Furniture News #415

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UNDERSTANDING THE FURNITURE SHOPPER Exclusive consumer insights report Fishpools turns 125 The Readers’ Choice Awards return #415 April 2024 INDX BEDS & BEDROOM FURNITURE COMPONENTS EXPO BEDROOM | LIVING | TRADE SERVICES HEAVEN ON EARTH Go
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Editor's comment

“Hopefully these insights give you the confidence to make (the right) changes in your business

Welcome to April’s issue, which features our first-ever consumer insights report – Understanding the Furniture Shopper.

This represents something of a passion project for me. I’ve wanted to conduct a deep dive into what the nation thinks about furniture shopping for a long time, and, thanks to support from product visualisation wizard Chaos Cylindo (if you don’t know what they do already, I guarantee you’ll be impressed), it’s finally here.

I’m aware of how important it is to ‘know your customer’ – and that no-one knows yours better than you do. But it also helps to set your own experiences against a benchmark, and we’ve set out to provide just that.

After all, what’s the use in knowing what your customers want, if you have no idea what, or how, their children would like to buy? Why invest in an all-singing, all-dancing new website, without identifying which features are going to actually resonate with users? Where should you allocate your marketing spend, focus your store training, or refine your offer?

Although these questions echo themes I’ve explored in Furniture News over the years, it’s great to bring the answers into focus (and context) by whittling them down to simple percentages.

Admittedly, we’ve only been able to scratch the surface this time. The trade continues to negotiate the rocky relationship between the store and online, the challenges continue to mount, and each business must find its own way to handle sourcing, margins, staffing, presentation, marketing, expansion, technology, quality, brand, and a hundred other factors that set them apart.

But beneath it all lies a fundamental truth. We all care about our homes, and the furniture we live with, and it’s worth remembering the emotional value of what we sell. It matters.

Beyond this, it’s about making enough right decisions. They say the most dangerous phrase in business is, ‘Why change? We’ve always done it this way’. Well, no more excuses. Hopefully these insights give you the confidence to make (the right) changes in your business, and to keep building something that furniture shoppers – today and tomorrow – just can’t live without.

I’d like to hear if these findings align with your own experiences and, down the line, if they’ve helped take your business forward. In the meantime, turn to p50 and get reading!

Elsewhere in April’s issue, you’ll find meaty previews of two key trade shows taking place this month –AIS’ INDX Beds & Bedroom (p32), and the BFM’s inaugural Furniture Components Expo (p42 – at which I’ll be moderating a panel questioning the balance of automation and skills in UK manufacturing).

Discover how Fishpools celebrated its 125th birthday (p14), the latest from Mammoth (p18) and Hypnos (p20), and read all about cover star Simba’s new eco-conscious mattress collection (p78). You’ll find Gavin Boden’s take on the trade show calendar (p88), Gordon Hecht’s advice for retailers looking to expand (p92), Q&As with Neil Barker (p16) and Jarrad Belton (p24), and more. We’re also launching this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards – find out how to vote for and nominate your top suppliers on p10.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue!

Paul Farley


13TH  15TH MAY 2024

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See the latest collections from leading UK and International brands of Upholstery, Cabinet, Bedroom and Lifestyle accessories.

Details and location of exhibitors are available on our website.

To request a personal copy, please send your details to




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5 7 NEWS 10 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2024 14 INSIGHT 14 Fishpools 16 Getting personal 18 Mammoth 20 Hypnos 24 60 seconds with … 26 EVENTS 32 INDX Beds & Bedroom 42 Furniture Components Expo 50 UNDERSTANDING THE FURNITURE SHOPPER 78 PRODUCTS 78 Bedroom 80 Living 82 Trade services 88 OPINION 88 Shows, shows, everywhere 90 Your reputation precedes you (or not) 92 Time to expand your retail empire? 94 Agency agreements – written or unwritten? 95 Yes, some staff are happy to work weekends 97 Partner comment 106 Feedback Contents
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© Gearing Media Group Ltd 2024 WWW.FURNITURENEWS.NET UNDERSTANDING THE FURNITURE SHOPPER Exclusive consumer insights report Fishpools turns 125 The Readers’ Choice Awards return #415 April 2024 INDX BEDS & BEDROOM FURNITURE COMPONENTS EXPO BEDROOM LIVING TRADE SERVICES HEAVEN ON EARTH Go greener with Simba’s sumptuous new sleep tech 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. Simon Fishpool Fishpools 14 18 88 97 John Tuton Mammoth Gavin Boden Rhenus Home Delivery (UK) Imre Zilahi International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP) COVER FEATURE 78 SIMBA SLEEP
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The Belfield Group (Westbridge, Tetrad, Belfield Home & Leisure and Clinchplain) has received a £7.5m transformation investment from its principal stakeholders, NorthEdge LLP and Virgin Money

The Furniture Makers’ Company’s eighth annual Curry Night, organised by its Yorkshire Region committee, raised £2000 for the industry charity

Barnes of Ipswich (The Bed Factory) is closing this month after nearly 100 years of business, with MD Chloe Last pursuing a new career direction

Arlo & Jacob is planning to open a new showroom in Solihull’s Mell Square this spring

LuxDeco went into administration on 15th March, with a team from Begbies Traynor (London) LLP appointed on the same date.

“The administration moratorium provides a ‘breathing space’ during which we will assess whether a rescue of the company is feasible,” states the brand’s website

John Lewis Partnership returns to profit

John Lewis Partnership has reported a return to profit in its unaudited results for the 52 weeks ended 27th January 2024. Following a “challenging” set of results in 2022/23, profit before tax and exceptional items was £42m, a £120m improvement on the prior year loss of £78m. Improvement was achieved through a combination of sales growth, gross margin rate improvement and sustainable productivity improvements.

The John Lewis business achieved improved profitability, helped by improved gross margin rate and productivity. However, sales were £4.8b, down -4%, and the retailer saw weaker sales in Home and Technology. “Trading operating profit of £689m was £13m better YoY as we converted sales into greater profit,” says JLP.

“Given the significant changes in the economy since we announced our strategy in 2020, we have refreshed our plan, in support of which we are entering a year of significant investment – £542m planned (over +70% up on the year) – much of which

will focus on modernising our technology, refreshing our shops and simplifying how we work.

“In John Lewis, we will improve our offer to customers with around 80 new brands and strengthened own-brand, while revitalising our Home category. We’re improving visual merchandising in stores, investing in technology to improve customer service and continuing to invest in value.”

Staff will not receive a bonus this year, but overall pay will be increased by £116m in 2024, which the partnership describes as “a record investment”.

Bensons reports sales and profit growth

Bensons for Beds has reported a return to profitability over the past year. Turnover for the 53 weeks to 30th September grew by +7.5% to £257.5m (from £239.4m in 2022), with reported EBITDA profit of just over £1.5m (from a loss of £15.4m in 2022). The increase follows the implementation of the brand’s recovery plan set out in 2022. Bensons states: “There is an old retail saying to the effect that you should focus on the KPIs that you can control. Faced with lacklustre market demand, the Bensons team have done just that – focusing on sales conversion and ATV in order to make the most of what demand there was, and on delivering a first-class customer experience both during and after sales were made and products delivered. That

focus proved extremely effective, with all these controllable KPIs moving in the right direction.”

During the last 12 months, Bensons has grown market share in its core categories, while continuing to invest in omnichannel and digital capability, with digital LFL at +22%. It increased store conversion with 14 new store openings across the year, and improved NPS scores by +15%, following significant investment in its customer service and delivery experience. Finally, since the brand was acquired in October 2022, the brand has shown strong growth and contributed positive EBITDA.

Bensons also bolstered its leadership team with several key hires, including the appointment of a new chief people officer, Linda Sleath.

Harmony Furnishings has appointed its first UK agent, Gary McGovern, who will represent the bedroom furniture supplier in the North West

The National Bed Federation (NBF) was awarded the ESG Initiative of the Year accolade in the Trade Association Awards 2024

Rehau has purchased the asset base of Manchester-based edgebanding firm DecorEdge, welcoming two key team members to the business

Next exceeds expectations

“In the context of the wider economic environment, the year to January 2024 was a very good year for Next, and the business materially outperformed our initial expectations,” states chairman, Michael Roney, at the top of the retail group’s year-end (27th January 2024) results.

Next Trading full-price sales were up +4.0%, and total group sales (including subsidiaries) up +5.9%. Store sales were up +0.2% YoY, and LFL full-price sales up +1.8% (online full-price sales were up +6.0% YoY). Across the group, PBT rose to a record high of £918m, up +5.0%. Cash flow remained strong, and £425m was returned to shareholders through a combination of dividends (£248m) and share buybacks (£177m).

Michael continues: “We launched three new Total Platform clients (JoJo Maman Bébé, Joules and Made), taking our total number of clients to seven.”

As well as launching the new Made website, Next opened a dedicated showroom in Leeds (Redbrick Mill) as well as dedicated retail space in its Sheffield store. Next is planning to expand its product ranges with “a focus on furniture and lighting”.

The year ahead will see a number of changes to Next’s board. FD Amanda James plans to retire in July, and will be succeeded by Jonathan Blanchard (ex-Reiss CFO and COO) on the board. Amy Stirling and Venetia Butterfield will join as independent non-executive directors in April, while non-executive director Dame Dianne Thompson leaves in May. For the coming year, Next forecasts underlying full-price sales growth of +2.5%, and an increase in total group sales of +6.0%. Group profit guidance is £960m (up +4.6%). While Next will continue to open and close a number of stores, it says it does not anticipate any material net change in selling space.


ACID celebrates 25th anniversary

At an event held at Furniture Maker’s Hall in February to celebrate 25 years since the foundation of Anti Copying in Design (ACID), representatives from the design world were present to welcome the Minister for Intellectual Property and AI, Viscount Camrose, Creative Industries co-chair Sir Peter Bazalgette, designer Sebastian Conran, Design Council CEO Minnie Moll, and ACID’s chief counsel Nick Kounoupias, who each spoke about the importance of intellectual property (IP) and design.

Viscount Camrose gave a speech applauding the design economy and congratulating ACID’s contribution, saying: “ACID has been a strong and consistent champion for SME designers for 25 years. Both in your own right and as a key member of the Alliance for IP, you have campaigned to ensure that IP rights are valued. The Government has been pleased to work with ACID to help ensure

our IP system continues to support creativity and innovation in design, and that our design system works effectively for smaller design-led businesses and lone designers.

“I know that the introduction of criminal sanctions for unregistered designs is an important issue for ACID. We will be seeking evidence on this topic within our design consultation, so I would urge you all to respond.”

Changes and investment at Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer has announced a record £89m investment in its retail pay offer, and a further £5m annual investment to enhance its maternity, paternity, and adoption policies. CEO Stuart Machin says: “Our vision is to be the most trusted retailer – and that starts with being the most trusted employer. That’s why we’re making our biggest-ever investment in our retail pay offer to recognise our colleagues for the vital role they play each day. It means that since March 2022, we’ve invested more than £146m in our retail pay offer and increased our standard hourly rate by more than +26%.”

In other news, in what it describes as a planned move, Katie Bickerstaffe will retire from M&S after its AGM in July 2024 to pursue a board career. Katie served as a non-executive director and co-COO of M&S prior to being appointed co-CEO, reporting to Stuart Machin, in March 2022.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s decision to block the redevelopment of the retailer’s Marble Arch Store has been ruled “unlawful” by the High Court. After planning permission was refused – a move described by Stuart as “a short-sighted act of self-sabotage” – the retailer sought a judicial review. Operations director Sacha Berendji says: “The result has been a long, unnecessary and costly delay to the only retail-led regeneration on Oxford Street which would deliver one of London’s greenest buildings, create thousands of new jobs and rejuvenate the capital’s premier shopping district. The Secretary of State now has the power to unlock the wide-ranging benefits of this significant investment and send a clear message to UK and global business that the Government supports sustainable growth and the regeneration of our towns and cities.”

DFS “resilient” in H1 despite challenging market

DFS Furniture has announced its interim results for the 26-week period ended 24th December 2023. The retailer says it made progress on its cost-to-operate programme, with a gross margin improvement from 53.8% in H1 FY23 to 56.0% in the current period, and operating costs £11.5m lower. Despite “a more challenging and volatile than expected upholstery market”, with order volumes down some -10% YoY versus the -5% the business assumed in September, the group continued its long track record of market share gains, reaching a record level of 38.5%. It also saw continued improvement in customer NPS measures.

In the wake of H1, after a “solid start” to January, market demand weakened significantly, with market order volumes down some -16% YoY across January and February, says DFS, which has provided updated guidance for the year accordingly.

Revenues are now expected to be in the range of £1000m-£1015m, and PBT(A) in the range of £2025m, excluding the risk of Red Sea delays.

This represents a £60-£65m reduction in revenue guidance, partially mitigated to a £10m reduction in PBT(A) guidance. The guidance assumes that H2 market volumes will be broadly consistent with H1 YoY, in a range of -8% to -10%, supported by weaker Q4 comparatives and a level of pent-up demand following the weak January and February.

Group CEO Tim Stacey says: “Whilst the current macroeconomic situation has presented many challenges, we are pleased to have extended our market leadership while reporting a resilient profit performance through the first half. We remain well positioned to improve our profit margins without market recovery and remain confident in delivering our +8% PBT target when the market recovers.”

Fairway Furniture has embarked on a £1.5m internal refurbishment of its flagship Plymouth store

The Women in Furniture Network (WIFN) is launching an online mentorship platform, giving members the opportunity to connect with and learn from experienced industry professionals

A National Bed Federation (NBF) survey has revealed that, after a tough 2023, bed manufacturers and suppliers remain downbeat about their expectations for this year

Fabb Furniture opened its first Nottingham store last month, on Castle Marina Retail Park. The retailer’s 22nd store reflects a new partnership, and is split 50/50 with Bensons for Beds

Emma - The Sleep Company ended 2023 with revenues of €961.9m. Despite facing operational challenges while implementing new systems, the company grew revenues by +13% YoY and recorded its sixth consecutive year of profitability

Bed Kingdom MD Ashley Hainsworth was featured in Insider Yorkshire’s 42 Under 42 list of leading business figures for 2024

Oak Furnitureland opened its first new showroom since 2021 last month, on Grimsby’s Alexandra Retail Park

Longpre Furniture, which makes bespoke furniture in Somerset, has been sold out of administration, safeguarding 50 jobs


Choose your champions!

Our industry is home to a wealth of top-notch suppliers, which strive day in, day out, to deliver the best products and services their customers’ money can buy. At Furniture News, we tip our hat to their efforts – but when it comes to deciding which businesses are really at the top of their game, it’s your call …

Our Readers’ Choice Awards are back for 2024, and we’re again asking you to nominate your champions from the world of furniture supply, and give credit where it’s due!

We created the Readers’ Choice Awards to celebrate the suppliers leading the pack, and to let you have your say. Now in their fourth year, the awards have become an important seal of approval from the Furniture News readership, proudly displayed by the winners, far and wide.

Other than the addition of a few extra categories (best staff welfare, trade showroom, and training and marketing support), this year’s voting process is no different than the last. Simply go to our online form, and select or nominate your chosen supplier in each category. Encourage the rest of your team, and your customers, to do the same (only one submission per person please, and yes, we do check!) – then keep an eye out for August’s issue, in which we’ll unveil the winners.

How to vote

You can quickly and easily cast your votes by visiting and making your selections through our online form. Voting closes at midnight on Friday 7th June.

Last year’s winners

Best Bed Supplier: Sleepeezee

Best Bed Component Supplier: Leggett & Platt Springs UK

Best Bedroom Cabinet Supplier: Devonshire

Best Boxed Mattress Brand: Simba Sleep

Best Boxed Sofa Brand: Swyft Home

Best Buying Group:

Associated Independent Stores (AIS)

Best CGI Visualisation Provider: Chilli Pepper Designs

Best Children’s/Nursery Furniture Supplier: Julian Bowen

Best Decorative Accessories Supplier: Bluebone

Best Dining Furniture Supplier: Coach House

Best Display Support Provider:

Reborn Marketing and Design

Best European Exhibition: imm cologne

Best Fabric Supplier: Warwick Fabrics

Best Fabric Upholstery Supplier: Whitemeadow Furniture

Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier: Core Products

Best for Innovation: Orbital Vision

Best for Sustainable Thinking: Hypnos Beds

Best Fulfilment Provider: Rhenus Home Delivery (UK)

Best Furniture Care/Repair Provider: Emmiera Group

Best Furniture Component Supplier: Decorative Panels

Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier: Gallery Direct

Best Home Office Furniture Supplier: Jual Furnishings

Best Importer: Wiemann

Best International Exhibition:

Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF)

Best Leather/Leather-Look Upholstery Supplier: La-Z-Boy UK

Best Lighting Supplier: där lighting group

Best Living Room Cabinet Supplier: Ercol

Best Machinery Manufacturer: MattressTek

Best Mattress Supplier: Sealy UK

Best Newcomer: Mattsons Beds (UK)

Best Occasional Chair/Recliner Supplier: Hydeline Furniture

Best Product Protection Supplier: Staingard

Best Rug Supplier: Think Rugs

Best Sales/Marketing Services Provider: Furniture Sales Solutions

Best Sofabed Supplier: Kyoto

Best Soft Furnishings Supplier: Scatter Box

Best Software/Technology Provider: Iconography

Best Testing Services/Certification Provider: FIRA International

Best Trade Association:

National Bed Federation (NBF)

Best UK Bed Manufacturer: Silentnight Group

Best UK Exhibition: January Furniture Show (JFS)

Best UK Upholstery Manufacturer: Tetrad

Best Upholstered Bed Supplier: Furmanac Group

Best Vehicle Manufacturer: Maxi Mover

Sealy UK’s (Best Mattress Supplier 2023) CCO Mark Tuley FIRA International’s team (Best Testing Services/Certification Provider 2023) Hypnos’ (Best for Sustainable Thinking 2023) group sustainable development director, Richard Naylor

Best (complete) Bed Supplier:

Best Bed Component Supplier:

Best Bedroom Cabinet Supplier:

Best Boxed Mattress Brand:

Best Boxed Sofa Brand:

Best Buying Group:

Best CGI Visualisation Provider:

Best Children’s/Nursery Furniture Supplier:

Best Decorative Accessories Supplier:

Best Dining Furniture Supplier:

Best Display Support Provider:

Best European Exhibition (outside the UK):

Best Fabric Supplier:

Best Fabric Upholstery Supplier:

Best Flatpack Furniture Supplier:

Best for Innovation:

Best for Staff Welfare:

Best for Sustainable Thinking:

Best Fulfilment Provider:

Best Furniture Care/Repair Provider:

Best Furniture Component Supplier:

Best Garden/Outdoor Furniture Supplier:

Best Home Office Furniture Supplier:

Best Importer:

Cast your votes at

Best International Exhibition (outside Europe):

Best Leather/Leather-Look Upholstery Supplier:

Best Lighting Supplier:

Best Living Room Cabinet Supplier:

Best Machinery Manufacturer:

Best Marketing Support:

Best Mattress Supplier:

Best Newcomer:

Best Occasional Chair/Recliner Supplier:

Best Product Protection Supplier:

Best Rug Supplier:

Best Sales/Marketing Services Provider:

Best Sofabed Supplier:

Best Soft Furnishings Supplier:

Best Software/Technology Provider:

Best Testing Services/Certification Provider:

Best Trade Association:

Best Trade Showroom:

Best (supplier) Training Support:

Best UK Bed Manufacturer:

Best UK Exhibition:

Best UK Upholstery Manufacturer:

Best Upholstered Bed Supplier:

Best Vehicle Manufacturer:


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Fishpools marks 125 years of business

Fishpools of Waltham Cross is one of the South East’s biggest retailers of quality furniture, and a destination popular with shoppers from Hertfordshire, Essex and London. Last month, the business celebrated its 125th birthday, with an in-store event and staff party – Furniture News asked MD Simon Fishpool to tell us more …

Fishpools is 125 years old – congratulations! How did you celebrate reaching this milestone, and how do you feel about it personally?

We marked this significant milestone by firstly saying thank you to our customers, employees and suppliers. We kicked off the celebrations with a big in-store event on 23rd and 24th March, with prize draws across the two days and gifting opportunities for previous customers. Following this, to celebrate our employees and suppliers, we hosted a big company party.

What do you think (founder) Ernest Fishpool would say if he could see the business today?

I would like to think that Ernest would like where we have ended up, but I’m pretty sure that he would urge us to keep evolving and growing all parts of the business, too.

Is there anything about retail as it was back in his time that you’d like to recapture?

“We’ve continued to be financially rock solid. This is the benefit of generations of sensible, commercial investment back into the business

I prefer to think about ‘reaffirming’ retail rather than recapturing, as we haven’t lost the best elements of the industry. We are reaffirming our great service and value, our huge product choice and selection, and ensuring we live up to our strapline, ‘furniture experts’.

What technological projects are you currently working on, and what’s in the pipeline for your online offer?

We are constantly working on how best to blend online and offline retailing, plus reviewing the IT and systems infrastructure required to support our proposition, in a way that makes the customer experience first rate.

Given that, how might the store look in 10 years’ time?

The industry has evolved so much – just think how much the customer journey has changed in the past 10 years! Everything will continue to evolve and the rate of change will probably increase, so it’s important that we continue developing and progressing the business with the times.

Can you summarise the business’ recent financial performance?

As trading has now normalised since the pandemic, we’ve continued to be financially rock solid. This is the benefit of generations of sensible, commercial investment back into the business, and no rent or borrowings to get in the way of long-term planning.

Some retailers see opportunities to grow their store portfolios in the current climate – are you tempted to expand?

Never say never, but the economics of land and property transactions in the South East are such that reinvesting in our store, DC, systems and brand is providing us with a better return at present.

Fishpools is one of the nation’s best-looking furniture stores. What does it take to keep it that way?

Reinvesting in store presentation and refreshing our product ranges is our 365-day-a-year, front-of-mind obsession.

Fishpools, Waltham Cross
Ernest and Kate Fishpool outside the store in 1899 Simon Fishpool

You offer an interior design service for customers, but how else do you capitalise on the onestop shop nature of your offer, and encourage shoppers to buy everything they need from you? Presentation of complementary ranges is one of the best ways to impart inspiration to customers. They don’t have to guess as to what looks and feels like it works together – our store and our experienced sales teams make that super simple for them the moment they walk through the door.

What’s the balance of branded/unbranded product you offer? What do brands need to bring to the table in order to earn a place on your shop floor?

Brands that are always of interest to us have something different about their offer, produce great designs, a well thought-through value proposition and are easy to work with.

Has the business’ approach to product sourcing changed much since the pandemic?

The pandemic’s impact on sourcing and supply chains was, and in some ways remains, significant. That said, we ensure we understand what suppliers are up to globally, and the supply chain implications for each one we work with (or think about working with).

What was your reaction to the Spring Budget? Are there any important implications for Fishpools?

I don’t think that there was much scope for a radical budget. We had one of those a while back and it didn’t end well.

If you had to hazard a guess, what do you think the rest of 2024 might look like for you, and for independent furniture retail in general?

Election years can typically be a challenge for bigticket items, and against the current backdrop of a sluggish housing market, cost of living constraints, the war in Ukraine and who knows what else, I don’t see our sector setting any records this year. To be honest, we don’t overly worry about one year’s performance –we are making decisions as much for the long term.

Has your attitude to retail changed over the past decade?

It’s all change, no change. Online and broader technology have massively affected the supply-side and demand-side of retail. Our customers, however, still want inspiration, choice, value and service, which we give them every day.

“We don’t overly worry about one year’s performance –we are making decisions as much for the long term 15


Neil runs two Barkers Furniture stores, in Hillsborough, Sheffield – one dedicated to bedroom and flooring products, the other selling upholstery, dining and occasional furniture. He also manages a furniture-focused website development business, Abacus Solutions.

How might a child describe what you do? Boring!

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face? Keeping ahead of change.

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

It depends what you define as ‘budget’ – our entire expenditure x 10? One huge building with both showrooms, offices and warehouse in, with a big, juicy car park, on a main road, if that’s the case.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘Doing What You Believe In’.

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

I’m not a good person to ask that question to. I need to spend more time with the family.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

Not sure … I’ve learnt a lot from a lot of people – staff, family, agents, reps, our retailers, etc.

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

Make sure all sales staff input orders electronically –make the most of technology to cut costs.

What advice would you give your younger self? Don’t worry about what you cannot control. It’s worked out fine.

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

That’s a hard one. I love the furniture shows, as furniture retailers and suppliers are generally great people.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

Consumers think they can get something for nothing.

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

The retailers that embrace technology keep getting stronger, and the groups then lose their competitive advantage.

What question do you wish we’d asked? How would you have answered?

Q. How does your family furniture business make online work for them?

A. Shop margin, debrand, drive sales into the shop and put a 30-mile radius on the shopping basket to expand the catchment area (but only as far as they can deliver themselves).


entire expenditure x 10? One huge building with both showrooms, offices and warehouse in, with a big, juicy car park, on a main road



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in Mammoth

Mammoth’s comfort-driven comeback

Having negotiated myriad challenges, healthy sleep brand Mammoth has emerged fitter than ever, explains its founder and CEO,

John Tuton …
“People know that sleeping better is crucial to a longer, happier life, and that’s something we’re committed to being a part of

What’s been keeping you busy over the last few weeks?

I’ve been out on the road with the Mammoth team supporting the roll-out of our all-new Comfort collection into our independent retailers. In particular, we’ve been running training and launch events with our Centres for Excellence around the country.

We know how important it is for retailers to be enhancing their in-store experience and delivering a service that keeps customers coming through their doors. That’s why we are putting time and resource into ensuring that sales staff are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to educate customers about the benefits of quality sleep and the unique technologies in our products.

The Mammoth brand has gone through a good deal of upheaval in recent years. Can you summarise what happened, and where it stands today?

Today, I’m pleased to say that we are in great shape. It’s taken a lot of hard work from the Mammoth team, our licensed manufacturer Airsprung, and our trusted stockists to get us here, but we’re definitely seeing a positive response in the market to our product ranges in 2024. It is a real testament to the strong reputation we have built and the equity in the Mammoth brand.

It’s fair to say that it took some time for us to ride out the challenges of Covid-19, and our previous manufacturer going into administration. But I’m excited about the progress we’ve made and will continue to make over the coming years as we execute our growth strategy. Our Medical Grade technologies are more relevant than ever in today’s market, so the future is bright.

What was the most challenging aspect of that journey?

Going through the process of a financial turnaround. Having to be patient and focus so much attention on due diligence can be tough.

It’s not just about the numbers, though. The process requires careful management of people and the ability to apply diplomacy, grace and clear communication in a variety of situations.

Do you think the business is better equipped to meet demand because of it?

One hundred percent. Taking closer control of our business model, streamlining operations, working with the right partners and identifying the right opportunities for the future has meant that our capacity for scalability is now many times greater than it was previously. I’m extremely confident of that. Hitting the reset button is painful in the short term, but I know it has made us stronger in the grand scheme of things.

What sort of responses are you seeing from retailers to the ’new’ Mammoth?

The response has been brilliant. Retailers have shared that they love the new products we’ve recently brought to market and where we are positioned now. By having the entry-level Active mattress alongside the Comfort collection we’re giving retailers greater flexibility and playing to the strengths of our manufacturing partners, Airsprung.

What does the current product offer comprise?

Mammoth Active represents the entry point for our customers. It’s a perfectly packaged health and fitness proposition that we know appeals to those who want to be able to enjoy the benefits of Mammoth’s Medical Grade foam.

Our revamped Comfort collection is our flagship offering, which includes a number of new features across our Vitality, Altitude and Latex HyBlend products. We’ve had particularly good feedback to our IceClass cool-touch fabric – a thermoregulating textile designed to optimise temperature and keep the skin comfortable through the night. And the addition

Mammoth Active mattress
John Tuton

of a Medical Grade latex mattresses represents a real point of difference for those who love the distinctive feel of the natural, breathable material.

What would you describe as your key differentiator in 2024?

It has to be our position as a genuine health and wellbeing brand, bringing Medical Grade technologies to the furniture market. Our heritage in healthcare, unique partnership with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and scientific testing combine to reassure both retailers and customers that we are doing more to deliver comfort, aid recovery and, ultimately, offer a healthy choice. Our higher purpose is all about helping people to live longer, happier lives.

Do you think consumer demand for sleep products has evolved in recent years?

Absolutely. We’ve seen a very clear growth in the public’s awareness of physical and mental health issues, and sleep is undoubtedly one of those key areas of focus. There’s plenty of research out there from the likes of McKinsey to back that up. The pandemic only accelerated that focus on health and wellbeing – at home, in the workplace and in elite sport.

Fundamentally, people know that sleeping better is crucial to a longer, happier life, and that’s something we’re committed to being a part of at Mammoth.

In January, you reported that you’d secured a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund. What does it mean for the business, and how seriously are you looking at international growth?

The new investment is important in helping us accelerate our growth strategy in both the UK and internationally. As relative newcomers to the international market, it’s been incredible to see the positive response from people who are being introduced to Mammoth for the first time. People love the Mammoth story, our credentials in healthcare, our tech and our authenticity.

Is there anything else in the pipeline? Always.

Where/when can interested parties find out more?

As always, retailers can get in touch with our regional sales agents or via sales@themammothcompany. com. People can also follow our activity across Mammoth’s social media channels, and I’m providing regular business updates on LinkedIn, so I’d encourage people to connect with me there.

“We know how important it is for retailers to be enhancing their in-store experience
Mammoth’s Comfort Vitality Hybrid mattress Mammoth’s Centre For Excellence launch at Warrington’s Sleep Haven Former England and Warrington Rugby League star Paul Wood and John Tuton at the Sleep Haven Centre For Excellence launch

Hypnos looks ahead

In October 2022, driven by a desire to secure its long-term future, Hypnos embarked on a period of transformation which culminated this February with the decision to close its contract manufacturing facility in Castle Donington, and incorporate the workload at its Princes Risborough HQ. Furniture News paid the bedmaker a visit to find out more …

Despite making strong gains, it has been a turbulent time for the famed bedmaker, which marks its 120th anniversary this year. However, says group MD David Baldry, following the loss of its Premier Inn contract, and the winding down of its Keen & Able transport arm, the move to re-integrate contract production with the resulting site closure (and the 64 jobs lost with it) finally concludes a painful but necessary reinvention.

“The site closure was a difficult decision, of course,” he says, “but it’s one we needed to make if we wanted to grow sustainably for the next 120 years.”

In a statement, he wrote: “We’ve been working with the executive board and senior leadership team to build a secure foundation for future growth focused on quality bedmaking, and this unfortunate but necessary step marks the last phase of our two-year strategic focus to strengthen and build a foundation to achieve our ambitious goals for the coming decade.

the company’s knowledge, skills and industry under one roof, and closer to the hospitality sector’s London heartland.

“The opportunity to amalgamate all key business functions over one site needed to be fully considered,” David wrote, “but there are so many benefits to having all our manufacturing in one place. The move will improve overall efficiency and communication within the business, lower our CO2 footprint, and positively impact our approach to our premium position in the hospitality market.”

It will also enable Hypnos to make the most of a new ERP system coming online this summer – a change David has been looking to implement since he joined the business in 2022.

“For a business to be sustainable first, it has to be a sustainable business

“Production and administrative teams at the site are sadly affected by this news, and we’re working to give them support for their future. We’d like to thank our committed teams at both sites for their professional approach during the consultation period, and for ensuring a smooth transition.”

Despite the upheaval, the decision not to renew the site’s lease, and to instead absorb the hospitality operation and focus on “one home” for Hypnos at its fully owned facility in Princes Risborough, promises to deliver significant benefits.

Closing the 110-mile distance between the sites will naturally deliver greater efficiency, bringing all of

Yet the move would not have been possible without the significant improvements delivered by the team at Hypnos’ HQ. Contract manufacturing accounts for some 20% of the group’s business, and incorporating the additional volume would be no mean feat. Good news, then, that Hypnos’ production team had already stepped up to the challenge.

“Over the last year, the team, under the leadership of group operations director Stephen Faulkner, has successfully maintained and developed quality handcrafting whilst increasing manufacturing efficiency at the Princes Risborough site by almost +30%,” David stated. “In our dedicated batch production area alone, the bedmaking capacity has almost tripled, which means this can accommodate the needs of our hospitality partners without any

David Baldry and Ashley Garside on the (newly optimised) factory floor

impact on the bespoke retail products.”

This work has been assisted by Ashley Garside, now head of operations, who oversaw the gradual rearrangement of the factory floor, adding new production lines, relocating operations, bolstering the staff training programme and pushing efficiency ever further.

“It’s all down to a combination of distance, machinery, multi-skilling and supervision,” says Ashley, “all taken forward as part of a smart, measured plan. It’s a process of testing and gradual improvement. Try it, learn it, improve it.”

In 2021, Hypnos was making 1200 units a week, says David – now its output is up to 2000, without having to resort to overtime or extra shifts. Average lead times are just north of two weeks – a sprint compared to what was executed during the pandemic.

Those huge output gains are the result of countless granular improvements – a new approach here, a rearrangement there – carefully tracked and monitored by Ashley’s team, and coming together as a “force multiplier” that means the factory is not only able to take on the extra work coming out of Castle Donington, but to promise even greater efficiency.

With the move meaning a loss of production staff, performance training in Princes Risborough has been crucial, and has included a concerted focus on multiskilling the teams based there. More and more of Hypnos’ mattressmakers are now able to tape-edge

and upholster, and there is a palpable hunger to grow, says Ashley: “We’re lucky that a lot of the younger workforce here are willing to learn more, and that means we can better flex to meet demand.”

A further, but no less important benefit of the move is the energy savings that will be made thanks to having all the operations in one place – a crucial factor for a business that prides itself on being a pioneer in the field of sustainability, and which recently partnered with logistics specialist DFDS to ensure a greener fulfilment operation (David is eagerly awaiting the chance to utilise Volvo’s new electric lorry).

“For a business to be sustainable first, it has to be a sustainable business,” notes David. “From a holistic, carbon-saving perspective, we had to go to a single site.”

The incorporation will take place over the coming months, and Hypnos has assured customers that they will not be affected by the move, with the division’s field-based sales specification team and installation services remaining in place.

“We will formally exit the Castle Donington site in September, after dilapidation works are complete,” David concludes. “It’s been painful, but, following a year of investment, optimisation and process changes across the business, we’re finally ready to start the next chapter in our 120-year story.”

“The site closure was a difficult decision, but it’s one we needed to make if we wanted to grow sustainably
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Investment secures bedmaker’s legacy

Celebrating its 120-year heritage and 95 years as a Royal Warrant holder, Hypnos is firmly focused on building the foundations for the future, with key decisions and investment being made in its product, people and infrastructure …

It is an exciting time for the business, says Hypnos, as it celebrates special landmark anniversaries with launches with new and existing customers, a brandnew website, and the introduction of key mattress collections including Legacy, and the plant-based mattress collection uniquely created in collaboration with the Eden Project.

This year, the business is spending £1.4m on an improved ERP system to support the brand’s growth and development, which will help drive operational improvements across the business and improve the service experience for customers.

Hypnos has also appointed a new transport and logistics partner, DFDS, so customers can continue to benefit from a dedicated fleet with the additions of trackable, sustainable, state-of-the-art delivery systems. The partnership also includes a new, latestgeneration Volvo EV, and on-site charging points.

Group MD David Baldry explains: “The last two years have been a period of positive change for Hypnos, refocusing the business while developing our capabilities, to create a strong next chapter.

“This has resulted in a stronger team responsible for driving key improvements across the business, investments in the skills and wellbeing of our people, and resulting in significant increases in manufacturing capacity and efficiency thanks to the team at our wholly owned Buckinghamshire-based facilities. Retailers will have seen us fulfilling our promises when it comes to developing the services and products they need, made with the high-quality handcraftsmanship you’d expect from Hypnos, and supported by reduced lead times.

“Our website is delivering for our retailers with an enhanced consumer journey, increased visits and, crucially, exits targeted to our showroom partners. We are also committed to sharing more marketing assets with our partners and developing their online and in-store experience.

