26 May 2024, 15:10
By Furniture News Mar 05, 2024

M.A. Living invests to impress

Significant investment in property and machinery is enabling bedmaker M.A. Living to accelerate the development of new product and display it in the manner it deserves, MD Uneeb Akbar tells Furniture News …

M.A. Living has come a long way. Founder Mohammed Akbar came to the UK from Pakistan in 1975, and worked as a yarn spinner in a busy Yorkshire factory, while repairing and recovering suites and beds out of hours. 

Some years later, after looking around at the many divan bed manufacturers in Yorkshire, Mohammed identified a gap in the market for upholstered headboards and, with the support of his wife Seema, he created a business to meet that demand.

That small, family-run business in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, went on to become a large, family-run business, and one of the industry’s best-known manufacturers of bedframes and mattresses. 

Today, M.A. Living continues to adhere to a simple ethos, says Mohammed’s son, MD Uneeb Akbar: “We don’t compromise on quality, and we use the finest materials. All well as manufacturing here in Britain, we do our best to support local suppliers and other local businesses, so our supply chain is prodominantly British, too – a characteristic that has proved especially valuable in recent years.

“M.A. Living is a quality-driven business – we’re known in the industry for that, and for building beds to last. When you choose to work with us, you aren’t simply paying for a piece of furniture, but for the expertise that goes into every product – and the care that comes after your purchase.”

Coco

Uneeb has overseen the business since his father’s “semi-retirement” (anyone who works in the furniture industry will be familiar with that phrase!), and is the driving force behind the company’s ongoing growth. 

Having started a new chapter in the company’s history this year, Uneeb was keen to share some of the detail with Furniture News’ readers. 

Home improvement

“Starting out from a small unit, we now operate from a 50,000 sqft building in Leeds, easily accessible by motorway, which we’re proud to call home,” says Uneeb, outlining a fresh £3.5m investment in M.A. Living’s property and machinery that promises to create serious benefits for its staff and customers. 

“After buying the property, we wanted to provide a safe, state-of-the-art workplace for our staff,” he continues. “The scale of renovation is such that everyone now feels very much part of the business, and can take real pride in working with us.”

A key part of this redevelopment was the introduction of a new trade showroom, developed in partnership with an interior design team to make M.A. Living’s newest collections truly ‘shine’.

“Our glass-fronted building allows a lot of sunlight to shine through the building,” laughs Uneeb, “so we’ve really just harnessed that to showcase our products in the best possible light. There’s also a new board room, from which our new product displays are in full view – it’s taking our operations to a whole new level.” 

The showroom is now open for visits – customers are able to book through their local sales agent, or simply call the office to check availability – and the trade will have an opportunity to experience the redevelopment for themselves when the business hosts its first at-home show from 18th this month (March). 

“We want our customers to see first-hand how our products are made,” enthuses Uneeb. “We’re extremely proud of our processes, and we’d like more people to see this for themselves!”

Beyond beds

M.A. Living has also invested heavily in a new on-site mattress department, and the machinery needed to manufacture its own mattresses and divan bases – and the fruits of this labour are already available, in the form of a new range of pocket-sprung mattresses boasting high-quality natural fillings, that sit perfectly with the manufacturer’s existing bedframes.

“Behind the scenes, we’re also working towards shrinking our carbon footprint by reducing our waste, recycling where we can, and introducing solar panels, as well as working with key fabric suppliers to introduce fabrics to our range with ‘green’ FR coating,” says Uneeb. “Looking after the world in which we live is important, and we have to ensure the next generation have the same opportunities as us, if not more.

“We’re now a one-stop shop for anyone looking for bedframes, and mattresses with storage options – but we acknowledge that we still have much more to accomplish.”  

The success of one of the latest additions to M.A. Living’s portfolio has surprised even Uneeb, reaffirming the notion that diversification and development pays off.  

“We’ve been working extremely hard over the last few months on the launch of our Electric Ottoman collection,” he says. “I believe it’s the only ottoman on the market with child-safety features – we always aim to build product that’s safe and strong – and upon its launch, it proved an instant favourite. Everyone wants a storage bed, and what’s better than being able to operate it at the click of a button?”

Verona

M.A. Living has also introduced new divan bases, and continues to manufacture high-quality, design-led headboards – all delivered with today’s key material and colour trends firmly in mind. 

“We update our fabric offering every year to ensure we’re up to date with the latest interior trends,” says Uneeb. “We offer a choice of up to 75 colours – variety is key, so we make sure our customers have the best choice available to them. We have fantastic relationships with our key suppliers, who are able to support us with their bestselling fabrics, and we have our own in-house design team who keep up with interior trends, colours and designs to ensure we’re able to offer our customers the very best.

“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of neutral and natural colours coming through – plenty of earthy colours, such as browns and creams. It’s nice to see that we’re finally moving away from the greys!”

Although M.A. Living’s offer is principally domestic in nature, the business is able to meet the demands of contract customers, and to build bespoke furniture that meets their requirements. “This part of our business is growing rapidly,” says Uneeb, “as more and more customers approach us directly asking for bespoke requirements. We’ll always try to be accommodating.”

Next steps

Taken together, these developments offer manifold benefits. Customers are increasingly able to treat M.A. Living as a ‘one-stop shop’, and are now able to receive deliveries of bedframes and mattresses together, making the process much easier and quicker for their customers, in turn. 

The progress does not end here, either. M.A. Living is following a 10-year growth plan, and Uneeb is always looking at the next steps. “We’ve achieved so much in recent months, but there are so many avenues to explore,” he says, “and we’re excited about our future, and what’s to come.”

The manufacturer is already looking to expand its sales team to better deploy its growing portfolio, and is currently looking for sales agents in the South and the Midlands, as well as for contract roles. 

For any would-be stockist wishing to know more, but unable to attend the upcoming at-home show, M.A. Living will also be exhibiting at INDX Beds & Bedroom in April, and the NBF Bed Show in September – doubtless equipped with even more eye-catching new product. In the meantime, interested parties can follow the team on Instagram (@malivinguk) to see some of the latest designs as they emerge.

Take a look at some of M.A. Living's latest products in the March issue.

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