14 June 2024, 04:41
By Furniture News Jul 15, 2022

Home and away – TCM Living's CEO on successful sofamaking

The TCM Living (TCML) Group comprises some of the UK’s most influential sofa brands, and two of them – Ashley Manor and Alstons – are made at home. Here, CEO Jonathan Fearn speaks up in defence of a rich (and valuable) manufacturing sector … 

Are you seeing any new design or selling trends?

We are seeing a move towards more neutral tones and natural materials/fabrics – bouclés and natural woods over velvets and studs. Current design trends are for casual living rather than the more glamourous styles of recent years.  

How are you managing lead time pressures, and what are you doing to future-proof staffing and skills?

We’ve always had a training scheme at our factory at Alstons, but in January 2022 we also opened an academy at our Dudley manufacturing facility, and are in the process of setting up our third training venue at our manufacturing site in Sutton-in-Ashfield.  

Retaining the upholstery trade and skill is something we are passionate about, and we feel the career that can be offered in our industry is both underpublicised and undervalued.  

Have you developed any new strategies for material/cost management?

Across all our businesses we are constantly looking for ways to innovate and to manage our costs better, without compromising on quality or value to our customers. As a group we are investing heavily in our IT infrastructure, which will enable us to improve our information systems as well as creating efficiencies.  

What elevates British-made upholstery above the imports?

Across the TCML Group we have both import and UK manufacturing businesses.  We believe that they all have a place in our industry and serve different customer needs. 

However, UK manufacturing, along with supporting local employment, offers speed of development and flexibility. The short lead times we can work to are much harder to achieve in the import businesses, given the impact of the global shipping crisis. 

How do you convey the strength of ‘British made’ to stockists and consumers?

We realise that, across our manufacturing plants, quality, and consistency of quality, is essential for our customers. At TCM Living, we have a commitment to the British furniture industry and the furniture trade as a whole and, by investing in our people and skills long term, we look to support the manufacture of British-made goods for the future.  

See July's issue for more on the evolution of the British furniture manufacturing sector.

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