“The last two years have been a period of positive change for Hypnos

“Last year we made the decision to progress with a significant investment, moving to a latest-generation, cloud-based system with our ERP partners, Covalent and IFS, upgrading our IT systems and integrating systems across all our activities, from enquiry to delivery. By integrating every part of the business, it allows us to work better together, facilitates improved processes and ultimately drives more transparent relationships with our partner customers and suppliers.

“The DFDS logistics partnership has been selected as it will enhance our service to retail customers, integrating into our digital journey, and importantly aid us in the next steps of our sustainability journey – together, we can track and actively reduce the carbon footprint of our delivery fleet through strategic planning and a switch to more sustainable fuel types, including renewable bio diesel (HVO) and electric vehicles.

“We are passionate about building on our reputation for comfortable beds that enhance the wellbeing of people and the planet. Our partnerships are key to success and future successes, and we are committed to working with those who share our values.”

Hypnos’ team visiting ERP partner IFS
DFDS is Hypnos’ new transport and logistics partner

Harnessing the power of plants

Handcrafted mattresses made with pioneering plant fibres from the habitats that help support the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Discover more at the INDX Beds and Bedroom Show 23/24 April, and the Summer Furniture Show 21/22 May. Celebrating 120 years of british bedmaking

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60 SECONDS WITH … Jarrad Belton

To mark its 60th anniversary, The Furniture Makers’ Company looked to the future by highlighting 60 of the industry’s most promising young professionals (aged under 35) through its ‘60 for 60’ campaign. To discover how they view the trade, Furniture News is inviting these rising stars to share their stories – this month, our quickfire questions go to furnituremaker and tutor, Jarrad Belton.

In one sentence, describe what you do … I create unique, statement-piece furniture using sustainable timber from well-managed forests. I also teach students in the way of the blade at the Farnham School of Furniture Making.

What makes you well suited to the role?

I am incredibly passionate about what I do for a living, and being able to impart that with others is one of the great rewards of my role.

How did you come to work in the industry?

It would seem fate. I was originally considering training as a motorcycle mechanic when I left school, but when I viewed the college, the mechanic workshop felt cold and dark. I happened to walk past the carpentry workshop which was bright, warm and full of the sound of handsaws cutting and the smell of fresh plane shavings. It was much more attractive to me – I was completely enraptured.

It was from that day on I trained as a carpenter, working part time whilst studying. I enjoyed the first two years so much I stayed on for a third year of joinery, which wasn’t compulsory.

After then, working on site as a carpenter for a number of years, I discovered that I wanted more refinement to my work. I saved up enough money working part time at a local sawmill where I gained fundamental knowledge of timber, and then proceeded to pay to restudy furnituremaking (I was probably around 20 at this time). I had built up a small portfolio of work before retraining, so when I went for the interview at the college I was put in for the third year rather than starting from the beginning. I was thrown in at the deep end, but, as a wise person once told me, “a calm sea never made a good sailor.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in college, and after completing the course I went back to the sawmill part time for two days a week and then made furniture for the rest of the week, taking on as much commission work as I could and exhibiting at as many events as I could afford.

After building a name for myself, I left the sawmill and became self employed, making furniture for private clients and galleries. I then started work part time at weekends with a furnituremaker, Aidan McEvoy, in the craft town of Farnham. This led to me to now being an employed member of the company,

and Aidan’s apprentice at the Farnham School of Furniture Making. I absolutely love what I do for a living and feel so lucky to have found it so early in life. It is what I am most passionate about.

How has your career progressed since?

I have definitely improved my ability as a furnituremaker since I first started my journey, but I feel there is still much to learn. I am proud of what I have achieved with certain awards and shortlisted pieces, but there are still many pieces I need to challenge myself with.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Making furniture to a higher level.

What’s been the biggest surprise in how the industry operates?

The lack of appreciation for where the trees we use actually come from. As a finite resource, it is crucial that we manage and use our woodlands accordingly. Organisations like Grown in Britain are doing a wonderful job of leading this topic, but more needs to be done. We as furnituremakers need to have an understanding of what trees we are using, and if it is truly a sustainable practise.

What does being named one of the ‘60 for 60’ mean to you?

I’m stoked! I feel very grateful to have my dedication to the craft recognised. I think it’s super important to celebrate the up-and-coming craftspeople of furnituremaking, and being able to network with likeminded individuals at the ‘60 for 60’ event was incredibly beneficial.

What would you say to encourage others to join the industry?

If you’re interested in the craft, then jump at it with everything you can. Don’t become a furnituremaker to seek wealth or fame, do it for the love of the craft. If you can pursue passion over money, you will be at home in the industry of furnituremaking – it’s important to have enthused people pioneering the next generation.

Find out more about the ‘60 for 60’ stars at

“Don’t become a furnituremaker to seek wealth or fame – do it for the love of the craft

May-k your mark!

May’s issue of Furniture News is bursting with show previews and special features, and the perfect opportunity for any furniture business taking their latest products/services to market this spring/ summer.

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* The latest in Living, Dining, Bedroom and Trade Services

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VIFA EXPO’s international appeal

The 15th Vietnam International Furniture & Home Accessories Fair (VIFA EXPO 2024), took place from 26-29th February at Sky Expo Vietnam Center, Ho Chi Minh City, and featured 603 exhibitors, including 320 from Vietnam and 283 from 17 other countries …

With nearly 2000 booths, the exhibition showcased a variety of products, with 61% focusing on furniture, 19% on furnishings, 8% handicrafts and home decor, and 12% comprising hardware, machines, wood materials and service products.

As a leading furniture exhibition brand in Asia – and the oldest in Vietnam – VIFA EXPO has always been a must-visit destination for international buyers seeking reputable and export-standard furniture sources in Asia.

This year’s edition attracted 13,149 visitors during the four trade days, including 5262 international visitors from 72 countries and territories – primarily from China, India, the US, Australia, Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. This edition saw a significant percentage of international buyers, with 66% from Asia, 14% from Europe, 11% from the Americas, 8% from Oceania, and 1% from Africa.

According to the show’s organiser, more than two thirds (68.2%) of buyers intended to attend business matching events, 26% wanted to place orders, and 7% wanted to place orders to the value of over $1m.

According to the initial results of a survey conducted after the show, the reported value of contracts/memorandums of understanding (MOUs) signed at the fair amounts to some $84m, and 76% of the exhibitors surveyed left with contracts/MOUs.

The show was a pioneering event in the year’s biggest Asian furniture exhibition series, which also included IFEX, MIFF, EFE, 3F and CIFF.

VIFA EXPO’s organiser says it facilitated the “optimal conditions for international furniture buyers” with an exclusive suite of support programmes, covering everything from transportation to accommodation, including: complimentary hotel stays for VIP buyers; free airport support service; free shuttle bus service; and discounts of 20-50% on stays at the show’s official hotel.

“VIFA EXPO consistently welcomes a stable influx of international buyers

Tailored delivery

VIFA EXPO 2024 was co-organised by Lien Minh Company, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Ho Chi Minh City branch (VCCI - HCMC), and the Vietnam Association for Building Materials (VABM), with active support from Vietnam Coconut Association (VCA), Ho Chi Minh City Advertising Association (HAA), and Vietnam Investment Construction - Services in Agriculture and Forestry Association (VICSAFA).

The key activities at and alongside the fair included factory visits, enabling buyers to visit eight typical furniture manufacturing factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces – Discovery Global Partners, Everfriendship, Godrej, Bradsense, Thanh Duong, Tay Ho Timber, Hiep Long and Full Support – so buyers could observe each stage of the export-standard furniture production process.

Specialised seminars included: the Global Furniture Outlook 2023 and Trends Forecast 2024, with speakers from CSIL Milano - World Furniture Online (Italy), Canadian Interiors, and Alibaba - OSB HCM (Vietnam); the application of new materials in interior and exterior production, with speakers from HCMC University of Technology, the Vietnam Association for Building Materials (VABM), and the Vietnam Handicraft Exporter Association (Vietcraft).

Meanwhile, the exhibitor and buyer’s night celebration honoured the businesses that have been with VIFA EXPO throughout its 16-year journey of promoting trade and connecting global furniture demand and supply. The gala also served as an opportunity for networking and expanding business connections between participating exhibitors and international buyers.

For this edition of the show, to enhance the connections between exhibitors and international buyers, the organiser further improved the exhibition’s online platform in the following ways: visitors could easily search and connect with the exhibitors; the exhibition and best booths were scanned and deployed on the platform, allowing busy buyers to easily “visit the online booth” after the exhibition; and an Online Business Matching Week (scheduled for


April) has been organised, to enable international buyers to continue seeking information, selecting businesses for connections, and negotiating online now the exhibition has concluded.

Cementing VIFA’s identity

VIFA EXPO has undergone 16 years of establishment and development through 15 editions, evolving into an annual event for Vietnam’s wood and furniture industry, with significant influence in the South East Asian region, and gaining international stature.

Despite now being delivered at a completely new venue and on different dates, VIFA EXPO continues to draw numerous enterprises from Vietnam’s various provinces, and countries worldwide, to participate. Additionally, it remains a top choice for international visitors in the annual Asian trade fair circuit.

“Consequently, VIFA EXPO consistently welcomes a stable influx of international buyers who are genuine importers with purchasing needs, further demonstrating the trustworthiness, appeal and influence of the event on international buyers,” states the organiser.

“Especially notable as one of the leading furniture trade promotion events in the region, VIFA EXPO holds the eighth position in the list of the top 100 global furniture events on the reputable www.10times. com website – and VIFA EXPO 2024 has expanded its co-operation and enhanced promotion with reputable furniture exhibitions in the same industry such as CIFF, 3F, Interzum (China), WMF (China), IFEX, Sofurn & Lifeshow (Korea), Hive Furniture Show (UAE), Index Plus (India), IIFF (India) and Momarik Expo (Turkey).

More to come

Upcoming events from the organiser include VIFA ASEAN 2024. Following the success of VIFA ASEAN 2023, the second edition of VIFA ASEAN will be held from 27-30th August 2024 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC), and aims to expand

its scale, doubling the number of booths and participating enterprises. Specifically, the organiser plans to attract over 400 exhibitors with a total of 1200 booths.

VIFA ASEAN’s vision is to gather South East Asian furniture suppliers in Vietnam, so international buyers just need to visit Ho Chi Minh City to meet all the neighbouring countries – as well as helping shape the city’s role as Asia’s furniture trade hub.

The 16th edition of VIFA EXPO will take place from 5-8th March 2025. With the theme ‘One Show - Two Venues – Double Power’, VIFA EXPO 2025 will expand to cover SECC and Sky Expo Vietnam (also in Ho Chi Minh City). With an estimated scale of over 3000 booths, VIFA EXPO 2025 promises to be “the largest and most prestigious exhibition in Vietnam – and the region”.

“VIFA EXPO 2025 promises to be the largest and most prestigious exhibition in Vietnam

Winning exports from Malaysia’s EFE

On 4-7th March, the Export Furniture Exhibition (EFE) returned to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) for its 17th edition, attracting exhibitors and buyers from all over the world.

EFE 2024 has been described by the show’s organiser as “a resounding success”, with foreign visitors, Malaysian government officials and representatives from embassies across Malaysia making their presence known at KLCC last month.

“Without the existence of a loyal base of supporters and customers over the years, it will be a monumental task for EFE to keep going after tribulations in the form of economic recessions and the Covid-19 pandemic devastated many industries across the globe,” says EFE chairman Chua Chun Chai.

“For that alone, we at EFE would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the buyers and exhibitors for sticking with us through thick and thin. Your continuous support will be the very essence for us to keep improving our exhibition for the benefit of the industry and buyers alike.”

This year’s show saw the return of the Malaysian Furniture Creativity (MFC) Awards, a scheme designed to applaud innovation and inspire the future of furniture design – and to motivate manufacturers to embrace Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) as a consequence.

Furniture products across a total of three categories – Dining, Living and Bedroom – were assessed, and the final results were decided through a combination of voting from eligible buyers, as well as evaluation from a panel of judges comprising professional designers and media personnel.

“Let us aim higher than being merely in the top 10

The winner of the Dining category was HomeJS Furniture, with Deep Furniture and Novel Furniture taking second and third place respectively. Meanwhile, Natural Signature, a company renowned for taking bold steps by introducing self-service showrooms across the country, topped the Living category, followed by Dynamic Furniture Industries and THL Sofa. Novel Furniture was the champion in the Bedroom category, with Favorite Design as the runner-up, and Holong Wood Industries in third place.

Chua Chun Chai says that the effort these companies put into the MFC Awards demonstrates the determination of the industry to embrace creativity and sustainability. “Being a furniture manufacturer myself, it makes me extremely proud to see my compatriots trying their very best to offer the best products to consumers, by implementing bold designs without neglecting equally vital factors such as sustainability and comfort into account,” he says.

“It is my sincere hope to see this competition serve as a catalyst for the evolution of the Malaysian furniture industry, helping it become an even more prominent furniture manufacturer in the world. Let us aim higher than being merely in the top 10.”

The 18th EFE will take place from 3rd-6th March 2025, again at KLCC.


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Polish event grows global presence

Meble Polska – the largest furniture furniture fair in Central and Eastern Europe – cemented its global position at this year’s edition, which took place in Poznań from 20th-23rd February, and was attended by furniture buyers from nearly 70 countries.

“Although data from the pre-registration system suggested great interest among furniture buyers in coming to Poznań, only positive data after the first day of the event confirmed that the number of visitors would be at a high level,” says show director Józef Szyszka.

Ultimately, however, the total number of fair attendees amounted to 14,325 people, an increase of +4% YoY – and the proportion of that attendance from abroad also increased noticeably, accounting for 54%, breaking the records set by previous editions.

“‘It is clear that the importance of the Poznań furniture fair in our region is growing

Visitors from Poland’s biggest export partner, Germany, accounted for 18.2% of the foreign buyers, followed by those from the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and Latvia. There were also representatives from key markets for the development of Polish furniture exports, such as the US, Canada, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

This year’s event covered an area of almost 60,000m2, with products at every price level. As well as offering the most comprehensive offer of Polish furniture available, suppliers from China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Germany, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine presented their latest lines in Poznań.

“‘It is clear that the importance of the Poznań furniture fair in our region is growing,” says Józef. “This is in line with our event development strategy. We would like Meble Polska to become a trade fair hub, presenting the offer of furniture manufacturers from Central and Eastern Europe in the coming years.”

As always, the fair was accompanied by the Home Decor interior design exhibition, showcasing new decor, lighting, textiles, ceramics and more.

In all, 335 companies from 15 countries presented their latest products and services at this year’s show.

Next year’s Meble Polska will take place from 2528th February.

Visit us on Stand 78 at the Furniture Components Expo and discover how our products can enhance your creations. The Carpenter logo/We bring comfort to your life® are registered trademarks of Carpenter Co. For more information about our innovative products contact us on 01457 861141 or Email : FURNITURE BEDDING LEISURE SOLUTIONS

Discover newness and innovation at INDX

Providing retailers with a forum to meet with existing suppliers and discover new opportunities, INDX Beds & Bedroom returns to Cranmore Park, Solihull on 23rd24th April.

Curated by buyers from Associated Independent Stores (AIS), the UK’s leading buying, event and services group for fashion, home and leisure, the show’s first day is reserved for AIS members, with general trade visitors welcome to attend on the second.

Bringing together market insight, trends and design inspiration, visitors can look forward to exploring a strong product showcase comprising beds, sofabeds and bedroom furniture.

“Visitors can look forward to exploring a strong product showcase

To date, the exhibitor line-up will feature the latest developments from an impressive brand selection, including Alstons, Bell & Stocchero, Disselkamp, Dreamworld, Dunlopillo, Flooring One, Furmanac (Mi-Bed and Hestia), Gainsborough, Harrison Spinks, Healthbeds, Highgrove, HTL, Hypnos, Kaydian, Kaymed, Limelight, MA Living, Mammoth, Millbrook, Nectar, New Trend Concepts, Nolte, Protect-A-Bed, Pure Care, Rauch, Relyon, Rest Assured, Sealy, Silentnight, Sleepeezee, Sweet Dreams, TCH, Tempur, TFR Group, Trend Setter, Wiemann and X Sensor.

With a commercial focus on delivering newness, HTL, New Trend, Pure Care, and X Sensor are exhibiting for the first time.Meanwhile, other show highlights will include the new Exquisite range from

Sealy Posturepedic, the new Remi sofabed from Limelight, new VIP Lagos and versatile Genf ranges from Wiemann, and a new static bed design from Kaydian.

With a spotlight on wellness and innovation, the showcase will also present the latest latex technology and feature a new round bed design from Healthbeds – and it will play host to some notable industry anniversaries, such as Hypnos, celebrating 120 years in business, and Sleepeeze, celebrating its 100-year milestone.

INDX Beds & Bedroom promises a friendly, business- and buyer-focused environment, and registration can be completed online at beds-bedroom. All visitors will enjoy free entry, free on-site parking and complimentary refreshments. Read on to discover a few more of the show’s highlights …

Disselkamp Kirkley TV ottoman, Kaydian Remi sofabed, Limelight Flora, Silentnight
A century of quality sleep

A Landmark moment for INDX

Following on from the successful launch of Sweet Dreams’ sustainable Landmark Collection at last year’s Bed Show, this month’s INDX Beds & Bedroom will see the unveiling of an AISexclusive, responsibly sourced Landmark bed range.

AIS Landmark comprises six beds, featuring 100% recyclable, foam-free mattress fillings, and sleep surfaces made from eco-friendly chemical-free sustainable fabrics.

The six mattress designs are based on three of Sweet Dreams’ bestselling spring systems – 1000, 1500, and 2000 pockets – and are available as three no-turn quilted and three two-sided, tufted models, in each of the spring counts.

Foam free, eco-friendly fillings include Platinum, free from chemicals with sustainability at the forefront, and 100% recyclable at the end of its life. A cotton side-stitched mattress border with handles and vents completes the look.

encouraging. We believe that we are delivering a highquality, sustainable product range with great price points and value for money for the AIS members. We are looking forwards to the INDX show so we can show the members the new collection.”

The Landmark base comes with a choice of six GRS-certified, 100% recycled Gaia fabrics – the vibrant colours include silver, charcoal, mika, dusty rose and cream, and an impressive winter moss. The GRS standard applies to the full supply chain and addresses traceability, environmental principles, social requirements, chemical content and labelling.

