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Young professionals complete unique industry experience

Four young professionals working in the kitchen, leather, cabinet and bespoke furniture sectors have been given a unique insight into the UK furnishing industry by completing The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Young Professionals Industry Experience (YPIE).

Launched in 2014 and principally sponsored by the January Furniture Show, the YPIE course brings together some of the best and brightest young talent in the furnishing industry to take part in an intensive three-week learning programme.

The group is given access to all areas of the industry supply chain, learning about raw materials and components, the complexity of manufacturing, buying criteria, pricing, marketing and merchandising, through to consumer law, after sales and customer service.

This year’s participants were Ben Brook, customer service advisor at CD (UK) Ltd, Sean Duffin, production manager at Andrew Muirhead & Son Limited; Lisa Gould Sandall, furniture designer at Ercol; and Sam Ryan, founder of Sam Ryan Furniture.

Twenty leading industry companies opened their doors in May and June to give the four professionals an insight into their businesses, including: Anti Copying in Design, Axminster Tools & Machinery, Blum, Cabinet Maker, DFS, Ercol, FIRA, Fishpools, The Furniture Ombudsman, Halstock, Herman Miller, Howdens Joinery, Hypnos, Muirhead Leather, Parker Knoll, Panaz, Purves & Purves, Silentnight and UBM. The group also attended the build-up and first day of Manchester Furniture Show, to understand what it takes to organise and prepare for a trade show.

During a presentation at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London, on Thursday 27 July, the group outlined what they learned from the programme to representatives of the companies they visited, as well as other industry figures.

Dr Tony Smart MBE, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, said: “The Young Professionals Industry Experience is a unique opportunity that only The Furniture Makers’ Company is able to create and provide through our membership.  I would like to thank all of the companies that have supported the 2017 course as well as our main sponsor the January Furniture Show.”

Theresa Raymond, director of the January Furniture Show, said: “The course is an excellent opportunity for budding industry professionals to experience a variety of areas across the furniture industry supply chain and we were proud to support it. We’ve been in this industry for a number of years and we are always keen to support new talent.”

Ben Brook, customer service advisor at CD (UK) Ltd, said “The course has really opened my eyes to the overall supply chain and my company’s role within it. Being able to visit these companies first hand and get an exclusive look in to their operations is an opportunity which many of my colleagues are envious. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to get a better understanding of the industry.”

Sean Duffin, production manager at Andrew Muirhead & Son Limited, said: “I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part in such a unique course. It was a fantastic experience and I now appreciate the impact that all departments have in achieving customer satisfaction. I also feel that this experience has given me a better understanding on my career path and identified areas for my own personal development.”

Lisa Gould Sandall, furniture designer at Ercol, said:  “It’s a completely unique experience. I didn’t realise how great it would be until I was on the course. It’s opened my eyes to the breadth of the supply chain. All the companies were so open, honest and welcoming. No one held back or was secretive – we got a proper insight into the real everyday working life of each of the companies, which is why we learnt so much. I feel that through doing the course I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the roles within Ercol.”

Sam Ryan, founder of Sam Ryan Furniture, said: “I have gained valuable knowledge and experience from the opportunity of being part of the Young Professionals Industry Experience. Through seeing how different companies operate, I have learned the importance of managing the time. I will use the knowledge gained and apply this to my business.”

To support the professionals’ continued development, each of them will be paired with one of the Company’s members to act as their mentor.

If you are interested in sending one of your employees on this unique experience in 2018 as part of their continuous professional development, contact Damilola Bamidele by emailing or by calling 020 7562 8523. Video and Photography by Moritz Schmittat