Leading furniture industry members have met with the Minister of State for International Trade, alongside other MPs and Peers to discuss investment in developing export markets.

Bfc export event jonathan hindle rt hon greg hands mp baroness warsi stephen mc partland mp mike wood mp

Jonathan Hindle, rt hon Greg Hands MP, Baroness Warsi, Stephen McPartland MP, Mike Wood MP

Leading furniture industry members have met with the Minister of State for International Trade, alongside other MPs and Peers to discuss investment in developing export markets.

This was as part of the Export & Growth Event at the House of Commons on 11 October, organised by The British Furniture Confederation (BFC) and sponsored by Stephen McPartland MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG).

The industry, through the BFC, is keen to ensure that the Government understands the contribution made by the furniture sector to the UK’s economy as well as its trade balance sheet. The event was held to demonstrate its ability to grow exports, but also to express its concerns about the level of Government help available.

A recent survey* completed by almost 150 UK furniture manufacturers indicates that over 50% are planning to increase export activities over the next one to two years; yet 80% had been unable to access EU or UK Government funding for investment in export and growth.

When asked about what intervention from the Government industry would like to see post Brexit to ensure the best outcome, suggestions included greater liaison with industry to fully understand the market conditions and requirements; a retention of commonality of standards and ease of moving goods from Europe into the UK and vice versa and access to the single market with, as required, European labour markets for certain skills.

Also discussed were some key actions the Government could implement to encourage it to export more including more visible business support, clearer advice, competitive trade agreements and tax breaks.

Jonathan Hindle, BFC chairman, speaking on behalf of the industry, stated: “The UK furniture and furnishing industry is an important sector of significant strategic importance to the UK economy and can make a substantial contribution to closing the UK’s ‘Export Gap’ - but the Government needs to do everything it can to instil confidence in furniture companies that export and to encourage those which have never exported.

“Brexit has galvanised our industry to take a fresh look at new export markets, most notably the USA, Africa and India. Our industry is calling out for more information both on the support provided by the Government for exports, for market-specific information on local traditions, differing regulations and project opportunities. Our exporters and potential exporters want to see more stability in Government decision-making. They need to know whether support is available - and they’d like to see a substantial increase in the value of grants for participation in trade shows, which are currently very poor when compared with the support other successful exporting countries get from their governments.”