hard part of this – you need to be willing to say ‘No’. I believe that, especially with brands like Hypnos and the consumers that enjoy it, we have a duty of care, and that sometimes, although a potential retailer or activity may appear a great opportunity, if it doesn’t fit, ‘no’ is the right answer.

We have done this several times in the last 12 months. Similarly, if an existing customer’s values diverge from the brand’s, you need to manage these moments.

Your customer base is like a garden – it needs maintenance and pruning from time to time. This approach gives the ability to invest in those that invest in your team, the brand, and you. I’ve enjoyed many conversations this past year on how we develop, including asking partners to give more detail so we can support them better on their journey. The feedback is that they like that we are invested in protecting the brand and supporting them.

As a team we have a clear vision of our customers, retail and consumer, and we will continue to align our product and solutions to this, holding true to our values. We underpin all our products with ‘wellness for people and the planet’, our approach to sustainability, and ethics. This commitment is a fundamental to our business, and we offer it as a complimentary gift to our future customers, regardless of their preferences.

“We are not the right fit for every manufacturer or retailer, and that’s okay

Viva la biomimicry revolution!

It’s not easy being green – but furniture businesses must face up to the challenge. In the fourth of an exclusive series of articles exploring the whys and hows of becoming a more eco-conscious furniture business, Richard Naylor, group sustainable development director at Hypnos, outlines the potential of applying biomimicry to the manufacturing process …

Did you know that in 1941 a Swiss electrical engineer, George de Mistral, when taking a constitutional walk through the Swiss Alps (as you do) was inspired to develop a product that so many manufacturers in the furniture industry use today?

During his rambling he noticed that burdock seeds clung to his woollen socks, coat and his dog, Milka! As an engineer, it naturally poked his curiosity button, and he wondered if this physical action could be turned into something useful. So, he strode purposely back to his home and began investigating.

Under the magnified lens of a microscope, George observed that tiny hooks on the ‘burs’ were attaching themselves to the looped fabric of his knitted socks. Inspired by this nature-based solution for the dispersal of seeds, George developed a manmade process that mimicked this action, which he eventually patented in 1955.

Refining the manufacturing process, George launch his new product in the late 1950s under his new company name, Velcro – the Velcro name itself being a lexical blend of the French words ‘velours’ (velvet) and ‘crochet’ (hook), inspired by the hook and loop action that he adapted from nature.

Essentially, nature was his muse – and in contemporary philosophical terms, this is known as ‘biomimicry’. I have to declare that this approach to the design and development of products is somewhat of a fascination for me, and hope in some small way that my editorial ramblings stimulate others to explore this approach to sustainable innovation!

Why biomimicry?

Cambridge Dictionary defines biomimicry as “the practice of making technological and industrial design copy natural processes”. Essentially, the core idea behind biomimicry is that nature has already solved the challenges that we are trying to solve today. As humanity, we have embraced modernity. We desire the latest gadgets, devices and solutions to making human life better, and have consequently built a physical world based on human inventions.

This focused (and, some might argue, selfish or developmentally naive) approach has had catastrophic ecological consequences, which have laid waste to natural ecosystems, replacing them with fundamentally unsustainable human designs. Biomimicry is the belief that nature has the answers

to some of the challenges we face from embracing modernity. Typically seen as just a design strategy, biomimicry can be so much more.

Is it time for the revolution? In my humble opinion, yes! We can choose to engage more with the natural world and learn from its millions of years of evolution, to radically change the way we approach design.

It is certainly easy to write about theory – but how can the furniture industry engage with biomimicry interventions and use nature as a mentor? Here are five examples, showing how nature could inspire how to design products or use materials – inspired by shrimps, spiders, waterflow, bacteria and our oceans!

1. Wood into plastic

The University of Wisconsin-Madison have engineered a bacterium that converts lignin, a component of wood, into a material that could replace oil-based plastic. This is a low-energy consumptive process that delivers a material applicable to packaging, a polyester replacement, and fabric yarns that can break down naturally in the environment.

