27 May 2024, 12:51
By Furniture News Jun 02, 2023

Gallery Direct goes back to source

One-stop supplier Gallery Direct offers a wealth of outdoor furniture and furnishings, much of which is manufactured overseas. With the easing of international travel restrictions, Gallery’s interepid team has worked hard to renew and evolve its global partnerships and products, with impressive results, reports outdoor furniture category manager, Carole Nolan …

Prior to Covid, overseas visits were the usual, and preferred, way for Gallery Direct to source and develop new collections across its product categories (except, of course, its UK-manufactured lines). Through this process, the Gallery team had built up strong relationships with suppliers, and established offices in key manufacturing centres in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, to give the business more control over supply chain and quality.

The pandemic temporarily put paid to these trips – but with ongoing product development key to its success, Gallery found new ways of working with suppliers to ensure it could still deliver new products. 

Although not as easy as in-person visits, Gallery’s established relationships and overseas offices meant it was still able to launch extensive new collections over the last couple of years.

The beginning of 2023 saw overseas travel fully back on the cards for Gallery, which embarked on visits to several countries, sourcing new lines for its 2024 collection. As well as product development, these visits have enabled the team to reconnect with established suppliers and to find new companies, building relationships with them ‘from the off’. 

Gallery expects high standards from suppliers, from both product quality and ethical perspectives, and has a strict code of practice that its factories must adhere to, in addition to legislation. The supplier’s QC team regularly carry out site inspections to ensure compliance and to monitor quality of production and finished products. 

Tom Hudson, head of quality, has already had his responsible sourcing team working with the new factories to ensure they meet Gallery’s ethical standards before production begins, and has been visiting them to ensure the high standards and quality assurances are met.

Carole Nolan, category manager – outdoor furniture, recently travelled overseas to develop Gallery’s Outdoor Living 2024 Collection. She says: “It was fantastic getting back out to source. Developing new products remotely is OK, but you can’t beat getting out to the factories to work with suppliers face to face, and to touch and feel the products.

“On my recent trip, I was able to tweak designs whilst I was there, to give us exactly what we wanted. We had developed the outline of the new collection before I went, but whilst there, I selected the final range, materials used and colour options. By being on-site with suppliers, I made spot changes to improve the designs further, which I then checked and reviewed before the trip was over. This gives us control down to small details, which is nowhere near as easy to do via online meetings. 

“We had one chair, for example, where I wanted to change the design to add extra functionality with a footrest. Initially, the supplier said it couldn’t be done, but by looking at the chair in detail, explaining my idea and talking it through with them, within a couple of days they had found a solution. If I’d been doing the development by Zoom, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Gallery’s Outdoor Living 2024 Collection will feature a wide variety of materials and styles, from contemporary to traditional, with a range of price points to suit different budgets, including some high-value pieces offering affordable quality. The new collection will include bistro, dining, lounge and casual dining sets, along with daybeds and loungers.

Carole continues: “I’m really excited about our 2024 collection, which features a big splash of colour. As well as exclusive designs for ourselves, we have done some different ones for major clients. We had phenomenal sales on our 2023 collection, with our entire season’s stock sold out early on some lines, and we are anticipating next year’s range will be just as well received. We will be launching it to our customers at the end of June, with open days at our Sittingbourne showroom, to give them the chance to pre-order to make sure they don’t miss out.” 

Read more about the sector's newest outdoor furniture launches in June's issue.

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