17 April 2024, 02:41
By Furniture News Mar 14, 2024

Winner: The Furniture Awards 2024 (Best of British)

The Furniture Awards returned at this year’s January Furniture Show, to single out the suppliers setting the pace in their respective fields. From local leaders to innovative importers, this year’s winners represent just what our industry is capable of …

Alpha Designs Upholstery is a rare example of how a relative newcomer can make an impact in an industry dominated by long-established names. Having started life in a unit in Bilston in 2010, Alpha Designs now runs two fully operational factories, employs some 200 people and makes around 2000 sofas each week, fuelled by an in-house design and development team. 

Flying the flag for British-made upholstery, and demonstrating that young blood and fresh ideas can make a difference, Alpha Designs is “an inspiration”, state the judges.

Founders Constantino and Charlotte started their furniture industry journey in 2008 importing upholstery, but soon felt they wanted to create something ‘British’, gaining better control over the quality and service they offered. 

So, in 2010, from a “very humble” unit in Bilston, staffed by one upholsterer and two sewing machinists, they started turning out some 15 sofas each week, and selling them on eBay.

In the following years, Alpha Designs grew in scale and confidence enough to exhibit at the Manchester Furniture Show in 2014, relinquishing the D2C approach in favour of partnering with reputable furniture stores. 

“This gave them the platform to show their passion, hard work and will to achieve something new,” says sales director Nichola Bell. “No mean feat amongst a world of well-established upholstery manufacturers!”

Jenson

Today, Alpha boasts fully operational factories – the main factory, on the original site at Bilston, and another in Bridgend, with a small in-house British design and development team (including CGI specialists) behind them.  

“Although a lot smaller than many of their fellow manufacturers the Alpha team have a few very simple beliefs – that there is always a solution (how quickly can we make it happen?), and let’s keep it simple and get it right for our customers,” says Nichola.

This philosophy became evident during the Covid years, when Alpha quickly grasped the opportunities that short lead times could create, and partnered with some leading high street retailers to offer available stock. This enabled Alpha to retain all of its staff and trade through the pandemic, doubling the size of the business as a consequence. 

“What Alpha has achieved in such a relatively short space of time is brilliant,” says the judges, “and sends an inspiring message to any industry newcomers out there. It’s a real rags-to-riches tale, and demonstrates that fresh thinking, energy and the confidence to invest can count for a lot more than just relying on a long-established heritage.”

Alpha can be contacted via [email protected].

Pictured: Paul Farley, Charlotte Floate, Nichola Bell and Zoë Bonser

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