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5 Reasons to Join a Trade Association in 2019

on Friday, 22 March 2019.

There is a common misconception that Trade Associations are a thing of the past. But they may be more important now than ever.

In 2019, you might be feeling that trade associations are a thing of the past. With stuffy memberships, and benefits that are no longer necessary. But that’s where you’re wrong. Whatever industry you are part of, there is a trade association waiting for you brimming with benefits that are all available with one subscription.

It is important to get the most out of memberships and unlock all the benefits that these organisations offer, so it is important to understand exactly why businesses of all sizes join them in the first place. While the motivation for joining a trade association may vary according to the needs of the member company, here are some of the top benefits to membership in such organizations and how the most successful members are able to take advantage of all of them.


This is the most common and most obvious benefits of joining a trade association. In every industry, who you know matters, and trade associations are filled with potential contacts, clients and partners who can help your business move to the next level and become more prominent in your industry. The members of trade associations– particularly the more active members– are able to build long-term relationships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial. They provide the opportunity for member companies to come together to share ideas, strengthen ties, find new jobs and make connections that would not be possible without the association.

A Voice of the Trade

A trade association is a voice for the industry it covers, giving you a direct link to get your point raised within court hearings and the creation of legislation.  Attending these hearings and events armed with suggestions from its members ensures that the actual voice of the industry itself is heard. The BFM is part of the British Furniture Confederation which lobbies government and the EU to make sure your industry supports you. The BFM are also integral to the writing of the NLA (National Labour Agreement) which affects every manufacturer in the UK, becoming a member means that your voice will be heard when legislation is created or changed.


Membership in a trade association means immediate access to any news or developments that affect your business and the industry. Outside of the usual communication of members to each other, associations generally provide newsletters, email updates and informative resources that help its members stay on top of recent developments in the field. Our members not only receive weekly bulletins with news updates and contracting opportunities, but we also offer trade reports including pricing of raw materials, the state of trade in the industry and much more. The more you know, as they say.

Consumer Trust

In a world where retail is moving online, it is important that businesses are somehow accredited in order for consumers to trust them enough to purchase. Taking the furniture industry as an example, products tend to be an investment for a buyer, a high-price item that is expected to be high-quality and long-lasting. being an approved member and having an established trade association’s logo on all marketing materials takes away the risk factor for a consumer by building trust, and trust is priceless.


Being part of a trade Association means that undoubtedly you will have access to a number of industry discounts, as long as you know what they are and you ask for them. Take advantage of your membership and make sure you are seeking all that you can from your membership. Here at the BFM, we offer a huge number of member discounts, from discounted flat rates for legal help, to huge savings on exhibiting at the biggest UK furniture trade show, the January Furniture Show.

If you are interested in becoming part of the British Furniture Manufacturers, or if you are already a member and are worried you aren’t taking advantage of all benefits available to you - see more of our discounts and benefits here: http://bfm.org.uk/brochure.html

Reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy Announced

on Friday, 05 October 2018.

An overview of the changes from Lisa Williams, Education and Training Manager at BFM

On 1st October 2018, the government announced a package of reforms to ensure the Apprenticeship Levy provides people with the skills they need to succeed.

The changes are aimed at providing flexibility for businesses so they can take full advantage of the benefits of employing apprentices, and to help as many people as possible find the right training to equip them for the new economy.

An extra £90 million of government funding will enable employers to invest a quarter of their apprenticeship funds on people working for businesses in their supply chain, boosting the number able to benefit from high-quality apprenticeship training.

Current guidance states that employers who have unused apprenticeship funds can find employers who want to receive a transfer in several ways such as working with employers in your supply chain, getting in touch with employers in your industry or an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) and working with regional partners.

Employers who pay the levy can make transfers from their apprenticeship account to as many employers as they choose.  This is done through the government’s Apprenticeship Service and is relatively straight forward.

A further £5 million was announced for the Institute for Apprenticeships to introduce new standards and updating existing ones so that more courses can be offered – meaning more choice for those considering their training options.  Their aim is to ensure standards approved prior to the Institute began are high quality, and support the delivery of 500 apprenticeship standards by the end of next year. 

This will include a review of the Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Standard which is expected to take place over the next 12 months. It is expected that the current standard will be required to be split into a number of specific standards, for example General Furniture Manufacturer, Bed Maker and Wood Machinist.  If you would like to get involved with the review please contact the BFM today.

Are you a levy paying employer with unspent funds?  Put them to good use by supporting other employers in the industry recruit and train apprentices. Contact BFM today for advice on apprenticeships.



Whitemeadow identified in London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’ report

on Friday, 28 September 2018.

BFM member Whitemeadow have been named in the report for demonstrating critical importance of high-growth private small and medium sized companies (SMEs) to future European economic growth, innovation and job creation

Whitemeadow identified in London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’ report













Whitemeadow has been identified as one of London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe 2018. The report is a celebration of high-growth and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses across Europe.

To be included in the list, companies needed to show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years, significantly outperforming their country peers. More detail on the methodology can be found in the report online at www.1000companies.com.   

