Burnley manufacturers urged to use home improvement boom as catalyst for digital transformation

Furniture and home goods makers in Burnley are being urged to use the ongoing home improvement boom as a catalyst for digital transformation.

The sectors, which produce sofas, beds and furnishings, face a challenging time following the pandemic, Brexit and rising inflation.

However, the huge demand for interior design, home and garden products and customisation, as well as a further shift to online shopping - driven by lockdown-induced focus on home upgrades in 2021 - looks set to continue, presenting a significant opportunity to manufacturers.

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The ongoing renovation boom means the UK furniture and furnishings market, worth an estimated £14bn and the second largest in Europe, is estimated to grow by around 3% in 2022.

Panaz Burnley

Six SMEs in Burnley are among 140 working with Made Smarter’s Adoption Programme in the North West to navigate the multitude of challenges and capitalise on changing trends. By tapping into impartial expert technology and skills advice, and digital transformation workshops, Made Smarter are helping them take their first steps.

They include: Panaz (Burnley); John Spencer Textiles (Burnley); Equestrian Surfaces (Burnley); Back To Basics (Burnley); Wolfenden Concrete (Barnoldswick); and UK Recharge (Colne).

Meanwhile, many of them, including Panaz, supported by matched funding, are investing in new digital technology to become more efficient, build resilience, increase productivity and sustainable growth, whilst creating new high-value jobs.

Made Smarter, which has supported hundreds of businesses to deliver an additional £176 million in gross value added, is now keen to reach more SMEs across the furniture and home goods supply chain. They have produced a free guide to help demystify digitalisation and drive technology adoption.

Furniture manufacturing

The downloadable guide showcases the benefits of digital technology, how to get started, the top five technology trends across the sector, and case studies of businesses supported by Made Smarter, including furniture maker Starlight Bedrooms and fabrics and upholstery expert Panaz.

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Donna Edwards, programme director for Made Smarter’s Adoption Programme in the North West, said: "While UK manufacturing is facing a challenging time, it also presents an opportunity to innovate and transform. Businesses working with Made Smarter over the last three years have shown that investing in technology and digital skills can build resilience and enable them to keep up with the fast moving industry.

“Digital tools can help manufacturers make marginal savings, set themselves apart from competitors in a volatile time, make products quicker, affordable and more efficiently."

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Burnley-based Panaz, a leading supplier of high-quality decorative fabrics and wallcoverings for the hospitality, healthcare, workspace and contract sectors, leveraged the power of technology to boost their efficiency.

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Working with Made Smarter they developed an end-to-end custom design and digital printing solution, which uses software to allow for design customisation and ordering in a single click. This has radically accelerated and streamlined processes from two weeks to one or two days, doubled their production capability, and significantly reduced waste.

Meanwhile, the automation means Panaz can move its highly skilled design resource to more complicated design and range work.

Rollie Attard, chief executive, said: “We see Panaz as being at the forefront of innovation within its industry and, as a consequence, need to keep pushing the boundaries when it comes to technology investment,” he said. “Made Smarter has enabled us to get to where we want to be much, much faster.”