Ocean microorganisms to plastic

AirCarbon from Newlight Technologies uses ocean microorganisms to convert CO2 into PHB, a readily usable bioplastic. The process uses ocean microorganisms to break down excess methanecontaining greenhouse gas emissions. The gases are dissolved in saltwater, and the organisms naturally produce PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate) as a by-product. The PHB can then be used instead of synthetic plastic in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fibre spinning, and injection moulding applications. The microorganisms can out-compete the production of oil-based plastics, such as polypropylene and polyethylene. If the material ends up in the ocean, it naturally degrades within a year and can be re-consumed as food by microorganisms.

Shrimp inspiration

Helicoid Technology uses an innovative helicoid design to increase strength and toughness while using less materials. The technology mimics the ‘helicoid’ structure found in the incredibly strong and lightweight mantis shrimp club (forelimb). By incorporating this design into composite materials, companies can create products with reduced

“The core idea behind biomimicry is that nature has already solved the challenges that we are trying to solve today

weight, increased strength, increased toughness, and improved impact resistance – all while reducing material costs. The technology works seamlessly with existing manufacturing processes, allowing any composite industry to use less material while making a stronger product.

Spider fibre

Spider silk is often cited as one of the strongest biological materials in the world, and scientists have long been searching for a way to artificially synthesise this silk for human use as a textile fibre. Spintex Engineering has finally cracked the spider’s code, and has developed a solution that mimics a spider spinneret’s ability to spin fibre at room temperature without harsh chemicals, from a liquid gel. By mimicking how a spider spins silk at room temperature, Spintex creates high-performance, sustainable textiles that are 1000 times more efficient

than an equivalent synthetic fibre, and water is the only by-product.

Healthy hemp

Cultivating hemp for textile fibre is an ancient practice. However, with the advent of modern agriculture and the invention of synthetic textiles, the processing required for hemp meant it could not compete economically with these alternatives. Renaissance Fiber has developed a degumming method based on the natural degradation of plant fibres observed in tidal streams, using far less energy than traditional hemp processing and creating hemp fibre that is more affordable and higher quality than other fibre types. At the same time, their process sequesters carbon in the effluent, which can be returned to the ocean as a natural carbon sink.

Some of the challenges we face with biomimicry intervention surround scalability, cost, access, culture and knowledge. However, in my opinion, it is certainly worth our industry exploring. The outputs should be ecologically responsible, but equally they should be good profit drivers, delivering sustainable products that provide brands with credibility and uniqueness. So, please consider joining the revolution, and make our industry a shining beacon of hope for people, planet and profit!

The pros and cons of working with family

This month,

From a very early age I was intrigued, curious, interested. Living above our humble family furniture shop in St Leonards, East Sussex, I’d come home from school and hang out with my dad and mum in the shop, ride along on the deliveries and listen in as sales were made.

As the business grew, aunties, uncles, cousins, and even nans and grandads, joined the business. At the peak there were 14 members of the family involved.

United, family members are more invested. They support, commit and engage to work together, toward the bigger purpose or goal.

But when things go wrong, and the lines between work and

home blur, it can be devastating, destroying relationships and potentially crippling the business. I have seen and experienced both scenarios.

Family is still very much at the heart of our business, with my leadership team consisting of both my siblings, cousin, wife and son. Even though I am well aware of the dangers of blurred work/home lines crossing, sometimes it happens.

Recently, for example, a debate with differing opinions took place within the leadership room.

The following evening the discussion restarted, and frustrations and emotions boiled into accusations of lack of support during the debate.

Rather than continue this discussion at home, it was paused and restarted within the next day’s one-to-one meeting in the workplace, where a controlled discussion took place.

I would be really interested in hearing if you could work with your family – and, if so, how do you manage the lines blurring between work and home?

