Andrena Furniture celebrates 50 years

Ed Anderson, Operations Director at Andrena Furniture, reflects on the company’s 50th anniversary while being the third generation of the family business.

Hertfordshire-based handcrafted furniture manufacturer Andrena Furniture has reached an historic milestone, celebrating 50 years. When speaking to Ed Anderson, the third generation of the family business, he said two words that have been key to their rich history: ‘Adaptability’ and ‘Resilience’, but we’ll come onto that shortly. Rewinding to 1973, Ed’s parents, Kenneth and Marina Anderson, put their goal of creating beautiful furniture, manufactured to last a lifetime and beyond into reality. Andrena was born.

In fact, it’s that founding ethos, Ed and the team still stand by to this day, and the business is a far cry from their initial inception of making reproduction style furniture from a small factory in a former chicken shed in Nazeing, to making contemporary style furniture in the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility they operate from today. “Our commitment to manufacturing furniture here in the UK, and the quality and service this allows us to provide, is key for us,” says Ed.

“We are immensely proud to have been manufacturing furniture in the UK for the last 50 years. The business started manufacturing from a derelict battery chicken shed. The first key highlight was the move in 1978 to our first ‘proper’ factory in Hertford. This was a major step for the business allowing us to grow and develop the company in a professional and sustained way for the first time. We have subsequently moved premises three times, settling into our current factory in 2001.

“When most other suppliers have switched their production overseas, we have ‘stuck to our guns’ as furniture manufacturing in the UK has a strong and long heritage. British furniture has been the best the world has to offer and we are privileged to play our part in its history.”

To celebrate their own history, Andrena recently exhibited at the January Furniture Show earlier this year where they decorated their stand to suit the occasion. “Having not been for a few years, it was a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and demonstrate how the company has evolved over the years. At the show, we launched a new bedroom range to supplement our successful ‘Albury’ dining collection. This is available in seven standard finishes with choices of handles and was really well received at the show.”

Adding to the celebrations, Andrena is planning a summer event to celebrate with their loyal employees at its Hoddesdon factory, where the business will also use the platform to launch other new products in recognition of their 50-year achievement.

“It seems that the quality end of the market is performing better at the moment and we are seeing consumers appreciating higher specification furniture and the long-term value that this represents.”

So, what has been the key to their ongoing success?

“Adaptability and resilience,” Ed said, continuing: “Also, not trying to make the business too big. The industry has changed hugely since my parents started the business in 1973. With the influx of imported furniture, it hasn’t always been easy to stick with our commitment to manufacturing in the UK.

“But with the launch of new, more commercial ranges, still in keeping with the flexibility and quality that the market has come to expect from British manufacturing in general, we continue to flourish. We have always grown the company organically. Yes, we all want growth but it is important that that growth is sustainable and manageable.”

Alongside managing growth comes with managing the challenges that present themselves too. Andrena has been no stranger to combatting challenges through the year’s and has always managed to prevail. One such recent challenge, impacting the wider industry, has been raw material price hikes. Ed explains: “Most recently, the massive rise in the cost of raw materials as well as their availability has been a big challenge. Thankfully, this has settled down now and we confident of more stable pricing and reliable supply.

“There is also a shortage of skilled labour in the market place. We are overcoming this by investing resources into developing younger talent to fill the labour gap and build for a sustainable future.”

Ed also revealed that recent business has been strong and that consumers are opting towards the higher-end of the market. He said: “Order intake has been strong for the last two years. Our business has grown by benefitting from the effects of both Brexit and the high cost associated with global shipping. There is a definite consumer loyalty to British made brands.

“It seems that the quality end of the market is performing better at the moment and we are seeing consumers appreciating higher specification furniture and the long-term value that this represents. Light wood finishes and plain fabrics still seem to be the most popular choices.”

With an eye on the foreseeable future and beyond, Andrena is currently developing new products for launch “very shortly” and aims to continue manufacturing to high standards, with integrity, that has formed their strong reputation. “We believe it is important to be able to offer something different from just standard products,” Ed said. “Our current furniture collections offer you the choice of a wide range or pieces, available in a variety of finishes, handles and fabrics. However, if this doesn’t work with your space, decor or existing furnishings, our bespoke making service is another option we provide.

“For 50 years we have produced high quality furniture in the UK. We are now very much into the third generation of our family business and we celebrate the achievement of making furniture in Great Britain for half a century. We look forward to another chapter in our history.”

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