2022: The new normal - swimming against the tide
At The French Bedroom Company we make every effort to create and offer products that not only look exceptional, but feel right in our hearts. We find ourselves often swimming against the tide in a rising sea of the mass-produced furniture industry.
Every process and every stage of producing furniture and furnishings has seen exponential increases in costs of raw materials, labour, and shipping. In order to protect the exceptional quality and sustainability of our products, the prices we charge need to reflect these increased costs.
Customers are at the heart of our business, and so we never make a decision without consideration and conversation. We’ve spent a lot of time talking to our customers over the last 12 months, and nothing is more important to you than quality. Price increases are always hard to push the button on, so we wanted to explain why and what has caused them. We could reduce our costs by using non-sustainable timber, or by choosing lower quality fabrics and yarns, by paying the tradesmen less, or even by using lower grade packaging. But this isn’t something French Bedroom is prepared to do - it’s not fair to the farmers, to our artisans, to our customers, or to our finite planet.
What’s causing the current price increases?
Tracing back to the beginning of Covid when supply plummeted and demand surged, the cost of raw materials increased almost overnight. We remained hopeful, so we subsidised these increased costs, but the cost of raw materials hasn’t recovered. The cost of quality, sustainable cotton has increased by 60% in some cases, and ethically we cannot compromise on sourcing cotton, it is detrimental to the health of cotton farmers and to our planet.
Global labour costs have increased due to labour shortages and factory closures in the specialist factories we work with. Master craftsmanship cannot be quickly replaced without compromising on the quality of our hand-carved wooden frames, therefore we’ve had to adapt to keep factory workers safe and production lines moving.
The retail industry’s biggest pain point. From international shipping of raw materials such as timber, cotton, foam and steel to our factories, to increased costs of shipping of finished goods, container freight costs have increased up to 10 times in just two years. In addition, the increased level of administration at UK ports following Covid-19, compounded by our departure from the EU, has demanded significantly more time for customs processes, and with that, higher fees. This problem is further exacerbated by a lack of UK haulier drivers and an increased price in their wages.
2022 & beyond
Our guarantee for quality, timeless pieces that are built to last remains, as does our commitment to continue to manufacture in the UK wherever possible. We commit to continue providing furniture of exceptional quality at a price that is affordable, whilst ensuring the teams who produce and manufacture our items are fairly rewarded for their skill and effort.
2021: The butterfly effect of Covid-19
From school uniforms, to pet food, to garden furniture, everything was delayed, impacting suppliers, retailers, and customers.
Disrupted fabric production in Belgium, India and Turkey led to material shortages, with reduced access to quality silk, linen and velvet.
Furthermore, manufacturing in Asia was severely impacted by Covid-19; Indonesian craftsmen and women, renowned for their specialist rattan woodwork, battled some of the highest infection rates of Covid-19 any country had seen. Port operations slowed as loading teams observed Covid-19 safety rules, and congested ports caused further shipping delays. The Ever Given Container vessel blocked the Suez Canal. Lead times from the port to the warehouse doubled due to the shortage of HGV Drivers, a skills gap exacerbated by Brexit and Covid-19.
We invested heavily. Spending ten times more on container transportation costs and doubled our customer service team so our customers received regular updates. Working day and night, we fast-tracked new designs with local factories, to maintain a semblance of normality and stock availability as we learned to live with Covid-19.
2020: The initial effects of Covid-19
Our customer experience team, operations, warehouse, and factory workers adapted to government guidelines almost overnight, and our UK-based suppliers quickly switched to 24-hour operations to fulfil orders at a safe distance.
The last two years really have been the perfect storm for every business from every sector. Thank you for your custom, your support, and your comments. We couldn’t do it without you.
Our conscientious and caring customer experience team are available to answer any questions you may have. You can reach them on 01444 415430 or email: [email protected]