This month we’re bringing you a comprehensive overview of one of the most important, powerful, influential and oft-misunderstood areas of the specification process – the furniture dealer market.
Not only have we spoken with the key protagonists, to uncover their own views on the ever-changing role and nature of the dealer, we’ve also asked the leading manufacturers and specifiers to tell us who they believe are the leading dealers in the UK right now.
We have compiled facts, figures and opinions in what we believe is a first for the sector. The dealer might well have the influence and the connections – and indeed the turnover to prove it – but up until now the spotlight has evaded them. Enjoy.
We’ve asked a large number of you, our readers and clients, to give us their leading protagonists in the UK dealer market. Now, we’ve always said that we like to be provocative, rather than controversial – and we like to think that this list will provide plenty of the former, whilst any controversial inclusions (or indeed lack of) are down to the voters, not us! So here are the 44 most popular, in alphabetical order.
Amaryllis is a group of companies offering manufacturing, recycling and support services relating to furniture and equipment with a focus on lifecycle management, sustainability and environmental issues. The Chelmsford-based company boasts clients including British Airways, Land Securities and Transport for London.
Bennett Workplace Solutions
Bennett Workplace Solutions was formed in December 2013. The business grew out of the hugely successful Barry Bennett Ltd, formed over 40 years ago, following a restructure of their business, with the aim of allowing Barry Bennett Ltd to focus on the main core of their market, education, and in particular the DSA (Disabled Students Allowance), whilst Bennett Workplace Solutions is now able to invest and further develop its growing workplace business. The company serves the private, public and corporate sectors throughout the UK. Customers include many SMEs, local and central government departments and multinational organisations.
BOF provides inspirational furniture solutions for education and workplace environments. Based in South Wales, BOF continues to grow with clients spanning both the public and private sectors. From first concept to finished interior, BOF provides high quality, cost effective and sustainable solutions, tailored to the needs of our customers. For over 10 years, BOF have been an approved furniture supplier to Police Forces across the UK. This agreement has allowed it to complete large-scale projects for forces including South Wales Police, Devon & Cornwall Police, Gwent Police, Dorset Police and Dyfed Powys Police.
Macclesfield-based Broadstock started out over 30 years ago with one simple aim – to do things the right way. With a desire to create a company that listened to customer needs and offered innovative and thoughtful workplace solutions, the company still aims to deliver world-class service, from first contact to final fit. Today, through continued investment, a passion for innovation and engaging like-minded people, Broadstock has grown into one of the country’s most respected workplace and contract furnishers. Major completed projects include Nottingham Trent University, Oxford Brookes University and AstraZeneca.
Calibre Office Furniture
Calibre is passionate about sourcing the highest quality modern office furniture and offering a personal service. Since its foundation, the Kent-based company has worked hard to build strong relationships with leading manufacturers, allowing it to combine their expertise and experience with its own to pass onto clients. Not only does Calibre stock a massive range of office furniture, it also offers a full office refurbishment service, including design work, space planning and implementation. Clients include Barclays, Nestle, Goldman Sachs, BBC and Chelsea Football Club.
Claremont Office Interiors (Aberdeen)
Claremont offers a single point of contact for all workplace requirements. As one of the UK’s largest independent furniture suppliers Claremont has exceptional purchasing power and offers an enviable portfolio of products to suit every style and budget, and stock an extensive range of desks, chairs and storage for speedy delivery. Recent projects include the Subsea7 West and East Campus, Kongsberg and The Stewart Group.
Building on over 20 years’ experience, Corporate Workspace is one of the country’s most knowledgeable design-led contract furnishing consultancies, with over 150 years of combined experience. Over the last past two decades the Corporate Workspace team has been chosen to support more than 1,000 UK companies in the design, installation and service of high quality working environments. As an independent company it is able to work in partnership with clients and their architects and designers to tailor design packages to meet precise criteria, objectives and budgets and to support clients with a consistently high level of service. Those clients include Nestle, Volkswagen, North and Pinsent Masons.
Established in 2001, Day2 is a London-based independent furniture consultancy and supplier. The company is not beholden to any particular manufacturer, which means it can be truly objective in addressing the specific requirements of its clients with imaginative furniture solutions. Day2’s extensive client base gives it considerable negotiating power with suppliers – ensuring clients get the most competitive pricing and best value solutions. Clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Virgin Management, The Springer Group, Booking.com and CBRE.
