Oak furniture store front image

Hardwood retail chain Oak Furniture Land is to challenge an ASA ruling banning adverts that have been found to be misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority received one complaint regarding an advert that appeared on TV and over the Internet that claimed a ‘No veneer in “ere”’ pledge, as well as stating that Oak Furniture Land products are made from 100% solid hardwood.

AJ Proctor Builders Ltd, who understood that some of the advertiser’s furniture was made using an ‘oak wrap’ technique, challenged whether the claims in the ads were misleading.

After an investigation, the ASA stated that it understood that Oak Furniture Land used an ‘oak wrap’ technique to construct their furniture legs, whereby the legs were formed by gluing numerous small segments of hardwood together, with a thin outer layer of hardwood wrapped around them, indicating that the segments of wood used to construct the furniture were not visible.

ASA said: “While we acknowledged that the outer layer covered a higher quality base material than was the case with some other veneered furniture, we considered that the ‘oak wrap’, in effect, functioned as a veneer.

“We considered the furniture’s construction was inconsistent with likely consumer expectation of solid hardwood items made without veneer and were misleading.”

However, Oak Furniture Land insists that its ‘firmly stands by its promise of using only 100% solid hardwood’ and will launch an appeal to revoke the ‘disappointing’ ASA decision.

Jason Bannister, managing director & founder, Oak Furniture Land, said: “We are baffled and surprised by the ASA’s adjudication, and we vigorously stand by our claims that we do not and never have used veneers in our products and that we only sell 100% solid hardwood.

“We feel the ASA have misinterpreted age-old definitions of firstly, what is classed as solid and secondly, what is classed as a veneer. In order to aid the ASA in adjudicating on a matter raised by only one customer, we actioned an independent survey of 2,000 customers asking about their understanding of the word “solid”. The ASA also consulted a panel of industry experts, and finally the ASA’s own advisory panel.

“The findings of the customers, industry experts and the ASA’s own advisory panel all concluded that our methods should be classed as solid, and they confirmed that we do not use veneers. However, the ASA have overlooked this advice and have effectively redefined the category.

“We firmly disagree with them on two points: One - “Solid”. The ASA have claimed that any timber that is not one piece, fully intact and from a single tree should no longer be classed as solid.

“Take a look at most table tops, worktops, flooring and doors that are currently classed as solid. You will see that they are normally made up of planks of solid timber, usually glued together. These panels are then used to make furniture. The ASA have told us that these panels should not be classed as solid, effectively redefining terminology that has been used as “solid” for hundreds of years.

“Two - “Veneer”. When referring to one of our dining table legs, the ASA have deemed that using a thinner, yet weight-bearing oak, surrounding a planked oak mentioned above, is classed as a veneer. We firmly disagree with this stance from the ASA.

“Alongside a myriad of experts and customers, our belief is that the definition of a veneer is a thin sliver of real wood lifted from solid timbers. This sliver is usually glued over the top of MDF or chipboard and does not offer any kind of strength-bearing to the product itself – it is simply a cosmetic covering. This is not a method we use at Oak Furniture Land. The timbers the ASA have deemed as veneer are weight-bearing timbers, integral to the structure of the table leg.

“At this stage we have launched an appeal to this decision by the ASA in the hope that common sense will prevail.”