GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index increased two points to –9 for January. Four measures increased, but the Major Purchase Index, which monitors willingness to spend on big-ticket items such as furniture, decreased two points +1 (one point lower YoY).
Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, says: “The first month of 2020 has given us a mini Boris-bounce with a two-point increase in our consumer confidence headline score. While January marks four years of the index failing to penetrate positive territory, we now have two consecutive months of improvement. This is good news. The latest measures concerning our personal financial situation for the last and next 12 months are encouragingly healthy and positive, as is the improvement in our view of the wider economic picture for the UK. This is linked to the uptick in the jobs and housing markets, coupled with low headline inflation and interest rates.
“The Major Purchase Index is the only measure to decline this month, reflecting January’s seasonal post-Christmas empty-wallet feeling, and further impacting the longer-term contraction and sluggishness experienced across the retail sector. However, if current trends continue, we’d expect a return to positive headline scores soon. Are we are finally seeing an end to the UK’s jittery consumer mood?”
With a turnover of €4.7b and earnings before tax of €499m (up +3.9%), 2018/19 was a record financial year for the Lars Larsen Group, owner of the JYSK global retail chain, despite significant investment.
”It is a result which we in the family are very satisfied with,” says chairman Jacob Brunsborg (pictured). “As a result of heavy investment, the earnings of JYSK were a bit lower than the previous financial year. That makes it even more important that our investment activities as well as a number of other companies in the group have delivered on such a high level that our earnings before taxes improved by €17.5m.”
Several of the group’s companies enjoyed YoY earnings growth. “Among others, I would point out Actona Company, where earnings have been more than doubled from €8m to €18m,” Jacob continues.
Another highlight was garden furniture producer Scancom, which delivered earnings before tax of €3.5m.
Bed manufacturer and foam converter Breasley is one of the most innovative players in its field. A specialist in vacuum-packed mattresses and unique fillings, best known for its Salus and Uno collections, the business is never short on stories – explains Breasley’s head of marketing, Clare Taylor …
What have you achieved since joining Breasley?
I’ve only been here since February 2019, and it’s been an action-packed 12 months! We have rebranded and relaunched our premium Salus mattress collection, along with full marketing collateral and a promotional campaign. We’ve also implemented a comprehensive PR, communications and social media campaign, and delivered three exhibitions. The work is varied, and there’s always lots to do.
How is your previous experience benefiting the business?
My degree is in International Management and German, with a specialism in strategic marketing. I worked across several industries including pharmaceuticals and railways, before entering the bed industry four years ago. I hope my experiences are benefiting the company in terms of bringing in techniques used in other sectors, strategy and planning, plus brand-building for the business as a whole.
As a marketeer, what’s your number one rule?
The main one would be – make sure you have a plan, and implement it!
Can you highlight any marketing campaigns you particularly admire?
I have always liked the M&S Plan A because there is no Plan B campaign. This has been around for a while now (since 2007 I believe) but is ongoing. I think it is a bold and memorable campaign which highlights their eco and ethical programme to tackle sustainable retail challenges.
Which themes are dominating the bed sector, and how is Breasley responding?
Obviously sustainability and the environment are two of the main themes, along with sleep and wellbeing. We are trying to address these themes through our innovative product development initiatives, bringing them to the core of all future product developments here at Breasley.
Does Breasley’s marketing prioritise lifestyle benefits over technical specs?
I think you need a balance between both. Buying a bed is quite a tactile experience, even though many products are purchased online nowadays. You still need to entice the consumer with look and feel first, and then satisfy their appetite for information.
The retailer wants something that looks great in-store, but they need to be armed with more technical detail to answer any questions thrown at them by the consumer. That’s why for the new Salus range, for example, we have varied the PoS package we provide, giving different levels of information for both the consumer and the retailer.
How have you adapted the PoS to suit Salus’ new look?
We really went back to the drawing board and started afresh with the rebrand. Breasley has always been generous with its support for retailers in terms of PoS. We invested in some great new photography, which really helped bring the brand to life, and is essential to support internet-based sales. We also provided additional information for retailers in terms of specification and training material.
Are there any other ways you’re helping retailers convey Breasley’s story?
We are using social media as a way to build and share the Breasley story, and asking our retailers to help engage with our content so they can share and interact with it to help spread the story of the brand to their customer bases.
What did you introduce at the January Furniture Show?
We showcased a revised Uno range, with the introduction of four new entry-level rolled mattresses offering great value. The new Salus collection was also on display, giving retailers another opportunity to view the new brand and updated collection.
How will Breasley’s identity evolve this year?
You will see more from Breasley in terms of building a consumer-facing brand.
Suffa, available in the UK through The UK Agency, is an experienced Portugese manufacturer recognised for high quality, durable sofas.
Suffa is exhibiting at the January Furniture Show in Birmingham – in hall 4 on stand E25.
In recent years, the business has grown at a fast, solid and consistent pace driven in the main by the innovative flexibility of its furniture.
Suffa maintains it is fully abreast of current trends, and indeed it sets to inform new design ideas in combination with a time-proven quality of construction and a vast experience in manufacturing, all serves to add customers confidence and goes a long way to creating successful partnerships.
The company’s main mission is to provide the national and international market with design and interior decoration solutions with an innovative and personalised character. Suffa has a sizeable range of products for the medium/high sector and the luxury range.
Suffa is exhibiting at the January Furniture Show on stand E25 in hall 4.
The results are in for The Furniture Awards 2020, as the UK’s top suppliers present their latest products at the January Furniture Show (Birmingham NEC, 19th-22nd January).
After inspecting the shortlisted entrants at the exhibition, a panel of top retailers and other industry experts has picked this year’s winners:
Living & Dining Cabinet
Winner: Fortune Woods (CM) – stand 2-D10
Highly commended: Gallery Direct (Madrid Walnut) – stand 3-L20
Winner: Wiemann UK (Glasgow) – stand 4-C50
Highly commended: Arte-N Furniture (Bed Concept) – stand 4-E50
Winner: Collins & Hayes (Bailey & Banks) – stand 1-C20
Highly commended: Cintique (Mayfair) – stand 5-D40
Winner: Gingko Electronics (Octagon One Desk Light) – stand 3-C40
Mattresses & Divans
Winner: Silentnight Group (Yours&Mine) – stand 5-G80
Now six years old, The Furniture Awards were developed by Furniture News magazine in partnership with the January Furniture Show to bring the industry’s most creative, intelligent and industrious suppliers to the fore.
The 2020 edition was sponsored by trade association BFM, digital marketing specialist Orbital, and furniture technology specialist Lectra. The winners will enjoy free stand space at next year’s show, plus £2,000 in digital marketing vouchers from Orbital.
The submissions were judged by: Dids Macdonald, ACID (Anti Copying In Design) and The Furniture Makers’ Company; Malcolm Walker, FIRST (Furniture Industry Retail Sourcing Today) MW; Royce Clark, Grampian Furnishers; and Mike Murray, Land of Beds. The panel was again chaired by awards co-ordinator, Furniture News’ Paul Farley, who says: “Another great supplier line-up is joining The Furniture Awards hall of fame this year. Watch this space – and our March issue – for more on why these businesses made the cut.”
The January Furniture Show runs until Wednesday.
Clarkson Textiles is a leading specialist in flame-retardant coating applications for the domestic and contract upholstery markets.
With a dedicated team of experienced staff, Clarkson Textiles offers a wide range of treatments, supported by a cutting-edge barcode process control and traceability system.
The latest addition to the company’s range of treatments, PurePass, allows customers to meet their environmental responsibilities without compromising on safety.
The PurePass treatment, designed to meet the requirements of BS5852, can be applied to a wide variety of fabric compositions, both natural and synthetic. According to Clarkson Textiles, PurePass contains no chemicals which are harmful to human health or the environment. It is REACH compliant, approved by OEKO-TEX, and meets the criteria for ZDHC and Prop65.
For further information, visit Clarkson Textiles in Box 23 at the BFM Fabric Show London 2020, taking place at Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge, on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th February.
The five weeks to 28th December proved a “difficult ending to a tough year” in retail footfall terms, according to Springboard, whose index saw a decline of -2.5%.
Although a decrease was unsurprising – footfall has declined in December in all but one year since 2009, states the tracker – the size of the decrease was significant.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday brought Christmas trading forward, leading to a noticeable decline in footfall over the two weeks leading up to Christmas, reports Springboard, and the overall results reflect the caution and spending restraint of consumers that has typified the ongoing low confidence levels of the past three years.
High street footfall (the hardest hit) declined by -3.5%, retail park footfall by -0.5%, and shopping centre footfall by -2.1%.
“Today’s rather circumspect consumer was clearly demonstrating considered restraint towards their lifestyle and spend decisions over the Christmas period,” states Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director. “The growing climate change movement and increased consumer concerns around waste and sustainability is likely to have further limited trips to destinations to make non-essential purchases, thereby diluting footfall even further.”
Rose & Grey sells everything from sofas to wall art, with a predominantly online customer base alongside a flagship showroom in Altrincham, south of Manchester.
The company was founded by Lyndsey Goodger in 2008, and today she runs it with her husband, Guy. Its newly relaunched website offers 3000 SKUs and receives approximately 60,000 unique visitors every month, and the business enjoyed YoY growth of +8% in 2018-19 (+50%), says Lyndsey …
Why visit your website?
The newly launched ecommerce site offers easy-to-shop homeware, including our revenue-driving, made-to-order collections, which are styled to stand out from the crowd. Our informative blog and homepage Instagram highlights give visitors inspiration and reassurance, and as part of the updated site we’ve added a wishlist function to help customers with those higher price point items that aren’t impulse purchases.
How did you enter the industry?
My background is in media, but after a relocation from London to the North-west I became frustrated when trying to find well-made but stylish pieces for our new home, and spotted a gap in the market for quality, chic homewares. I began sourcing my first collection from my dining room, and the company has grown organically. Eleven years on, we have a thriving online business and showroom.
Who is your ecommerce hero?
For fashion it would definitely be Net-A-Porter. They have invested in the logistical side of the business to ensure ordering, delivery and returns are seamless and hassle-free for customers – you’re able to buy at the click of a button and have returns collected from your door.
I also enjoy how they use content and Instagram to engage with customers, and their tailored newsletters are a brilliant way of making customers feel unique. It is something we will be working on at Rose & Grey as we continue to grow.
Describe a typical working day
I am in the office for 8am each morning and it’s usually the most productive hour of my day, as I can get things ticked off my list before the rest of the team begin to arrive from 9am.
Each day is varied, but I usually dedicate the morning to buying and merchandising – depending on where we are in the cycle of collections. I can be working on anything from making decisions on new suppliers and planning visits to trade shows in the UK or abroad, or monitoring how new lines are performing.
I check in with the customer service team at around 11am each day to help with any issues they may be facing and keep things running smoothly. I try to keep the afternoon free for the more creative aspects of my role – we will either have a shoot ongoing in our showroom, or we will be planning the next one, whether it be in-house or on location.
I also dedicate time to working on marketing, and liaise with the team on creative ideas and forward planning. My husband Guy and I stagger our days so he can do the school drop-off, while I’m in charge of pick-up, so I ensure I’m out of the office for 3.30pm – but I usually fit in another hour of emails before dinner.
What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?
Anything too admin-heavy, such as HR and accounting, isn’t my natural habitat, so we tend to outsource these activities to trusted partners.
What has been your greatest challenge to date?
When the business was around five years old Google reworked their algorithm and we dropped significantly in their rankings. We quickly recovered, but it highlighted how precarious these things can be for an ecommerce business. We had been mulling over the idea of opening a showroom, and it was the push we needed to make it happen.
How much do you invest in making your site more visible?
We recently reinvested £50,000 to create a new website which links to the brand’s social media channels. We also spend around £20,000 per month to drive traffic to the website through our digital marketing agency and in-house content creation.
What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop?
I believe the relationship between online and physical retail will become even stronger over time. We see customers in our showroom every day who have heard about us via Instagram, visiting us to try sofas and see dimensions of various pieces and then later ordering their items online from the comfort of their home.
As the market continues to grow it becomes more important to provide customers with touchpoints to access products and content in the way most convenient to them.
Do you have any plans to grow your business?
Since the day we started the business we’ve been constantly working on the next steps to continue to grow. Last year we extended our premises and showroom, this year we’ve reworked the website and launched the first catalogue, and next year we will introduce a series of exclusive collections, including our first own-branded collection. There’s no standing still in this industry!
What advice would you offer an aspiring etailer?