“AIS Landmark delivers quality, value for money, sustainability and, above all, a great-looking, comfortable bed!

The range starts with the entry-price point Landmark Aurora 1000, a no-turn, luxury quiltedknit 1000 pocket mattress. For those that prefer a two-sided option, there is the Landmark Orion 100, featuring a knitted, hand-tufted mattress.

The 1500-pocket options comprise the Landmark Luna 1500, single-sided knitted quilted bed, and the Landmark Forest 1500, with a hand-tufted, knitted, double-sided mattress.

Top of the shop is the bestselling 2000 pocket spring. The non-turn Landmark Willow 2000 features a quilted knit fabric, while the Landmark Atlas 2000 bed showcases the 2000 pocket spring feel, with a knitted, hand-tufted sleep surface to both sides.

Sweet Dreams’ UK sales manager Nick Williams, who recently presented the product to the sales team, says: “The reaction from our agents is really

Another benefit is that Landmark’s base, border and headboard fabrics use 94% less water, 59% less energy and 32% less CO2 emissions in their production process.

All the timber used in the bases is FSC certified, adding to Landmark’s sustainability story. Bases include platform-top or spring-edge options, with nonstorage, continental, two- and four-drawer options, along with both side- and end-opening ottoman bases.

AIS Landmark beds and headboards are offered in double, king and super-king sizes.Three headboards, along with a selection of accent furniture including chairs, ottoman boxes and bedside cabinets, complete the range.

Nick continues: “We have high hopes for member buy-in for the AIS Landmark range. We have listened to AIS, and we believe AIS Landmark delivers quality, value for money, sustainability and, above all, a greatlooking, comfortable bed!”

Landmark Atlas 2000

Dreamworld updated

Sweet Dreams also continues to offer five entry-price point models in the AIS Dreamworld collection. The Sabrina Comfort features a 13.5-gauge open-coil, rotate-only bed. A microquilted damask fabric to the sleep surface and border offers comfort and support – the border has two vents and four handles for easy rotating.

The Fabian Memory Support is a 13.5-gauge opencoil, rotate-only bed. An updated quilted knit fabric to the sleep surface, along with 25mm memory foam, offers impressive value for money, and a micro-quilted damask border with two vents and four handles completes the look.

The Raven 1000 Ortho Pocket is a traditionally crafted, one-sided, 1000-pocket-sprung bed, with a refreshed hand-tufted knit fabric with a damask sidestitch-effect border with two vents and four handles.

New for 2024, the Aria 2000 is a traditionally crafted pocket-sprung bed featuring 2000 pocket springs with a micro-quilted sleeping surface. A damask sidestitch-effect border with two vents and four handles completes the look.

The Allegra 3000 Pocket is a well-crafted, twosided, high-count pocket-sprung bed, with a luxury hand-tufted damask sleeping surface. Featuring 3000 pocket springs, Sweet Dreams’ Pocket Air system is appreciated for its ‘lighter-than-air’ sleep sensation –ingeniously, standard pocket springs are alternated with shorter ones. Allegra 2000 features a damask sidestitch-effect border with two vents and four handles.

All Sweet Dreams’ Dreamworld bases and headboards come fully FSC certified with a choice of platform, two- and four-drawer storage in single, compact double, double, king and super-king sizes, featuring chrome-effect glides and a choice of grey, charcoal or beige fabrics, with oak-effect storage drawers.

Three matching headboard styles feature the strutted Sirius, suitable for the Sabrina Comfort and Fabian Memory. The ever-popular floorstanding Cloud and Stratus headboard are suitable for the Dreamworld pocket beds.

“The products are ready, there are some great incentives to enable members to try out the Landmark range, along with some really nice PoS,” Nick concludes. “We are looking forwards to seeing you at the show!”

Sweet Dreams and the new AIS Landmark collection can be found on stand P21.

“There are some great incentives to enable members to try out the Landmark range
Sweet Dreams’ mattress range is always growing Lord accent chair


Having opened a new, state-of-the-art factory in Macedonia, Hestia Living plans to leverage its capabilities to offer design-led products at impressive prices.

This strategic expansion promises to be a boon for retailers looking for flexibility and affordability without compromising on quality or design, states the brand: “The Macedonia factory stands as a beacon of innovation and


Having pioneered adjustable bed manufacture since 1968, MiBed has long been at the forefront of innovation in this sector.

The brand’s recent move to a new factory, and the subsequent adjustments in its operations, mark a significant milestone in the brand’s journey towards excellence and affordability, says MiBed, which is driven by a commitment to enhancing efficiency, leveraging advanced technology, and optimising the management of its supply chain.

“These operational improvements, and taking our deliveries back in-house, have had a direct impact on our pricing strategy,” MiBed continues. “By lowering our production and operational costs, we are now able to pass these savings on to our customers, making our adjustable beds more affordable than ever.

efficiency, allowing us to offer our retailers the unique opportunity to purchase items in either half-container or full-container loads.

“This flexibility is a game-changer, making it easier for retailers of all sizes to stock up on our exquisite range of products, tailored to meet diverse market needs and preferences.”

Led by a UK team, Hestia’s workforce ensures that each product not only meets high

quality standards, but reflects the latest trends in home decor, offering “the perfect blend of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary aesthetics”, says Hestia.

“This strategic move not only enhances the brand’s competitive edge, but also reinforces our commitment to supporting our retail partners by providing more value, choice and flexibility,” concludes Hestia.

“This price reduction has positioned MiBed as the leader in the adjustable bed manufacturing sector, offering unparalleled quality at competitive prices, and our commitment to innovation, quality and customer satisfaction remains unwavering.

“The move to the new factory, and the adjustments in our operations, reflect our dedication to not only meet but exceed customer expectations. By making our products

more accessible, we are not just selling adjustable beds – we are enhancing the quality of life for our customers. MiBed is proud to lead the way in making comfortable and restorative sleep more attainable for everyone.”

MiBed is again offering its two-man delivery service, and recently added a new adjustable model to its range, which is available for delivery in just three days – as well as a new motion divan.

MiBed’s principal, John Hilliard 28TH - 29TH AUGUST 2024 WE ARE EXHIBITING AT


This month sees the launch of Sweet Dreams’ AIS-exclusive, responsibly sourced Landmark bed range at INDX Beds & Bedroom.

With six beds, featuring 100% recyclable foam-free mattress fillings and sleep surfaces made from eco-friendly, chemical-free sustainable fabrics, the Landmark beds are based on Sweet Dreams’ bestselling pocket spring systems, and are available as no-turn quilted (three models) and two-sided tufted (also three models) versions.

The range’s bases, headboards and accent furniture feature a choice of six GRS-certified, 100% recycled fabrics. Read more on p34.


Quality handmade upholstered bedframe manufacturer M.A. Living is always looking at the development of its brand, and works closely with product design teams and interior designers who carefully select the right fabrics and colours to suit its bedframes.

M.A. Living’s fabric swatch book is currently under review. The company’s design team is working closely with suppliers to ensure the business can incorporate the latest fabrics and most on-trend colourways, and is planning to launch new fabric ranges later this year.

M.A. Living only recently launched power ottoman bedframes, but these have since become the fastest-selling product in the supplier’s portfolio. The company’s product development team is now working on an adjustable mechanism which will be compatible with all M.A. Living bedframes, providing yet another base option to fit quality handmade products, and creating more choice for every customer.

At INDX Beds & Bedroom, M.A. Living will showcase its new range of products, and welcomes everyone to visit its stand, where directors and agents will be on hand for the duration of the show, with exclusive offers for visitors.

M.A Living’s new showroom in Leeds is also now open – customers can arrange a visit through their local sales agent.

Award-winning German bedroom manufacturer, Wiemann, will be showcasing its latest products at INDX Beds & Bedroom.

Two eagerly anticipated newfor-2024 ranges, VIP Lagos and the ultra-versatile Genf, will hit the stand after a successful launch earlier in the year. New colours and options for established Wiemann favourites will also be on show.

VIP Lagos brings a new detail to the Wiemann ranges. An accented trim merges with an elegant floorto-ceiling handle, which can be further accentuated by a stylish downlighter. Lagos is a hinged range available in a wide choice of finish combinations.

Genf, available in two colourways in a hinged or combi robe, joins Lagos as centre of attention due to its three height options (197, 216 and 236cm). Its modular design offers flexibility –combinations of doors in Bianco

oak or white with mirrors are set to be this year’s ‘must-have’ look for lower ceiling loft conversions, says the supplier.

Every Wiemann item enjoys the back-up of the company’s established network of agents, plus marketing support, home

delivery and installation service.

Simon Hewitt, MD of Wiemann’s sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Litmus Furniture, says: “This is one of our most exciting stands of recent years. We have stunning new collections at all price points and up-to-date additions

to established ranges, offering options for beautiful furniture whatever the size or shape of bedroom.

“The Wiemann team is looking forward to welcoming visitors to our stand at INDX and meeting up with friends old and new.”

Lagos in graphite and Bianco oak
01133 224 384 • • malivinguk

New expo “unmissable”, says BFM

Unmissable sourcing opportunities await at the inaugural Furniture Component Expo, a must-attend event for the furniture industry, says organiser British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) …

Taking place at Telford International Centre on 24th and 25th April, the expo boasts a packed programme of seminars over the two days, with the latest addition from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) taking place on day two of the event, which will set out export opportunities for the British furniture sector.

“The new

central location is ideal for both visitors and exhibitors

A bespoke presentation will be given by Naomi Steemson, an international trade advisor at DBT in the Midlands. Her talk will provide an overview of the complete service offer from DBT, which is designed to support enterprises of all sizes, including furniture businesses looking at export markets for the first time. Naomi will also outline the role of international trade advisors, who are the DBT’s experts in connecting businesses with export opportunities, as well as initiatives such as the UK Export Academy, UK Export Finance and trade missions.

BFM MD Phil Spademan says: “The session will provide a comprehensive guide to the advice, support and promotion available for British furniture businesses wanting to grow and export, including the wide range of tools and resources provided by the DBT to assist businesses on their exporting journeys.”

The seminar programme also features talks on best practice, sustainability, workforce and apprenticeships, alongside a workshop on carbon footprint and net zero.

The first day of the event will also feature two panel discussions. Automation vs Skills: Friend or Foe? is the topic for: The Dorset Chairman Alan Payne; Racheal Baker from JJ Smith; and Ian Peers from Ercol, in a panel moderated by Furniture News’ Paul Farley.

The second discussion will feature Dr Jake Lane from Silentnight Panel, and is entitled Fire regulations: what next? Silentnight has engaged with the furniture sector on how to enable a reduction in CFR use, sharing its knowledge and findings on various subjects impacted by the Fire Safety Regulations, and the segment will include a Q&A session.

Phil says: “This is a hugely important topic for our industry and the Furniture Component Expo 24. The session will see experts from their fields offering their perspectives and insights into the research which has been conducted since the announcement of the Government consultation on the regulations.

“BFM is seeking input into creating a roundtable discussion beyond the Furniture Component Expo 24 to present to Government as a further industry response, so this will provide an invaluable opportunity to collate viewpoints from across the sector.”

Other initiatives at the Furniture Component Expo 24 include an Innovation Trail, giving exhibitors at the event a new approach to reaching key audiences with their products and services. Under the process, exhibitors can provide a pitch of their product or service to potential buyers at the show. Delegates will

42 EVENTS FURNITURE COMPONENT EXPO Telford International Centre will house the inaugural event this April
courtesy Freepik
courtesy iStock/SDI Productions

be asked to vote for their favourite, and the winner – as well as getting the opportunity to present to an influential audience – will also receive post-event publicity, organised by the BFM, including content across the trade association’s website and social media channels.

The BFM’s Furniture Component Expo 24 is set to attract a broad spectrum of delegates, as it provides an opportunity for furnituremakers to connect in a one-stop-shop format. Manufacturers of furniture will be able to review, network and purchase products across the whole supply chain, from leading suppliers, all under one roof. BFM members will also have free access to Club BFM, an exclusive lounge where refreshments will be available.

The expo currently has exhibitors covering a wide range of products and services in the manufacturing supply chain (see a full list on the show website) with three headline sponsors BeA UK (Fastening Systems), Carpenter and The Vita Group lending additional support.

The BFM launched the event after feedback from members identified a gap in the market for furnituremakers to browse the marketplace and seek out new innovations coming into the sector, in a faceto-face setting.

And, in response to calls for a more central setting, the BFM announced that its popular fabric show is merging with the new expo.

The new arrangement will answer calls from across the industry to have a location that is more accessible to the entire country, as well as international visitors, with easy rail, air and road connections, alongside

ample parking. The new venue also provides more space for visitors and exhibitors, coupled with the opportunities and convenience of having two industry events in one format.

Phil concludes: “We’ve taken on board the opinions of industry and our members, and the consensus is that the new central location of the Furniture Component Expo 24 is ideal for both visitors and exhibitors.”

More details about the Furniture Component Expo 24 can be found on the event’s website, where interested parties can also register to visit, free of charge.

“This will provide an invaluable opportunity to collate viewpoints from across the sector
43 Photo courtesy iStock/shapecharge Telford International Centre

Due to significant increase in demand, Fibreline, a leading UK provider of cushion fillings and foam conversions for the upholstery industry, was recently granted planning permission for a 14,000ft2 extension to its main facilities in Keighley.

“With this expansion, we will be able to meet the increasing demands of our customers


Carpenter has a state-of-the art pouring facility based in Glossop, Derbyshire, which is complemented by the group’s Richbond block production, Carpenter Underlay, foam conversion and bedding divisions.

Three further conversion sites, in Alfreton, Hengoed South Wales and Corby, service the upholstery, caravan, packaging, bedding and mobility sectors with comfort solutions.

Carpenter works with its customers to provide a variety of comfort components including sofa seat and back cushions, accompanied by full upholstery kits in foam, Richbond and carded and blown polyester fibre cushioning. Its factories have foams

and further establish ourselves as a leader in the market,” says MD Richard Prudhoe.

“This strategic move will enable the addition of several new cutting-edge machinery to be installed for Dacron and insulator parts, consequently increasing our foam-cutting capacity to greater levels.”

Alongside the extension, Fibreline is

investing in staff and facilities, and undergoing a rebranding process. “This rebranding effort is not just about changing our image – it represents our commitment to staying relevant and innovative in the industry,” Richard explains. “Over the course of 2024, several new marketing materials will be developed and readily available, should you need them.”

Fibreline invites the trade to see its new collection of sustainable products and services, and its new brand image, at this month’s Furniture Components Expo.

“Overall, these developments are a testament to Fibreline’s commitment to excellence and growth,” Richard concludes. “We are confident that the extension, investment in the latest machinery, skilled staff, and rebranding efforts will position us for even greater success in the future.”

available in a range of physical characteristics to offer different levels of performance, feel and comfort, while employing the latest techniques in automated cutting.

Carpenter’s dedicated sales team works with customers’ R&D departments to develop innovative and bespoke solutions, whether it be designing a new seat cushion or unique pillows

or mattresses – and the combination of being able to supply both foam and fibre parts from one factory means the customer has just one point of contact.

“Visit Carpenter at the Furniture Component Expo to discover how our innovative products can enhance your creations,” concludes the supplier.

Fibre Encore
Extension work in progress at Fibreline’s factory in Keighley
View our advanced capabilities and product offerings at Furniture Component Expo 2024 | Innovation. Partnership. Comfort. Collaborative solutions that energise the market. At Leggett & Platt, we deliver advanced comfort technology and support to customers across the UK furniture industry. Our “global, yet local” approach and “borrowed proven technologies” mindset allow us to deliver world-class professionalism and diverse, industry-leading spring component and speciality furniture foam solutions. Furthermore, with expertise in high-quality seating systems, recliner mechanisms, and other motion hardware, we continue to energise the bedding market – as well as the wider furniture market overall. Visit to watch our corporate video and learn more about our diversified product portfolio. © 2024 Leggett & Platt Incorporated | Clockwork Components is a partner exhibitor 24-25 April 2024 | Telford International Centre SPRINGS UK A LEGGETT & PLATT COMPANY

Reinventing furniture packaging

What if the key to slashing packaging costs was not cutting corners or sacrificing quality –but embracing innovation? “It really doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, you can start saving money today by investing in one simple solution – automated packaging,” says Ribble Packaging, which will be exhibiting at the inaugural Furniture Components Expo this month …

“Businesses are constantly seeking ways to boost efficiency and reduce costs, yet surprisingly, the packaging process often gets overlooked

“We live in an era in which consumer expectations for product delivery speed and quality are higher than ever, and the importance of efficient packaging cannot be overstated,” states Ribble Packaging, which has long been at the forefront of delivering innovative packaging solutions tailored to the furniture sector.

What is more, with a commitment to efficiency and sustainability, Ribble is currently on a journey to revolutionise furniture packaging through the integration of Panotec Automation technologies.

What Is automation?

Automation is an integral part of modern life. From self-driving cars to smart heating for the home, it enables people to remove the pressures from their day-to-day lives. And packaging automation is no different – it is the process of packaging products without the need for manual human intervention.

“A key advantage of automation lies in its ability to streamline packaging workflows,” says Ribble. “Automated packaging systems are designed to operate as efficiently as possible, eliminating bottlenecks while working at a faster rate.

“Over the years, automated packaging systems have transitioned from singular machines that automate one step, to now automating all steps seamlessly throughout the entire packaging process.”

The impact on furniture manufacturers

Furniture packaging presents a unique set of challenges, including the need to protect fragile items, accommodate varying sizes, and manage complex assembly requirements with multiple quantities.

Traditionally, furniture packaging methods have been associated with labour-intensive processes, often prone to errors and inefficiencies. The reliance on traditional packaging methods has long been in use within the industry – but these conventional approaches, while deeply ingrained, often lead to significant waste. They also may demand a significant level of skill from employees, presenting yet another challenge.

While these are just a few of the common faults from across the industry, they highlight the importance of maintaining consistent packaging quality across a diverse range of furniture types.

How can Panotec Automation help?

Another key advantage of automation in furniture packaging is the ability to customise solutions to meet the unique requirements of each manufacturer. Panotec has various systems to handle different box styles, meaning whatever style box is required, it can deliver solutions that cater to all packaging needs. This flexibility means manufacturers that use automated packaging systems no longer need to rely on one-size-fits-all packaging.

