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"The Beating Heart of the Upholstery Industry"

on Tuesday, 11 September 2018.

A look into the importance of Long Eaton by Maggie Throup MP

Maggie Throup MP shares her thoughts on the importance and legacy of Long Eaton in the run up to Long Point happening from 17th - 19th September. We are also looking forward to welcoming Ms Throup to The Exchange on 17th September to offiially open our new home. Register your attendance here: https://bit.ly/2NxTbmM 

With just a few days before the opening of the biannual Autumn Long Point exhibition, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on Long Eaton’s rich history of furniture manufacturing and how this industry has put Erewash on the map for producing some of the finest upholstery that, to this day, remains in high demand and is exported worldwide.

As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group, I am immensely proud to say to fellow colleagues of mine that the beating heart of the UK upholstery industry lies within Erewash. We have a worldwide reputation which means that, later this month people from far and wide will travel to Long Eaton to view and purchase some of the finest sofas and easy chairs the UK has to offer.

Long Eaton’s reputation for producing household furniture of the highest quality is unprecedented and the town has deservedly earned the title of the “UK Centre of Excellence for Upholstery Manufacturing”, with craftsmen such as F & M Steed Ltd., Artistic Upholstery Ltd., David Gundry Upholstery Ltd. and Whitehead Design all manufacturing furniture for more than 30 years. But to name just a fraction of furniture manufacturers in Long Eaton would be doing our community a disservice, as all traders and manufacturers equally contribute to the growth of our local economy and produce fine handcrafted furniture.

The name Long Eaton is so significant and important that many furniture manufacturers elsewhere in the country have permanent offices and showrooms located in the town, with many more finding somewhere to display their products during the Long Point exhibitions. Furthermore, much of the upholstery manufactured in Long Eaton can be found in the best retailers, house furnishers, design studios and hotels in the UK, and exported throughout the world.

I have seen for myself the fantastic furniture made in Erewash and how much of a significant contributor to the British economy this industry is. Locally, there are over 50 companies involved in furniture manufacturing and its supply chain in Long Eaton. It employs 2,700 people and the turnover of these Long Eaton companies is in excess of £250 million each year. This clearly shows that the furniture industry continues to thrive in Erewash and that the appreciation of and desire for handmade British craftsmanship remains in high demand both nationally and globally. 

Over 8,000 furniture companies across the UK have a combined annual turnover of £11 billion and employ more than 118,000 people. This demonstrates that the furniture industry is thriving, creating jobs for our local communities and bringing interest and buyers from abroad.     

Many of the manufacturers here in Long Eaton already export products far and wide. However, the emphasis the Government has put on Britain becoming a global exporter post-Brexit also presents further fantastic opportunities to access new markets outside of the UK and Europe.

I am sure you will also be aware that the restoration works of the Palace of Westminster have already begun and this refurbishment will undoubtedly include the restoration of thousands of pieces of upholstered furniture across the estate, including the famous green benches.

If craftsmen and women from Long Eaton were able to contribute to the restoration, I believe this would elevate the Long Eaton furniture brand a step higher, as the tradition and skills that are unique to our town would be showcased for all to see in the oldest Parliament in the world. 

Like the art of upholstery itself, where much of the detailed work goes unseen, covered neatly by colourful fabric, Long Eaton’s brand is so much more than just a logo or a title.

I am sure that this September’s Long Point exhibition in Long Eaton will be no exception and will once again bring traders from far and wide to view and purchase some of our nation’s finest handmade furniture.

5 Reasons Why August is The Best Time to Bag Yourself a Furniture Bargain

on Thursday, 09 August 2018.

We'll let you in on a few industry secrets...

We all want to save a few pennies when making a purchase as important as furniture, so when is the best time to buy? We’ll let you in on a secret, it’s now!

   

   1. Sales Sales Sales

The furniture industry tends to do a big seasonal stock change bi-annually. At the end of winter for the new Spring  / Summer collections, and at the end of summer for the new Autumn / Winter collections. So, you want to shop in the month immediately before the new lines, when clearance sales are happening. It’s a no-brainer.

