IMG’s Strategic Expansion in the UK Market

In a conversation with Geoffrey Stafford, Sales Director UK & Ireland at Ekornes, we delve into the concerted efforts to boost awareness of the IMG brand within the UK market.

Norwegian furniture manufacturer Ekornes has long been synonymous with innovation, quality and design via the Stressless® brand. However, a pivotal global player in the Scandinavian company’s repertoire is IMG, a brand focused on delivering both quality and value for money.

With a global presence spanning decades, IMG strategically positions itself at an entry price point without compromising on the quality associated with Ekornes products. Over the past five years, the company has invested over €11m to establish a European facility in Lithuania, complementing its main Thailand factory. This strategic move aims to enhance efficiency and expedite deliveries, particularly in the European market, including the UK.

As IMG gears up to make significant strides in the UK market, the January Furniture Show (JFS) was the obvious platform to showcase bestsellers and new models. Geoffrey Stafford emphasizes that the focus is squarely on creating awareness:

“Not many manufacturers have made this level of investment to support the European market. Moving forward into 2024, two key factors—price point and speed of delivery—will be at the forefront of consumers’ minds. With our investment in the EU market, we can now offer faster delivery and superior service compared to when products were sourced from Asia.”

Geoffrey explains that many retailers may not be familiar with the IMG brand, acquired by Ekornes around nine years ago. Specialising in Scandinavian design furniture, recliners, and sofas at an entry price point, IMG aims to be a quality and stylish option for customers.

He notes, “These include entry price point models, mid-range models, power recliners, and lift and rise models. They all still embody the Ekornes ethos in design, but at a more accessible, value-oriented price point.”

Highlighting the complementarity of the IMG brand with Stressless, Geoffrey sees a “fantastic opportunity” for UK retailers to engage with the brand, potentially attracting those who have not done business with the group before. Sales and service is provided by the Ekornes team around the UK and in their offices in London so retailers can be assured of that.

“The short-term goal is to spread the word. Long term, we want to grow the brand at a value price entry point, with a different position in the market that we don’t currently cover. We aim to be the recognized trade brand in this segment” Geoffrey asserts.

During JFS, IMG plans to showcase its Paramount Relaxer, a Scandi-led design that has garnered positive reactions from retailers. Geoffrey explains, “The feedback we have received is that it doesn’t look like a traditional lift and rise relaxer product so therefore can target those customers who need the functionality but aren’t prepared to compromise on style.”

Furthermore, the push behind IMG takes into account the prevailing cost-of-living crisis, impacting consumer spending. The brand seeks to provide a solution by offering quality products at a lower price point.

“Although higher price points have been selling well, we do see a rise towards lower price points too, but consumers still want good quality,” says Geoffrey. “There is a focus on price, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest; consumers are willing to trade up for good value for money.”

As part of the Ekornes AS group, IMG, short for Internasjonal Møbel Gruppe, is situated in Sykkylven, Norway, renowned for its steep mountains and deep fjords, serving as the production and development center for Scandinavian comfort recliners.

Geoffrey concludes, “Our vision is to create exclusive designs that deliver an exceptional combination of comfort, quality, and unsurpassed value. We are excited to broaden awareness in the UK, with the January Furniture Show serving as a great starting point for the year ahead.”

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