Discover more of Steve’s thoughts on his blog, at

“The outputs should be ecologically responsible, but equally they should be good profit drivers
The octopus has inspired technologies related to camouflage, suction and robotic arms (photo courtesy iStock/chang)
“When things go wrong, and the lines between work and home blur, it can be devastating
Steve Pickering, the ‘unorthodox’ CEO of fast-growing South East independent bed retail chain Sussex Beds, asks if working with family members is a blessing or a curse …

Are you a captain of great customer service?

No matter how strong you think your customer service game is, there’s always room for improvement, writes business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry, Gordon Hecht …

Today’s shoppers can spend their scarce retail dollars in many different places. Our goal is to help them choose to enrich their lives with a comfortable home environment, and to make sure that environment has a comfortable mattress from our store. We are up against tough competition both in and outside of our industry, and when shoppers decide to furnish their homes, they find an overwhelming number of choices in the marketplace.

When I ask store managers, sales teams, operations and delivery teams why a shopper should choose their store to buy, the words “great customer service” are almost always given as a reason. But I challenge you to define for your team what ‘great customer service’ actually means. Look at the two examples below – which one comes closer to your definition. Is it both, or neither?

Example 1: All quiet on the bedroom front

A couple enters a mattress store early in the month. They tell the salesperson they are buying their first new mattress since getting married. The salesperson asks several qualifying questions and then introduces a mid-priced mattress for a test rest. The couple decides they want something a bit softer, and soon choose a pillowtop mattress.

They ask the salesperson when it can be delivered. After checking, he tells them it will be 10 days. They request delivery on the 15th of the month, which is open on the delivery calendar.

On the 13th of the month the merchandise arrives. The customer is called to confirm delivery. They want to know what time the truck will arrive. They are told they can call a number the evening before delivery for a timeframe. They call back at 5pm on the 14th and are told the truck will arrive between 2-6pm.

The truck arrives at 4:30pm. The bed is delivered and set on an existing metal platform. The drivers get a signature and leave the house.

Example 2: Thinking without the box

One the same day, in another store, another couple decide to spend their tax refund on a new king-size mattress. The salesperson greets them, finds out what feel they like and the size of bed they want. They soon find a comfortable bed that they agree upon. The salesperson demonstrates an adjustable base. It is more than the money then they received on

the refund, and they decide they can do without the base. As the customer has reached their budget, the salesperson figures she’d better not have them overspend, and switches them to a boxspring base.

They also ask if it could be delivered before the 20th of the month, as their old college friends are coming into town and they want to show off their house. Everything is in stock. Delivery is set for Saturday the 19th.

On the 17th the delivery is confirmed. The customer asks for a delivery time and is asked to call back on the evening of the 18th. On the Friday before delivery, the customer calls and finds out the truck will arrive between 2-5pm.

At 4:45pm the truck arrives. The set is brought in. When the drivers go to get the boxsprings, it seems only one was placed on the truck. They bring in the one and tell the customer they will ensure that the other is brought out first thing on the next delivery day, Tuesday.

The customer says this is unacceptable, calls the store and is connected with the manager. The manager requests time to check things out. The manager calls back and says, “The DC is closed until Monday.” You can imagine the response.

The manager asks for a few moments, and she will call back. She calls the mattress store owner at home, who calls the DC manager on his cell. After a brief discussion, the DC manager agrees to bring the second boxspring out to the customer in the service van later that evening.

The manager is relieved and feels that she has moved heaven and earth to satisfy the customer. She calls the customer and arranges the late evening delivery. For the inconvenience, the manager offers to send out a $25 gift card for the store.

Which did you pick? Which example is more common in your store? Before you answer, let me tell you a story (my friends say that I don’t know any short stories, but I’ll be as brief as I can).

A 40-year-old son of immigrant parents does extremely well in his chosen field. So well, in fact, that he purchases a yacht and hires a full-time crew. He brings his aged parents on board for the inaugural voyage. He greets them wearing nautical garb, with white pants, navy blue, double-breasted blazer (with gold buttons and braids) and a captain’s cap.

