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Clarkson Textiles brings eco-friendly coating to fabric show

Clarkson Textiles brings eco-friendly coating to fabric show

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.

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Retail footfall sees “difficult ending to tough year” says Springboard

Retail footfall sees “difficult ending to tough year” says Springboard

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.”

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Rose & Grey: the sweet smell of success

Rose & Grey: the sweet smell of success

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

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The Furniture Awards 2020 shortlist revealed

The Furniture Awards 2020 shortlist revealed

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

Bedroom Cabinet

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.

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2020 vision: Peter Harding, Fairway Furniture

2020 vision: Peter Harding, Fairway Furniture

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.

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New carbon classification for Harrison Spinks

New carbon classification for Harrison Spinks

Leeds-based Harrison Spinks is eligible to be classed as Carbon Neutral +, a new classification for businesses that go above and beyond full carbon neutrality, following an independent audit of its business by sustainability expert Carbon Footprint.

The manufacturer, which holds three Queen’s Awards including one for Sustainable Development, has its own farm where it rears sheep and grows hemp to create natural mattress fillings, and owns a 56-acre sustainable forest which provides wood for its beds.

As well as announcing its Carbon Neutral + status, Harrison Spinks has also launched an urban tree-planting scheme involving schools and community groups near its headquarters. The tree planting follows the bedmaker offsetting 3824 tonnes of C02 by supporting the Solar Power Generation Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) project in India.

Simon Spinks, MD at Harrison Spinks, says: “For a business that’s proud to make some of the best, most comfortable and sleep-inducing mattresses in the world, there’s one thing that threatens to keep us awake at night – the future of our planet. We started our sustainability journey 10 years ago, growing our own fillings and committing to sourcing natural fibres locally, and for the last decade our core business objective has been to change the way the world sleeps.

“We’ve been relentless in looking for more sustainable ways of working so we can look after our planet for future generations. It is for this reason we have made the pledge to not develop any new mattresses containing foam or glue and to eliminate foam from any existing product by 2020. We will soon be launching our foam-free and glue-free mattresses which not only offer better comfort, but avoid unnecessary landfill or incineration which happens to foam mattresses at the end of their useable life.

“This latest independent audit places us at the top of the carbon neutrality tree and we wanted to build on that, so we have approached schools and groups in neighbouring communities and offered to plant one-year-old trees – known as whips – for them.”

John Buckley, MD of Carbon Footprint, says: “In these times of climate emergency, Harrison Spinks has taken the responsible step of having a robust measurement of its own greenhouse gas emissions completed and energy audits done across its sites. The business has a solid plan in place to reduce its own emissions. Alongside this, they are supporting carbon offset projects that fund solutions to climate change.”

Every year, Harrison Spinks grows almost 800 tonnes of natural fibre fillings for its mattresses. By farming its own materials and manufacturing its own components, the company has been able to save more than 1300 tonnes of CO2 every year.

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Brexit uncertainty holds back wage increases

Brexit uncertainty holds back wage increases

New figures from the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) reveal the impact of Brexit on pay across the industry.

A total of 56% of respondents reported that their ability to increase pay in 2020 was negatively impacted by Brexit uncertainty, in the trade body’s annual Wages and Conditions Survey. Respondents also cited that increases in National Living Wage and raw material price increases were contributing to wage award decisions.

Other findings include the variance in pay in the north of the country, where workers earned an average of £10.58 an hour, compared to £11.31 an hour in the south.

The survey details wage rates for more than 20 different occupations within furniture manufacturing, including logistics and transport. Full details of wage awards made, as well as those planned for the future, are also included.

Nick Garratt, BFM’s MD, says: “The Wages and Conditions Survey is an important benefit, available exclusively for our members. It’s a significant piece of work, with 4323 shop floor employees in 24 occupations sampled throughout November and December this year. It was also notable that 60% of respondents benchmarked the National Labour Wages and Conditions Agreement negotiated annually between the BFM and the GMB.”

The full report is available exclusively to BFM members.

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Bensons for Beds’ James Hollas talks trends

Bensons for Beds’ James Hollas talks trends

What do leading national bed retailers look for in the bedroom? Furniture News speaks to James Hollas, bedframes and bedroom furniture buyer at Bensons for Beds.

James Hollas has been in furniture buying for over 25 years, and boasts extensive experience of sourcing from mainland Europe and the Far East. 

Alongside over three years at Bensons, his resume includes four years as cabinet and online buyer at DFS, where he was responsible for the purchasing of all non-sofa products and launched the brand’s online offer and direct home delivery service. Prior to that, he worked in buying with Walmsley’s and Morley’s.

Following the launch of new lines and Bensons’ Sleep Diet – a profiling plan which matches customers with their ideal bed – James spoke to Furniture News about inspiration, trends and changing consumer outlook …

What’s Bensons’ design process?

Designs can come from anywhere! They can be my idea, an idea from a designer we employ, or a supplier’s idea. We used a designer to create the Lyon bedframe, for instance, and the Legend TV bedframe design was inspired by one of our suppliers.

