Bourne Furniture

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bourne Furniture's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Bourne Furniture is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Directors Doug and Lynn Fisher
A dining room supplied by
Bourne Furniture
Having finished his civil engineering career, Doug Fisher
established Bourne Furniture in 2002. In 2004, his wife,
previously a general manager for Hilton, joined the
business. Supplying furniture mainly to hotels and restaurants,
Bourne Furniture operate in the £2.5 billion contract furniture
market. Although they do not manufacture any of their products,
they source bespoke furniture from Britain, Italy, Portugal and
other European countries, working largely through designers to
suit clients’ individual needs. Doug tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about the contract furniture sector and discusses the
effects of Brexit uncertainty on his business.
In the late 1990s, I met someone who was hauling Italian furniture into Germany.
Having done so for a while, he told me about the demand for similar products in
the UK domestic market. After setting up a joint venture and working together for
some years, I concluded the contract market was the place to be, and I established
Bourne Furniture.
Although the contract furniture market is massive, there are no giants holding a
great monopoly – there are 20 or 30 companies around our size working in the UK
who perform a similar function.
The right furniture for the right environment
As middlemen for the UK hospitality sector, we source furniture from Britain and
Europe and collaborate with designers working for hotels and restaurants. Theywill
»Directors: Douglas Fisher, Lynn
Fisher and Holly Wotherspoon
»Established in 2002
»Based in Wiltshire
»Services: Furniture supply for
hotels, restaurants and the
healthcare sector
»No. of employees: 12
Bourne Furniture
Highlighting best practice
come up with a concept, and we
consequently find the products in the
UK, Italy or Portugal before bringing
them to the client.
Although we do not manufacture, we
have developed an extensive range
from our suppliers, and these are on
our website. Five or ten years ago,
designers would have picked items
from there; the trend today is to
choose items from elsewhere on the
internet and commission those instead.
The process is generally
straightforward. When a new hotel
is being built, for instance, designers
there will aim to make each hotel
reflect not only its geographical
location but also the desired
atmosphere. They will, in turn, come
up with a design and send us a
schedule – we then communicate
with the hotel developers or owners
to deliver exactly what is required, and
Steady growth – a positive
look forward
I established Bourne Furniture in
2002, and my wife joined in 2004. Up
until 2016, we experienced steady,
year-on-year growth, but to the year
ending September 2018 we did suffer
something of a downturn as a result of
Brexit uncertainty.
While we turned over £2.4 million in
the year ending September 2017, the
following period revenue only totalled
£2 million. Things are on the up,
however – this year, we are on track to
turn over £3 million.
We have grown steadily over the
past 17 years and are ready to grow
a lot further. We have come this far
by generating our own capital and
haven’t borrowed a penny from banks
– it’s been a steady journey, but a
successful one nonetheless.
Diversifying beyond the UK
hotel sector
The way the market operates has
changed dramatically over the past
couple of decades. Hotels these days
are now far more focused on branding;
the Hilton and InterContinental Hotel
Groups appear to be concentrating
on cementing their brands as
Groups like these tend not to
actually own hotels themselves –
the premises that bear their names
will be franchised. These days, we
supply franchisees rather than groups
themselves and receive less work
from independent hotels – who
comprise that area of the sector that is
struggling for market share.
To cope with this dramatic seachange
in the market, we have looked at
increasing our penetration into the
marine market. We are already a
Carnival-approved supplier for marine
fit-out contractors, and are looking
now at working with other ferry
lines; when cruise ships are refitted
and “scrubbed” on a regular basis,
they also tend to undertake interior
refurbishment, too. That’s when we
get involved.
Bourne supplies the hotel,
restaurant and healthcare
As middlemen
for the UK
sector, we
furniture from
Britain and
Alongside this, we have also outlined
the health and social care market
as a future area for focus. As more
and more operators are pushing
hotel-style residential care facilities –
ensuring comfort and contemporary
surroundings – there is definitely
greater opportunity for us in this
sector. We have already worked with
two or three providers in this regard
and look forward to future work.
Before considering new sectors,
however, it is important to recognise
that any business like ours is only as
good as its last job; with everything
we supply, we operate by a strict
“no-quibble” policy and consequently
resolve any issues with Bourne
products as soon as we feasibly can.
We use our own vehicles to handle
delivery and provide placement
on-site to ensure our service is as
comprehensive as it possibly can be.
European import and labour
With paperwork and VAT regulation
post-Brexit yet to be finalised, we can
only hope that any legislative changes
relating to import do not slow us down
any further. We run vehicles in from
Italy and Portugal on any given week
and have planned as best we can in
this regard.
When it comes to labour, however,
things are slightly more difficult.
Skilled and experienced large-
goods vehicle drivers are not exactly
commonplace in the UK – there are
two large distribution centres nearby,
and these alongside local army bases
absorb most of the local drivers. As
a result, we took on and trained two
Romanian drivers – although they
can stay until December 31, 2020,
what happens after that? Post-Brexit
“settlement” status for EU citizens has
yet to be finalised, and it would be
good to have some clarity so we could
Remaining competitive
Going forward, we want to maintain
our position in the marketplace and
continue to grow steadily. We are on
track to recover from our downturn in
the financial year ending September
2018 and hope this upward trajectory
only continues.
Every contract we work on is semi-
bespoke, and our attention to detail
has been celebrated by the vast range
of clients we have already worked
with. We only hope that we can
remain competitive in a truly unique
marketplace through our outstanding
service and comprehensive response to
customers’ needs.
We are already a
supplier for
marine fit-out
contractors, and
are looking now
at working with
other ferry lines
Bourne Furniture supply
conference theatres

This article was sponsored by Bourne Furniture. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster