An Overview of the UK Furniture Manufacturing Industry



Contract furniture GB Projects Ltd

We have summarised here for you some of the main aspects of the furniture manufacturing industry, highlighting a few key terms and providing consumer advice with the intention of making it easier for you to find the furniture manufacture that fits your requirements.

First of all what is contract furniture?

When searching for furniture for your home or business it is very likely that you will have come across the term, ‘contract furniture’ at some point along your travels. But what exactly is contract furniture? A rather broad meaning of the term can be defined as, ‘furniture produced for commercial environments such as showrooms, school furniture, restaurants and offices at a set price and within a specific time period’. This can include a whole host of furniture from tables and chairs to fabrics and lighting.

How does this differ from bespoke furniture?

Bespoke furniture is different in the sense that it relates to one off unique pieces of furniture. A bespoke piece of furniture is fully customisable we like to tell our clients “if you can draw it we can make it”. Bespoke furniture can be anything from a bespoke reception desk designed to fit into a difficult space with all the storage requirements the customer desires to a library cabinet made to look like a space ship, the possibilities are endless.

Can furniture manufacturers provide both bespoke and contract furniture?

To put it simply yes, but not all manufactures can provide both at the best price, let me explain. Quite often a contract furniture supplier will have a wide range of products sourced from all over the world but have no actual manufacturing facility of their own. Asking this type of supplier to provide a bespoke solution would not be cost effective as they would have to outsource the manufacturing process and add on a percentage to the final price for their own profit. This type of supplier would be better matched with a consumer looking for a low cost, high volume solution such as 300 identical office chairs.

GB Projects is different; we have our own manufacturing facility based in the UK which manufactures both bespoke and contract furniture. This removes the headache for a consumer who wants a bespoke solution in a contract furniture set-up. We can produce one-offs or mass produced goods delivered nationwide. Dealing directly with a manufacturer like us rather than through a contractor provides the added benefit of much lower prices as you avoid the added margin a contractor would place on manufactured goods.

Buy British or abroad?

Buying British, is it really the way forward or just a marketing scheme? We think the benefits speak for themselves. Since the recession which hit UK manufacturers especially hard there has been a steady but definite sign that the British furniture industry is gathering strength and gaining momentum once again.

In some cases the exceptionally low prices from overseas suppliers are too tempting to ignore but as we say “buy cheap, buy twice”. Quite often we are asked to repair or sometimes even completely replace sub-standard furniture delivered to customers from overseas suppliers. Below are a number of reasons why our customers choose GB Projects to manufacture their furniture here in the UK.

Expertise – Great Britain is known for its tradition and craft skills, GB Projects have over 40 years of manufacturing experience including traditional bench hand joinery and modern CNC machining.

Sustainable manufacturing – Health and safety regulations are quite rightly much stricter within the UK. Employees are much safer and work within a clean and healthy environment because of this. Morally aware consumers can rest assured that the team producing their furniture at GB Projects are protected by the high standards set by governing bodies.

Much shorter lead times – More often than not a British manufacturer will be able to deliver your furniture within a much shorter time period. At GB Projects we usually advise a lead time of 3-4 weeks depending on the project compared to 12-25 weeks from Asia.

After sales service – Is more reliable and more efficient when dealing with a product manufactured in Britain. A British company’s reputation is gained not only by providing the best furniture but also the best service to the end user.

Quality assurance – GB Projects Ltd takes great pride in every piece of furniture that leaves our factory. Our customers are confident that they will receive a quality final product and be proud of the fact that it is made in the UK.

What to look out for when choosing a furniture manufacturer

First of all before entering into a contract with any furniture manufacturer it is important to ask the right questions. There is a growing trend for companies to have an array of awards and certifications to add credibility to their website that in reality provide no benefit to the end user. For this reason do your research, ask about these certifications and better still go and look around their manufacturing facilities, any well established UK manufacturer should be happy to show you around. Make sure you have a contact within the company that is always on hand to answer any of your queries.

Finding the right furniture manufacturer for you

Now we have established the basic concepts of furniture manufacture and what options are available, the next step is to identify which option is best for you. Unfortunately this is not always a simple process. Consumers who are after a bespoke piece of furniture may mistakenly contact a company whose expertise lies in contract furniture. The margin which gets added on to their enquiry might then be so high it puts them off. Making contact with the right manufacturer is essential, below are a few steps which are worth taking into consideration during the decision process.

The best place to start is the company’s website - Every manufacturer should have one these days. If you are having difficulty finding a manufacturer, directories like the BCFA and BFM are a great place to quickly find what you are looking for.

Do they have their own manufacturing facilities? – Not all furniture manufacturers will have their own facility, quite often they will get products manufactured abroad. If you would like to buy British, it is important to ask where your goods will be manufactured. Often companies like ours who own their own manufacturing facility can offer much lower prices.

Take a look at their past products – If it looks like they are up to the job give them a call and ask about a particular section of their website that interests you.

Ask whether you can talk to some of their existing customers – Or maybe even go and have a look at some of their previous work, it’s a great way to see the quality of the manufacturer you are considering  dealing with in the future.

We hope this information has provided you with a better idea of the furniture manufacturing industry. Feel free to contact our team using the number below with any queries or questions you may have.

Our team is always happy to help

Call us today: 01924 467 147