Five young industry professionals have been given a unique insight into the UK furnishing industry by completing The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Young Professionals Industry Experience.

Launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Industry Experience brings together some of the best and brightest young talent in the furnishing industry to take part in an intensive three-week learning programme.

The group is given access to all areas of the industry supply chain, learning about raw materials and components, the complexity of manufacturing, retailing, buying criteria, pricing, marketing and merchandising, through to consumer law, after sales and customer service.

This year’s participants were Josh Chadwick, graduate sales trainee at Herman Miller; Jonny Garth, junior management apprentice at Silentnight; Felicity Squires, business development executive at Axminster Tools & Machinery; Billie Watts, business trainee at Blum; and Greg Young, manufacturing graduate at Herman Miller.

Sixteen leading industry companies opened their doors in June and July to give the five professionals an indepth understanding of their businesses, including: Anti Copying in Design, Axminster Tools & Machinery, Blum, Cabinet Maker, DFS, Ercol, FIRA, Fishpools, The Furniture Ombudsman, Halstock, Herman Miller, Muirhead Leather, Parker Knoll, Panaz, Purves & Purves and Silentnight.

The professionals outlined what they learned from the experience and presented the forthcoming issues the industry faces to representatives of the companies they visited as well as other industry figures at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London on Thursday 26th July.

The issues the group highlighted were: Brexit, recruiting new blood into the industry, targeting younger customers, the effects of the digital age, sustainability and meeting customer expectations.

Hayden Davies, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “The Young Professionals Industry Experience is an opportunity for companies to give future leaders of the sector a unique, indepth insight into some of the leading companies within the trade. I would like to congratulate this year’s participants who thoroughly impressed everyone at the presentation for their keen insights into the state of trade and identifying issues that the sector faces. I would also like to thank the companies that opened their doors to the group, gave up their time and spoke candidaly, so that they’d learn.”

Josh Chadwick says: “We were given insight into the furniture industry and the companies within it that you would not normally have the chance to see. Not only have I received the knowledge and insight, but I have also made great relationships with other young professionals.”

Jonny Garth says: “The Young Professional Industry Experience was brilliant. To see so many businesses and meet so many new people within the industry throughout the three weeks has been incredibly valuable for me. The experience will stay with me for a long time, and I hope to draw from it and apply the knowledge gained to my own role. I couldn’t recommend the course highly enough to anyone who has the opportunity in the future.”

Felicty Squires says: “For me, this course has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit so many different companies within the furnishing industry. It has given me a real insight to the many manufacturing processes and challenges within the industry. I enjoyed every minute and would highly recommend it to anyone.”

Greg Young says: “The Young Professional Industry Experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel extremely grateful to have taken part in it. I’ve learnt so much and met so many knowledgeable and respected people in the industry. I can’t thank The Furniture Makers’ Company and Herman Miller enough. I would implore anyone who hears about the experience and has the chance to apply to do so.”

To support the professionals’ continued development, each of them will be paired with one of the Company’s members to act as their mentor.

If you are interested in sending one of your employees on this unique experience in 2019 as part of their continuous professional development, contact George Cooper by emailing or by calling 020 7562 8523.