Anyone working in an office in 1940 would probably be around about 90 years old now, however, what is quite certain is they would fail to recognise some of the workplaces of this, our modern world.
The technology is different, the office configuration different, smoking is not allowed and so on. In the same way, the office has changed, so has the furniture, the manufacturing processes and those that supply the furniture.
It is the subject of furniture supply that gives us our focus for the annual Dealer Report, where we take a detailed look at some of the best-known names and how things have changed in the last 12 months; looking at their highlights from 2016 and hopes for 2017.
You will see over the following 16 pages that there is a significant amount of positivity in the market and it appears Brexit is currently having little negative effect or concern. When asked about the furniture price raises expected for 2017, the average was 5%.
So, what were the big stories to emerge from the last 12 months? For those keeping their ear to the ground, it will not have gone unnoticed that big things are happening in Yorkshire. For the Leeds headquartered Southerns Group it’s been a busy time, supported by equity investment from Knaresborough Investments to grow the business.
After acquiring Ralph Capper Interiors and its namesake in Bolton in 2015, Southerns followed this with the further acquisition of SpaceInvader and Broadstock Office Furniture. Speaking exclusively to Mix, Andy Kendall-Jones, CEO of the Southerns Group, said: ‘It has certainly been an exciting and successful 18 months. In essence, we looked at where we were, and where we wanted to be, and through careful planning, developed a core strategy designed to deliver that ambition. We have done it all without fuss, although the feedback we have received from people within the industry indicates strongly that we are making the right decisions.
‘Our single-minded focus is now on implementing the next stage of our strategy.’ It’s our view that this is just the start of a year of mergers, acquisitions and diversification – we’ll see. More from Andy Kendall-Jones in the March issue.
The ones to watch
We asked the dealer fraternity, beyond the well recognised giants, which manufacturers they feel are ‘the ones to watch’. Here are their replies: Andreu World, Frovi, Triumph, Wagner, Elite, Techo, Nowy Styl, Coalesse, Sixteen 3, Manuel Larraga, Knightsbridge, Offecct, Bestuhl, Stua, K+N, Nomique, Munna Design, Alki.
ULTIMATE (Commercial Interiors)
Update 2016 was an exciting year for Ultimate, who secured some of its largest contracts, resulting in the growth of the business and the chance to build on its great customer base.
Big Win Ultimate has expanded its work in the hotel sector and completed projects for Mercure Hotels (part of Accor Hotel Group) at various locations across the country. ‘We are proud to be involved with such a reputable brand and to have been apart of bringing the visions for their hotels to life,’ we are told.
2017 Priority Ultimate has plenty lined up for 2017, but is particularly looking forward to showcasing its furniture suppliers and their new products from
both the UK and Europe.
The Boss: Mark Hickey, Mark Naisbitt and Dan Platt
Update Following its strongest year ever, 2016 saw another great performance. ‘We are very excited by our new team appointments which have allowed us greater penetration, raised our profile and edged us into new business markets such as education and leisure.’
Big Win Corporate Workspace completed BBraun Medical’s office refit, a full turnkey project undertaken in phases throughout 2016. Last year also saw the Corporate Workspace team secure its largest single furniture order to date: £1.6m for a leading blue-chip household insurance group.
2017 Priority To build on its 15 years of creating great work places with further penetration into sectors beyond its core competencies.
The Boss Simon Thrussell
Update 2016 saw that continued understanding from businesses that invested in the workplace – and therefore in people – has a major influence on overall business performance. Businesses are changing to attract and retain the best talent to continually improve their customers’ experience. The workplace is proving a key element of a company’s attraction to employees.
Big Win TSK was appointed to design, build and furnish some amazing projects across the UK. A highlight is its partnership with Swinton Insurance to create their new home at Embankment in Greater Manchester – a workplace that will be a catalyst for business change.
2017 Priority Create workplaces that enhance businesses by supporting their people.
The Boss Andrew Burns
Update 2016 was another explosive year for the ever-expanding Hunts Office. The year started with an incredible accolade from Steelcase – the Platinum Partnership award. Further to that, relationships forged across the Atlantic put Hunts on the global map.
Big Win A significant win last year was the Global INDEED account. Hunts Office is preferred supplier of furniture for the young, exciting, exponentially growing recruitment firm on a global scale.
