The National Bed Federation has introduced a new Code of Practice designed to encourage good practice in the industry and reassure consumers that they can buy NBF-approved beds with confidence.
In what represents a sea change for the association – which has never before actively monitored any legal requirements or statutory standards – membership of the NBF is now dependent on compliance with the Code of Practice. It covers three main areas of bed production – flammability, health and hygiene and trade descriptions. These are all legal requirements but sometimes misunderstood or in the case of some shadier companies, deliberately flouted.
“Honest trading has become a hot issue and as a result third party auditing is becoming more commonplace,” says Stuart Hibbert, president of the NBF. “We want to reassure trade customers and the consumer that NBF members’ products are safe, clean and honest – that is, what they say they are.
“It’s a mark of approval but not to be confused with a quality mark. We’re looking at best practice and processes within each company and helping them achieve acceptable standards. What we hope is that the code will reinforce the credibility of NBF members and help improve standards across the wider industry.”
Voted for unanimously by the membership at April’s AGM, the introduction of the Code of Practice means that new and existing members will have to be compliant with the code. They will also have to agree to be independently audited by third party, accredited auditor, BM TRADA, as a mandatory condition of membership. Auditing will take place at least every three years.
"We want to reassure trade customers and the consumer that NBF members’ products are safe, clean and honest – that is, what they say they are"
All current NBF manufacturer members have been audited over the summer and if they meet the criteria will be entitled to use the new NBF Approved logo. If they don’t, their membership of the NBF will cease.
“Most companies make every effort to do things properly, but it isn’t always all that straight forward. The flammability regulations in particular are both complex and in parts quite confusing. The independent audits aren’t just designed to catch companies out, they are there to help them get it right, too, which is exactly what’s been happening.
“The feedback from the auditors is that even the most assiduous companies may have had to make a few adjustments to get it right,” continues Stuart.
The code will officially launch to the trade at this year’s Bed Show, while a consumer awareness campaign will form the focus of National Bed Month next March.
“From the Bed Show onwards, the trade will start to see the new NBF Approved logo on company literate, websites and bed labels etc,” says Jessica Alexander, executive director of the NBF. “There will be a hard-hitting PR and advertising campaign for trade and consumer and also explanatory leaflets, posters, video and other materials for in-store and online use.”
Stuart concludes: “We are trying to raise the bar – look at what the Corgi seal did for gas heaters. This audit is investing in members’ future by ensuring every product is clean and of a high standard. However, it’s not going to be a quick process. It’s one thing doing it, but we’ve got to get the retailer to embrace it, and then we’ve got to get the consumer on board.”