Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Furniture Making Business in the United Kingdom
Nearly in every home, you’ll find some form of furniture. You can turn your passion for furniture by starting a furniture-making business in the United Kingdom. The furniture business does not require a degree in Furniture Design and Manufacturing, but if you have a good eye for what customers want, you’re good to go. However, apart from being a skilled furniture designer, having some business management knowledge is an added advantage.
Here’s a guide on starting a furniture-making business in the United Kingdom.
The UK furniture industry is a substantial industry that contributes approximately 12.2 billion pounds to the country’s GDP. Many people are dependent on this industry (over 339,000), making up around 3.6% of the entire UK manufacturing personnel.
The UK’s furniture, furnishings, and beds comprise a wide range of products and markets, customarily divided into three (3) sub-sectors. They include the following characteristics:
- Domestic: serves the public, mainly through retail outlets and for household use.
- Contract: serves the public areas such as hotels, schools, cruise liners, hospitals, and residential areas.
- Office: furniture that includes desks, seating, tables, cabinets, and other items within the office ecosystem.
More often than not, companies serve more than one market. There has been considerable growth in the furniture industry in the recent past. This is a result of consumer demand and the rise in the export market. With competition from China and India, the UK factories are now mixing production line techniques with individual personalization. Due to the Covid pandemic, more Britons are buying British furniture now than ever. The campaign aims at saving jobs as the pandemic takes pace with the local community. Many furniture makers specialize in contract manufacturing, distributing to the hotel, restaurant, and bar trade.
If you’re planning to start a furniture-making business in the United Kingdom, you must analyze the market keenly. The fact that families spend much more time at home and require decent surroundings makes it even better. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you now have the chance to get it done and start earning from your craft.
Business Registration Process
The furniture business continues to make great strides in providing the best in the industry. With plans to start a furniture-making business in the United Kingdom, you must ensure that you get it right from the start. You must also follow the guide to company registration in the UK.
Decide on the Niche
To achieve success in this business, you must decide specifically on the kind of furniture you’d want to create. Start by specifying which materials you intend to use, such as wood, metal, and fabric. Then you can identify the target market. For instance, decide on whether you’ll sell to commercial customers or residential. Consequently, you can determine whether you’ll sell locally or widen your market.
Choose a Location
Choosing the right location may attract more customers to your business. For instance, if you’re making custom sofas, find a space that’s large enough to display various options. Or, if you’re targeting residential, ensure the space is accessible and can accommodate parents with their kids and strollers.
Decide on Your Business Structure
In the UK, there are different structures that you can choose from, such as partnership, sole trader, and Limited company. Each of the structures has its legal document requirements that you should be aware of.
Register Your Business
After you have identified the business structure, you can decide on the business name of your venture. The business name should be simple and easy to pronounce. In addition, it must be unique and reflect the nature of your business. The Companies House is the authority responsible for the company incorporation services in the UK. Therefore, you must ensure that you have all the legal documents such as a Memorandum and Article of Association, details of director and shareholders.
Research the Target Market
Your target customers are the key to the success of your business. However, it would help if you first did a market analysis to determine the level of demand for your products. As a corporate service provider in the UK, you must keep up with the trend and create something fashionable for the customers. It is, therefore, advisable to work closely with your retailer customers whenever you’re planning to feature something new.
Market Your Furniture Business
How your customer will get to know your business will depend on how best you do your marketing. You can decide to sell your product directly on your account or through furniture retailers. Whatever way you choose to go with, you can advertise your business using the following methods:
- Reaching out to the buyers at both multiple and independent furniture retail outlets.
- Exhibiting your products at major trade shows for the furniture industry.
- Acquiring listing in a specialist directory for the furniture sector or partaking in the British Furniture Manufacturers Associations.
- Getting in touch with a specialist such as architects and interior designers.
- Creating a website and sharing details of your services.
- Setting up social media platforms and blogs.
As part of establishing yourself in the furniture industry, you can offer various services such as:
- Creating individual pieces of furniture to a customer’s specification.
- Installing modified fitted furniture and fixtures.
- Providing customers with a choice of finish on otherwise standard ranges, for instance, polished wood instead of stained.
- Restoring, repairing, and reupholstering.
Having a Business Plan
If you‘re planning to grow much faster, you must invest time in developing a business plan. This document will provide the road map to success. More often than not, furniture makers devote themselves to their craft. As a result, creating sound business practices may not come naturally to them. However, you can begin by writing the company description explaining the kind of furniture you make. Then, you can then state how you’re different from your competition and who your target customers are. You can further describe your financial projection, product line, type of structure, among others.
Licenses, Permits, and Regulations
For a furniture manufacturer, there are no licensing requirements that may apply to you. However, if you’re selling goods directly to consumers and providing them finance, then you’ll require consumer credit authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Now, if you’re operating on a large scale you may require more reasonably large delivery vehicles. For example, if your furniture business operates goods vehicles with a gross plated weight above 3.5 tonnes, then you’ll need a goods vehicle operator license. For each of the Traffic areas you work in, you must have an operator license. The Traffic Commissioner for that area will issue you with the license.
If your business keeps records of individuals’ personal details, possibly for finance purposes, you must register as a data user with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
There is a specific regulation in the UK that covers furniture items to ensure they meet fire safety requirements. The law requires them to carry out tests on fabrics and fillings to ensure they comply with the legal standards. You must keep the records of the tests at all times. Again, ensure that any new, covered furniture carries an appropriate display label concerning fire safety.
The copyright law governs artistic work within the furniture industry. If you have replica furniture that falls under the new copyright protection, you must have a license.
Packaging Waste Regulations
If you’re planning to start a furniture-making business in the United Kingdom, you must understand its regulations. If your business handles over 50 tonnes of qualifying materials per year and a turnover above 2 million pounds, then you fall under this regulation. You must, therefore, register with one of the following and conduct the necessary recovery and recycling of packaging waste:
- Natural Resources Wales
- The Environment Agency in England
- Northern Ireland Environment Agency
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland.
Health & Safety
As a furniture manufacturer, you must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation. Some of the regulations include:
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
- Personal Protection Equipment at Work Regulations.
A furniture manufacturer needs to be mindful of the environment. Therefore, your activities will fall under the scope of pollution control legislation. You must obtain a permit from the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales, and SEPA in Scotland.
You can contact 3E Accounting whenever you need any form of assistance concerning company registration.