2017 Priority This year will see the completion of the entire 22,000 sq ft showroom – an inspirational space for designers and commercial agents.
The Boss Egon Hunt
MOMENTUM CONTRACT FURNITURE
Update Undoubtedly, the uncertainty of Brexit has had a major effect on the market, with changeable consequences for exchange rates. ‘After Brexit, at the end of 2016 our partnerships with our European manufacturing brands grew stronger and we look forward to working with them closely in 2017.’
Momentum continued to grow and the ‘complete package’ became more important in the office market as well as the leisure sector. This was evident in seeing the continued crossover between office and leisure products. ‘It seems that all rules have gone out the window and anything goes!’
Big Win Windsor House is the newest student accommodation development in Cardiff. Since its completion it has been awarded Student Accommodation of the year and has received publicity across all local press.
Having worked with Fusion and architects Stride Treglown to supply furniture for the communal spaces, Momentum delivered a superior level of furniture to this new building. Bearing no resemblance to the usual ‘student digs’, the brief was to deliver high quality pieces to create a luxurious space for students to study and relax.
2017 Priority Momentum’s top priority of 2017 is to launch the new Momentum Luxe site. Momentum Luxe will highlight the luxury collection available through the group. Aimed at architects and designers, Momentum Luxe will apply to residential and contract projects.
The Boss PJ Statham
SPATIAL OFFICE ENVIRONMENTS
Update 2016 has been a significant year with Spatial winning work in London and Reading. The team has grown with a new Project Manager, Quantity Surveyor and Interior Designer joining the team – and winning Mixology North’s Furniture Provider of the Year.
Big Win ‘The big win for us would be Camira’s Clerkenwell showroom. A great project to be associated with and fantastic client to do work for. Overcoming some of the challenges onsite and delivering a quality result is testament to all involved.’
2017 Priority Relocation to our new 5,000 sq ft building, which will be a new showroom and our new Serviced Office business.
The Boss Phil Simmonds
Update The downturn in the oil market continues to have a huge impact in the North East of Scotland. These challenging times have, in fact allowed Langstane to focus and evolve into new sectors and geographical areas.
Big Win ‘Our project of 2016 was with JAM Studio at Aubin Group, a leading developer and supplier of chemical solutions to the oil and gas industry. Both JAM and the client were a pleasure to deal with throughout the process and very forward thinking.’
2017 Priority Continue to evolve along with the current and future workplace trends, bringing added value to all projects Langstane is involved in.
The Boss Colin Campbell
Update Bureau launched in 2016 and has gone from strength to strength, leading to a strategic merger with Houseology Group, the online furniture retail brand. Bureau now has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow and will be opening showroom space in 2017.
Big Win ‘We’re delighted to have worked with C2 Concepts on the largest co-working space in Scotland, The Savoy Centre.’ Right in the heart of Glasgow, it will be opening in 2017.’
2017 Priority ‘With our recent merger, we have an exciting opportunity to create a unique proposition in the marketplace. Watch this space!’
The Boss Andy Russell
Update ‘We moved back in with the parents – the parent company that is (Albany Contract) – and together developed a much larger activity based space that lets us practice what we preach, spread our wings and really showcase what we can do.’
Big Win ‘Sorry can’t single out one! The Word (Mixology North award winner) is a project we are so proud to have been involved with, such a stunning project, space and building. Also, RIBA Enterprise, an installation that just works, looks fantastic and is genuinely helping its people and business drive change and a shared purpose.’
2017 Priority Growing the team – and back up what we have always believed with some compelling evidence of our own.
The Boss David Wilkinson
Update ‘Our design team has grown to become the biggest it has ever been. The remaining parts of the business have also grown, with multiple new staff appointments. We are working with more clients from countries such as China and Japan – there seem to be a growing number of Asian companies settling in London. We have also broken into the Cardiff market, and are seeing lots of exciting Cat. B opportunities coming.’
Big Win ‘Taylor Wimpey Central London. In 2016 we completed a lovely project for TWCL, a luxury developer who wanted to capture their brand into their new office. The space needed to embody their residential developments whilst maintaining a highly functioning office.’ Also, MotoNovo – Cardiff-based MotoNovo worked with Morgan Lovell to create an innovative office that enhances its culture and supports its staff’s requirements.
