The winners of the BFM’s first Future of Furniture Awards were announced at a reception at the January Furniture Show this week.

Showcasing the strides its members are taking in education and sustainability, the awards are part of the association's new Future of Furniture campaign, which seeks to promote its members' work in these two key areas.

The trade body presented the Future of Furniture Excellence in Education accolade to High Seat Limited (HSL), and the Excellence in Sustainability award to Jay-Be.

A new membership category that recognises furniture retailers committed to selling and promoting British-made goods was also launched at the reception.

BFM MD Sean Holt says: “The January Furniture Show is a key event in the industry calendar, and we were delighted that this year we used the event to present our new Future of Furniture Awards, as well as launching our new Approved Retailer scheme.

“The Future of Furniture campaign aims to highlight the value and variety of careers within the industry, as well as showcasing the steps the industry is taking to support a greener approach to manufacturing, and we congratulate our two very worthy winners. The quality of entries was outstanding, and the two winners really stood out by fulfilling the full entry criteria.”

The Future of Furniture Excellence in Education Award required entrants to outline their commitment to providing a rewarding working and learning environment to new recruits and offer insight into partnerships and initiatives with schools, colleges and other organisations to attract talent into the sector.

Lydia Burrows, environment and sustainability manager at HSL Chairs, says: “We are really proud to be recognised for supporting our local community in education within furniture manufacturing. Our HR and manufacturing teams work tirelessly to make sure that we're constantly upskilling our workforce in key crafts and skills, which help ensure that British manufacturing remains a core industry.”

The Future of Furniture Excellence in Sustainability Award examined entrants’ commitment to improvement in sustainability, alongside their plans to achieve targets over the next three and five years. The judges also considered how members empowered their teams to focus on sustainable solutions.

Jo Little from Planet Mark, which has recently formed a partnership with the BFM, was an expert judge for this category. Jo says: “Overall, Jay-Be thoroughly impressed me, and I look forward to seeing their commitments coming into achievements.”

Roger Durrans, CEO of Jay-Be, comments: ““I feel absolutely ecstatic and very flattered and proud to be acknowledged for the efforts the team at Jay-Be is putting in, to continue in our sustainability achievements.”

As well as celebrating BFM members’ achievements in education and sustainability, the trade body also recognised retailers that are committed to promoting British-made goods. Building on the success of the autumn 2020 Buy British campaign, which worked with retailers to signpost products made in Britain, the BFM has created the new Approved Retailer membership.

BFM Approved Retailers sign up to a new code of practice that will demonstrate a commitment to customer service, as well as a pathway towards net-zero carbon. Retailers must sell products made by British furniture manufacturers in the UK (although not exclusively), and will be able to utilise the BFM Approved Retailer logo as well as access many of the benefits of BFM membership, including industry reports and entry into the Future of Furniture Awards.