Furniture and home goods makers in Oldham are being urged to use the ongoing home improvement boom as a catalyst for digital transformation.
The sectors, which produce sofas, beds and furnishings, face a challenging time following the pandemic, Brexit and rising inflation.
However, the huge demand for interior design, home and garden products and customisation, as well as a further shift to online shopping – driven by a lockdown-induced focus on home upgrades – looks set to continue, presenting a significant opportunity to manufacturers.
The ongoing renovation boom means the UK furniture and furnishings market, worth an estimated £14bn and the second largest in Europe, is estimated to grow by around 3% in 2022.
Seven SMEs from the region are among 140 working with Made Smarter’s Adoption Programme in the North West to navigate the multitude of challenges and capitalise on changing trends. By tapping into impartial expert technology and skills advice, and digital transformation workshops, Made Smarter are helping them take their first steps.
They include: Aurora Solid Roof’s (Oldham); Bethcore Doors (Oldham); Comfortex (Oldham); Gemini U.P.V.C. (Oldham); Hill’s Panel Products (Oldham); Parkin Fabrics (Oldham); and Ripple Developments (Oldham).
Meanwhile, others, supported by matched funding, are investing in new digital technology to become more efficient, build resilience, increase productivity and sustainable growth, and create new high-value jobs.
Made Smarter, which has supported hundreds of businesses to deliver an additional £176 million in gross value added, is now keen to reach more SMEs across the furniture and home goods supply chain. They have produced a free guide to help demystify digitalisation and drive technology adoption.
The downloadable guide showcases the benefits of digital technology, how to get started, the top five technology trends across the sector, and case studies of businesses supported by Made Smarter, including furniture maker Starlight Bedrooms and fabrics and upholstery expert Panaz.
Donna Edwards, Programme Director for Made Smarter’s Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “While UK manufacturing is facing a challenging time, it also presents an opportunity to innovate and transform. Businesses working with Made Smarter over the last three years have shown that investing in technology and digital skills can build resilience and enable them to keep up with the fast moving industry.
“Digital tools can help manufacturers make marginal savings, set themselves apart from competitors in a volatile time, make products quicker, affordable and more efficiently.
“Working with Made Smarter we are helping businesses introduce technologies incrementally, making the most of funding and support to minimise the impact on budgets.
“To help demystify digitalisation and help SMEs to their first step, we have produced some vital guidance as well as explain why implementing digital tools is such a priority in this sector.”
Commending the impact of the programme, Jonathan Hindle, chairman of the British Furniture Confederation, a group which represents five of the main trade associations representing UK furniture manufacturers, said: “The tremendous success of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, and the support it is now offering to the sector in other UK regions, has demonstrated the value of targeted support for SME manufacturers to help them take those first steps on their digitalisation journeys.
“The UK furniture manufacturing industry has a global reputation for quality and innovation, combining skilled design and craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. To maintain that achievement and ensure the UK remains competitive against global competition, manufacturers need to embrace current and emerging technologies, and the huge potential digitisation offers, as well as to raise the skills and productivity of the people who work in our sector to the highest level.”
To download the free guide visit: https://www.madesmarter.uk/resources/guide-digital-technology-in-the-home-goods-and-furniture-manufacturing-sector/