Directive has been providing solutions for commercial interior projects for over 20 years, from its head office in London, with warehousing and logistics teams based in Kent, Manchester and Glasgow. Directive’s proposals include, furniture selection and procurement, full project management, Installation, loose package coordination linked with commercial relocation and move management combined with accredited recycling services. Impressive recent projects include work for Regus, Heathrow Airport, Stryker Pharmaceuticals and Societe Generale.
Dovetail is firmly established as one of the UK’s leading furniture suppliers for commercial, educational, hospitality and residential space. We have a wealth of experience, combined with extensive product knowledge and excellent supplier relationships, enabling us to deliver the best possible furniture solutions for our clients. Dovetail is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group. The company boasts established relationships with leading manufacturers, all of whom are distinguished by their design focus and sustainable approach, including Knoll, Vitra, Fritz Hansen and USM. Dovetail has completed impressive recent projects for CBS Corporation, Rio Tinto, QVC and NCVO, to name but a few.
Birmingham’s Eos Interiors was set up by Peter Leach and Lynne Maynard. Both have over 25 years’ experience in commercial interior fit out, delivering projects locally and nationally. The company has access to all the major manufacturers of commercial office furniture, including Herman Miller, Senator, Orangebox and Allermuir. Whatever the budget, Eos’ design department will specify and procure the best furniture solution, from desking and seating to meeting and breakout furniture. And to get it to the client, the company offers a full delivery and installation service. As well as this, Eos can carry out a filing audit and help find the best storage and filing solutions. Recently completed projects include NASUWT, Xtrahl, Emerald Technology, The Orb and Interchange Place.
Flexiform has been designing, manufacturing, supplying and installing office furniture for 40 years. The main manufacturing base is in West Yorkshire, boasting some of the latest manufacturing machinery and some of the latest cutting edge design and engineering software. Flexiform has bases across the UK – with sales support offices, showrooms and storage facilities in both London and Scotland. As a UK based manufacturer, Flexiform supports UK companies, with over 90% of its supply chain in UK based. The company does not believe in importing cheap products from overseas and rebranding as its own product. Clients include E.on, Admiral and Bradford & Bingley.
The Furniture Practice
The Furniture Practice is a furniture consultancy offering products, services and objective advice on all aspects of furniture specification and procurement. Since 1997 it has built a solid reputation collaborating with architects, designers and corporate clients to deliver projects of all sizes both at home and abroad. TFP prides itself on being design-led and recognises that every client has unique requirements. The London-based Practice enjoys developing and building individual working relationships. Our structure enables us to form a flexible tailor made approach, thus ensuring the best possible service and attention, however complex the project. Leading clients include Standard Chartered Bank, Agent Provocateur, Diageo and the Zetter Hotel.
Surrey-based FSL has been trading since 1977 and has offices in the Thames Valley and London. One of the UK’s leading office furniture consultants, FSL offers clients a complete product and service package. From multinational corporations to call centres, from hot desking to home working requirements though to bespoke boardroom and reception areas, the company offers a wide range of forward thinking solutions. Clients include Lloyds Banking Group, Metro Bank, Yell, Channel 5, Motorola and Vodafone.
Future Office supplies all your office interior requirements, taking the time to understand its clients’ requirements and establish a relationship with them. Working closely with a number of specialist suppliers, the company aims to understand client needs on timescales and deadlines and to deliver the service they require, when they need it. With clients spread throughout the UK, Future Office works across all market sectors. Clients range from Blue Chip companies through to small local business and charitable organisations, and include AXA, EDF and Bluefin.
Gannon Office Solutions
County Kildare’s Gannon Office Solutions is a complete interior service provider specialising in providing interior construction services within the office, technology and education sectors. Gannon Office Solutions also specialises in providing its clients procurement, installation and maintenance services for all of their furniture requirements. Over the past three decades Gannon Office Solutions has earned a reputation for consistently delivering a quality service for hundreds of clients across Ireland. Gannon Office Solutions can use this expertise to design a workplace environment that can increase productivity and meet the specific requirements of the client.
Hunters Contracts delivers leading furniture solutions, offering expert product knowledge to its impressive client portfolio. ‘We have used Hunters since 1998 to support our furniture requirements and the service we receive is consistently excellent from all of their team,’ says Linklaters’ Bill O’Brien. This year the company celebrates its 25th birthday – so we can expect another amazing Hunters party in a few months’ time. Other leading clients include Imperial Tobacco, EMAP, DTZ Expedia and JLT.
