The phrase from Ruby McGregor-Smith from the launch of the 2010 First Women Awards – "we’ve still got to offer more for less” – really caught my eye. I know this is something that I have had real difficulty in translating in a positive way to staff. For us, it has been a double whammy; not only has the world in general changed (the recession has allowed us all to demand more for less) but our customers’ (the interior designers) markets have shifted dramatically, too. Pre-recession, a large percentage of our furniture was used for builders’ show homes. As the building market has been hit, more of our furniture is ordered for the private market. The quality we supply these days is considerably higher than we have ever done before. These days, Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs will inspect the furniture in places builders never thought of going – the tiniest mark on the back inside of a chest, for example. It is really tough to translate this to shop-floor staff, who do take a pride in their work but are suddenly finding it criticised. However, if our economy is to recover, the British workforce is going to have to wise up to a new and different world.
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