The National Bed Federation’s (NBF) 109th AGM heard that despite an unprecedented and turbulent year – caused by both Covid-19 and Brexit – the industry was ready to move forward.

Speaking at the online meeting held on 10th June, NBF president David Moffitt acknowledged the challenges of the past 12 months, and said: “We’ve weathered having no business coming in, to being flat out, supporting our customers with online trading, juggling component shortages and delays, and price hikes of a level and frequency we’ve not seen in a generation.”

But despite all this, along with the loss of revenue incurred by the cancellation of the 2020 Bed Show and the loss of some members during the pandemic, he said that there was now a way forward. The Bed Show will return this September (Telford International Centre, 21st-22nd September) and the association was pleased to be welcoming back several members lost during the past year.

NBF executive director Jessica Alexander updated the attendees on progress made during the past year with regards to initiatives around sustainability. These included: working towards the launch of a register of approved mattress recyclers later this year; following the launch last year of its Guide to Ecodesign Principles for the Mattress Industry, the association is now working towards Ecodesign 2, a practical toolkit/certification scheme for assessing each product against the principles; its ongoing work with Zero Waste Scotland to tackle mattress waste, resulting so far in an Outline Business Case recommending a mandatory, industry-led Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme – particularly important in view of Government plans for EPR for England by 2025, with targets to ban mattresses from landfill across the UK in a similar timeframe; a new Pledge for our Planet initiative, a voluntary scheme for members to demonstrate their commitment to a better environmental future by reducing waste and carbon emissions and adopting a more eco-design approach to products; the formation of a working party for a project designed to significantly reduce/eliminate the amount of mattress packaging going to landfill; and the federation's ongoing work around the cleanliness of fillings, closely linked to mattress recycling and the sale of used mattresses and components.

Says Jessica: “There’s a huge amount of work going on at the NBF in relation to environmental matters. We’re making progress, but acknowledge there is much more to do.”

The meeting also heard about the progress being made by The Sleep Council since it merged with The Sleep Charity last summer. Former NBF team member Lisa Artis, who now works as deputy CEO for the charity, said the merger had enabled it to develop significantly over the past 12 months. Public Health England had actively sought out its expertise for a reference group on sleep health, and the charity now had an advisory panel consisting of 25 leading professionals who were shaping support for sleep issues at a national level.

At a more internal level, the NBF’s new Retail Champions scheme had attracted over 225 members, representing nearly 300 independent stores. Marketing and membership manager Simon Williams also reported on the success of its new consumer-facing platform, Bed Advice UK, which was already attracting around 26,000 visitors a month.

NBF technical expert Tristine Hargreaves reported on the effects of proposed and implemented changes to Government standards and regulations, particularly with regard to the pending review of current flammability regulations – along with the impact of Brexit on the Irish fire safety regulations and the effect of that on members doing business there.