“I challenge you to define for your team what ‘great customer service’ actually means

Once on board, he gives his parents a tour and the voyage begins. He says to his father, “Pop, isn’t this great, 50 years ago you came to this country on a boat, and here I am, captain of my own yacht.”

The old man looks his son squarely in the eye, and admonishes, “Son – by me you are a captain, by Mama you are a captain, and by you, you are a captain, but by a captain, you’re no captain.”

The point of the story is that, with few exceptions, store owners and managers believe that their teams provide great customer service every day. And I would guess if you asked every member of the team, they would surely say they give great customer service. We all would agree that the service we provide is our best competitive advantage. But the question is, would our customers agree?

Here is what I think. Example 1 is an example of good customer service. The store personnel did everything they said they were going to do. The bed came in on time, all got loaded on the truck, and arrived unmarred at the customer’s house. The walls and floors were not damaged on delivery, all within the quoted timeframe.

We in the retail field often mistake this for great customer service. But certain actions and information were left out of the sales and delivery process. What could have made this good experience great?

Example 2 is good intentions gone awry. The store made an error and disappointed a customer. Notice I said ‘the store’, and not the delivery department. Customers buy from a store, not any one department,

and we win and lose as a team.

Everyone scrambled to make it right. Even the owner and DC manager got involved, and one put in time on his day off to personally resolve the situation. We also believe this is great service – but how do you think your customer views it? Add to that the service on the sales floor – do you believe that even approached ‘good’? What could have made that customer experience great, from the time they entered the store until after delivery?

Now it’s your turn. Both examples depict good, average, and poor customer service. Some are obvious, others more sublime. See what you come up with and what you would improve. There are at least 10 ‘opportunities’ in each example that could turn the customer from good to great. Challenge your store team to see how many they can find.

Great customer service begins from initial contact (think website and phone), and runs through store shopping, experience at the customer service counter, delivery contact, and after delivery contact.

Our business consists of buildings, trucks, inventory, equipment, and valued associates. However, our most valuable, expensive, and hardestto-replace asset is the customer walking in the store or waiting at home for delivery right now. Treat them with the kindness, attention and care that their value is worth, and the business will flourish. If you don’t treat them great, someone else will.

Gordon can be reached at

Designed to work... Built to last Visit our new website! Making Furniture Handling Easier ESTABLISHED 1970 Furniture show advert 188mm x 128mm.indd 1 21/09/2023 14:26
“Our most valuable, expensive, and hardest-toreplace asset is the customer

The Golden Circle approach to marketing

Digital marketing refuses to stand still, but it remains one of the most valuable routes to the customer, and its essence can be boiled down to a handful of simple principles, writes Toastmasters International’s Cristina Plamadeala …

As with the world of furniture and interior design, digital marketing keeps changing. It is an essential part of modern marketing, so every business needs to keep up and make the most of the opportunities it offers.

One of the most significant influences on my approach to digital marketing has been Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why. The Golden Circle concept outlined in the book has helped me create a more compelling message that resonates with my target audience. The Golden Circle is based on three principles – why, how, and what. By applying these principles to digital marketing, furniture retailers and designers can create a more impactful message that connects with their particular audience.


The first principle is why, which refers to the purpose or the reason behind a company’s existence. In digital marketing, the why could be your mission statement, values, or the problem they are trying to solve. Companies that communicate their ‘why’ effectively can create an emotional connection with their target audience, leading to increased brand loyalty.


The second principle is how, which refers to a company’s approach to achieving its goals – how could the strategies, tactics and tools be used to reach the target audience? Companies that communicate that effectively can demonstrate their expertise and build trust with their target audience.


The third principle is what, which refers to the products or services that a company offers – what are the features, benefits, and unique selling points of the company’s products or services? Companies that communicate their ‘what’ effectively can differentiate themselves from their competitors and persuade their target audience to take action.

