March 5 2015 Latest news:
Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Friday, June 27, 2014
A Norfolk furniture firm is looking to go global after launching new trading divisions in China and south east Asia.
Warings Furniture has created a new company – Warings International – based in Foshan City in China, which will work with its existing clients such as Costa Coffee, and Pret-a-Manger.
Director Graham Waring, who runs the business with his wife Rachael (both inset), said the firm had teamed up with Malaysian businessman James Ng, who has factories in Shanghai and South-East Asia.
The business plan envisages Warings, which employs 130 staff at its Larling factory, near Thetford, using its expertise to supply furniture as its clients expand in the Far East which is made in situ by the firm’s partner company.
He said the advantage of the new venture was that clients could have confidence that the furniture would meet their requirements, while the manufacturing would be carried out on home soil, incurring less red tape than large scale importing.
He said: “It’s an exciting time for Warings - we are now Warings Furniture Ltd UK, Warings Furniture International (China) and Warings Furniture International (South East Asia). It puts us on a global stage. The restaurant brands the UK is producing are global brands. We have been working internationally for a long time and we can use our expertise with our British brands.
“The potential in Asia is huge. When you look at the UK market, it’s 56 million people, in China you have 18 million in one city alone.
“Costa and Pret are opening sites in China, but for these brands it’s a lot easier going to their furniture maker in England, we understand what they want. China doesn’t do importation so we have got to have a manufacturing partner.
“Pret are opening in Shanghai and the purchase orders are coming through me.
“Global operations such as Pret a Manger and Costa are responding quickly to potential opportunities in south east Asia presented by consumer interest in western brands, and they need to be able to rely on their suppliers to deliver the same quality service to their outlets regardless of whether they are in Shoreditch or Singapore.
Having a base in Asia means we’re best placed to help our customers transfer and adapt their brands to new territories and help them understand cultural nuances. Being based locally means we can manufacture and ship furniture cost effectively and quickly to meet ever present tight deadlines,” he said.
The first major contract for Warings International will be to re-furnish seven Pret a Manger sites in Hong Kong. Warings has supplied Pret in the UK, USA and France, where it was instrumental in piloting a new concept for the chain, and Jamie Oliver’s restaurants in Sydney, Perth, Singapore, Moscow, Dubai and Adelaide.
With a reputation as one of the toughest people in business, many stores would shudder at the thought of getting the Mary Portas treatment.