2017 Priority ‘We want to be the best design team in D&B, as well as continuing to provide quality construction and execution in order to look after and maintain repeat business.’
The Boss Peter Weston (London) & Colin Allan (Southern)
Update ‘We spent a lot of last year building a stronger team. New people in a new London office, we’re embracing every change that comes our way. After all change is what drives our industry…’
Big Win ‘QBE Insurance. Sit or stand? We’ll make it happen This was a landmark project, the largest of its kind to take place in the UK. The Tone sit/stand desking system, manufactured by Knoll International, formed the cornerstone of this installation.’
2017 Priority Making people comfortable.
The Boss Gary Thomas
Update ‘Trustpilot rated us the best office furniture company in the UK for the first time in 2016, thanks in part to our new, award-winning website. Our larger office and logistics centre has successfully supported our commitment to nationwide delivery and increased stock capacity.’
Big Win ‘A highlight for us in 2016 was supporting MCM Architecture, BAP, and GVA in furnishing the offices of Rathbones’ new London HQ, with Herman Miller
sit/stand workstations, task seating and the loose furniture package.
2017 Priority ‘Brexit uncertainty aside, our priority in 2017 will be helping our clients with the attraction, retention and performance of high quality staff, particularly through a focus on wellbeing in its wider design context.’
The Boss Luke Munro
Update ‘For most of 2016, we have focused on developing our relationships and reputation within the North West’s specifier community – an emerging market compared to our core client base. This approach has introduced us to different manufacturers, some from Europe, but a lot from the UK – who provide a more design-led rather than price driven product. UK manufacturers are also becoming more aware of the need to operate in this market and as such are driving the quality of their design, product and manufacture to rival the ‘home guard’ of a typical specification.’
Big Win ‘Without doubt our most significant win of 2016, has been Stockport Homes’ new build. Designed by AEW Architects, with interiors from SpaceInvader Design, we tendered for this project against some formidable dealerships – and is a win of which we are extremely proud. Ongoing throughout 2016 and continuing into 2017, with installation not scheduled until later this year, the project brings together several UK manufacturers, helping the client realise their ambitions for their staff and facilities.’
2017 Priority ‘Will be to build on the successful delivery of our Stockport Homes project and various others whilst continuing to service our existing client base.’
The Boss David Fielding
Update 2016 was a positive year for Wagstaff . ‘We had difficult decisions to make and made positive moves within the market, together with opening a new regional office in Aberdeen and the appointment of Andy Davidson as our agent.’
Big Win ‘Following on from our win with the AKER Solutions project, we have built new and existing relationships within the Aberdeen and Scottish market. Delivering day two business is paramount to the Wagstaff philosophy of being customer focused.’
2017 Priority ‘To promote the Wagstaff Group name and services throughout the UK will continue to be one of our main goals for 2017.’
The Boss Daren Miles
Update ‘There’s one key word that sums up 2016 for us: exports. We continued to spread our healthy working message oversea to Dubai, Australia and Italy, as well as 25 other countries. To meet growing demand we also continued to expand our team and opened a new office in Sedgefield, County Durham.’
Big Win ‘We’ve been championing more movement at work for over 26 years now but 2016 was the year we officially launched our active working campaign to get people more active in the office.
2017 Priority ‘We can’t reveal too much at this point but let’s just say we gained three new patents last year and there’s going to be a stunning new sit/stand solution to watch out for in 2017. We’re expecting an exciting year for innovation in this area!’
The Boss Ian Fletcher-Price
Update ‘Two new faces joined the team in Web Sales Development and New Business Development. We see a growing future in on-line sales – not just for small orders but now for small projects.’
Big Win ‘Project – IT company in London. Not our biggest project but significant to us in that the product was chosen and specified using our own Think Furniture website. We see this kind of ‘online’ business as a real growth potential area for us in 2017.’
2017 Priority ‘Quite simply to further grow the business. We’ve expanded the team and are very optimistic that this will bring a greater quantity and possibly more diverse kind of project to us.’
The Boss Tony King & Nigel Maeda
Update With continued growth and high profile project wins, The Works by Saxen was delighted to appoint Scott Jardine as Business Development Manager. With his international experience in the furniture industry Saxen has been able to deliver enhanced value and convenience to customers.
Big Win Securing a relationship with a UK-wide cinema chain expands Saxen’s reach in the entertainment sector, adding another layer to its ability to service customers’ varied furniture needs. To date, it has supplied over £100,000 of products on time and on budget.
