Five sector aspirants have been given a unique insight into the UK furnishing industry by completing The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Young Professionals Industry Experience. 

Launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Industry Experience brings together some of the brightest young talent in the furnishing industry to take part in an intensive three-week learning programme. The group is given access to all areas of the industry supply chain, learning about raw materials and components, the complexity of manufacturing, retailing, buying criteria, pricing, marketing and merchandising, through to consumer law, aftersales and customer service. 

This year’s participants were: Josh Chadwick, graduate sales trainee at Herman Miller; Jonny Garth, junior management apprentice at Silentnight; Felicity Squires, business development executive at Axminster Tools & Machinery; Billie Watts, business trainee at Blum; and Greg Young, manufacturing graduate at Herman Miller. 

A total of 16 companies opened their doors in June and July to offer the five an in-depth understanding of their businesses, including Anti Copying in Design, Axminster Tools & Machinery, Blum, Cabinet Maker, DFS, ercol, FIRA, Fishpools, The Furniture Ombudsman, Halstock, Herman Miller, Muirhead Leather, Parker Knoll, Panaz, Purves & Purves, and Silentnight. 

The professionals outlined what they learned from the experience and presented the forthcoming issues the industry faces to representatives of the companies they visited, as well as other industry figures, at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London, last week. 

The issues the group highlighted were Brexit, recruiting new blood into the industry, targeting younger customers, the effects of the digital age, sustainability and meeting customer expectations. 

Hayden Davies, master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “The Young Professionals Industry Experience is an opportunity for companies to give future leaders of the sector a unique, in-depth insight into some of the leading companies within the trade. I would like to congratulate this year’s participants, who thoroughly impressed everyone at the presentation for their keen insights into the state of trade and identifying issues that the sector faces. I would also like to thank the companies that opened their doors to the group, gave up their time and spoke candidly, so that they’d learn.” 

To support the professionals’ continued development, each of them will be paired with one of the company’s members, who will act as a mentor.