“Many businesses tend to default to using standard-sized boxes,” says Ribble. “When businesses use boxes that are too large for the products they contain, they end up using more packaging materials such as void fillers, and run the risk of products being damaged during handling and transportation. This not only incurs additional material costs, but also leads to increased shipping expenses and potential product losses and returns.

Panotec Automation solutions can speed up and optimise even the most complex of furniture packaging processes

“Freight carriers often charge based on both weight and volume, known as dimensional weight pricing. By using appropriately sized boxes, and optimising packaging, businesses can decrease the overall volume of shipments, even if the weight remains the same.”

Panotec Automation solutions combine advanced box-making machinery with automation, optimising packaging dimensions to conserve resources and minimise waste. This state-of-the-art machinery is designed to integrate into existing production lines seamlessly.

Furthermore, the flexibility of the automation modules allows businesses to upscale as their business’ needs change. Panotec’s approach enables businesses to start by implementing a single module of automation to solve an issue with their packaging line, and then expand to a fully automated solution.

The future of packaging?

“Businesses are constantly seeking ways to boost efficiency and reduce costs, yet surprisingly, the packaging process often gets overlooked,” says Ribble.

“Packaging is more than just a box around your product. It can influence your cost structure, drive operational efficiencies, influence brand identity, and propel sustainable practices forward.”

With today’s furniture companies confronted with an array of challenges, from escalating costs tied to manual labour to the unyielding demand for impeccable packaging consistency, it is little wonder that many are rethinking their packaging process.

With the emergence of automation technologies, such as Panotec, Ribble has been able to significantly enhance the speed, accuracy, and cost effectiveness of furniture packaging processes for the likes of Wren Kitchens, One Call Furniture, Magnet and BA Components, to name but a few.

“This technology is a new era of furniture packaging, and manufacturers who embrace it will be well positioned for future growth and upcoming trends,” concludes Ribble.

To discuss the topic of automation in more detail, visit Ribble at the Furniture Components Expo, where the company’s team of experts will be on hand to offer guidance on the next steps in the automation journey. Visit Ribble Packaging on stand 81, or call 0161 284 9000.

“By using appropriately sized boxes, and optimising packaging, businesses can decrease the overall volume of shipments, even if the weight remains the same

Understanding the furniture shopper

What do today’s furniture shoppers want? In an industry first, Furniture News, supported by leading 3D furniture product visualisation platform Chaos Cylindo, presents a comprehensive report on how UK consumers shop for furniture – both in-store and online – and the changes they’d like to see …


courtesy 123RF/patcharaporn1984

If furniture retail was ever a simple, straightforward business, those days are long gone. Today, galvanised and fragmented by the advent of online shopping, the sector is fiercely competitive, and each business, from the smallest independent shop to the biggest webstore, must take advantage of every tool at their disposal if they are to survive.

OK, so perhaps that’s overstating it a little. There’s still space in the industry for experimentation, invention and the personal touch, and given the huge variation in approaches that prosper today, the sector could look very different in 50 years’ time.

People will always need furniture, and they will always seek to make their homes more comfortable and attractive – but there remain a great many unknowns when it comes to their tastes, motivations and prejudices around furniture shopping. We can never know for sure what the next challenge will look like, but we can better understand what those shoppers want, and how they want to buy it.

With the support of Chaos Cylindo, a leading 3D furniture product visualisation platform, Furniture News commissioned a representative survey of UK consumers in order to learn more about their preferences. What are they buying, and where? What drives and guides their shopping journey? What should retailers –both in-store and online – be doing better? And, crucially, how is consumer demand evolving?

“Customers are now in control of when, where, and how they want to interact with a retailer,” says Jostein Pedersen, VP product - 3D commerce, at Chaos Cylindo. “However, this behavioural shift can offer great opportunities for businesses that keep a pulse on customers’ wants and needs. The main question is, ‘What do customers want?’

“We partnered with Furniture News to get that answer and understand the profile of the modern furniture shopper, in order to help furniture businesses keep up with the latest trends.”

“Customers are now in control of when, where, and how they want to interact with a retailer
Photo courtesy 123RF/scharfsinn86

Facing retail’s challenges

Wherever they operate, today’s furniture retailers face manifold challenges. For brick-andmortar businesses, overheads including rent and rates, utilities, staffing and marketing can prove punishing before the price of each sale is even factored in. For online retailers, rates may be less of an issue, but the high cost of visibility, customer acquisition and fulfilment can offset any savings made.

Most traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ furniture retailers have come to accept that they must embrace online selling to some degree, whether through building a simple website and social media presence, or bringing advanced technology in-store to catalyse sales. At the same time, many ‘pureplay’ online retailers are coming to appreciate the benefits that come from having a physical shop presence alongside their ecommerce channels.

The challenge facing such retailers is making sure they can deliver the best of both worlds, without sacrificing any existing strengths.

The good news is that consumers like to shop in many different ways. They may seek out the expertise of a local high street independent, or browse the big brands’ offer on their local retail park. They may prefer to trawl charity shops and online marketplaces for a pre-loved bargain, or have Google point them in the direction of the website that best suits their needs.

Shoppers, like businesses, come in countless shapes and sizes, but there are patterns and trends to be found in their behaviour, and the retailer who better understands these will be better placed to succeed than the one who does not.

In this report, Furniture News – with Cylindo’s help – will attempt to answer questions like the following:

• What kind of shopping experiences will younger generations be more receptive to?

• Which technologies are more likely to prove beneficial, in-store and online?

• How do men and women feel differently about furniture shopping?

• Is there a future for brick-and-mortar stores or pureplay websites, and what kind of hybrid experience are shoppers looking for?

• What approaches are persuading shoppers to buy – and putting them off?

• Which product areas are set to see the highest demand, and at what prices?

The framework

Furniture News commissioned market research consultancy Savanta to survey a sample of 1000 UK adults from 31st January to 2nd February 2024, covering a representative spread of age, gender, location, profession and social grade. It clarified that the term ‘furniture’ referred to large items such as tables, beds, cabinets, sofas and mattresses, as well as smaller furnishings and interiors products such as rugs, cushions and home accessories.


In this report, you’ll discover the research behind key furniture retail insights, including:

• Consumers enjoy furniture shopping through a mix of brick-and-mortar and online channels

• Shoppers appreciate the ability to touch and feel products, and the service they receive from welltrained staff

• They also value the convenience of online shopping, and having more choice at their fingertips

• Each generation is increasingly leaning towards online shopping, or a hybrid journey that includes both store and website visits

• Shoppers of every age want to see more innovative technology being employed in furniture retail, both online and in-store

Photo courtesy 123RF/lightpoet

How does the sample shop for furniture?

The survey started by establishing the respondents’ living situations and most recent furniture purchases. More than half (58%) of those surveyed were homeowners, and a quarter (25%) had paid off their mortgages. The vast majority of the remainder were people in rented accommodation (33%) or those living with parents/guardians (8%).

Northern Ireland boasts the highest proportion of homeowners (69%), and London the lowest (53%)

Each was asked when they had most recently purchased a piece of furniture. Aside from 2% of the sample who had never bought any (more on that shortly), the respondents had purchased in: the last month (11%); the last three months (18%); the last six months (19%); the last year (20%); the last two years (16%); and the last five years (14%).

More than two-thirds of the sample (68%) had purchased a piece of furniture in the last year.

reason behind this purchase was:

‘Moving home/new home’ was the most significant factor for more than a quarter (27%) of 18-34-year olds, and for 21% of those aged 25-34 – whereas nearly half (49%) of those aged 65+ cited ‘replacing broken/ outgrown furniture’ as their principal reason

of their purchase

* The respondents citing ‘other website’ as their source chiefly named those of major retailers/e-tailers

A total of 44% concluded their shopping ‘journey’ with an online transaction, while 56% purchased from a physical store.

The survey defined ‘furniture’ as anything from big-ticket purchases to small accessories, so the price the respondents paid skewed towards the lower end: 62% paid less than £500; 13% paid £500-£999; 9% spent £1000-£1499; and 5% paid £1500-£1999. Only 10% spent more than £2000 (with just 2% spending more than £4000)

Of those sampled who had never bought any furniture (2%), nearly two-thirds (61%) said they planned to do so within the next year.

Updating interior ................................................... 41% Replacing broken/outgrown furniture 36% Moving home/new home 15% Unexpected need 7% Other ......................................................................... 1%
Big-brand (national) store 32% Local independent store .................................... 17% New from an online/social marketplace 15% Big-brand website 14% Used from an online/social marketplace 7% Charity shop ........................................................... 7% Other website* 5% Local independent store website 3%
courtesy iStock/sandoclr
Photo Jay Gezer Head Of Sales 07974 065437 Get in touch with us: Elevate Your Wellness with “73% of UK survey respondents considered wellness to be a top priority in their everyday lives” - McKinley 2024 report

Where are people planning to shop?

Having assessed the respondents’ most recent furniture purchases, the survey went on to ascertain where they planned to shop next, asking them to rank the retail formats/channels they preferred to use. Their first choices were:










In general, their choice reflected that made on their most recent shopping journey, with 58% preferring to buy furniture in-store.

Nearly two-thirds of men (61%) prefer to buy from a brick-and-mortar location, compared to 56% of women. Conversely, a greater proportion of women favour online transactions, with 45% opting for ecommerce channels in the first place, compared to 39% of men.

However, these findings do not reflect the entire shopping journey, just the final transaction. People like to shop both offline and online, often choosing to use a combination of both before deciding on their purchase:

I like to research products online then buy

I like to browse products in-store then

I like to research products online then buy in-store

I like to browse products in-store then buy

A mix of the above

None of the above

Although a purely store-based approach is favoured by 31% of people, more than two thirds (68%) go online as part of the shopping process, with 30% preferring to make the purchase digitally.

The practice of ‘showrooming’ – browsing products in-store then buying online – is not widespread, with only 6% saying they prefer to shop this way.

The preference for a purely online shopping journey is most prevalent among those aged 18-24 (35%) and least common – but still present – for those aged 65+ (13%)

Total % men % women
online 24% 23% 26%
buy in-store 31% 36% 26%
15% 16% 15%
6% 5% 7%
23% 19% 26%
1% 1% 0%
32% 18% 14% 13% 8% 7% 6% 2%


This map reflects the proportion of the population for whom a physical store (national, independent or charity shop) is the first choice of shopping destination.

“I like to browse online, view in-store, and purchase online”










59% 81% 56% 64% 57% 50% 61% 46% 58% 49% 66% 64%

Shoppers’ next furniture purchase

Over the next three years, shoppers are prioritising purchases for the bedroom (67%),

WHICH ROOM ARE SHOPPERS PLANNING TO FURNISH THIS YEAR? LIVING ROOM 40% GUEST BEDROOM 20% HOME OFFICE 20% GARDEN 39% BEDROOM 39% BATHROOM 30% 12% 13% 14% 16% 6% 6% 33% 5% 8% 11% 11% 6% 54% 11% 13% 16% 14% 6% 7% 34% 9% 9% 11% 13% 6% 8% 45% 8% 10% 12% 12% 5% 5% 47% 5% 6% 9% 10% 5% 5% 61% 6% 7% 7% 7% 3% 3% 66% 6% 6% 8% 9% 3% 4% 63% 12% 16% 11% 10% 4% 3% 43% BEDROOM DINING ROOM LIVING ROOM KITCHEN BATHROOM GUEST BEDROOM CHILDREN’S BEDROOM HOME OFFICE GARDEN 1-3 MONTHS 4-6 MONTHS 7-12 MONTHS 1-2 YEARS 2-3 YEARS 3+ YEARS DON’T KNOW/ NO PLANS
often sold
large, open-plan,
it’s difficult to see the
of the furniture in relation to
standard new-build
living room (66%) and garden (57%) What parts of their homes are consumers planning to invest in next?
out-of-town shops where
room size” 28TH - 29TH AUGUST 2024 WE ARE EXHIBITING AT

What motivates furniture shoppers?

What motivations and values are driving today’s consumers? Why are they buying furniture, and what characteristics of the seller or product are important to them?

The survey asked respondents to say how much they agreed or disagreed with a range of statements to reveal their feelings around furniture, trends, construction, and their own values regarding matters such as sustainability and buying local.


Of greatest importance to shoppers was comfort (91%), followed by quality and price (both 87%). Of the qualities surveyed, brand name was least important, at just 26%.

“An option to be able to personalise furniture products before purchase should be added, even if it means paying extra” SAMPLE

While consumers may express a tendency towards certain values, such as sustainability or bespoke construction, are they willing to pay more for furniture with these qualities? If so, how much more?

Brand names resonate most strongly with those aged 35-44

“’I see, I want, I buy’ seems to be my purchasing trend!”

Whereas those aged 60+ are willing to pay +11% more for furniture that is sustainably made, those aged 25-34 say they will pay +21% more

Women are willing to pay +27% more for furniture that is built to last – men, only +23%

Respondents from London demonstrated greater willingness to pay more than those from any other region. Those from the South East were least likely to pay more

Built to last +25% +10% +20% +30% +40% +50% +0% £££££££££££££££££££££££££££ Enhances wellbeing +15% Made sustainably +15% Made in Britain +14% From a local business +14% Bespoke made +13% On-trend +10% ££££££££££££££££ ££££££££££££££££ ££££££££££££££ ££££££££££££££ £££££££££££££ ££££££££££ HOW MUCH MORE WILL PEOPLE PAY BASED ON THEIR VALUES?
1 % 5% 6% QUALITY PRICE 8% 35% 52% SUPPORTING SERVICES 6% 13% 40% 29% 12% 16% 37% 21% 5% BRAND NAME 22% 0% 29% 58% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 1 % 5% 4% 4% 28% 63% CONVENIENCE 1 % 10% 22% 43% 24% COMFORT 2 % DESIGN 8% 15% 41% 33% 2 % NOT AT ALL IMPORTANT SLIGHTLY IMPORTANT NEUTRAL FAIRLY IMPORTANT VERY IMPORTANT SAMPLE RESPONSE







More than half (53%) agree that furniture represents a good-value investment £


Nearly half (43%) of those surveyed expressed a fondness for hosting guests at home – an important finding for those stocking larger dining tables and sofas, guest beds, bars and outdoor furniture.

A quarter of men (25%) say they like to keep up with the latest interior trends, and 31% of women

The desire to keep up with the latest interior trends decreases with age, peaking at 25-34 (45%) and falling to 14% for those aged 65+. Younger generations also want a greater choice of product and options, with a quarter (25%) disagreeing with the statement ‘I like to browse a simple, curated product offer, rather than lots of options’, compared to just 14% of those aged 65+


More than half (55%) of people say it is important to them that their furniture is made sustainably. This preference is expressed across the board, and only weighted somewhat towards the younger generations, resonating most with those aged 25-34 (60% agree) and least with those aged 45-54 (50% agree)

‘Made in Britain’ is most important with those aged 65+, with 48% agreeing that it was an important characteristic. Only 25% of those aged 18-24 agree


IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY PRODUCT IS MADE BESPOKE IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY FURNITURE IS BUILT TO LAST 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 36% 26% 16% 17% 5% 9% 4 % 1 % 41% 45%
A total of 85% of respondents agree that being ‘built to last’ is an important characteristic. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY FURNITURE IS MADE IN BRITAIN IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT I BUY FROM LOCAL BUSINESSES IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY FURNITURE IS MADE SUSTAINABLY 37% 16% 8% 28% 10% 42% 13% 5% 31% 9% 30% 11% 5% 37% 18%
61 2 % 6% 20% THE FURNITURE IN MY HOME IS IMPORTANT TO ME IT IS IMPORTANT THAT MY HOME IS COMFORTABLE 2 % 3 % 6% 34% 55% IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY FURNITURE ENHANCES MY WELLBEING 4 % 7 % 30% 44% 15% 14% 29% 38% 15% FURNITURE REPRESENTS A GOOD-VALUE INVESTMENT 4 % 43% 29% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT MY FURNITURE IS ON-TREND I LIKE TO KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST INTERIOR TRENDS I BUY FURNITURE TO MATCH MY EXISTING DECOR, RATHER THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND I LIKE TO HOST GUESTS 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 28% 26% 16% 22% 8% 26% 28% 18% 22% 6% 20% 9% 4 % 46% 22% 26% 19% 12% 32% 11%

How do shoppers discover new furniture?

Where are shoppers looking for their next purchase? Are they browsing search engines or social media pages, or do they prefer to visit a store in person to see what’s available? The survey’s respondents listed every display/advertising channel that guided their search:


The store remains the principal destination for shoppers looking for furniture. But while traditional advertising channels still have a place – perhaps bolstered by smarter audience segmentation – online adverts and content, across social media, websites and search engines, is crucial to many shoppers’ research and discovery process (at 40%, the latter is particularly significant).

Three-fifths (60%) say they find new furniture on the shop floor (and 71% of those aged 65+)

While only 5% of those aged 65+ discover new furniture through social media content, this proportion rises to 43% of 2534-year olds. However, the better-established online advertising channels, such as search engines and social media, are beginning to lose favour among the youngest consumers

The biggest discrepancy in use between men and women also occurs for social media content – 18% compared to 26%

The number of shoppers citing ‘influencers’ decreases with age, dropping sharply after the 25-34 age bracket (24%)

TV advertising/sponsorship resonates best in London (34%), while the direct mail advertising/brochure approach bears most fruit in the North West (16%) HOW DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS DISCOVER NEW FURNITURE

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ In-store Website advertising Social media content Search engine advertising Social media advertising TV advertising/show sponsorship Word of mouth Influencers Newspaper/consumer magazine adverts Newspaper/consumer magazine editorials Direct mail advertising/brochures 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Word of mouth 26% Newspaper/consumer magazine adverts 13% Newspaper/consumer magazine editorials 10% Direct mail advertising/brochures 11% TV advertising/show sponsorship 25% Website advertising 36% Search engine listing/advertising 40% Social media advertising 21% Social media content 22% Influencers 9% Other 4% In-store 60% Shopper age group

Why do shoppers choose to buy furniture in-store?

Why do shoppers choose to purchase in a store rather than online?