Also established in 1990, Hunts Office operates from a state-of-the-art 22,000 sq ft showroom in High Wycombe. Hunts has worked with some of the largest blue-chip companies in the country, as well as home-based and small to medium sized businesses. As well as our meticulous attention-to-detail, Hunts Office Furniture and Interiors understand that a successful working environment is dependent upon successful space management, the consideration of practical requirements and the ability to complete a project on time, to budget and the fulfillment of any design or architectural constraints.
JS Office Environments
Committed to supplying innovative products to meet all your needs, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, JS prides itself on studying how people actually work – listening to and learning from its customers. The company’s products incorporate the latest research in ergonomics and biomechanics. JS offers competitively priced products on time and within budget, from the re-upholstery of one chair to the complete refurbishment of a building. Being an Independent dealer, JS can broker from a wide products portfolio of suppliers, and so can cater from top-end designer ranges through to economy products.
K2 Space celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Founded by Geoff Osman and Mark Phillips, K2 Space provides office design, fit-out and furniture solutions. The company is a leading dealer for furniture brands Kimball, Teknion and Vitra, amongst others. Over the last decade the company has worked for a range of clients, helping ad agencies to private equity firms with their office fit-out and furniture. Mark commented: ‘We’ve had a great 10 years and have grown clients and revenues, year on year. We’re a service company, dedicated to delivering for our clients and our relationships with them are crucial.’ K2 Space is based in Islington and handily placed for nearby Clerkenwell.
Langstane Press Limited is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and one of the largest in the UK. A family business established in 1947, the company boasts an annual turnover of £28 million and employs over 150 staff across four locations – with its head office in Aberdeen and further branches in Dundee, Edinburgh and Inverurie. Recent major project wins include a trio of leading oil and affiliated businesses in Aberdeen. Nothing crude about that!
Lime delivers excellence in office furniture. Part of the Peldon Rose group, Lime remains an independent furniture consultant, advising, sourcing, specifying, installing and providing ongoing support to all areas of commercial office furniture. As a truly independent business, Lime is totally focused on the right solution for the client, the people and the brand. The business has delivered cutting-edge solutions for the likes of the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Sapient, Capula, Platina and the London Underground.
Established in 2001 in response to a growing demand for quality contemporary furniture in Wales and the south west of England, Momentum has steadily grown into one of the foremost outlets for good design in the UK. It is a family business with the three Directors and a dedicated group of talented passionate people aiming to provide the best service to its customers, however large or small the enquiry. When Momentum was first opened there was nothing like it in the South West or Wales and its vision was to show that top quality design was available outside London and was now accessible to everyone. Now in its 14th year Momentum has developed into a successful business specialising in contemporary furniture and the team is still passionate about ensuring its customers receives the absolute best for their budget, timeframe and aspirations. Momentum delivers anywhere – and has exported to Sydney, Mustique, Monaco, Cairo and even Azerbaijan.
With nearly 40 years experience Morgan Lovell has been helping many of the worlds most recognised companies, large and small, design and build their ideal workspace. As the company isn’t tied to any manufacturer, its furniture experts’ only priority is to help clients choose exactly the right furniture for their brand, budget and way of working. The furniture team can negotiate on its clients’ behalf, using the huge buying power of the Morgan Sindall Group, a FTSE listed company with an annual turnover of over £2bn. Impressive recent Morgan Lovell projects include eBay, ThoughtWorks and Splunk.
Slightly contentious, this one we know – some may say that Overbury isn’t a dealer but they did, however, receive plenty of votes – and who are we to argue? Fit-out and refurbishment specialist Overbury delivers projects from a few thousand pounds up to £100m, with a key part of the offering being office furniture procurement. In the last 10 years the company has fitted out more than 60 million sq ft of office space. With offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bracknell and Leeds, Overbury’s award winning work includes the recent BCO Test of Time award winning Guardian News & Media project. Other leading Overbury clients include BBC, ITV, Shell, O2 and AstraZeneca.
Paragon Interiors Group
As specialists in the Design, Fit-out and Refurbishment of commercial interiors Paragon provides experience and expertise in a number of ways, including office furniture provision. The company is totally unbiased towards any furniture manufacturer, which enables its designers to be free to specify the right product to suit clients’ needs. At the same time, Paragon has built valuable strategic alliances with the major manufacturers, which allows it to offer world-leading products at extremely competitive prices. Paragon clients include, AXA, Adidas, ITV, O2, RBS, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls Royce.
