New research has found that the market for custom made high-end furniture is growing as consumers favour buying experience and individuality over mass production.
The latest data from the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) shows that the UK’s furniture sector had a turnover of £11.83bn in 2017, representing a year on year increase of 4.8%. Most of this growth came from furniture manufacturing, which accounts for £8.76bn of the total. The research also found that furniture sales continued to rise by 8.5% in the first quarter of 2018 and 8.3% in the second quarter, compared to the previous year.
Figures from FIRA show that most furniture manufacturing in the UK is carried out by small to medium sized companies who are responsive to their customers’ needs. In fact, over 82% of British furniture manufacturers turn over less than £1m according to the statistics. It is worth noting that these figures cover a wide range of businesses, from kitchen companies to mattress manufacturers, but the point is that furniture making is a buoyant sector with more than its fair share of innovation and creativity.
What do customers want?
The shape and strength of the industry means that custom-made furniture is now far more accessible than it once was. In fact, many consumers now expect to be able to tailor their purchases to suit their own style and homes. Whether that means picking their own colour and finish or having something designed from scratch, personalisation is now an expectation rather than an aspiration.
How are furniture businesses meeting this need?
In our own business, we have developed a range of products that can be tailor made in a variety of different ways. Our online shop offers standard sizes and finishes with an open invitation to contact us to discuss customisation. For some customers, this will simply mean tweaking the size to fit their space. For others, it will involve exploring different woods and materials or even using the basic concept as the framework for a completely different design. The fact that we have our own in-house design team and workshop means that we can be completely flexible and also have the capabilities to take an idea and design something from scratch.
Another important development that has supported this trend for personalisation is advances in technology. Our studio is equipped with the latest CAD/CAM design software and our workshop now has two powerful CNC machines, one of which is a 5-axis machine that broadens our manufacturing capabilities significantly. As well as improving production efficiency, this technology makes it easier than ever before to make small changes to standard designs to suit the personal needs of our customers. The design software also makes it much easier for us to model our concepts so that customers can become more involved in the design process.
As well as meeting the needs of our individual customers, we are also providing component manufacturing services for high-end furniture design companies that cater for customers who value their design-led approach. We are very proud to be collaborating with some exciting furniture brands to support their development of premium products by manufacturing quality components for them.