Now let’s consider some key strategies and tactics to help you build a strong online presence for your furniture or interior brand.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing involves promoting your

business through social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. This can include organic posts as well as paid ads.

One of the best approaches when using social media is to create engaging content, including fabulous images of your furniture/interiors. Whichever platform you choose, create content that showcases your brand’s personality, enabling you to connect with people on a more personal level.

For example, your ‘why’ might be to launch a new product, the ‘how’ is using LinkedIn and creating engaging content, and the ‘what’ is to focus on how your new product solves a particular problem or challenge people have.

Using hashtags is another tactic that can increase the visibility of your social media posts. Hashtags allow you to reach a wider audience by categorising your posts with relevant keywords. It is essential to research the most effective hashtags for your brand, and deploy them consistently across Instagram and Facebook. This helps to ensure you are reaching the right people.

Instagram, for example, has robust targeting options that allow you to narrow down your audience based on demographics, interests and behaviour. By targeting the right audience, you can ensure that your ads are seen by people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.

Email marketing

Email marketing involves sending helpful emails to your subscriber base in order to build relationships and promote your products or services. Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience and build customer loyalty.

One of the key tactics for email marketing is to create compelling subject lines. The subject line is the first thing the subscribers will see in their inbox, and it can determine whether or not they open your email. A good subject line should be attentiongrabbing and give subscribers a reason to open your email. Generally, a ‘does what it says on the tin’ subject line is much better than something obscure and unclear.

Again, by referring back to the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of the Golden Circle, you’ll be able to create subject lines will resonate with your audience (and work well for your business).

“The Golden Circle concept has helped me create a more compelling message that resonates with my target audience

Personalising your emails is another effective tactic for email marketing. By addressing the subscribers by name and tailoring the content to their interests, you can make them feel valued and increase the likelihood that they will engage with your emails.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO involves optimising your website or landing pages to rank higher in search engine results pages. One of the key strategies for SEO is thorough keyword research. By identifying the keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for, you can create content that is appropriately optimised. Creating high-quality content is also important for SEO. Search engines prioritise websites/landing pages that provide valuable and relevant content to their users.

Creating content that answers the audience’s questions and provides value can increase the authority and credibility of your website. Your content should be inspired by the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your Golden Circle.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising

PPC advertising involves paying for ads appearing on search engine results pages or social media platforms. PPC can be a cost-effective way to reach your target audience and drive conversions.

An important approach for PPC is to target the right keywords. I have found that the ‘Answer the Public’

tool is one of the best ways to identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business, and target them with your ads – you can ensure that your ads are seen by people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.

Creating compelling ad copy is also important for PPC success. The ad copy should be attentiongrabbing, informative and persuasive. Be sure to tailor your ad for each platform, as they all have different requirements.

Ads, in particular, should address the ‘what’, specifically what you can do to help solve your customers’ problems/challenges. Always focus on what is in it for the customer, not what you want to ‘sell’.

Monitoring and optimising your ad campaigns is another important tactic for PPC success. By regularly analysing your ad performance and making adjustments to your targeting, ad copy and bidding strategy, you can improve the ROI of your campaigns and drive more conversions.

Digital marketing depends on executing a longterm plan. It’s important to see it as an ongoing process, whilst also keeping up with any changes. Keep the Golden Circle in mind, and with great images of your products you’ll be on your way to digital marketing success.

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“Digital marketing depends on executing a longterm plan. It’s important to
it as an ongoing process

BRITISH FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS (BFM) Looking again to the Future of Furniture

With entries due to open for the second Future of Furniture Awards – the BFM’s celebration of education and sustainability in the industry –the association is looking for its next industry champions, writes

Following on from the success of our inaugural awards programme, the categories have been extended, with two new accolades joining the existing Future of Furniture Excellence in Education Award and Future of Furniture Excellence in Sustainability Award.

