The Future Lies in British Furniture Manufacturing Says 'Homes-Suite-Homes' Blogger

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Clear opportunity for the UK furniture industry to reclaim their domestic market says industry blogger.

Leading interiors blogger 'Homes-Suite-Homes' looks at the future state of the furniture industry and how British produced goods are likely to become increasingly popular.

Reports from the Office of National Statistics show a significant fall in the amount of furniture being imported to Britain. This decrease follows almost eight years of rapid growth, where the value of imports for products like sofas grew to £ 4720 million in July 2008. This figure made up 1.4% of all imports to the UK and placed furniture above goods like textiles and gas on the ONS list of top 30 imports. However by July 2009, furniture imports had fallen by almost 10% to £4251 million.

As for the export of British furniture, trade volumes don't even make it into the top 30. This represents a concerning imbalance for an industry which employs around 131,000 workers in 7,500 enterprises and represents around 5% of all British manufacturing, say the British Furniture Confederation.

This concerning deficit is also echoed on a European level where despite some exports to the US and Switzerland, European businesses face fierce competition from countries like Vietnam, Poland and most notably China.

Over the past decade China has taken the European markets by storm, growing their share of imports to the EU from under 15% in 2000 to 50.7 % in 2008, say the European Commission. With cheaper wages and raw materials, these emerging market leaders are increasingly difficult competitors for British companies.

Statistically, the sharp import downturn correlates with the global recession triggered in late 2008 and it closely mirrors trends in furniture imports on an EU level as well as total import volumes to the EU and UK (Eurostat and ONS)

Therefore although it may be too soon to link the decrease in UK imports to a growing preference for home brands, could these statistics be seen as an opportunity to represent an opportunity for the UK furniture industry to reclaim their domestic market?

As the British Furniture Confederation explains, imported furniture can come with hidden economic and ecological costs like trans-ocean transport. Furthermore, with closer access to their market, British companies may well be positioned to seize the latest fashions and innovations.

For companies like SofaSofa, being able to ensure consistency of their production line is paramount. Their chief executive said "As a Welsh company, we remain committed to manufacturing in South Wales, not just because it safeguards jobs in the local area, but because we believe it results in better quality'.

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Harry Follett

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