Independent British furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse is leading the charge for British furniture manufacturing in a new campaign.
Entitled Let’s Get Going Britain!, the campaign supports homegrown furnituremakers, calling for the furniture retail sector to use its collective voice to talk up the value and quality of the UK’s furnituremaking businesses.
Barker and Stonehouse MD James Barker comments: “Britain has a long and fruitful history when it comes to furniture manufacturing and we need to do everything we can to preserve these skills and jobs.
"It is true to say that some production has moved off-shore, particularly cabinet and leather products. However, there is still a significant raft of furniture that is made in the UK, particularly upholstery, beds and mattresses. These producers not only manufacture for the independent high-end retailers but also for many of the well-known high street multiple chains and also for the international export market.
“In the short term we want to enable manufacturers to take staff off furlough and get factories back up to capacity. But in the longer term it is about safeguarding the economic sustainability of the industry, by protecting jobs, championing skills and helping consumers to understand the value of spending a little more to buy into excellent British craftsmanship.
“Buying into real quality also means another step toward reduced environmental impact. It achieves this through buying once and having the furniture last for a long time, sometimes a lifetime, rather than having to send lots of poorly made products to landfill.
“Made in Britain is a stamp of quality that is recognised globally and it’s an asset that must be championed in both the domestic market and further afield. This is nothing to do with politics or a small island mentality, it is absolutely all about rebuilding our economy.”
BFM MD Nick Garratt adds: "We are delighted to see Barker and Stonehouse launch this campaign and push the buy-British message. We need to highlight the importance of the sector to our national economy and the quality and assurance that comes from buying British-made products.
“It has never been more important for our industry to come together and display the array of talent we have, across the nation.”
The campaign kicked off at the start of June to coincide with the re-opening of all Barker and Stonehouse stores, and featured a series of offers for customers that promotes British brands.
James Barker explains: “Throughout lockdown we have honoured all existing orders with our suppliers and ensured that they are paid on time. In return, these same manufacturers are giving us some exceptional offers and delivery terms to help us quickly meet our customers’ needs and to get their order books full again. Working collaboratively has been a win-win situation for manufacturers, retailers and consumers.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of the BRC, says: “With the public spending more and more time at home, demand for quality furniture has been rising. Since many of these stores began to re-open, we are seeing a release of some of this pent-up demand across the country.
“The BRC supports the Let’s Get Going Britain campaign to support both furniture sellers and manufacturers in the UK. Every item sold supports jobs right through the supply chain – helping us to rebuild our economy together.”
By being agile, embracing technology and working collaboratively, Barker and Stonehouse believes that the sector has a positive future, concludes James Barker : “The campaign has struck a chord that has resonated with many customers which makes us want to take things further. Whilst quality products from other countries in Europe and around the world will always play a part in our offer, supporting the British furniture sector is extremely important right now.”