19 July 2024, 06:21
By Furniture News Nov 08, 2021

Encore – more than a filling

Founded in 1982, Yorkshire’s Fibreline is now the UK’s largest independently owned upholstery cushion fillings manufacturer, best known for its Encore line of fibre, feather and foam fillings. This month, MD Richard Prudhoe tells Furniture News why manufacturers need to have all their ducks in a row right now …

What significant developments have there been at Fibreline over the past 18 months?

The last 18 months have been challenging on so many fronts that we’ve had to develop and adapt our products and processes in many ways. I think, though, that our continued focus on investing in technological advances, at the same time as investing in our people’s skills, continues to be our focus. 

The introduction of degree apprentices to the business reflects this commitment. We now have four degree apprentices within the business, and we plan to take on two each year going forward. Bringing new blood into the industry is essential if it is to develop and survive in the years to come. 

How have the supply chain issues affecting the industry impacted Fibreline?

The supply chain has been, quite simply, horrendous. The foam shortages 18 months ago started the process off, and things have not recovered since. Our current challenge, as for many, is the issues around the container shipping of key raw materials. For us, that is causing problems, both in availability and the cost of feather and polyester fibre. We do not see this improving until well into next year – and now we are seeing huge hikes in the price of raw feather, as the Chinese reduce their consumption of duck and move to pork. Honestly, you could not write it!

How have manufacturer demands changed? 

We have seen a steady increase in demand for our combination range of Encore fillings. Price is always important, but people are now realising that ‘low price’ does not mean value for money. We are therefore seeing customers wanting higher-value-added fillings that provide comfort but also great performance over time.

How has your eco-friendly FibreFill Blue filling been received by the industry?

We are starting to see an increasing conversation around sustainability and recycling. For us, that is not really a new story. We installed solar panels on the factory five years ago, and have offered fibre made from plastic bottles since the day we started in 1982 (and over 95% of our waste from production goes for recycling).

FibreFill Blue is made from GRS-certified recycled polyester fibre. It has been well received by those customers who are now also focusing on the sustainability of the furniture they make.

How are the characteristics/benefits of your products conveyed to the consumer?

The characteristics of our basic range of fibre, feather and foam fillings are pretty well understood by our customers. We are reliant on retailers explaining the benefits of the combination Encore fillings. These are FIRA Gold-certified products, and we offer supporting sales literature for those retailers that would like to make use of them.

What are you working on right now?

We have several continuous improvement projects on the go all the time in the business. And yes, we are working on new products, too. But right now, I am trying to decide between getting my HGV licence or breeding ducks – I’m not sure which will result in the better supply of the feathers that we need in 2022 …

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