2017 Priority Saxen remains client focused and, in addition, is developing its product offering with a strong focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The Boss Shirley Wallace
Update Posture People has been fortunate enough to work within quite a few new markets over the past year. ‘We’ve noticed exponential demand in sectors such as healthcare and financial services across London. Our home town of Brighton also continues to flourish with innovative digital companies that we really enjoy working with.’
Big Win ‘We were selected in conjunction with Chalk Architects to create offices for international marketing agency Net Natives over 2016. They wanted to create informal meeting spaces within an open plan office to match their unique aesthetic. We delivered this with a variety of meeting pods, touchdown spaces, ergonomic task seating…and biscuits.’
2017 Priority ‘In addition to transforming our own seafront offices (BBQ included of course), we will be welcoming some new faces to the Posture People team in 2017, and focusing on making workplaces happier, healthier and more productive across the UK.’
The Boss Dave Blood
Update ‘2016 will forever be remembered as the year we retained our Mixology title! It was also another year of strong growth with turnover up to over £17m and plenty of fresh faces in the newly-styled Day2 studio.’
Big Win ‘We were proud to have been part of a brilliant project team at UBS, delivering agile and front of house furniture for their stunning new headquarters at 5 Broadgate. Keep an eye on our website for photos!’
2017 Priority 2017 will be all about investing in what makes Day2 great – the people. Oh, and a new coffee machine!
The Boss Jim Meier
Update 2016 was all about launching the Alpha Scotland brand to the market after the acquisition of Steelcase Solutions. Happily, Alpha was warmly received by staff and clients alike, with three new team members joining – Julie Keany heading up A&D relations, Tony Allison in Design, and Gayle Murrison spearheading the education interiors business. A real focus in the architect and specifier arena continues, as does a major push into the higher education and active learning market.
Big Win ‘Many highlights in 2016 – but probably our largest project for some-time saw Alpha supply all the furniture to Scottish Power’s new Glasgow UK HQ, which will house some 1,900 people in state-of-the-art facilities. This Iberdrola-owned business recognised the need for a great workspace to allow the attraction and retention of the best talent in the City.’
2017 Priority ‘The key area of focus in 2017 is to build on our consolidated position in the expanding higher education market, where Alpha can really assist colleges and universities, helping to provide campus spaces that will continue to attract and engage students of the future.’
The Boss Paul Black
Update ‘We’ve strengthened all the Overbury furniture teams across our nationwide offices, to serve the ever-increasing demand for reliable, independent and innovative furniture throughout the UK. Our newly refurbished offices in Birmingham are now showcasing key furniture pieces.’
Big Win Taking the entire third floor at The Mailbox, Birmingham’s iconic complex, ACS wanted to create a welcoming environment to entice and retain new staff. Vibrant finishes and plentiful touchdown scenarios break up the 400 desks across the large floorplate.
2017 Priority To source the most groundbreaking and creative products – which could change the way people work and view office environments.
The Boss Julian Lebray
Update ‘The acquisition of a 10,000 sq ft logistics hub, expanding our team of high calibre site managers and best trained furniture fitters. The roll-out of a bespoke software procurement package to improve speed, accuracy and consistency for our customers. Further strengthening our service proposition.’
Big Win Tsunami Axis joined the virtual reality world to help deliver Discovery Channel‘s new global workplace concept. ‘Working consultatively, we exhaustively tested new ideas, producing a virtual reality experience to ensure the environment supported the future development and growth of the client’s work culture.’
2017 Priority ‘To train, motivate and equip our 70+ team to deliver with flair and creativity, industry leading products and services.’
Update Platfform Ltd saw its turnover increase to over £5m during 2016, winning numerous exciting projects across the country. ‘With an ever-growing team and expansion plans for the London office in full swing, we look forward to continued success in 2017.’
Big Win CRAI in London. Coordinating a high-quality furniture selection with carefully considered finishes and existing furniture, Platfform worked closely with the designers to deliver a first-class project and exceed the client’s expectations.
2017 Priority To enlighten its clients on the ever-changing work environment and the benefits that embracing these changes can deliver for their business and employees.
