Report on the British educational furniture manufacturers group [BEFMG]

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It is hard to talk about the furniture market in the UK without mentioning the BEFMG. Abbreviation for the British Educational Furniture Manufacturers Group, this organization represents furniture designers and manufacturers from all sectors of the educational market.

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Members of this group supply a broad range of furniture items, with an emphasis on tables, chairs and educational trays, as well as all of the products required to completely satisfy furniture requirements for each and every school. Some of the companies from this group specialize in certain areas, providing for all ages and abilities, so the design and manufacturing process differ greatly depending on the niche market. Irrespective of that, products can range from the simples of furniture to complex furnishings of a science laboratory costing up to tens of thousands of pounds.

Who makes the BEFMG?

The fabric of the British educational furniture manufacturers group is as diverse as the palate of products it designs. Companies range from large corporations, with decades of background, to smaller, family-run businesses. They employ locally, covering most of the UK, thus contributing greatly on the local job markets.

As a continuation of the British manufacturing base, each company enhances technical manufacturing skills. Being close to the market they serve, they have flexible design and manufacturing processes.
The group is comprised of competitors as well, each trying to carve their way to a bigger market share. Most, however, believe that healthy competition is what pushes forward the advance of innovation, while also reducing cost. All of this, ultimately, benefits the school sector.

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To name the members of this group is to name reputable UK companies that have been around for quite a while. Included are Advanced Furniture, Certwood, Churchfield education, Community playthings, Eden Learning Spaces, Gratnells, Kits for Kids, Morleys, SICO Europe, Twoey, Sundealla, Gopak, Havelock Europa, Metalliform Holdings, Demco Europe, Interform Contract furniture, Emmerich…
Together, they produce a garden variety of tables, chairs, educational storage and trays, woodwork furniture and tools, laboratory and technical furniture, specialist furniture for specific age groups and needs.

Why does this group exist – a look into its core values

The goal of this group is to design and manufacture educational furniture so it supports the learning process for people of all ages and size. It represents furniture designers from every sector of the market, safeguarding the values of the association, as well as the obligations to key stakeholders.  The group exists to help with creating a strong furniture design community, nurture healthy competition, as well as mutual collaboration between its members. Developing throughout the years, it is fairly well placed to meet constant changes in curriculum demand, and bring fresh and innovative solutions to an evolving industry. The base is committed to innovation, in both the design process, as well as the manufacturing one. It supplies the marketplace with excellence and highest standards.

One part of the strategy is to attend important decision-making processes as well, so officials from the group are constantly working to influence decision makers high within the hierarchy, as well as within the marketplace at large. This includes architects, the construction industry, but relevant government departments and institutions as well. The group is nicely positioned to understand, as well as communicate, the evolving needs of each and every one of its members, and provide detailed, yet simplified market feedback where necessary.

The BEFMG sets the standards for the future

Being the single largest furniture design organization in the UK, the BEFMG is a relevant player in setting global trends as well. The Commonwealth, along with several other European nations, is watching a close eye, continually refining their educational furniture design and manufacturing processes.

Most members of the group are committed to providing furniture worthy of the highest standards, but innovative design solutions as well. Close work with the European standards committee plays a significant role in charting and drafting new standards.
The BSEN1729 is one such, where it specifies the importance of ergonomics, as well as durability in classroom furniture.

Each new standard aims to comply with better academic outcomes through concentration, improved lifelong back support, and outstanding value through product durability. Targeting these macro design factors, specifications and features follow along. As mentioned above, this organization is not concentrated on the UK alone. Though its products are marketed mainly in the UK, several members work on supporting and supplying international demand. This work is performed mostly through collaboration with major contractors abroad, as well as continual relationship building processes with local suppliers.

Who can be part of the BEFMG?

Reflecting on what was already written above the group is heavily involved with national as well as European standards. Its members are representatives on several standard committees, as well as the industry at large.
The door is open for other organizations, large or small, to apply and join the group, becoming part of the association, and maintaining its standards of excellence.  An applicant must show that a reasonable part of its business is focused on designing or manufacturing educational furniture, and sign a letter of intent or express interest in upholding industry standards described and promoted by the association.

This can be achieved via e-mail correspondence as well, but the applicant must first meet the group’s terms of references, readily available on their website. Through mutual collaboration and sharing knowledge, the group works together to improve the innovative, design or manufacturing process of each and every member, as well as share and discuss ideas on a micro and macro level.

Through conferences, meetings, and industry newsletters, members can help each other and provide support in meeting standards of excellence, and thrive on the national, European and global market as well.
All of this works together to improve the industry at large, reduce costs of manufacturing, and supply educational institutions with innovative and world-leading equipment. Setting the standards, the group promotes British craftsmanship throughout the world, while completely catering the needs of the domestic market. In the process, it is hiring people locally, being a noticeable market employer. For more news about the Furniture UK Industry, browse our news pages!

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Alex

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