Phusei was established by Ed Mullett and Tim Nisbet, who, between them, have over 50 years of experience in the furniture industry. In 2003 they decided to use their knowledge and expertise to create a furniture dealership built on outstanding customer service and top quality products. Why the name Phusei? We understand it is derived from the Greek word phusis, meaning nature and referring to ‘the natural way of being’ – which Tim and the team see as a perfect way to describe the company’s passion and commitment for providing intelligent solutions that meet the needs of its clients. High profile Phusei projects include BBC at MediaCity and Co-Op at Noma, Manchester.
Rainbow Office Design
Rainbow Office Design has been helping clients with their office furniture, office design and office fit out projects since 1990 – and therefore is another leading London business celebrating its 25th birthday this year. Alexandra Palace’s Rainbow is completely independent, so we will always work with your interests in mind and propose products that suit you rather than products we are obliged to sell. Samples, product trials and demonstrations, showroom visits and mock-ups are all part of the procurement service at Rainbow. Leading clients include The Met Office, Thomson Reuters and Twickenham stadium.
Ralph Capper Interiors
Ralph Capper Interiors is a completely independent furniture provider – this independence allowing it to provide clients with unbiased advice and find the products that best suit each project. Predominately – but not exclusively – the Manchester-based company works with architects and interior designers to ensure the furniture scheme complements the interior of a building, whether a refurbishment or new-build. The company had successfully delivered literally thousands of projects, from £1,000 to well over £1m in value. Project experience includes sports stadia hospitality, airport lounges, offices and call centres, reception areas, cafes, libraries, universities, schools and colleges, hotels, restaurants, bars – and more.
West London based Red Space specialises in office furniture for working environments. From reception areas to meeting rooms, space planning to installation, the company will work with clients from start to finish to deliver their project in on time and within budget. Established over 20 years ago, Red Space has worked on more than 350 projects, developing a wealth of knowledge and experience. Working with some of the world’s largest manufacturers, Red Space offers a full range of systems and products to suit all environments, budgets and aesthetics.
In 30 years of providing individual interiors for businesses of every kind, Showcase has built long-lasting, beneficial relationships with client, designers and architects alike. Describing themselves as ‘passionate perfectionists’, the team looks to pursue extreme attention to detail in its supply, project management, installation and after-sales customer service. Showcase’s project portfolio varies enormously in size, scope and sector, and includes work for leading automotive companies including BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi.
Part of the incredibly successful Forefront Group, Sketch designs work spaces, furnishes commercial buildings, manages relocations, assists with storage and archiving and even sells designer residential furniture. In short, the company provides a fully integrated range of services and solutions for all areas of the office. Seven years ago Sketch began with great people who had passion for the workplace. This hasn’t changed over those years and the
company has now installed over £60m of furniture. Clients include Amicus Horizon, FIS, CAA and Selex ES.
As of this month Steelcase Solutions will be known simply as ‘Solutions’ – an authorised Steelcase dealer. The change will reinforce Solutions’ position as a leading autonomous dealer authorised by parent company, Steelcase. Solutions are workplace experts, serving customers from offices in Aberdeen, London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds. Solutions offers the broadest range of interior services, from the most basic fit-out to a complex office project, its holistic approach supports you the customer through each stage, from understanding and translating a specific business need, from concept through to practical completion and on-going post occupation service and support. Solutions will also be moving its operational teams from Farringdon to Rainham, Essex.
Southerns Office Interiors
Former Mixology North Company of the Year, Southerns is one of the UK’s biggest independent furniture suppliers, operating in the corporate, leisure, local government, health care and educational sectors. Bolton-based Southerns adds value to its clients by giving them full access to the manufacturer market, giving them space planning and interior design services and delivering and installing furniture free of charge using its own highly trained and professional team. First and foremost this is a people company, which takes pride in the quality of service it provides and the reputation it has built up.
Spacecraft is a leading London-based furniture dealership with extensive experience, a vast knowledge of the industry, close relationships with many of the world’s pre-eminent furniture manufacturers and detailed product understanding. Established relationships with leading design houses and furniture manufacturers gives Spacecraft direct access to many of the best products, as well a clear overview of the market and current trends. The company’s broad spectrum of clients encompasses legal, financial, insurance, media and industrial disciplines. As Knoll’s largest UK dealer partner Spacecraft has an excellent working relationship with Knoll, whilst its established network of high quality manufacturers such as Fritz Hansen, Vitra, and Walter Knoll means it can cater for pretty much any specification.
