Driving Force of British Furniture Industry is SMSEs

UK furniture, bed and furnishings manufacturing is a substantial growth industry for the UK. Latest verified government figures from 2016 put total consumer expenditure on furniture and furnishings at £16.7 billion (a rise of 6% from 2015), supporting 327,000 jobs across 50,000 registered companies in the wider furniture and furnishings sector, including specialist retail but excluding general retail.


Manufacturing turnover for the sector rose 7.6% in 2016 for the eighth consecutive year,  to £11.3 billion, emanating from 8,390 companies employing 118,000 individuals. Furniture manufacturing is one of the top three divisions driving manufacturing growth in the UK according to official statistics.


UK manufacturers have benefited from this rise in consumer demand, but it has also been fed by a rising tide of imports which reached £5.8 billion in 2016, a significant proportion of which arrived from China (£1.9 billion). However, export performance, albeit on a smaller scale, has also continued to improve, increasing by 13% from 2015 to 2016 to £1.13 billion. After the EU, the USA is the most significant export market, accounting for 11% of the total, while exports to China have increased to £39 million, putting it 6th in the hierarchy.


Trade with the European Community continued to be the main source of export income and totalled £0.71 billion in 2016, an increase of 0.08 billion over the previous year, with Ireland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Spain being the primary recipients. However, whilst exports to the EU are significant, the reality is that many of its countries are more reliant on the UK home market for their income, as illustrated by the £2.20 billion trade gap.1


Source: FIRA’s Statistics Digest December 2017