Eight junior employees in the furniture industry have completed The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Young Professional Industry Experience. 

The unique continuous professional development course was launched in 2014. This year’s participants were: Jess Bowyer, sourcing and corporate social responsibility manager at Ocee Design; Oliver Clegg, junior quality assurance analyst at Camira Fabrics; Ryan Goddard, operations graduate at Herman Miller; Kieran Gunn, technical support at Ercol; Emily Nickless, digital marketing manager at Parker Knoll; Hattie Speed, design engineer at Ercol; Josh Stancer, business development/trainee veneer specialist at Mundy Veneer; and Carl Sunderland, development CAD technician at Parker Knoll. 

The group spent three weeks across June and July visiting 21 companies to learn about the furniture supply chain, including raw materials and components, manufacturing, retailing, buying, pricing, marketing, merchandising, intellectual property, consumer law, aftersales and customer service. 

The students then presented their collective findings to representatives of the host companies and other industry dignitaries at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London on 25th July. During the presentation, the group identified five themes - Brexit, an ageing workforce, sustainability, online retailing/changing consumer habits and employee engagement – that were having an impact on the sector, and put forward solutions to the perceived threats.

Dids Macdonald OBE, master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “The culmination of this unique three-week intensive programme of zig-zagging around the UK was a wonderful celebration of learning. The excellent presentation, reviewing the key issues within the sector and possible solutions, provided food for thought for us all. The experience would not have happened without the commitment of our corporate members and supporters.”