What sets British-made furniture apart, and is the trade doing enough to convey its strengths? BFM board member Mike Aramayo, MD of one of the UK’s biggest furniture manufacturers, Buoyant Upholstery, shares his perspective …
Are you seeing any new design or selling trends?
Yes, we are seeing many new designs coming through from our design team. The shift in the industry and the selling trends of retailers appear to be moving away from the bottom end, and more towards the middle- to top-end of the market.
There seems to be a demand for UK-manufactured leather right now, with people moving away from Chinese imports in favour of a higher-quality, British-made product.
How are you managing lead time pressures, and what are you doing to future-proof staffing and skills at Buoyant?
Lead time pressures are always going to be around. The infrastructure we have is phenomenal, and the team we have do an amazing job of working with our trusted suppliers.
Future-proofing staffing and skills has been on our agenda for many years – we are a huge employer in the area and we are constantly running training within the factory, which I feel is incredibly important to keep our skill levels up to date.
Have you developed any new strategies for material cost management?
Material cost management has been and will always be a focus for us, in order to keep our selling prices in line for the years to come. Throughout the pandemic, and indeed the last three years, this was obviously more of a challenge.
One of the biggest challenges we face as a business now is trying to retrieve any price reductions – this is proving to be very difficult indeed.
What elevates British-made upholstery above the imports?
British-made furniture is and has always has been, in my opinion, the go-to furniture if you are looking for craftsmanship. We are renowned worldwide for producing well-built and reliable sofas – and the public want British-made furniture in their homes.
The BFM trade association are constantly promoting this across the country, and play a key role in upholding the values of British-made furniture.
How do you convey the strength of ‘British made’ to stockists and consumers?
The strength of British-made furniture has been around for decades. The UK has some amazing manufacturers, and one of the main assets are the people behind the product. Around the world. the UK label on furniture is held in high regard, and continues to be a benchmark of quality.
This interview features in the Best of British feature in May's issue.