The Boss Stuart Young
Update ‘2016 was our busiest year to date, with three new contract awards (Birmingham City University, University of Bristol and the University of Nottingham) and too many Capital Projects to mention. We also invested heavily behind the scenes to launch a brand new website and new fleet, while also refurbishing our first floor showroom.’
Big Win ‘We worked with more architects, contractors and designers last year than ever before on Capital projects all over the UK. It’s very hard to pick one stand-out project as we were involved with creating so many inspiring, creative spaces. Look at the projects section of our website for our latest and greatest!’
2017 Priority ‘We were extremely pleased to be shortlisted for the Mixology Furniture Provider of the Year award last year. We’ll definitely be coming for that title in 2017!’
The Boss Michael Parrish
Update Amaryllis continues to focus on providing an integrated solution combining reuse and refresh of existing assets with supply of new furniture and associated services including churn, portable appliance testing and temporary storage.
Big Win The major project for Amaryllis in 2016 was the Transformation Project for the Department for Work and Pensions. The ‘trial’ sites were designed to implement new ways of working through breakout spaces and bench desking, together with bespoke IT hub stations.
2017 Priority Reuse and Renovation continues to be a major focus, enabling workplace transformation with minimal waste.
The Boss David King
JS OFFICE ENVIRONMENTS
Update In 2016 JS welcomed James Brill to its business development team, with a remit to grow the educational sector business. ‘With a background in this market sector, James has helped us secure a number of projects and we hope to see this grow in 2017.’
Big Win JS was asked by the University of Sussex to design, manufacture and install a bespoke desking solution for 200 workstations. ‘We worked closely with all parties to ensure we had the correct specification, particularly designing a secure, stylish desk, as well as providing a cable management solution along with tamper-proof monitor arms. The client specifically asked for these desks to be robust and secure for the 24-hour usage the desks would have within this educational environment.’
2017 Priority In 2017 JS will develop its business with the A&D sector. It is partnering with manufacturers who have some new and exciting products that will certainly appeal to the A&D community, along with others who already have iconic, globally recognised products.
The Boss Chris Johnson
Update ‘We’re calling it ‘future Phusei’ as we plan the next five years and beyond. Robin Bayliss joins to head Sales and Marketing and to set out a new direction for the company and we will be adding more heads – some of who you will know.’
Big Win Last year’s significant project was The Francis Crick Institute in Kings Cross. ‘It was an absolute delight to win this project and work with HOK Architects, who deserve immense credit for the design – £1.4m, 93,000 sq m, 12 floors, opened by The Queen.’
2017 Priority ‘To set out our futureproof plan and secure more key people to join us. With a name like Phusei, this will entail some interesting ideas and direction – so watch this space.’
The Boss Tim Nisbet & Ed Mullett
Update Umbrella grew considerably during 2016. ‘We strengthened our team with Rosie Saunders and Nick Ansell, who have been invaluable to the growth of the business. They both brought a wealth of knowledge in their own way and have put Umbrella in the minds of a further reach of designers.’
Big Win Umbrella secured several projects during 2016. ‘Significance for us was measured by the design practices that we engaged and partnered with. Both EDF Energy and Centrica were specified by the design teams at BDG and Perkins & Will ,and we relished the opportunity to support their project teams with delivering high-level furniture specifications seamlessly.’
2017 Priority ‘More of the same! Umbrella is growing rapidly, and we are excited about the prospect of the team expanding further and working on furniture schemes with London’s best design practices’
The Boss Matt Clarke
Update ‘2016 was an exciting year as we delivered projects throughout the UK and Europe and found the legal sector particularly buoyant, as we worked with leading global firms Latham & Watkins and Squire Patton Boggs to furnish various offices in London, Manchester, Paris & Brussels. ‘We were also proud to be chosen to design, build and furnish new offices for Toyota Financial Services in Epsom while we also continue to work extensively with City and Mayfair based financial clients.’
Big Win ‘Our work with leading international law firm Squire Patton Boggs to deliver projects in London, Manchester and Leeds was a highlight and an extremely enjoyable project to have been part of. The K2 team also enjoyed delivering projects for leading American investment bank, William Blair, located at Broadgate Tower in the City.’
2017 Priority ‘2017 looks set to be another interesting year and at the top of our agenda is working closely with both furniture manufacturers and clients to understand, develop and put forward solutions that truly work and that make a positive impact in the workplace.’
The Boss Mark Phillips