Whitemeadow is the largest independently owned upholstery manufacturer in Britain today, producing a wide range of sofas and upholstered bed frames for many of the country’s blue-chip high-street brands and premium independent retailers.

Situated in the heart of the upholstery manufacturing centre of the UK, Whitemeadow began in 1994, handcrafting products in our Nottinghamshire factory. Fast forward to today and we’re proud to maintain our commitment to craftmanship, now on a much larger scale.

As a major employer in the local area, we currently employ over 500 colleagues over 6 sites, all within a 2-mile radius which totals over 200,000 ft2 of manufacturing space. Focussing on design leadership, an efficient production process and attention to quality, we have grown to become one of Britain’s leading upholstery manufacturers. 

Whitemeadow Managing Director, Ian Oscroft commented “We are very proud to be included once again in the LSE’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe 2018 report. Our success of the past few years has been down to the fact that we’ve got a real flair for design and have been able to put some fantastic products, that consumers want to buy, into the marketplace at the right time. We drive the market, rather than respond to it. We will continue to shape consumer tastes by designing and manufacturing trend-setting British furniture with a contemporary twist. It’s the Whitemeadow way”. For more information, visit www.whitemeadow.com.

Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness:
"SMEs are the backbone of the European economy, which is solid and growing. Thanks to structural reforms in Member States, but also to dynamic and innovative, high-growth SMEs, employment has reached new record levels with almost 240 million people in jobs. We need to continue on that path and create a favourable business environment enabling cutting edge innovators and solid manufacturing SMEs to grow and reach their full potential. Stock exchanges, such as London Stock Exchange Group, are an essential part of our Capital Markets Union, helping those with ideas to meet their financers."  

Nikhil Rathi, CEO, London Stock Exchange Plc:
“The economic potential of Europe’s fastest growing companies is clear in ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’. The report shows high-growth SMEs are the innovators, job creators and drivers of economic growth. They have the potential to transform the European economy and give the next generation of young people the future they deserve.

“So, it is vital that we give these companies, and companies like them, access to suitable growth finance. London Stock Exchange Group is committed to supporting the job creators of tomorrow, increasing their access to long-term patient capital to fund their continued success.”

A full searchable database of all of the companies along with a downloadable pdf of the publication can be found online at www.1000companies.com


Uniting The British Furniture Industry

on Monday, 24 September 2018.

It is the time for us, the British Furniture Industry, show the support for each other that has always been apparent in our unique industry.

Uniting The British Furniture Industry

One week ago today (Monday 17th September), we saw the official launch of The Exchange, our new home in Long Eaton.

Among the glasses of fizz, and the servers with canapes there was a real sense of community for the British furniture industry. With The Exchange not just being an office space, but a meeting hub for the industry, it has already become the new home of the BFM, Orbital Visual Marketing, as well as the headquarters for The Furniture Makers Company Heart of England Regional Committee, and is the new home of meetings with the Long Eaton Guild. This is the start of something very exciting.

With the ribbon cutting ceremony performed by Maggie Throup MP, representatives from Erewash Council and the Long Eaton Chamber of Trade, Directors of some of the longest trading furniture manufacturing companies in the area, and a host of other industry professionals and supporters (who only had to cross the road from Harrington Mills), there was a true sense of support and excitement for what comes next for the industry. The launch also gave the opportunity for the BFM to open a dialogue with Maggie Throup MP regarding a range of issues facing the industry including flammability regulations and export. With a local MP who is more than willing to discuss issues, there was a real feeling of hope and change in such an uncertain time in the industry.

We are a unique industry, it must be said. An industry looking out for one another in the face of such a tough time in the market. We have heard a consencus from some of our members of the sense of community in the industry, especially in Long Eaton, the Centre of Upholstery, where there are over 50 manufacturers in such a small area. If one company has a big order, they only need to cross the road to come across someone to help outsource, giving each other work, helping themselves and others stay afloat in the process. This has never been so apparent as it was in the support on Monday night.

The Exchange seems to be a physical example of the network, a shared home with manufacturers, trade press, association representatives and other professionals constantly passing through the halls, waving through to each office spotting old friends and colleagues. This seems to be a poetic reflection on the original use of the Mill, which was once tenement and housed a number of different companies all under one roof.

We have to give a big thank you to Orbital Vision for organising such a great event and providing us with the photos you see here (http://orbital.vision/ - They do amazing things with CGI for the industry) and to everyone who attended the event to share the celebration.

If you're a British Manufacturer or supplier to the industry and want to join the BFM, showing your support for the British Furniture industry along with a huge number of benefits, including cost-saving benefits with regards to gas, electricity, solicitor's costs, help with employment law, weekly foam chemical pricing and much more. Click here to find out more http://bfm.org.uk/services/furniture-manufacturers.html

You will also have the chance to sign our Associated Code of Practice to prove your products are at least 50% British Made and show your consumers with our POS materials. See more here http://greatbritishfurniture.co.uk/

"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.

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.