Teesside-headquartered independent furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse is leading the charge for British furniture manufacturing in a new campaign designed to get furniture retailing moving again post-lockdown.
The campaign, entitled ‘Let’s Get Going Britain!’, supports homegrown furniture makers, calling for the furniture retail sector to use its collective voice to talk-up the value and quality of the UK’s furniture making businesses.
With support from industry bodies, such as the British Furniture Manufacturers Association and the British Retail Consortium, the campaign aims to re-energise the furniture retail sector. The ultimate aim is to stimulate the economy and save both direct and indirect jobs in the sector.
In 2018 turnover from the sector totalled £11.8 billion, which in turn supported 120,000 jobs across 8,489 companies.
James Barker, managing director at Barker and Stonehouse, said: “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.”
Nick Garratt, MD of British Furniture Manufacturers, said: “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 explained: “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 British Retail Consortium, commented: “With the public spending more and more time at home, demand for quality furniture has been rising. Since many of these stores began to reopen, we are seeing a release of some of this pent up demand across the country.
“The British Retail Consortium 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 by working collaboratively Barker and Stonehouse believes that the sector has a positive future, James Barker concluded:
“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.”