 

         2. Full stock 

It’s no secret that the summer tends to be the quieter months for furniture sales, with the heat, holidays and school children at home. So take advantage of avoiding that “Sorry we’re out of stock in your favourite fabric” , while avoiding the crowds in a month when all the choice will be yours.

   

     3. Take advantage of the weather

Imagine yourself in the middle of January; snow, hail and rain coming down on your brand new sofa as you try and navigate from shop to van, van to home, slipping on the ice, getting soaked… it seems simple, but do it in the sunshine and avoid all the difficulty!

     

    4. Garden Parties and the good old British Summer BBQ

Number 4 is short and sweet. Summer is when you have the most active social life with long evenings and sunny days. Use the excuse of new garden furniture to get everyone round for a barbie.

 

      5. Avoid the stress

Last but not least, people have the most time on their hands in the summer (mostly because there are LITERALLY more hours in the day). You have more time to shop, more time to choose, more time to decorate and more time to enjoy your new purchase.

Now get out there and get looking!

Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

Is the UK Education System Curbing Creativity in Young People?

on Wednesday, 25 July 2018.

How a lack of Design and Technology in schools could be the reason behind the demise of up-and-coming designers and manufacturers in the Furniture Industry

We all dream of what we want to be when we’re older, this is where ambitions first start, at school age. Whether you are dreaming of becoming a doctor, a historian, or an upholsterer, all of these ambitions need to be nurtured throughout our young years. So why is Design and Technology in schools on the decrease?

According to Jackie Bazeley, MD of The British Furniture Manufacturers and board member of FIESTA (Furniture Industry Education and Skills Training Alliance), the funding is just not there for schools to see subjects like woodwork and design as a fundamental course of education. Hands on subjects might only be studied once a week for one term of the year in today’s school timetables. Not only are schools potentially thinking of their own league tables needing top results in English, Maths and Science over the opportunity for breeding creativity, but also, with a lack of funding from the government, the return on investment, whether that be in terms of money or use, on a classroom full of computers is much higher than a room full of sewing machines and workbenches.

In the UK education system, and society, we see a huge gap between academia and creativity. Does it have to be separate? The design of a perfectly made custom sofa bed for example has so many components and so much craft, research and design, surely it is the work of an academic. With the introduction of the English Baccalaureate the number of schools even offering D&T is worryingly low. Jackie Bazeley claims that it is imperative for Design and Technology to be included in the curriculum for the EBacc. With these subjects being an option, rather than a necessity, a huge number of schools are choosing not to offer it at all.

Where does that leave all the budding designers and creators? The children that see their future as being a maker rather than a thinker? Have they forgotten their dream as they have been steered towards a degree in books and numbers, forgetting that there is a career option for them that doesn’t involve sitting in an office for 40 hours a week? Is it true that it is the failings of UK education that is stalling the growth of the Furniture Industry? And does the blame fall onto the heads of Government for lack of support to creative subjects, and lack of funding for schools?

Of course there is not only one catalyst for the change in numbers of manufacturers and upholsterers, but surely this has to be a huge factor. The BFM (as part of BFC) recently met with Veronica Giannangeli at BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) who has forwarded these issues onto DFE (Department for Education) along with concerns over the success of apprenticeships in the furniture industry under the new Levy. Hopefully change is on the horizon.

 

See 2018 BFC Manifesto http://britishfurnitureconfederation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/British-Furniture-Confederation-Manifesto-2018-1.pdf

See the great work of FIESTA https://www.fiestalearning.com/

 

 

Written by Annie Porter

British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM)

on Wednesday, 04 July 2018. Posted in Membership, Media

BFM has been representing the interests of the furniture industry for more than 60 years

British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) is a trade association, employers' organisation and member of the European Furniture Manufacturers' Association. BFM has been representing the interests of the furniture industry for more than 60 years. BFM has a broad based membership covering, domestic, contract, office and kitchen manufacturers as well as a number of suppliers to the industry and retailers. In addition to its representational role, BFM offers an extensive membership services portfolio focused on providing 'value for money'.

Mission statement: "To represent the membership, safeguarding the interests and promoting the standards and competitiveness, both nationally and internationally, in conjunction with the provision of services which have an impact on members' businesses"

Please see the services section for the benefits to furniture manufacturers of joining. BFM also has a membership category for suppliers to the industry - see details.