Spurred on by the threat of competition from China, Quality Furniture Company (QFC) has undergone substantial business improvement and is now sitting pretty with a promising future, thanks to the changes it has implemented via an Oliver Wight Integrated Business Planning (IBP) programme, on its journey towards Class A accreditation.
The improvement journey has spawned many positive results, not least financial, with excellent cash flow position and higher operating profits. Sales and added value per employee are up, whilst improved stock turns mean there is £400,000 less cash tied up in the business. But perhaps more importantly, some customers are now asking QFC to make products that they have previously purchased from its Chinese competitors.
QFC established a name for itself in the 1990s as a manufacturer of mid-priced sofas. Following the arrival of sofas from China and the subsequent dramatic change to the UK market, however, it was recognised that future company success was requisite to change. Business improvement specialists, Oliver Wight, were engaged to implement an IBP (advanced S&OP) programme, which has inspired a dramatic transformation of the business.
Operations Director, David Bramwell firmly believes that Oliver Wight’s IBP has saved his business from falling victim to low-cost competition. "IBP is a template for how to run a manufacturing business excellently. Don’t try to adapt it; just do it."
Before the programme began data was almost non-existent at QFC – stock was physically counted every month. By contrast, management business reviews now incorporate a wealth of data. Forecasts are more accurate and this has greatly improved visibility for QFC, its customers and suppliers. "We’re beginning to work strategically with customers on three-year plans," says Bramwell. "We have improved our performance dramatically and we have received platinum supplier status from Argos."
QFC operates from a 13,000 sq metre facility in Grantham, Lincolnshire. It employs 200 people, turns over £21 million and is producing one sofa every 31 seconds – or 4,500 per week. Its products are sold via major high street retailers such as Argos, Tesco, Next and Sainsbury’s.
The company expects to achieve Class A in the New Year.