Think Furniture is an independent company specialising in the creation of new work environments. Its independent status ensures clients get access to a vast range of office furniture from established brand names through to the latest design-led ways of working. Think works on a consultative basis, so listens to its clients’ needs and requirements first and then researches the market to generate the most appropriate solutions. Think Furniture is based in the South East of England, catering for inner and outer London as well as the Southern Counties. Think clients include BT, Cheil and the University of Kent.
TSK’s team of furniture specialists has over 20 years of experience in managing major furniture specification and installation projects. This experience and expertise is used to ensure that the most appropriate blend of products are specified and sourced, which balance aesthetic, functionality, durability and budget. The leading Manchester business only recommends the best options after working closely with its clients and design team and will provide choices from an extensive portfolio of global and local manufacturers. As an independent business TSK procures from multiple sources and then co-ordinates the detailed installation. Leading clients include AstraZeneca, Aon, Baker Tilly and BAE Systems.
Tsunami Axis is currently Herman Miller’s highest grossing dealer partner in the UK. The majority of the team have either worked for Herman Miller or one of their other dealers at some point and thus have a tremendous knowledge of not only the products but also the internal structures and processes of its manufacturing partner. Tsunami has worked hard to attract and retain individuals from the commercial interiors sector with drive, enthusiasm and ability. Today the company is still led by its founders, Mark Cawthorne and Rob Olding. Clients include Amazon, Google, eBay, Bank of China and London School of Economics, whilst the business is currently enjoying tremendous success in the Middle East.
Ultimate offers a complete furniture solution for offices, receptions, boardrooms, training rooms and breakout/café areas. Working closely with a variety of leading furniture suppliers from the UK and Europe, the Yorkshire-based company is able to deliver an independent balanced solution on the basis of aesthetics, life term/reconfiguration and cost. To assist its clients further, Ultimate’s services also include, installation and move management and the recycling of existing furniture in an environmentally friendly manner. Clients include Quaker, GHD, University of Nottingham and Yorkshire Water.
Umbrella is a specialist division of the Wagstaff Group, recently set up to provide loose furniture solutions tailored specifically to service the architectural and design community. Umbrella is totally independent but calls on the Group’s 100+ year history and financial security to trade confidently with a vast range of suppliers to protect clients’ project needs. The team offers extensive experience and knowledge of furniture in the office, education, hotel and leisure sectors, and has access to all the well-known and some of the not so well-known products from across the globe, delivering a multi-product supply service, from design brief to installation.
Wagstaff describes itself as the largest direct seller of commercial furniture in the UK market – with any larger company selling through a third party dealer, thus increasing the supply chain – and the only truly national manufacturing dealership left in the UK. Founded way back in 1903, the Wagstaff Interiors Group offers a comprehensive range of services including workplace consultancy, interior design, interior fit-out and move management – as well as furniture solutions, furniture hire and re-use and recycling. The company also boasts an enviable client list, including British Gas, Thomas Cook, Centrica and Virgin Money.
Based in West London, Wellworking have successfully provided office and ergonomic furniture to both commercial and domestic clients. In 2006 Wellworking, together with Herman Miller, pioneered the award-winning ‘FastAeron’ service – offering customers a ‘try before you buy’ service for products and providing a full on site set-up and training.
This service has evolved in 2012 to the ‘Precision’ service, which has expanded both the geographical and product range available to its clients. The company also specialises in workstation assessments, offering a professional, personalised service that means individuals within a business are assessed onsite by its DSE trained staff. Clients include Capita Symonds, IoD and Cornerstone on Demand.
Newcastle’s Workpattern are product specialists who live and breathe contract furniture. Workpattern is committed to on-going learning and development, including regular training for its fitting and service teams at its parent company, Albany. This enables it to provide both clients and manufacturers with a local resource for day two service and maintenance. Workpattern has developed a supply chain that goes beyond simply supplying interior products. It has developed true partnerships with some of the industry’s leading manufacturers, working with them to bring their latest products and research to its local market by way a real touch point at its own workspace/resource centre. Key partners include Orangebox, Vitra, Deadgood, Naughtone and Herman Miller.
Workstation is a privately owned furniture dealership founded in 2001 by Nigel Symonds. The team has achieved unparalleled success within the UK contract furniture marketplace, becoming Herman Miller’s largest distributor within Europe. Workstation has developed an outstanding reputation for the successful execution of major contract delivery, operating at the top end of the commercial office market sector whilst collaborating with some of the UK’s premier architectural and interior design practices. Key clients include AIG Chartis, Barclays, Barclays Capital, Ernst & Young, Guardian News & Media Group, IPC Media, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan, Metropolitan Police and Standard Bank.