Those surveyed responded: the ability to touch and feel products (76%); expert, in-person advice from sales/support staff (39%); peace of mind, in case of possible returns/issues (32%); that they weren’t confident in making the right selection online (27%); that they wanted to support local business (26%); that they disliked or were uncomfortable shopping online (8%); and none of the above (5%).

The physicality and tactility of furniture remains the greatest differentiator between the brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences, and this demand is most pronounced among the older generations. Unsurprisingly, they also expressed more discomfort around shopping online.

Nearly all (90%) of those aged 65+ said ‘the ability to touch and feel products’ was important to them, compared to just 55% of 18-24-year olds

A greater proportion of women (30%) than men (23%) admitted that they were not confident in making the right selection online

And to what extent do the characteristics of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience influence people’s decision to buy furniture in-store?

Ranking each on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), the results were:

“It would be useful to have equipment to register a bed’s suitability for any given height, weight, etc”

What shoppers perceive as being the chief strengths of physical retail are a close-run thing, but there are some discrepancies in how men and women feel about the subject – men only ranked positive customer reviews a 7.2/10, whereas women ranked them 7.9/10

Although flexible payment options ranked as the least important factor, they were significant for those aged 25-34 (ranked 7/10) and the age groups either side of them

Price promotions/discounts 8.0 Quality of customer service 7.8 Speed and cost of delivery 7.7 Guarantees 7.7 Positive customer reviews 7.6 High-quality presentation 7.4 Clear returns policy 7.4 Shopped there before ............................................ 7.0 Easy access/parking 6.3
payment options 5.5

There are many ways in which store-based furniture retailers might encourage greater footfall and spend. Based on the perceived strengths of the online shopping experience, the sample was asked to evaluate some of the activities they would like to be able to carry out in-store.



“It’s frustrating when the vendor is not the manufacturer, as the salesperson may be lacking in knowledge”

New technology offers brick-and-mortar retailers with new ways to meet demand. For example, given the significant appetite for the ability to browse a wider product catalogue than can be displayed in-store, retailers may wish to supplement their physical offer by adopting endless aisle technology, installing digital kiosks which can display the full range of options available, digitally.

At least two-thirds of those younger than 55 said they would like to visualise their chosen colour/finish on an interactive screen

The desire to pay through a mobile app is most marked among 18-24-year olds (71%)

“As the digital and in-store experiences blur, retailers will have to use digital technology to extend their storefronts,” says Jostein Pedersen, VP product - 3D commerce, at Chaos Cylindo.

“Whether that’s through adopting endless aisle technology, installing digital kiosks, or equipping their sales team with tablets so they can help customers configure the product they want to buy, using the power of digital technology in-store will be crucial moving forward.”

“As the digital and in-store experiences blur, retailers will have to use digital technology to extend their storefronts

Why do shoppers choose to buy furniture online?

What influences a shoppers’ decision to buy furniture online rather than in a store?

The devices people favour when shopping online are: a mobile/smartphone (46%); laptop (25%); tablet (14%); desktop computer (13%); and smartwatch (1%).

The mobile/smartphone is the online shopping platform of choice for every age group apart from those aged 65+, two-fifths (39%) of which said they preferred to use a laptop. Given that 4% of 18-24-year olds responded ‘smartwatch’, it is clear that having a responsive online presence that is fit for emerging devices is increasingly important

Which features of online shopping are most likely to influence people’s choice to buy from the internet, rather than in a physical store? Respondents were asked to mark all that applied:

Convenience 55%

The ability to compare products and prices with other sellers 41%

Access to more choices/product options than are available in stores 40%

A dislike of visiting shops

Peace of mind in case of possible returns/issues

A dislike of dealing with sales/support staff

Advice from online sales/support staff

None of the above






Today’s consumers are often time poor, and might choose the ability to browse and purchase product from the comfort of their own home rather than make an excursion to a store. Convenience is the principal factor for those opting to shop for furniture online, with choice of price and product also significant.

Having the ability to compare products and prices with other sellers is a factor for nearly half (47%) of those aged 18-24

Across all age groups, having the ability to compare products and prices is more important to women (44%) than men (36%)

And what types of furniture are shoppers comfortable buying online? With the emergence of the bed-in-a-box and modular upholstery, the industry has seen consumers embrace types of furniture online that the industry might never have thought possible a decade ago, with intensive marketing, generous returns policies and compact packaging going some way to make up for shoppers’ need to ‘touch and feel’ products in person. However, from lower-value goods to high-end products, there remains some variation in how much people are willing to pay for different types of furniture online.

Shoppers are more willing to buy upholstery at higher price levels than any other type of furniture, followed by bedroom and dining furniture. The dropoff in willingness to buy mattresses at higher price levels online is pronounced

UP TO £500 £500-999 £1000-1499
HOW MUCH ARE SHOPPERS WILLING TO PAY FOR FURNITURE ONLINE? £ 51% 26% 16% 5% 1 % 1 % 37% 27% 19% 10% 5% 2 % 52% 31% 10% 5% 1 % 48% 28% 16% 6% 2 % 1 % 80% 12% 5% 3 % 77% 12% 6% 3 % 1 % 1 % 61% 22% 10% 5% 1 % 1 % Cabinet furniture for living/dining Upholstery Mattresses Bedroom Furniture Furnishings Home Accessories Outdoor Furnitiure
£1500-1999 £2000-2499 £2500+
“Just make the whole process as simple and user friendly for the customer as possible”

Regardless of product segment, what features of the digital shopping experience make shoppers more likely to buy furniture online? Ranked on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), the results were:

Those aged 25-34 are particularly incentivised by these factors

There is also an appetite for more engaging online shopping experiences, supported by new technologies and functions. Ranked on a scale of demand from 1-10 (10 being the highest), the results were:

Zoom functionality, and the ability to rotate and configure images, are the clear winners – and there is a marked difference in how receptive men and women are to these features:

Ranked on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), the results were:

On average, men said these features would make them 6.6/10 more likely to buy, and women 7.3/10. And although it is not the top priority for many, the appetite for augmented reality (AR) technology – the ability to visualise items of furniture in one’s own

using a tablet or smartphone – clearly exists

Price promotions/discounts 8.0 Website is easy to use 7.9 Guarantees 7.8 Speed and cost of delivery 7.8 High-quality imagery 7.6 Positive customer reviews 7.6 Clear returns policy 7.6 Quality of customer service 7.6 Shopped there before 7.4 Flexible payment options 5.9
Ability to zoom into product detail 7.4 Ability to rotate products to see them from every angle 7.3 Ability to configure products to own specifications (colour, cover, features etc) 7.3 Easy access to sales/support staff 6.9 Lifestyle imagery that presents the furniture in a room setting 6.8 Ability to browse products in a virtual showroom ............................................................................................6.6 Ability to visualise products in their own home with augmented reality (AR) technology 6.5
“3D visualisation tools are rapidly becoming the industry standard, a status we’ll likely see cemented in 2024 and beyond

To what degree do better, more interactive product visuals encourage shoppers to buy online? More than a quarter (26%) said such a feature would encourage them to spend; 16% said they would be encouraged to spend more; and 19% said they would be encouraged to make a repeat purchase.

Nearly a third (30%) of those aged 25-34 said better visuals would prompt them to spend more than they might have otherwise

“In the world of commerce, the mantra ‘show more to sell more’ holds true,” says Jostein Pedersen, VP product - 3D commerce, at Chaos Cylindo.

“3D visualisation tools are rapidly becoming the industry standard, a status we’ll likely see cemented in 2024 and beyond. By adopting 3D product visualisation technology, furniture companies aren’t just keeping up with the times – they are actively redefining the future of furniture ecommerce, making their business more agile, customer-centric, and economically efficient.”

That said, there are several weaknesses that shoppers often experience while shopping online, which can make them less likely to choose, or transact via, a digital channel – but which do they find the most frustrating?


“My biggest frustration is not having enough product information –particularly on sizing, but also around where things are manufactured”

Most (91%) people said encountering ‘poor imagery’ frustrated them, and this frustration was most pronounced among 18-24-year olds (96%)

Having no ability to visualise product in different colours when shopping for furniture online frustrates four in five people (80%) to some degree. When asked how many colour variations they would like to have available when making a selection, the respondents returned an average of 6.4.

courtesy iStock/netris
20% 36% 44%

Comparing the in-store and online furniture shopping experiences

The survey found that nearly half (44%) of all shoppers take a multichannel approach to furniture shopping, visiting a combination of stores and websites to find the right items for their home.

The respondents were asked to share their feelings around the strengths and weaknesses of each format, based on how much they agreed or disagreed with a range of statements:



“One thing is clear from this research – the appetite for emerging technologies is high

One of physical retail’s biggest strengths is the store’s ability to convey the product. The ability to touch and feel a piece of furniture, see it in person, and the knowledge imparted by store staff and PoS resources, means 70% of people say they develop a better understanding of the product in-store than they do online.

Nearly half (45%) of those aged 65+ strongly agree that they get a better understanding of the product in-store than they do online

Nearly half (45%) of shoppers would like to see more innovative technology utilised in stores, with more than half (52%) of those aged 18-24 in agreement, and 55% of those aged 35-44

The appetite for more innovative shopping technology being available online is clearest in the 25-34 (56%) and 35-44 (55%) brackets

“One thing is clear from this research – the appetite for emerging technologies is high,” says Jostein Pedersen, VP product - 3D commerce, at Chaos Cylindo. “Customers expect an engaging furniture shopping experience from start to finish – whether online or in-store, regardless of the channel or device they are using.

“The adoption of technologies, such as 3D product visualisation and AI-generated lifestyle content, will help furniture businesses redefine the buyer journey, setting up new standards, not just for the furniture industry but for business in general.”

More than half agree that they would be more likely to shop with a retailer that blended in-store and online shopping – a multichannel, or ‘omnichannel’ shopping experience. This might mean ensuring product information and pricing is consistent across both platforms, or having the ability to return an item either in-store or online, no matter where it was purchased.

The appetite for multichannel shopping is most marked in the 25-34 (63% in favour) and 35-44 (61%) brackets

Where is the online shopping experience losing out to physical stores? According to the results, only 9% disagree that the customer service they receive online is better than they enjoy in-store, meaning definite room for improvement. However, e-tailers are at least holding their own when it comes to the returns battle, with only 24% of shoppers finding the store returns process more straightforward than it is online.

% 7% 29% 38% 24% I receive better customer service in-store than online 8% 16% 40% 27% 9% I find the online returns process more straightforward than stores’ 21% 40% 30% I get a better understanding of the product in-store than I do online 2 % 7% 35% 42% 13% I would be more likely to shop with a retailer that blended in-store and online shopping 2 % 8% 40% 35% 10%
would like to see more innovative shopping technology utilised in stores
% 10% 39% 35% 10%
would like to see more innovative shopping technology utilised online 5 % 11% 29% 26% 7% I would accept poorer customer service for a keener price 13% 24% STRONGLY DISAGREE SOMEWHAT DISAGREE NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE SOMEWHAT AGREE STRONGLY

Building on these findings, which parts of the furniture shopping experience – online or in-store – are most likely to put customers off? Those surveyed were asked to rank their biggest frustrations about the way furniture is sold. Their top choices were:


“Keeping things clear and simple throughout the process makes a huge difference”


“Delivery charges should be scrapped – stores already make enough profit on each item bought”

While high prices might be the biggest bugbear for more than a quarter (28%) of shoppers, there is also clear demand for greater clarity and transparency, of both product and prices –including an indication that fluctuating prices – which are commonplace in today’s promotionheavy marketplace – can put shoppers off.

The sample were then asked which services/features would make them more likely to buy furniture, and to rank each by importance on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest):


“Furniture always breaks too easily – we need guarantees”

Interestingly, the practicalities around delivery and disposal rank even higher in their estimation than matters of pricing and longevity.

The demand for a furniture recycling service was biggest among those aged 55-64 (ranked 8/10 in importance)

Delivery to room of choice 7.8 Removal of old furniture 7.8 Expert installation 7.5 Recycling of old furniture 7.5 Discount offered on future purchases 7.2 Service/repair plan 6.9 Personalised email recommendations based on previous purchases 5.5

Vogue At Home

We are having a ‘At Home Show’ here at the Vogue HQ for the entire month of May- You can visit our factory and showroom- meet the team and stay over and be taken care of by Vogue.

Any orders taken at the ‘Home Show’ will receive a FREE mattress (RRP £499).

All appointments will be based via your local agent.


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Concluding thoughts

Where do people want to buy furniture? Although those in search of new product tend to favour physical stores, the results show a fairly even split between brick-and-mortar and online channels.

Shoppers appreciate the ability to touch and feel furniture in-store (unsurprising when comfort is the most important factor to them), and the service they receive from well-trained sales staff.

But they also value the convenience of online shopping, and having more choice at their fingertips –despite being frustrated by poor imagery and slow loading speeds.

The results of the survey show that each generation is increasingly leaning towards online shopping, or a hybrid journey that includes both store and website visits.

However, the notion that shoppers’ values, tastes and preferences are heading in one direction with each new generation should be questioned, as the youngest shoppers (aged 18-24) often buck the trends set by their elders – and the preferences of the oldest shoppers (65+) are sometimes at odds with what one might expect.

That said, shoppers of every age want to see more innovative technology being employed in furniture retail, both online and in-store. They want interactive screens through which to browse more products and variations on the shop floor, and to be able to zoom into, rotate and configure furniture online – all of which help to mitigate the limitations of each channel, expanding the offer’s selection and clarity.

As more shoppers go ‘multichannel’, they want to enjoy the best of both worlds in every interaction – and to see the back of any common flaws.

Retail is changing, and it pays to explore each and every possibility to evolve alongside consumer demand, and better address shoppers’ needs. Yet – when it comes to furniture, at least – every format has its place, and a customer base that simply wants to make the right choices for their home.

“Retail is changing, and it pays to explore each and every possibility to evolve alongside consumer demand


A world leader in 3D visualisation technology, Chaos is defining visualisation by offering accessible tools, simplifying and accelerating workflows, and empowering visual storytelling for artists, architects, designers, and other creative professionals. As a product of the Chaos portfolio, Cylindo is a 3D product visualisation platform designed to support visual commerce. Hundreds of furniture companies partner with Chaos Cylindo to get superior product visuals across the entire furniture buyer journey. The platform goes beyond high-quality product visualisation and gives furniture businesses versatile assets they can leverage across multiple touchpoints.

Cylindo is the catalyst that drives delightful shopping experiences, helping retailers and brands show more and sell more. Using the Cylindo Platform, companies have increased conversion rates by over +36% and AOV by +88%, while reducing visualisation costs by -58% on average.

For more information, visit and
Photo courtesy 123RF/nomadsoul1

The all-in-one 3D product visualization platform.

Boost your bottom line by creating, managing, and distributing high-quality 3D product visuals at scale – all from one platform.

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Simba continues to set sustainable standards

Blending intelligent design, patented technology and some of the finest natural materials, Simba, the UK’s first B Corpcertified sleep tech company (and this month’s cover star), has unveiled an impressive new mattress range …

The Earth mattress collection is meticulously crafted in Yorkshire. Offering “unrivalled” support from the new QuadCore technology, in addition to Simba’s patented Aerocoil springs, the Earth collection is available in UK single, double, king and superking sizes, and is 100% recyclable.

“Experience a luxurious blend of materials that have been expertly designed to provide pressure relief and temperature control,” says Simba. “Meanwhile, Yorkshire-grown hemp and flax excel in lasting durability and all-natural support. In addition, the Apex mattress includes soft cashmere, wool, silk, and mohair for extra luxurious cushioning.”

Four-point QuadCore springs

“The Earth Collection has been designed for comfort and quality sleep, while being specifically engineered to streamline the disassembly and recycling process

The Simba Earth range introduces the innovatively designed QuadCore springs, grouped in small clusters of four – effectively preventing movement from spreading, which in turn offers more precise and customised support. Moreover, Simba takes this a step further by using sonic welding to connect the springs instead of traditional glue, allowing the coils to move independently and freely.

Usually, in a mattress base, coils are arranged in large groups, linked together in rows. This design means that when one coil is pressed down, the surrounding coils also move, creating a wave of motion and transferring it across the mattress, says Simba: “If you’re sharing the bed, this can cause you to feel any movement from your partner, potentially disrupting your sleep.”

Patented signature Aerocoil technology

Simba’s Earth mattress features the Hybrid range’s signature award-winning Aerocoil titanium alloy springs, which are renowned for the comfort they offer, says Simba: “These springs ensure optimal body contouring, pressure relief, and targeted support. They also promote airflow for coolness, and provide

localised support and weight distribution so your partner’s movements are absorbed more easily and not passed onto your side of the bed.

“Despite their strength and support, the micro springs are so small they’re unnoticeable when positioned at the top of the mattress.” This technology promises balanced support and comfort in the upper layers, and spinal support in the base layers.

Source of homegrown, home-sewn comfort

The Earth mattress collection has three tiers, each priced accordingly – Source, Escape and Apex, which are made in Yorkshire. Every mattress is engineered and rigorously tested to help promote a more rejuvenating night’s rest, while at the same time being a more sustainable choice for the environment. Skilled craftspeople tuft the layers, while precision machinery ensures accuracy and efficiency in the process, ensuring quality in a long-standing tradition. Source is an ideal introduction to the collection, says Simba. It employs six layers of the brand’s pioneering technology and locally harvested hemp and flax.

Escape into a sleep sanctuary

Selected for its cushioning, support, breathability and durability, the Escape mattress has seven layers and uses British wool – renowned for its softness and unique ability to regulate temperature, keeping the sleeper cool in summer and warm in winter. Meanwhile, moisture-wicking hemp ensures the mattress remains comfortable throughout its lifespan.

The peak of natural luxury

The summit of Simba’s Earth collection, the Apex is crafted with eight comfort layers to offer the range’s highest level of plush and superior heat regulation, boasting a layer of cashmere, silk and mohair for extra-luxurious, pillowy cushioning. Simba uses some of the softest cashmere (sumptuous yet breathable, and upcycled from a British designer fashion house) and mohair (otherwise known as the ‘diamond fibre’, and famed for its velvety sheen and strength), together with smooth organic silk.