Imitate what you’d like to be as closely as you can – no matter the size of the business or your budget, set up your branding and styling as closely as you can to your vision so that as budget begins to grow, it’s a natural evolution.
Pictured: Lyndsey and Guy Goodger
The shortlist for this year’s edition of The Furniture Awards has been confirmed.
The awards, which recognise the event’s champion suppliers, were developed by Furniture News in partnership with the organiser of the January Furniture Show, and are an integral part of the exhibition.
Across five product categories, 18 businesses have been shortlisted for closer inspection at the show (which takes place from 19th-22nd this month at the Birmingham NEC):
Living & Dining Cabinet
Qualita (Korgen Dining Table) – stand 1-C32
Bentley Designs (Vintage) – stand 1-A40
Furniture To Go (Cordoba) – stand 5-G10
Fortune Woods (CM) – stand 2-D10
Gallery Direct (Madrid Walnut) – stand 3-L20
Rauch Möbelwerke (20up) – stand 4-D30
Wiemann UK (Glasgow) – stand 4-C50
Arte-N Furniture (Bed Concept) – stand 4-E50
Tetrad (Montana) – stand 1-F85
Cintique (Highbury) – stand 5-D40
Collins & Hayes (Bailey & Banks) – stand 1-C20
Calia Trade (Mater Familias) – stand 2-F30
Hartman UK (Julia Velvet Collection) – stand 2-B25
The Garden Furniture Centre (Luxor Meteor Swivel Chair) – stand 4-E100
Gingko Electronics (Octagon One Desk Light) – stand 3-C40
Mattresses & Divans
Silentnight Group (Yours&Mine) – stand 5-G80
Highgate Beds (Healthopaedic Zero Gravity) – stand 5-H70
Vogue Beds (The Bedstead Collection) – stand 5-F72
The entries will be judged by: Dids Macdonald, ACID (Anti Copying In Design) and The Furniture Makers’ Company; Malcolm Walker, FIRST (Furniture Industry Retail Sourcing Today) MW; Royce Clark, Grampian Furnishers; and Mike Murray, Land of Beds. The panel will again be chaired by awards co-ordinator, Furniture News’ Paul Farley.
The awards are again sponsored by trade association BFM and digital agency Orbital – plus a new sponsor, software, cutting equipment, data and services specialist Lectra.
The winners will be announced on the show’s opening day (Sunday 19th January).
Find out more in this month’s issue of Furniture News.
When the going gets tough, the tough reassess, refine, and reap the rewards. Furniture News asks the businesspeople leading the charge towards success to share their views on the past year and what the future might hold – in this article, Peter Harding, MD of four-store independent Fairway Furniture, offers his perspective …
The best deal we struck last year was introducing a much more contemporary and eclectic dining offer than we’ve traditionally offered, which has reinvigorated a category that has seen weaker performance than it should have
The biggest product trend in-store was the resurgence in upholstery, and fabric over leather in particular
What changed most about the way people shop was consumers feeling less constrained by the traditional suite or set combinations. They’re now much more likely to mix and match – particularly in dining, which makes managing displays much more challenging
What changed most about the way we sell was a renewed focus for our sales teams, making sure they’ve established everything the customer wanted, maximising add-ons and driving sales growth
What put me under most pressure was the relentless Brexit debate and the debilitating effect this had on consumer confidence, currency rates and offshore supplier reliability. We’ve lost count of the number of times our European suppliers have put plans in place to handle no-deal, only for it to then be kicked down the road again
In 2020, I’m most looking forward to hopefully starting a post-Brexit period of stability and renewed consumer confidence … until the trade negotiations collapse!
The next product trend coming in-store is eclecticism – this is growing, even among more mature customers, and I’m sure it will continue
The product trend on its way out is leather upholstery, which is losing its appeal, and is being replaced by more practical fabric options such as Aquaclean, which is really growing. The consumer desire for refreshing their home interior looks more regularly has been partly responsible
Our tech priority is continuing sustainable investment in our online retail presence to remain relevant and succeed in a very competitive online market
The biggest challenge will be ensuring we continue to remain relevant in a world where the multiples have such a large share of voice that independents have to offer something different to thrive
Knowing that the UK market continues to innovate and reinvent itself, therefore driving consumer demand, makes me hopeful for the industry’s future
Discover more perspectives in our annual retailer review, in January’s issue of Furniture News.