“As with all responsible businesses, keeping our staff, customers and wider supply chain safe remains our number-one priority,” says Guy Metcalfe, Decorative Panels Group MD. “From the moment the country entered lockdown, we began to install measures throughout all our manufacturing sites to ensure that we could operate a Covid-safe environment. All measures were risk-assessed internally and approved by the HSE to ensure we could effectively maintain the safety and wellbeing of all our colleagues and the wider community.”

“The impact of Covid-19 has been felt by us all in every aspect of daily life,” says Guy, “and with the pandemic set to be with us for a considerable time yet the importance of maximising the potential of the ‘new normal’ is one that has to be embraced – one that British manufacturers like Decorative Panels can embrace with high-quality, competitive products supplied on short lead times to help support the British economy and British jobs.

“The Decorative Panels Group is very much open for business as usual, in all three of our businesses. Following a very brief period of closure following the Government announcement of lockdown, all our UK manufacturing businesses reopened and continue to supply the most prominent names in the furniture and associated industries – in a safe environment for all,” says Guy.

dp Components production space

“Decorative Panels Lamination continues to lead the way in the production of laminated sheet materials, with surface finishes ranging from woodgrain paper foil veneers through to high-gloss and matt acrylics, under the brands of dp-décor and dp-specialist, as well as an ever-expanding portfolio of unique and diverse surface solutions under the brand of dp-limitless. 

“With production levels of over 300,000 sq m per week using a wide range of substrate materials, the need to carry substantial stockholdings to ensure we are able to support manufacturing lead times of as little as 24 hours has never been more essential than now. With the support of our excellent supply chain partners we have been able to maintain these levels of service throughout the pandemic, an essential component in ensuring we play our part in supporting UK manufacturing,” explains Guy.

Decorative Panels Components is one of the largest trade converters of wood-based panels in the world, supplying high-volume cut, edged, drilled and shaped components to manufacturers and retailers alike. 

Lamination paper stock

“With a productive capacity of over 600,000 panels per week and working from 175,000 sq ft of the most modern and productive manufacturing facilities in Europe, we are able to offer bespoke solutions to the most demanding of contract requirements. Investment has continued at a pace throughout the last months, with the development of a 40,000 sq ft warehouse development that will allow us to offer further support in terms of finished goods stock for immediate delivery.

“Decorative Panels Furniture operates from a site that extends to over 250,000 sq ft of manufacturing and distribution space. Specialists in the production of flat-pack furniture, with a productive capacity of over 15,000 boxes per day, we have been able to seamlessly continue to supply key products without interruption throughout – for example, we have produced and delivered approaching 100,000 desks to support the necessity of home working.

“New Product Development is the lifeblood of all business, and we have always looked to be at the forefront of innovation by utilising our marketing suite to present and develop product and concepts with new and existing customers.

Decorative Panels' impressive arketing suite

“In the coming months, using this facility to the full will undoubtedly be more difficult with fewer face-to-face meetings – but we will not let this stand in the way of ensuring we effectively introduce and present the best of British manufacturing to the market by using a combination of regular product updates, individual and group video presentations, and extensive product sampling. 

“We will, of course, continue to make our marketing suite available for customer use on an individual company visit basis, either with or without our personnel in attendance personally or by video link. Tailored product presentations can be arranged in advance ensuring that we continue to offer the highest possible standards of service to the entire market,” says Guy.

“Our supply chain has been, without exception, incredibly supportive throughout. We had purposely taken the decision to increase our stockholding of all our key raw materials in the months before the lockdown, and whilst this has proved a real help we have worked together with the supply chain to ensure that we have had zero stock-outs in all our businesses.

“One product area that has seen a surge of renewed interest are our antimicrobial finishes. We have had specific antimicrobial products within our offer for over eight years now, but as can be imagined, the interest in these has now accelerated. As such, we have made the decision to roll out a much wider offering across many more areas, all of which will offer the highest possible protection, independently tested to ISO 22196.

“The most important question that customers should always ask of suppliers such as us is ‘how long does the protection last?’ I am pleased to say that as we work with the market leader and most trusted supplier of antimicrobial additives, the products that we provide contain inbuilt antimicrobial protection effective for the lifetime of the product,” Guy points out.

“The potential areas of application for such products are, as can be imagined, vast, and are not limited to the healthcare environment. I think it is fair to say that such products are now seen as just as relevant in most areas of everyday life and will continue to become more widespread. We will be saying much more about these exciting products in the coming months.

“Manufacturing in Britain, to support the ever-increasing move towards on-shoring, with the ability to create shorter, more responsive supply chains with lower carbon footprints and the security of high-quality, competitive, British-made products, will become increasingly more important as we move into a new future.

“As a recognised and valued British brand across many industries, we believe in delivering exceptional customer service, supported by our continual investment in infrastructure, technology and people.

“With the support of our trusted supply chain partners and the commitment of our colleagues and customers there has never been a greater opportunity than now to promote British manufacturing for a Great Britain.