“At Simba, our mission is to continually test and learn, and to be the most innovative sleep tech brand in the world, and as a certified B Corp company, that also means being the most responsible,” says CEO Steve Reid. “Although you are able to recycle every Simba mattress completely, the Earth Collection has been designed for comfort and quality sleep, while being specifically engineered to streamline the disassembly and recycling process even further. It has also been designed without the use of glue or foam – instead using sonic welding – thus enhancing its recyclability and marking it as a sustainable option for both you and the environment.”


Proud winners of over 60 sleep industry awards.

Rest easy with Simba
We’re experts in the science of sleep, and over a million customers have already trusted us to give them the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had. TOP RATED 250,000 five star reviews - more than any other mattress brand. EXPERT SLEEP SCIENCE High-tech mattress based on data from ten million sleepers. AWARD-WINNING

In an era where wellness trends often dominate consumer preferences, Synca says it “emerges as a beacon for furniture retailers seeking innovative solutions”.

“Our diverse product portfolio seamlessly integrates wellness offerings into retail spaces, providing cost-effective and space-efficient options,” the wellness specialist continues.

“With contemporary designs and comprehensive sales and marketing support, including both in-store and digital materials, we minimise retail partner risks while maximising ROI.

“For furniture retailers aiming to capitalise on the wellness wave, Synca presents a dependable and economically viable solution. Embrace the future of retail with Synca, where wellness meets innovation.”

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Trent - Deep-fill padded cushions offer a supportive and restful sit, and our power model features a smooth reclining mechanism with sensor switch. Available in both static and power variants as a chair, two or three seater sofa or love seat.


Lead and learn with NBF retailer support

Do you want to boost your credibility as a bed retailer?

Businesses which stock National Bed Federation (NBF) approved member brands are eligible to join its Retail Champions Scheme and enjoy numerous benefits, explains the trade association …

“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainably and ethically made beds by companies they can trust,” explains the NBF. “As a bed retailer, your credibility is paramount, and that is where the NBF Retail Champions Scheme steps in.

“The initiative aims to raise awareness among consumers of the rigorous and independent testing of NBF members to ensure their products are reputable and made to the correct standards. If you already stock predominantly NBF-approved member brands, aligning your business with the trusted trade body signals to consumers that your product offer meets rigorous standards upheld by the NBF Code of Practice auditing process.

“Aligning your business with the trusted trade body signals to consumers that your product offer meets rigorous standards

“But the benefits do not stop there. As a Retail Champion, you will receive a comprehensive benefits package to bolster your business and reassure your customers. The respected NBF tick appears across the PoS pack, which includes swing tickets, window stickers and digital assets.

“Importantly, Retail Champions enjoy exclusive visibility through the dynamic postcode search listing on Bed Advice UK, the NBF’s consumer website, which attracts thousands of visitors monthly. For many consumers, this represents the first step in the bed-buying journey, and the site conveniently directs them to their nearest stockist of NBF-approved members.

“Also, only NBF Retail Champions can enter the prestigious NBF Bed Industry Awards. If you’re not signed up to be one, you can’t enter, no matter how successful your business is. It is your chance to shine, showcase your achievements, and stand out among industry peers.

“If at least 50% of your UK- and Ireland-made beds and mattresses come from NBF members, join 300plus bed retailers across the country, and apply today via the NBF website, at

“And the NBF’s retailer support doesn’t stop at affiliation. The NBF Introduction to Beds course is ideal for any new starters to the bed industry, whether in retail or manufacturing, sales, buying, customer services or production. Use the free course to help your staff fast-track their bed knowledge and provide expert guidance for your customers.

“Alongside essential information such as product guidance, major bed brands, relevant legislation, and a glossary of industry terminology, there are also up-to-date learnings about the UK bed market and consumer bed-buying habits. The course also provides a useful overview of the NBF Code of Practice and the NBF’s green agenda, covering existing and future NBF projects, and advice for businesses making green claims.

“The downloadable course gives participants more flexibility, allowing them to learn at their own pace and to refer to the course as their go-to manual. Plus, upon completion, participants receive a certificate and can offer their feedback on the course so the NBF can continually improve it.

“The NBF encourages all businesses involved in the UK and Irish bed industry to include the course as part of their employees’ induction process, to help new starters and quickly enable them to get up to speed on the world of beds.”

The NBF concludes: “Access the course today via the Training page on the NBF website, at”

Certify new starters through the Introduction to Beds course Retail Champions enjoy visibility through the search listing on the NBF’s consumer website The Introduction to Beds course is downloadable, giving participants flexibility

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Elevate home offices with sustainable MDF

With flexible working still in high demand, the need for multifunctional spaces at home continues to grow. This can be easily achieved by creating bespoke multipurpose furniture, such as extendable dining tables or foldaway desks – and furnituremakers looking for a versatile material to work with should consider MDF, says MEDITE SMARTPLY …

MDF is a popular material primarily because of its attributes such as a smooth surface finish, ease of machining, high strength, and consistent quality. MDF can also be more environmentally friendly if the wood used is sourced from responsibly managed forests.

Why choose MEDITE MDF?

“MEDITE MDF has excellent machining properties, and is commonly used for furniture, cabinetry projects and decorative laminations for flooring,” says MEDITE SMARTPLY. The wood fibres are pressed with the resin, to make a homogeneous panel, which makes it easier to machine. These wood fibres also create a smooth surface, allowing for far fewer imperfections, and enabling the easier application of paint.

Sourced from sustainably managed forests in Ireland, the MDF range is FSC certified and, when used properly, can be one of the most environmentally efficient building materials on the market, with product-specific Type 3 Environmental Product Declarations to support this. Carbon is stored in MEDITE SMARTPLY panels from the growth of the trees in sustainably managed forests, to the point of manufacturing – and stays locked in for the lifespan of the product and the building they are used within. Additionally, MEDITE MDF is CARB2 compliant, which contributes to a healthier indoor environment to the occupants, and provides peace of mind to furnituremakers and fabricators.

“MEDITE MDF has excellent machining properties, and is commonly used for furniture

The MEDITE MDF range offers standard, speciality and technical variants, to meet a multitude of specifications. This includes MEDITE PREMIER, a multi-purpose MDF, produced using superior wood refining technology and specially designed resins. Its smooth surface and impressive machining properties make it suitable for the thinnest laminates and surface coatings. Produced in a range of thicknesses, including 3-6mm, MEDITE PREMIER is suitable for a range of interior applications, from making backings for drawers to creating shelving units. Its versatility makes it ideal for multifunctional pieces in the home office, says MEDITE SMARTPLY.

MEDITE MR PLUS is the latest addition to the MEDITE MDF range, and is also a good option for interior applications. MEDITE MR PLUS is a premium white-primed, moisture-resistant MDF panel, which has all the benefits of MEDITE MR but is designed for end-users looking to save time by eliminating the need to prime the panel before painting. Its topcoat offers a smooth base for further application of water or solvent-borne paint products by brush, roller or spraying equipment. This makes it an suitable product for a wide range of applications.

“For versatility and great peace of mind, choose MEDITE MDF,” concludes MEDITE SMARTPLY.

“MEDITE’s exclusive MDF community site, MEDITE Makes It Real ( showcases an array of inspiring projects. End-users can share work, get exclusive content and win prizes that will enable them to build bigger and better with MDF. Sign up and receive a free gift.”

See the full range of MEDITE MDF on the brand’s website.

Thin MDF is suitable for numerous retail applications Infinitus Bespoke Interiors employs MEDITE MDF to great effect
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The Furniture Industry Research Association has released a new five-part Lean Manufacturing Training Toolkit to support furniture manufacturers looking to introduce lean principles into their organisation.

Each part of the toolkit focuses on a different lean principle and includes all the resources necessary to carry out practical and theoretical training exercises with a team of employees. The five parts of the toolkit cover 5C Workplace organisation, 7 Wastes, Visual management, Standardised work, and Measures of Quality, Cost and Delivery (QCD).

Association members have free access to this new resource as part of their membership package via, and it is also available for non-members to purchase.

In the fast-paced retail environment, Sci-Net’s award-winning ERP>Retail solution is tailored for furniture retailers. This certified Microsoft Dynamics add-on streamlines operations, enhances customer experience, and boosts the bottom line.

Further, Sci-Net is proud to offer its latest technology solution for the furniture industry, ERP>>>Rapid. It is a templated, cost-effective solution designed for swift implementation, and is suitable for small-scale retailers seeking an effective solution within budget.

Sci-Net concludes: “Why not visit us on stand 6B78 at the upcoming Retail Technology Show (24-25th April, Olympia, London) to discover how we can help your retail business navigate today’s uncertainties, and beyond?”






Image courtesy iStock/Olivier Le Moal
Sci-Net’s solutions connect retailers’ processes and people (photo courtesy Getty/andresr)
WWW RHENUS-HOME-DELIVERY CO UK 1/2 page landscape.indt 1 12/03/2024 20:24

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Find out more about the EGGER Decorative Collection 24+ at: or email

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Shows, shows, everywhere

Having completed one season of furniture exhibitions, the trade is already busy with another, with a slew of dates just around the corner. But is the sheer number of trade shows demanding retailers’ attention sustainable? Gavin Boden, sales director at Rhenus Home Delivery (UK), takes a look at the bigger picture …

I’ve been in the furniture now for, let’s see, six million years, since I left school – back in the days when there was no Internet or Wi-Fi, and when phones had stretchy cables (can you imagine that?!).

In 1986, which is the year I left school, I stumbled into working for a local furniture retailer in Grimsby – the first day of which I spent out on the road with the delivery team, delivering furniture. Bevan Funnel, Beaver and Tapley, Jentique … we were delivering some big brands back then, and I never had a clue.

Another thing I didn’t realise when I was a wetbehind-the-ears furniture boy, was that you could leave the confines of your retail establishment for the day and go and see a lot of these brands together in one place.

The business owners (or their buyers) would climb into their Ford Capris, Austin Maestros and Audi 80s and drive the miles along the country roads to places like High Wycombe or Long Eaton to visit specialist shows or exhibitions where the mainly British manufacturers or suppliers could all get together under one roof, and the buyers could stroll round and try all the latest the furniture industry had to offer.

It wasn’t long before the furniture agents hosted mini shows of their own, where a few of them would get together in one place, maybe a local hotel or hall, and display their wares, and the retailers would drive the short distances to the local, easily accessible shows.

But this was when there were 15 or 20 bricks-andmortar furniture retailers in each town. I remember Grimsby having 25+ proper furniture stores – for a small town it was crazy, but they all managed to find their own niche and take their fair share of the business.

From the 80s, if you can now slide into your silver DeLorean, crank it up to 88mph and bang it down in 2023, the picture is ridiculously different.

An evolving industry

The Internet arrived in the latter years of the 90s, and the early noughties saw furniture retailers’ websites starting to pop up – firstly using them as a shop window, with the aim of attracting buyers to come and visit their stores, then later actually selling their offering online using credit cards and Confinity (now known as PayPal) to pay for the goods in their digital shopping basket. This changed the landscape of the industry, and what was once seen as a fad would

forever change the way bricks-and-mortar furniture retailers do business.

But the biggest change to buying furniture had already landed on the shores. As British furniture manufacturers sat back in their high-backed Queen Annes, they quickly realised that there was a storm coming. That storm was being delivered by the container-load, from places far afield like the Far East, and they could make anything, from sofas to dining chairs and flatpack beds to sideboards and mirrors.

What was even worse was that the furniture coming over – even considering the cost of the transportation – was very, very inexpensive. I can remember seeing a three-seater leather sofa from DeCoro in the warehouse of Furniture Land in Derby and being blown away, not only by the weight of it, but the quality and price. I think it landed at about £250, and it was a big lump for the money. DeCoro later tried expanding their business, but went into liquidation around 2009.

When the product started to come in from all over the world, the furniture shows witnessed a huge spike in their popularity, attracting exhibitors from countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and most frequently China, who could all bring products into the UK at a fraction of the cost of British furniture.

Trade shows today

In 2024 the furniture exhibition/show scene is barely recognisable, with over 20 major shows a year –including (but not limited to): January Furniture Show; Manchester/Harrogate; AIS’ INDX Furniture and Beds & Bedroom; Long Point (x 2); NBF Bed Show; the South West show; Scotland’s Northpoint Show; Spring and Autumn Fair; Decorex; and more … I have several issues with the volume of shows, one of which is the cost. Let’s take the January Furniture Show as an example. JFS, which was originally started by the Midlands Reps and Agents Association over 30 years ago, and held in Bingley Hall in Stafford, grew massively in the 90s, to taking up over 15 halls (although my brain is telling me it had even more).

When I used to be involved in setting up stands, they had a more-than enthusiastic charge for absolutely everything – lights, sockets, electricity on the stand, carpets, Wi-Fi, floorspace – and I’m sure that this hasn’t changed.

By the end of it, a medium-size stand for upholstery, including stand build, hotels, logistics, staff,

“Can’t the industry get all the big players in one room and agree on two, maybe three large UK shows per year?
“When I used to be involved in setting up stands, they had a more-than enthusiastic charge for absolutely everything, and I’m sure this hasn’t changed

entertainment and food, could set you back as much as £50k. How many sofas do you have to sell to make enough profit to recoup that kind of cost?

Another frustration for manufacturers and suppliers (aside from the cost) is that if they were to attend even a quarter of these shows, is there any point showing the same ranges to the same retailers? I understand that some of the shows are more localised, but a lot of the Scottish buyers will have visited the January Furniture Show and will see the same products and offers at the Scottish show. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

A sustainable future?

Let’s also now speak about that latest buzzword, ‘sustainability’. As the whole world is becoming aware of the damage we’re doing to it, some of us are pulling out all the stops to minimise that damage, with the use of electric vehicles (a whole other conversation), alternative energy sources like wind and solar, and the introduction of video calling – we’re all trying to limit the amount of travel, and at the same time, our ‘carbon footprint’.

And the furniture industry is finally starting to embrace this, with a lot of manufacturers using less

plastic, less packaging, and more planet-friendly components. At the same time, we’re encouraging, by holding so many shows and exhibitions, the travel of thousands of people, the movement of furniture in carbon-emitting vehicles all around the world, and many, many other unsustainable practices.

The current level of shows in the UK surely isn’t sustainable in the long term, and we need to do something.

A possible solution?

Can’t the industry get all the big players in one room and agree on two, maybe three large UK shows per year, which include all divisions/sectors, furniture, flooring, decor, accessories, lighting, outdoor, etc? They can be held at the best time of the year, in the best locations around the country, and can work together with the finer details so they are affordable, sustainable, and fit for purpose. At the moment, I just feel that there are companies that are making a lot of money out of an industry which, while going through an evolution, is really struggling to find its feet.

“The current level of shows in the UK surely isn’t sustainable in the long term
Is the furniture buyer’s calendar a little too crowded? (photo courtesy iStock/EduLeite)

Your reputation precedes you (or not)

Sometimes, even the most seasoned industry veteran comes across a business that exceeds their expectations – or blows them right out of the water, as training specialist Adam Hankinson (Furniture Sales Solutions) explains, in this love letter to a retailer which shall, for now, remain anonymous …

I very recently conducted a programme of sales training at a single-site retailer of furniture, beds, and flooring.

Before commencing the programme, I hadn’t heard of the company, as they are over 200 miles from where I live. I was impressed at the openness of the leadership team, and despite having been in business for over 40 years, they felt that they had a great deal to learn in terms of sales structure and systems, and that any help and constructive feedback given would be welcomed as if it were, in fact, great praise!

This, indeed, was the case. In my five weeks of working with them, they took on board all of my observations, thoughts and feedback and, most importantly, immediately started acting on them.

I must say, though, that in my five full-time weeks with the business, I was the one who was totally and utterly blown away by the values of this family business and the impact these values had on the customers who visited their store. In 43 years in retail, I have never met such a friendly, open and trusting customer, who treated the store personnel and owners like long-lost friends and family.

Never before have I seen couple after couple smile, hug, and even kiss store colleagues from all departments (including the extremely successful cafe/bistro).

Over half of the customers I spoke to had used this brilliant business for all their home furnishings, and the other half were visiting because they had been recommended by their friends, work colleagues,

relatives, or neighbours, for the first time.

This business has been growing exponentially, by double digits, for over a decade, because of a handful of values that every business talks about, but very, very few get anywhere near living by.

At every level in this business, in every role, at every touchpoint, this business does the right thing, and puts the customer first. They refuse to do anything with a short-term view in mind. If the customer is unhappy with anything at all, either before or after delivery, this company puts it right without resistance, argument or fuss.

This is even more impressive when you see that everyone thinks the same way, and there’s a total understanding that “this is what we do here at XYZ store”.

Because this business lives its values of always putting the customer first and always doing right by them, customers arrive at the store ready and open to buy again. Time after time, customers said to me, “We just love coming here because of how we’re treated!”

Seriously, the store was throbbing with a genuine feeling of love for this business. I have never heard feedback like it – I, the inspirer, am inspired.

When I thought I set the standard, a new standard has been shown to me – and if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have thought it possible. Incredible.

P.S. I bet you want to go there?

“At every level in this business, in every role, at every touchpoint, this business does the right thing, and puts the customer first
answer (photo courtesy 123RF/patcharaporn1984)
does the perfect furniture store look like?
Hankinson thinks
may have the


Boost your credibility with the National Bed Federation

If you stock predominantly NBF-approved member brands, join the NBF Retail Champions scheme today

Find out more and apply for free today:

Support new starters with the

The FREE comprehensive training course is ideal for anyone joining the bed industry.

Start your journey today at


Time to expand your retail empire?

Ever considered expanding your retail portfolio? There may never be a better time to expand your empire, writes our US correspondent, business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry, Gordon Hecht …

I’m not sure exactly how it looks in the UK, but, here in the US, big-box and specialty retailers are planning to close hundreds of shops. This will leave shoppers with less brick-and-mortar choices to spend in, and, with a little good fortune, we may see retail rents drop.

Your retail store is like a great white shark. That mammoth fish must continually move forward to live. If it stops moving, it stops breathing. Your business must also move forward. When it stagnates, you end up with a dead shark. Adding in a second, third, or 33rd location takes time, planning, and assets.


Of course, you will need a spot for your new shop. A similar rule of residential real estate applies to the commercial side. Location, location, location.