The two new awards being introduced for 2024 are the Future of Furniture Best ESG report, and the Future of Furniture Sustainability Champion. All four winners will be announced at a reception held by the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) at the January Furniture Show, taking place at the NEC Birmingham from 21st-24th January next year.

The Future of Furniture campaign aims to highlight the value and variety of careers within the industry, as well as showcasing the steps it is taking to support a greener approach to manufacturing. Considering 2023 was our first awards event, we were delighted with the number and quality of entries. We hope to see as many BFM member companies enter for 2024, and see their achievements recognised at the celebratory reception.

The new category for Best ESG report will recognise best practice and creativity in communicating a BFM member business or organisation’s environmental, social and governance initiatives, performance and impact – while the Sustainability Champion will be given to an individual working within a BFM member company who goes above and beyond to promote industry activities that support the planet.

The criteria for the Future of Furniture Excellence in Education Award and Excellence in Sustainability Award will remain unchanged, with the judges for the Education Award once again looking for entrants who provide a rewarding working and learning environment to new recruits, and offer insight into partnerships and initiatives with schools, colleges and other organisations to attract talent into the sector.

For the Sustainability Award, the winner will demonstrate a commitment to improvement in

sustainability, alongside their plans on achieving targets over the next three and five years.

The judges will also consider how members empower their teams to focus on sustainable solutions.

We presented this year’s Future of Furniture Excellence in Education accolade to High Seat Limited (HSL), and the Excellence in Sustainability award to Jay-Be.

Speaking at the 2023 JFS reception, Lydia Burrows, environment and sustainability manager at HSL Chairs, said: “We are really proud to be recognised for supporting our local community in education within furniture manufacturing. Our HR and manufacturing teams work tirelessly to make sure that we’re constantly upskilling our workforce in key crafts and skills, which help ensure that British manufacturing remains a core industry.”

Roger Durrans, CEO of Jay-Be, commented: “I feel absolutely ecstatic and very flattered and proud to be acknowledged for the efforts the team at JayBe is putting in, to continue in our sustainability achievements.”

The full details of the 2024 awards will be live shortly on our website, at

“Considering 2023 was our first awards event, we were delighted with the number and quality of entries
MD Phil Spademan
INDUSTRY PARTNERS Y Furniture kers xhibition. F U R N I T U R E W o m e n i n
“The Future of Furniture campaign aims to highlight the value and variety of careers within the industry

What’s the last change your business made to go greener?

LED lighting across the whole factory floor, saving 40,000kWh of electricity annually

Using more online communication. Investing in new technology. I always try to use technology for presenting, instead of paper

On the whole, we are actively working towards reducing our environmental impact, and consciously explore innovation and implement initiatives to increase our sustainability credentials, both at Siren and across our global supply chain. A recent step change is to move as much of our freight from road to sea, resulting in considerable saving in CO2

Andrew Kerr (Siren Furniture)

Working with charities and partners to give sofas a second life

Tim Hobbs (Prestige Furniture Logistics)

Product-wise, we have launched the Eco range. Operationally, every part of the business is explored with a view to make it greener. We have also signed the NBF Pledge for Our Planet, which gives us a framework to work within


We have introduced FSC-certified and recycled Dacron alternatives into several of our ranges in the last 12 months. We’ve also upgraded all our heating and cooling systems in our offices to be greener than they were

We’ve made further investment in expanding our own fleet for local deliveries, to reduce our carbon footprint and save on packaging

(Mattress Online)

In the last 12 months, we’ve invested in new systems in our warehouse and logistics departments, which have enabled us to drastically reduce our paper consumption, with the goal to eventually become a paper-free business

Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins)

We’re currently registered for the Trees for Trees programme

Sam Jackson (Bluebone Imports)

Dunne (Prestige Beds)

We’ve signed up for the NBF’s Pledge for Our Planet to address global environmental damage. It’s a really focused programme

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We’re in the process of changing our lighting to LED. It makes sense for both the planet and the business

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