As we enter spring/summer 2019, it has never been more important to come together as a community to make sure our industry is as strong as it should be. 

We are a unique industry, it must be said – an industry that historically looks out for one another in the face of tough times in the market, and this should be spoken with pride. As our recent State of Trade survey reported, trade conditions have worsened still since October 2018, but the industry community needs to become stronger than ever, and it has been great to see a glimpse of this in the first quarter of 2019.

During the first week of March, the BFM organised one of the UK’s biggest fabric supplier shows, at Chelsea Football Club – the London Fabric Show. The show was well supported by big-name retailers and manufacturers, and with exhibitors all reporting success and promises to return next year, there was a great sense of community in the air. 

As my first London Fabric Show as MD of BFM, it was a proud moment to stand by the registration desk and see a revolving door of our members walking through, along with designers and buyers I have got to know throughout the years of my career in furniture manufacturing. 

By the second day, we had heard the stories of exhibitors using the first night after the show as a social opportunity, all meeting up as one for their evening meal, alongside exhibitors from different corners of the globe, who told us repeatedly that London Fabric Show was the “most sociable show in existence”. 

Our industry should be a community that thrives on communication. The industry as a whole has seen some difficult times, but good communication and networking helps us identify common problems, and therefore solutions. Being able to facilitate communication is a key aspect of BFM as a trade association – especially in the current climate.  

We are a member of the BFC (British Furniture Confederation), and we need to be aware of problems in the industry to be able to lobby for changes on your behalf. We are stronger together.

Being part of an association that brings the industry together under such an intimate and unique roof is an honour. Looking round as lunch was served at the London Fabric Show and seeing the networking opportunity we had provided for manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and our trade association just highlighted that this is exactly what we, as the British Furniture Manufacturers, should be doing. And it is something that the industry as a whole should be aiming to do more often. 

As an association, we are here to help your business. Whether that is to help an SME with business solutions, or technical and health and safety advice, or a question you have about trading regulations, the BFM is only a phone call away. Not only that, but we are here to organise an association of companies that make their products in Britain and give them the opportunity to show their homegrown pride, and make sure your business is supported in any way you feel is necessary.

Nick Garratt is the MD of the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM), the trade association that has represented the interests of the British furniture industry for more than 65 years and offers members a range of benefits including access to expertise on subjects including export, EU Timber Regulations, health and safety, commodity pricing and the environment.