Interviews

Harvey Jones: Why manufacturing in the UK is key

4 min read

12 December 2014

Deputy Editor, Real Business

Real Business talks to CEO John Curwen about why Harvey Jones decided to package itself as a domestic product rather than an international one. Being 'Made in Britain' seems to be a key factor to the brand.

If the UK is to continue moving out of the recession successfully, there is a need to re-build the British manufacturing sector, rather than maintaining such a strong focus on our service industries. So at a time when much furniture making has moved to Eastern Europe and the Far East, Harvey Jones’s focus on British manufacturing has never been more relevant.

“Our commitment to manufacturing in the UK is directly linked to the skills and craftsmanship we require for a Harvey Jones kitchen,” Curwen explains. “20 craftsman work on each of our kitchens, producing one kitchen every 130 hours; that’s why they last for over 20 years. We firmly believe that manufacturing in the UK is a competitive advantage when it comes to producing high quality products and we’re proud to maintain that heritage.

“That is not to say that we would ever rule out exporting, but we are currently focussed on our UK expansion as we are looking to double our number of showrooms over the next five years. Making our furniture here in the UK gives us complete control over quality standards and delivery timescales, giving us agility and ability to respond to client requests.

“We have established ourselves as the market-leader in the UK handmade sector, and our focus is very much on delivering our unrivalled design expertise, craftsmanship quality and customer service. Our local knowledge gives us an advantage over international brands, as our clients are looking for individual, personalised service.”

Some of its success comes from the social change in the UK, which is reflected in the way we live today. “Industry figures suggest we now spend over 750 hours a year in our kitchens as cooking and baking become more popular pastimes; according to Mintel, 47 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men claim to cook from scratch most days,” he said.

Indeed, the sales of kitchens are expected to rise by 13.1 per cent to reach £3,385m by 2018. And the popularity of open-plan living only continues to grow as well, which puts the kitchen at centre stage in the home.

“Consumer confidence is also growing as the economy continues to strengthen: we have enjoyed good Q4 trading to date and expect to report sales of circa £17.5m for the year ended 31 December 2014, compared to £15.5m in 2013,” said Curwen. “We have also noticed an increase in enquiries.

“We plan to harness this growth in the sector by increasing our marketing and advertising activities; for example, in 2015 we are launching our first ever television campaign on Sky and we have increased our marketing budget by 20 per cent to support this. We also plan to double the number of showrooms from 31 over the next five years.”

But this is the season to definitely be jolly. Although many retailers will be waiting with bated breath for the products to fly off shelves before Christmas, Harvey Jones’ busiest time of year is actually January and February.

“Kitchens are used extensively over the Christmas period and often people find that theirs are not as functional as they could be, which leads them to look at upgrading in January/February. The Christmas and new year period is also a key time for families to research their possible purchases together as they break from work, and then act on this research in the following months.”