Housing Units and John Lewis head Interiors Monthly Awards 2017 furniture winners
Manchester furniture retailer Housing Units and John Lewis have been named as the country’s best furniture retailers in the Interiors Monthly Awards 2017, selected by the magazine’s readers.
Housing Units was named as Best Furniture Retailer in the one to three store category and John Lewis in the four plus category. Made.com was voted Best Online Retailer.
Furniture and flooring retailer Housing Units is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
The Failsworth, Manchester company is investing £3.5m creating new retail and dining spaces and £1.5m expanding its distribution centre.
‘A lot has changed since we first opened in 1947, but one thing that has stayed constant is our focus on personalised customer service. Traditional touches, such as being welcomed by our famous doormen on arrival at the store, remain at the heart of the Housing Units experience,’ says Nick Fox, Housing Units ceo.
‘Through continuing to listen to the customer, and investing in improving their in store and online shopping experience, we hope for another 70 years of success.’
It saw pre-tax profits rise by 27.4% to £1.938m in the year to 27 March 2016. Turnover rose by 7.7% to £24.518m.
Staff numbers rose by 10 to 279, with the number of equivalent full-time employees climbing from 233 to 245.
John Lewis continues to be a destination for consumers and a sought after account for manufacturers.
The chain’s 49th department store, a 120,000sqft branch in Oxford, will open in October, alongside its dozen At Home stores and St Pancreas and Heathrow branches, after Leeds and Chelmsford opened in the past year. 2018 will see openings in Cheltenham and London.
However it abandoned plans for a Brighton store earlier this year and Paula Nickolds, named as md in October 2016, has cast doubt on if further openings are needed given the continuing growth of online shopping. New full-line department stores cost between £30m and £35m and the chain expects half of sales to be online in three years time.
Li Ning, made.com chief executive founded the retailer in 2010 after selling his previous furniture etailer MyFab.
It now employs 300 people, has around £100m of sales, operates across Europe, and is constantly looking for new markets.
‘Our company culture is European but the next step is going global. There’s still a lot of opportunity out there because the Internet has lowered costs. China is where my heart is and I go often. We employ 40 people in Shanghai,’ he told China Daily.
Products are sourced from China, India and Europe and are made to order. He says older people will physically go shopping while younger people will research and buy online and go to the shops perhaps only to check on an item, or for entertainment. ‘This behavior will grow and there will be great opportunities for digital brands.’
‘My team says I can be pretty hard to work with because I have extreme requirements for detail,’ he says. ‘The last 10% makes the difference between good and perfect.’ He recently announced he would take on a more advisory role at the company.
Other winners were:
Best UK Furniture Manufacturer: Westbridge Furniture Designs;
Best Overseas Furniture Manufacturer: Wiemann;
Best Furniture Buying Group: AIS;
Best Bed Manufacturer (Upmarket): Hypnos;
Best Bed Manufacturer (Mid-market): Sealy;
Best Bed Manufacturer (Value): Silentnight;
Best Bedroom Manufacturer: Nolte;
Best Dining Room Manufacturer: Classic Furniture;
Best Living Room Manufacturer: Rowico UK;
Best Children’s Furniture Manufacturer: Gautier;
Best Fabric Upholstery Manufacturer: Ashley Manor;
Best Leather Upholstery Manufacturer: La-Z-Boy;
Best Recliner Manufacturer: himolla;
Best Accessory Supplier: Pacific Lifestyle;
Best Home Entertainment Supplier: UK-CF;
Best Furniture Wholesaler: Julian Bowen;
Best Fabric/Soft Furnishings Manufacturer: Sanderson;
Best Customer Service (Furniture): Julian Bowen;
Best Business Support (Furniture): Greenwood Retail;
Best Marketing Support (Furniture): Vale-Bridgecraft;
Best Software Supplier: Retailsystem.com;
Best Finance Provider: Hitachi Capital;
Best Supply Chain/Logistics Company: ArrowXL;
Best Furniture Exhibition: January Furniture Show;
Best Product Protection Provider: Guardsman;
Best Warranty Provider: Castelan Group;
Best New Supplier: Mlily;
Best Website (Furniture): Besp-Oak Furniture;
Innovation of the Year (Furniture): Hulsta, T70;
Product of the Year (Furniture): G Plan, Tess;
Furniture Brand 2017: Parker Knoll;
Sustainability (Furniture): Harrison Spinks;
Outstanding Performance (Furniture): Symphony Group.