16 July 2024, 21:21
By Furniture News Jan 17, 2023

Meridian makes a name for itself

Meridian Upholstery made its stellar January Furniture Show debut last year, and promises to exude no less ambition at 2023’s event next week, says MD Jonathan Eager …

“Learning and listening over the months since our inaugural JFS has been one of the driving forces behind everything we’ll present at this year’s show,” says Jonathan, keen to cement the County Durham-based manufacturer’s place in the UK’s domestic furniture trade.

“We asked ourselves whether we, as a supplier, add real and true value, and help our customers win more business … and although the answer was ‘yes’, we felt there was even more we could bring to the table.

“After narrowing down our thoughts, we came up with a simple ethos of better product, better lead time, and better price. If we could nail those three points without any compromise on quality, we could certainly make a big difference to every customer and consumer.”

Such introspection is typical of Jonathan’s passion for quality upholstery. Jonathan started out on the bench at Darlington’s Ideal Upholstery in 2000, before setting up his own business in 2007, aged just 22. Initially offering reupholstery and outsource manufacturing, a succession of timely commercial contracts gave Meridian its big break – before the business turned its guns on the domestic sector.

In a short space of time, Meridian has made quite an impact. Indeed, the business was voted Best Newcomer in last year’s Furniture News Readers’ Choice Awards (see related), and Jonathan says that last year’s JFS played a huge role in the brand’s growth – yet he is not content to rest upon his laurels. 

“Our passion and care for each and every one of our products pushes us to make them better,” he continues. “Our dedication to create a win for everyone propels us to find even better ways to manufacture, and our desire to improve lead times by eliminating waste at every turn keeps us focused.

“Having recognised where we’ve gone wrong, and having made improvements and tweaks following all the feedback, we are certain that our offering at this year’s show will put us firmly on the map as a trusted supplier.

Meridian will present two brand-new designs, a new leather offering, improved versions of its existing models, and even price reductions on some of them from last year’s levels – all made possible through a mindset of continuous improvement.

“Creating a consistent set of production parameters enables us to make products that can sit in various price points in the market, with very distinct differences, yet consistent in quality,” Jonathan explains. “Our brand-new Chicago model is a luxury product with a sprung edge, sprung back and high levels of detail, from the intricate piped arms, facings and borders, and luxuriously soft seats, to the generous proportions – put all this together, and you have a product of unique quality that’s one of a kind in the market.” Jonathan hints that Chicago will be the fiorst model in a completely new line.

“Then we have our new Kentucky model, again made to an exceptionally high quality, super comfortable, with standard sprung seats and high-quality webbed backs, which will sit within our Advantage range.”

Meanwhile, Meridian’s Alabama and New Jersey models have been developed into full 100% British handmade leather offerings, with an “exceptional” price and lead time, says Jonathan – while the Michigan has also had an upgrade, with a new-style corner and more refined cushion comfort and fabric offering. “All of our models have been improved in some way in order to hold or even reduce prices,” says Jonathan.

The business has also been building a stronger staff base with which to deliver on these ambitious promises, and continues to reach out for suitable recruits. 

“People are one of our biggest assets, and attitude is the key characteristic within our beliefs,” says Jonathan. “We want our people to work together as a team – we encourage them to always think about the person after them in the process, and ultimately the end-consumer … but more importantly, we encourage them to  work for each other, as teams win, teams achieve, and teams share in the rewards.

“So, bringing enthusiastic men and women into our team is a key principle. From there we can help mould and create the next generation of upholsterers, sewing machinists, cutters and framemakers – all of whom can be part of something special.”

Visit Meridian Upholstery on stand 1-C60 at JFS to discover exactly how far the business has come since last April. “We really do hope we can help every retailer we work with over the coming year – which will be a difficult trading period – by being true to our word, offering better product, better prices, and better lead times, which in turn should encourage continued sales for our customers.”

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