And sourcing? Which shows/media inspire you?

I go to as many shows as my schedule allows. I particularly like Cologne in January and Shanghai in September. On top of that, company visits are crucial, and we’re trying to work with fewer suppliers so we can really bolster working relationships. 

Atlas, from the Your Bed, Your Way concept

For inspiration, I read a lot of the interiors magazines (including Furniture News, of course!) as well as browsing Instagram and Pinterest. I also like to talk to anyone I know about what they’re buying and why they’re buying it – I’m slightly obsessed with the buying process!

Consumers are after more sustainable bed stories – what are your thoughts on how this will affect product trends?

I don’t see the ‘green story’ as anything but a permanent trend. It’s at the heart of what we do and who we are. Customers will (rightly) become more demanding about environmental issues, and will also become more interested in background detail. They will want to know exactly how it works, and will question companies who simply try and tick boxes with their sustainability practices. 

It’s important for companies to look at every element of their business when it comes to sustainability, and they should be as transparent as possible about practices, to instil trust in customers. 

Can you see any other overarching trends impacting the bedroom sector?

Two continuously growing trends are increased storage and multi-functionality. As living spaces get smaller, everyone needs to maximise these two aspects when thinking about what furniture they buy. 

Our Alexis ottoman bed frame is a prime example of a bed which offers generous hidden storage space without compromising on comfort and design.

We’re also seeing a growing demand for choice and customisation, as more customers want to make their furniture bespoke to their own style and needs. One of our bestselling frames is Your Bed Your Way, which gives customers 54 choice combinations including bases, sizes, head-end styles and colours. 

We’re planning to double the Your Bed Your Way offer by introducing an electric ottoman base, superking sizes across all options and a brand new headboard option. This means there will be 108 choice combinations, allowing even more customers to build their dream bedroom space. Customers need to feel involved in their purchases, rather than simply taking what’s on offer – and those looking for value are no exception.


Style-wise, the trend for eclecticism is also still strong, as many customers choose to curate their own look from different sources. 

How are you differentiating your offer?

We are always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition with innovative designs and pioneering technology. I always like it when one of our competitors mimics our designs, as it shows how inspiring we are as a brand.

How else is customer demand changing?

Customers are becoming more demanding when it comes to product quality, lead times (they want it ASAP) and product design, and I relish these challenges. I think the customer is becoming more sophisticated and wanting more is a natural progression, so it’s up to us to keep up with these demands to cater to their ever-changing needs.

In terms of value-driven customers, there’s often a race to find the lowest-priced products possible, but it’s up to us retailers to educate about the benefits of higher-quality products. In the end, customers can be convinced to pay for a higher quality product – our job is to explain to them the differences and the true meaning of value.

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GfK predicts rebound in consumer confidence

GfK predicts rebound in consumer confidence

GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index has recorded a sharp increase in optimism for the economy over the coming year, with the overall index increasing three points to –11 for December. Four measures increased – including the major purchase index, which increased by three points to +3 (one point higher YoY).

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, says: “There’s a clear sense of a change in consumer sentiment this month. The picture for the year to come is much stronger with a two-point improvement in how consumers view their personal financial prospects and a very healthy seven-point jump on how they see the wider economy next year.

“We haven’t seen such a robust increase in confidence about our economic future since the summer of 2016. Despite official warning signs about the flatlining of Britain’s economy, we know that record high employment and below target levels of inflation are helping to boost consumers’ expectations for the year ahead.

“Importantly, for the retail sector, we also have an upwards revision in our major purchase index, a key figure during the remaining shopping days of 2019. The overall index score has failed to break into positive territory for the past four years due to confusion and uncertainty about the future direction of the UK. A great many people will be gazing into their crystal balls right now – ours indicates a rebound in confidence in 2020 based on renewed optimism and energy for a post-Brexit Britain.”

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Bensons partners with sleep scientist

Bensons partners with sleep scientist

Bensons for Beds has announced a new partnership with sleep scientist Dr Sophie Bostock.

As the retailer’s official sleep expert, Sophie will become an integral part of its 2020 plans, supporting the brand’s continued ambition to help everyone achieve Sleep Wellness.

Sophie brings a wealth of expertise to the role, having spent the last six years researching and championing the importance of sleep science in the NHS and corporate settings. She was responsible for improving access to the award-winning digital sleep improvement programme, Sleepio, as an NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellow. She has delivered hundreds of talks, including for TEDx and Talks@Google, and regularly features as a media sleep expert.

Helen Nunn, Bensons for Beds’ marketing director, says: “We are delighted to welcome Sophie to the team. She is as passionate as we are about educating people on the importance of Sleep Wellness and we look forward to working with her on a number of exciting projects next year.”

Sophie adds: “I am thrilled to be collaborating with Bensons for Beds. Sleep is an incredibly powerful lever for improving health and wellbeing, and yet is still widely neglected, and misunderstood. I’m hugely looking forward to working with Bensons to help staff, customers and the public to become more confident about how to sleep well.”

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