The Furniture Awards returns to the January Furniture Show in 2016 to highlight the best new products launched at the event.

The awards programme, created by Furniture News magazine in partnership with the show’s organiser, sees shortlisted entries assessed by a team of expert judges from the domestic furniture industry, before recognising three best-in-class launches across various price points.

The judging panel for the 2016 edition comprises: Maxim Romain, general manager for Wayfair Europe; visual merchandising consultant Andrew Durham; ACID CEO and co-founder Dids Macdonald OBE; and Malcolm Walker, director of buying for Furniture Village.

Ahead of the new edition, sponsored by bed specialist Dreams, Furniture News presents an opportunity to meet one of the judges …

Malcolm Walker – director of buying, Furniture Village

For the last 43 years, Malcolm’s career has revolved around retail – for the most of it in the home furnishing market.

In his current position, Malcolm is responsible for the product direction and sourcing of suppliers, product categories, styles and price architecture for Furniture Village’s market position, with quality levels that support the retailer’s customer product guarantee – in addition to ensuring the most commercial layout, presentation and relativity of its store showrooms.

“In my opinion, it’s the best job in the industry,” says Malcolm, “and plays to my commercial instincts, retailing strengths and my creative ability. It’s my job to bring products to life.

“I have been with Furniture Village for 18 years, and have experienced and been part of the exciting growth story, from 12 stores to our current levels. During that time I have seen the business grow and evolve from a predominantly UK supply base into a respected, influential and global player within our industry.

“I have performed a number of roles during my time with Furniture Village, including: buying controller, cabinets; buying controller, upholstery; then director of buying on our trading board.”

Prior to this, Malcolm spent over 20 years with the Maple, Waring & Gillow group, in various roles from sales consultant to store management, making the  move into buying in 1987, whilst managing the flagship international store on Tottenham Court Road, where he met Furniture Village founder Peter Harrison during his short spell as a director there, until he set up his own retail operation in 1989.

“I then moved into group buying for Maples when the Maple, Waring & Gillow business was acquired by Asda/Allied Carpets, becoming buying controller and then director of buying prior to joining Furniture Village,” he says.

“My early years were spent in a family-owned department store, Newhouses in Middlesborough, in warehousing, distribution, display and sales … until I got the furniture bug!”

The Furniture Awards recognise the best new product unveiled at the January Furniture Show, across a range of price points. A team of judges from the world of furniture retail will assess the creative and commercial value of the shortlisted entries before highlighting those considered best in class before the entire industry. Open to January Furniture Show exhibitors only, the awards' deadline is Friday 11th December 2015 – visit the awards web page to enter.