The audience and panellists were united in their conclusion on the ever-increasing value of being British-made in the competitive (and highly innovative) retail and trade furniture sectors. Making sure your customers, your suppliers and all your staff are on board as ambassadors and co-contributors looks like becoming the new normal for British manufacturers, as our CEO John Pearce discovered at this year’s January Furniture Show.
MiB members Harry Thompson, Lee Lovett and Steven Parkinson shared their 2023 visions for the growth of their businesses within the furniture sector on the ‘Designed in Britain, Made in Britain’ panel discussion on Monday 23rd January at the NEC.
Harry Thompson, Brand Development and Marketing Specialist with Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company was upbeat about the year overall, whilst recognising that ‘keeping your head well above water’ will also be a great outcome, given there are so many economic and workforce challenges to confront.
Harry was keen to remind people, “The eyes of the world will all be on us in May as we celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III. We have to take advantage of that and put our very best selves forward. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the UK to present the very best of ourselves with quality products that deliver on the highest expectations of what British-made really means.”
Steven Parkinson, Product Designer at Gresham Office Furniture is looking forward to the new ‘export’ normal as the business picks up where it left off in the run up the travel and trade restrictions imposed on everyone in 2020.
“We are heading over the Atlantic this year to re-start where we left off after the pandemic hiatus, with ambitious plans to take the Gresham brand of innovative, human-centric office furniture to the US. The North American specifiers and buyers know they can trust the British-made product and they love the innovation and design that the UK is so famous for. We want to grow both here in the UK and overseas with a plan to turn our designer office furniture into measurable export expansion and growth this year.”
Lee Lovett, owner of the Soho Lighting Company was similarly upbeat about the need to boost British-made capacity in the coming years, whilst recognising the need to consolidate the wins her company has made in recent years.
“Our strategy for this year is to focus on consolidation of the rapid (and sometimes overwhelming) growth we have achieved in the years since we set up the business. We have radical plans regarding our source materials, and we know the opportunity to grow here in the UK market is the priority, but we do see a lot of optimism out there and though this year might be challenging, we won’t hide from it – we want to embrace it to grow strategically with the increase in demand."
Lee found the right words to answer a great question from the audience on introducing sustainability challenges to the workforce and embedding the new behaviours required to solve resource and raw material problems.
Lee explained; “Our people (at the Soho Lighting Company) have our brand and our values running through them like a ‘stick of rock’. Once they are in, they stay in. We want people to join us because making things (and doing it profitably) really is a big challenge, but that is what makes it meaningful. If there are gaps in the UK capacity at the moment due to changing trade relationships, we need to urgently increase our capabilities to fill them.”
Harry Thompson agreed; “Sustainability isn’t an extra workstream for us any more. It has become mainstream and we’re happy with that. It means all our staff understand the challenge of resource scarcity – we got everyone together to onboard them all at the same time. There’s no ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom up’ – just positive interaction to establish what we want to try to achieve as a business and how we can make that viable whilst keeping profitability”.
Members of Made in Britain will next be appearing at the Spring Fair on Sunday 5th February, together with CEO John Pearce and COO, Ilika Copeland.
By Made in Britain 2 months ago | Made in Britain news