In commercial real estate, (almost) any location can be successful. Look for an ‘A’ building that has abundant foot and drive-by traffic. It will have tenants selling similar merchandise or attract a similar target demographic. You pay more rent, but you may be able to reduce your advertising cost based on the number of shoppers in the area.

You can consider ‘B’ locations too. These might be older centres, or less-desirable spaces in ‘A’ locations. These can be of substantial value if they’re in an area of town going through a rebuilding or located near legacy retailers, and you’ll pay less rent, but will need to increase your advertising budget to attract buyers.

Rent is your largest ongoing expense. When assessing occupancy costs, multiply rent by 10 – the resulting calculation is a fair picture of the retail sales you’ll need to generate to show profit.


Your current business is successful for many reasons. In that mix is the company culture. Everyone on your team knows their job. Good teams execute and give a little more. Your people know the guardrails of what they can and cannot do. Your best people look out for the interest of the business.

A new location means duplicating that culture and building durable careers. One of the top reasons that business expansion fails is the loss of company culture. For K-Mart, Linens and Things, and Kenny Rogers Roasters, each new store meant a reduction in the culture of success. The shopper experience diminished as they rushed to fill store positions. They became dead sharks.

You may have someone on your team that’s ready to step up into a leadership role. Don’t wait until the grand opening day of your new location to give them responsibility and authority – start today. Add in your new sales staff 60-90 days ahead, in your current location. And plan to ‘live’ at the new location for 6-12 months, to further develop your culture.

Manual labour

McDonald’s and Starbucks would never think of opening another store without insisting that the staff uses the same recipes as existing stores. Unlike Mom, those recipes aren’t handed down by word of mouth. The grande, bone-dry, five-shot ristretto extra-whip, two-raw-sugars cappuccino instructions are written down, trained upon, tested, and reviewed for full compliance. Having a written sales and operations manual is not an option. You need to have those best practices documented so they can be duplicated. Here’s a hint – the best people to write the manuals are the people that do the work. You can edit it later.


Think you have enough cash reserves? Think again! It’s costly to open a store. There are fixtures, tenant improvements, signage and merchandise. And, oh, those licenses – city, sales tax, sign reviews, PoS cost, fire inspection. Insurance, deposits for water, sewer, and power. The money you budget is enough, until something goes wrong. And something always does. Use the 20% rule to start. We recently had new flooring installed in a room at our home. The room measured 600ft2. The salesman suggested we order +20% extra to account for waste or error. We added 120ft2 to the order, and used all but 22 of that. Add up the initial expenses you think you’ll incur. Be sure to have ready cash of 20% left over, for waste or error. Then you’ll need working capital. A solid number would be 12 months’ rent. In the first 90 days you’re just starting in a new neighbourhood, and traffic may be slow. On top of that, you’ll need to double or triple your advertising budget to get your name out there. Like any new venture, you’ll take a risk with a new location. You’ll invest a lot of time and dough. But you will also maximise your operations and advertising costs. As time goes on, you’ll have the strength and infrastructure for … the next new location.

Gordon can be reached at

“Your store is like a great white shark. If it stops moving, it stops breathing. Your business too must move forward, or you end up with a dead shark

Agency agreements – written or unwritten?

In this article, Stephen Sidkin, a commercial law partner at Fox Williams LLP, explores a number of the issues concerning agency agreements – while striking down the odd urban myth …

Agency agreements can be written or unwritten. There is no requirement under English law that an agency agreement must be in writing. This lack of requirement is consistent with the position of most agreements under English law – formality is rarely a requirement.

But, given this flexibility, why have a written agency agreement? The answer is that a written agreement can provide a great degree of certainty.

In this respect the key word is ‘can’, because: where the Commercial Agents Regulations apply, certain obligations are automatically imposed on both principal and agent – further, in respect of many of these obligations, contracting out is prohibited by the regulations; and whether or not the regulations apply to the agency agreement, certainty can evaporate when faced with the general language used, or provisions which are poorly drafted in the written agency agreement.

The Commercial Agents Regulations

The regulations impose on each of the principal and agent an obligation to act dutifully and in good faith towards each other. The regulations provide specific ‘examples’ of these obligations. As such, for example, the agent is required to comply with the reasonable instructions of the principal – and the principal has an obligation to inform the agent within a reasonable time of the principal’s acceptance or rejection of an order obtained by the agent for the principal.

However, somewhat surprisingly, what is meant by the reciprocal obligation to act dutifully and in good faith, and the specific examples which are given in the regulations, as well as the corresponding provisions in the EU Agents Directive (which the regulations implemented into English law) is, in turn, somewhat uncertain. This is because of the few court judgments which have interpreted these provisions.

The flipside of the lack of court judgments is that the opportunity arises for principal and agent to agree in the agency agreement provisions which build on these general obligations.

Nor do matters rest there. Recently there have been some ‘innovative’ judgments given both by the European court as well as appeal courts in a number of EU member states in the interpretation to be given to the provisions in the directive, as to the principal’s obligation to pay commission, and as to how the compensation payable to the agent on termination of the agency agreement is to be calculated.

Agency agreements generally

Generally, imprecise language can be costly. Take, for example, on obligation to pay commission on goods sold. Expressed in such straightforward language in a situation where the buyer of the goods has not paid the principal for the purchase price, can the principal legitimately refuse to pay commission to the agent?

Interestingly, where the agency agreement is subject to the regulations, the position is that commission can be withheld if the principal is not responsible for the non-payment by the buyer. So, in a situation where the buyer refuses to pay for goods delivered late, the principal will still be required to pay commission to the commercial agent.

Further, the situation can become awkward for either or both of principal and agent. For the principal to impose its agency agreement on the agent, provisions which are considered to be unreasonable as they allow the principal to avoid performing its contractual obligations will be unenforceable.

Sometimes an agent will act for a principal which offers goods which compete with some of the goods of another principal also represented by the same agent. A claim by the agent that the second principal was aware of the situation at the time of engaging the agent is most unlikely to prevent the first principal from being able to claim that the agency agreement has been seriously breached by the agent. To prevent this situation from occurring, the onus is on the agent to obtain the prior informed consent of both principals to the agent acting for each of them.

Nor is the situation ameliorated by one principal putting onto the market a new product which was not offered for sale by that principal at the time when the agent was appointed, or even when the agent took on another principal.

In brief, if the agent is to choose which product or which principal the agent is to promote at any point in time, both principals must agree to the agent having the right to choose. A claim by the agent that it knows which products better suit different customers is an unsustainable position for the agent to take.

What of variations?

The parties to a written agreement can be expected to focus on the provisions they consider most important to their respective roles. Unsurprisingly, this is no different in respect of an agency agreement. However, most written agreements used in business will have a raft of different provisions tucked away

“There have been some ‘innovative’ judgments given in the interpretation as to the principal’s obligation to pay commission

towards the end of the agreement – after what are often considered to be the key substantive provisions of the agreement. These tailed provisions are usually given the dismissive, generic name of ‘boilerplate’, as if they are not worthy of consideration.

But care is needed, particularly if the agency agreement contains a ‘no oral modification’ clause. The general position following a judgment of the UK’s Supreme Court is that a no oral modification clause means just that – a variation of the agency agreement must be in writing.

The fact that principal and agent orally agreed to vary the written agency agreement is irrelevant.

The fact that by the actions towards each other, the conduct of principal and agent indicated a change to

the written terms of the agency agreement is equally irrelevant.

Both principal and agent should be careful for what they wish. In the absence of there being a written agency agreement, both principal and agent can require from the other a signed written document setting out the terms of the agency agreement.

Whilst this provision in the regulations is little known, it can be used by either principal or agent to its advantage by forcing the other party to the agency agreement to set out what are the terms of the agreement, and in turn being required to demonstrate how those terms were agreed.

“Both principals must agree to the agent having the right to choose

Yes, some staff are happy to work weekends

Who’d want to work weekends?

When there are sales to be made, it’s crucial to ensure there’s enough staff on the shopfloor to handle high-traffic periods – and you might be surprised by how many are willing to grasp the nettle, writes Steve Pickering, the ‘unorthodox’ CEO of fast-growing South East independent bed retail chain Sussex Beds …

We measure ‘reasons for not purchasing’ to gain insight into our consumers’ buying behaviour, even if it’s somewhat assumptive in the recording.

During the final quarter last year, we noticed a reason trending upward, peaking at over 7% in October – ‘Couldn’t get to, busy serving’. This alert prompted further investigation.

The results revealed this increase was driven by four of our higher-foot traffic stores, especially on weekends. We calculated that these lost opportunities were potentially losing us over £500k in revenue annually.

The obvious solution was increasing weekend staffing in these stores to reduce missed opportunities. One suggestion was recruiting part-time team for Saturdays and Sundays. My response – how many people want weekend-only work? We’d only ever hired full-time.

We agreed to test this proposal, first offering shifts internally.

Shock one – a valued full-timer immediately applied, excited to work weekends, which would allow them to attend university during the week.

Then, advertising the remaining openings externally, shock two –

we received over 75 applicants, far exceeding our normal full-time openings.

How little I knew! I was wrong. Surprised is an understatement –we hired three great part-timers. After three months, the ‘Couldn’t get to, busy serving’ metric dropped to 4.2%, and conversions rose +14%.

Do you measure why customers don’t buy? How do you use data or KPIs to drive performance?

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

“We calculated that these lost opportunities were potentially losing us over £500k in revenue annually
Where does the middleman stand? Written agreements can prove invaluable for principal and agent (image courtesy 123RF/ilixe48)



For sale only due to retirement of the owner after 35 years trading, a unique pine and oak furniture manufacturing business.

Home Pine is situated close to the stunning north Devon coastline, it offers the opportunity either as an add-on to an existing business or to continue in its present format run sole by the owner.

Offering a range of made to order quality furniture through a basic production and manufacturing process.

Versatile leasehold premises comprising showroom, comprehensively workshop, 3,300 sq.ft. – paint shop – office – loading bay.

Leasehold price £20,000 to include leasehold premises, goodwill, fixtures, fittings and equipment – stock is at valuation in the region of £15,000.

For sales details and further information contact the business transfer agents EMF – quoting MF35844N.

Tel: 01404 813762 – Email:

Alternatively download the details from the website

Comfizone LTD are currently seeking to fill the following position: Sales Agent - Donegal, Connaught, and Munster

Comfizone are a leading manufacturer of mattresses, headboards, and divan bases located in Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland. With our recent investment in expanding our capacity, we are eager to both broaden our network of retailers and provide a tailored solution to existing customers in these locations.

We are in search of a self-motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic sales agent to join our team.

The role will involve:

• Client Acquisition

• Product Demonstrations

• Sales Training

• Order processing.

• Customer Service

• Market Research

• Reporting and Analysis

If you are an experienced sales agent with a clientele in the furniture and wholesale sectors in the aforementioned locations, or if you’re looking to transition into this industry, this could be the opportunity you’ve been seeking.


• Proven experience in bedding/furniture sales or related field.

• Strong communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills.

• Ability to work independently and as part of a team in a fast-paced environment.

• Excellent organizational and time management abilities.

• Valid driver’s license and willingness to travel as needed.


• Competitive commission-based compensation structure.

• Opportunities for professional development and advancement.

• Supportive and collaborative work environment.

• Access to a diverse portfolio of high-quality furniture products.

• Access to an existing customer base

• Periodic use of new purpose-built product show van

For further details or to apply, contact Peter Bradley at


Posture flex ltd is looking for a sales agent to cover the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber Midlands and South

19/03/2024 15:37

Posture Flex LTD, a distinguished manufacturer specialising in vacuumpacked mattresses. We’re dedicated to delivering exceptional products and services to furniture retailers. Our expertise lies in crafting sleek and modern vacuum-packed mattresses tailored to meet the demands of the ever-changing market.

We recognise the uniqueness of our customers. That’s why we specialise in manufacturing our Vacuum-Packed mattresses to the customer’s specific needs, offering a versatile range of feels, customisations, and specifications. Our aim is to ensure that the final mattress not only meet but exceeds your expectations, seamlessly complementing the customers home and reflecting their distinct style.

Excited to partner with us? Posture Flex LTD is nationally renowned for its trend-focused designs, impeccable craftsmanship, and exceptional customer service. Join us in creating the perfect sleep solution tailored precisely to the customers desires.

Closing Date: Friday, April 26, 2024

Salary: DoA

Contact/Application Details, for more information

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

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

HomePine_JA.indd 1
26/03/2024 23:30
Comfizone_JA.indd 1
PosFlex_JA.indd 1 27/03/2024
JANUARY FURNITURE SHOW INDX FURNITURE | BEDROOM LIVING | DINING TRADE SERVICES A man’s world? Evaluating gender equality in the furniture industry Behind the rise and rise of Qualita Forecasting the product trends of 2022 #388 January 2022 VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY Join At The Helm’s bold adventure
AWARDS MATTRESSES SERVICES Channel routes Notes shipping crisis trading lockdown PICTURE PERFECT pretty with award-winning TRADE dilemma and cons hybrid Simba’s clever salespeople holiday HOT PROPERTY Sizzling CGI Pepper


There’s a hill next to every valley

Much has changed in recent years, but the international furniture industry continually finds new ways to adapt, and thrive – writes Imre Zilahi, editor-in-chief of Romania’s, and the chairman of the International Alliance of Furnishing Publications (IAFP).

Face-to-face business first

Business events in the furniture industry have suffered from shocks caused first by the pandemic, then by the war in Ukraine. In recent years, it has become clear that online communication cannot replace face-to-face meetings. Online communication is useful for getting practical things done, but it is not the best way to build trusting relationships. Business requires real dialogue, face-to-face meetings.

Global inspiration

The furniture-buying public is starting to draw inspiration from the same sources globally. Furniture manufacturers have access to raw materials and functional components from all over the world. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to identify at a glance the country of origin of a product presented at international fairs.

Comfort, colour and texture of upholstery have become more important, as has the quality of the finish and the extent to which the furniture meets functional requirements. Trends are now global – the challenge for furniture companies is to keep up with the competition in terms of optimising costs and adopting innovative concepts.

European outlook

Over the past two years, Eastern European countries have found themselves in the immediate vicinity of a war zone, while Western Europe remains exposed to an energy crisis that is increasingly spreading across the continent.

Europe is facing inflationary problems, real estate investment is stagnating in many countries, and in difficult times, end-users are more cautious when it comes to deciding how to spend their savings. It is therefore not surprising that customers will spend their money first on their existential needs, and only later to make their lives more comfortable.

There is a hill next to every valley, so let’s

“It has become clear that online communication cannot replace faceto-face meetings

hope that in the next couple of years this stagnant market will pick up again and start growing. I do not believe that the situation caused by low market demand will change significantly in 2024. Bureaucratic decisions in Brussels are not helping to stabilise the economies of EU member states, and the prices of fuel and other energy sources are putting too much pressure on manufacturing firms, so we should not expect a sudden improvement. I look to 2025 with higher hopes, but it is too early to say yet.

Entering new markets

I am sure that European furniture manufacturers will have to look for new markets. To open new doors to foreign markets for Romanian furniture exporters, our publishing house recently launched the platform, which has received very positive feedback from the UK.

In the next few years, we may see a reverse export trend, with well-known European brands finding markets in Central and South East Asian countries.

As a good example, I would like to draw attention to the Philippine Furniture Furnishings Market (PFFM) import fair in July this year. An unusual concept, and an unusual idea, isn’t it? As I said, the resilience of furniture companies will be defined by their ability to seek and find atypical solutions. We’ll follow the process closely.

“The furniture-buying public is starting to draw inspiration from the same sources globally
INDUSTRY PARTNERS Young Furniture Make xhibition. F U R N T U R E Women in

Are you happy with the current balance of British and imported products in the sector?

Yes. Whilst we do import some great-quality products from overseas, the majority of our shop floor is made up of British-made products, which is how we feel it should be. We champion British bedmaking (particularly NBF members) and advocate traditional methods and locally sourced materials from all of the leading brands which form the bedrock of our industry in this country

James Dunne (Prestige Beds)

Consumers need to have choice – price, style and quality. It’s the job of the BFM to help shoppers understand the benefits and value of choosing British-made furniture. Opening up membership to furniture retailers in the UK who support British furniture is part of our initiative to promote UK products at the point of purchase

Phil Spademan (British Furniture Manufacturers)

I would love to see more British-made furniture in the cabinet sector (there seems to be a good balance in the bed and upholstery markets). We manufactured for 27 years until we had no choice but to switch to imported only, for the longevity of the business. It seems wrong that a product can be made and shipped halfway around the world for less than making it down the road, but, with higher labour and operational costs here, unfortunately that’s just how it is right now. End-consumers love the idea of a product being made in this country – until they see the price tag

Nicolle Hockin (Devonshire Living)

Most definitely not, but it’s not the consumer at fault, it’s the major retailers driving costs down and making overseas manufacture the only option. Thus, we all have to compete

Jonathan Staker (Vanquish)

This is primarily impacted by external market forces, though we consciously look to source from British brands who specialise in the products they produce, and explore UKbased industry innovators to ensure our product is of the highest quality and meets customer demands.

Andrew Kerr (Siren Furniture)

I massively support and promote British manufacturing, and acknowledge that British manufacturers worked extremely hard during the pandemic, overcoming horrendous supply chain issues to fill the gaps for retailers who were let down by their imported product partners, so it would be nice to see that recognised by retailers. However, the reality is somewhat different, and business is business – so we will just need to find other ways to be competitive against our foreign friends

Nichola Bell (Alpha Designs Upholstery)

Most of my agencies are wholesalers, importing goods from all parts of the world – with one exception, my bed agency, all UK made, with parts again from abroad. Without importing, most British goods would never be instigated. So, yes

Brian Levitt (Brian Levitt Sales Agencies)

As a UK manufacturer I would always want to see a healthy UK manufacturing base

Paul Little (Airsprung Beds)

Yes. I embrace global trade. It has driven so much of the positive change we have seen in our lifetimes. We should also remember that much of our British-made product consists of materials that originate from elsewhere. The term ‘British made’ can also be misleading – whilst it is used as a marketing tool, the criteria are complex and can confuse the consumer

Jonathan Burrage (Hydeline Furniture)

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Peter Harding (MD at Fairway Furniture)

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