With his sights firmly set on the future, Gareth Atkin founder of Preston Furniture Solutions, talks to Furniture Journal about his newly established furniture manufacturing agency and growing portfolio.
Atkin knows a thing or two about the furniture industry. He’s been involved in it since leaving school and has developed quite a passion for design, form and function. It’s no surprise that, with a keen eye for business and a sixth sense for scouting out new opportunities, the entrepreneur has secured himself an enviable list of furniture component manufacturers, who, with an experienced UK agent now on board, are keen to grow their market share in the UK.
“As a UK agent, it’s my job to secure my customers’ business but to do that, I need to believe in what I’m selling,” begins Gareth. “From the off, I knew I needed to be selective about the companies I worked with. I didn’t have the inclination to be all things to all men. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted Preston Furniture Solutions to be and I knew that meant targeting companies that offered something altogether different. They needed to have ideas, a clear vision of where they wanted to be and ambition to grow. These are the kind of companies that excite me and these are the kind of companies I want to work with.”
With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Gareth has established long-standing relationships with key decision makers in the industry. In fact, it was his time working at Häfele UK, Crestwood Fittings and Landau Parapan that provided the experience and knowledge he needed to establish his own agency in February 2017.
Gareth walks me round Valenitalia’s bustling Interzum stand. It’s a company he’s known for a decade and now represents. He enthuses over the quality and style, pointing out the dovetails and on-trend, slimline features in their beautifully finished Walnut and Beech drawers and inserts. “My relationship with them spans over a decade,” he tells me. “And during this time, I’ve learnt about their production methods, experienced the level of craftsmanship that goes into their product range and seen the company grow. I was eager to get them on board
Within a few weeks, major manufacturers and distributors began buying Valenitalia’s wooden drawers and accessories and volume orders soon followed. A decision to extend their manufacturing facilities into the UK to assist with growing demand and a ‘just in time’ service was a clear indication of the success the company was experiencing in the UK. It was the perfect start for the Hull-based agency and, with key players in the industry coming on board, Preston Furniture Solutions started to grow.
“Gruppo Confalonieri was next to sign,” grins Gareth, clearly excited by the idea of working with such a prestigious name in the Italian decorative hardware market. Now in its third generation, Gruppo Confalonieri specialises in the design and manufacturing of handles but, staying true to his company’s ethos, their product offering had to be different. “Gruppo Confalonieri’s products can never be described as run-of-the-mill,” says Gareth, as he presents me with a selection of highly textured oxidised metal handles that embrace the trend for industrial-inspired design. “Their products excite me. Think marble veining, precious stones, concreate finishes and roughly chopped woods and you won’t be disappointed. Their portfolio is very design-led, appealing to high-end KBB manufacturers. It has the potential to open a lot of doors in the UK – no pun intended.”
Already supplying well-know KBB manufacturers since managing the brand, Gareth’s next step is to promote the company’s stylish range and smart handle fixings to a wider audience. “Seeing really is believing in when it comes to Gruppo Confalonieri’s hardware range. They offer so much design scope and I’m keen to present them to furniture manufacturers and retailers who want to offer their customers something completely unique.”
Preston Furniture Solutions also represents space-saving furniture solutions manufacturer, Atim SPA, luxury components producer, Furnital, functional fittings manufacture, Effegibrevetti, air purification solutions manufacturer, Check-up and Polish acrylic door and panel specialist, Sklejbud in the UK – and, following a successful introduction at Interzum 2019, Gareth announced his company would also be representing the Italian lighting company, Forma & Funzione.
So what is next for Preston Furniture Solutions? “I’m not afraid to say that I am an ambitious person and I want my business to thrive,” says Gareth. “I have secured some fantastic customers in my first two years of business who share my passion and enthusiasm for the products they are creating and the industry we are in. My next step is to find new ways to engage with new and existing customers and continue to get the right products in front of the right people. I want to build on my relationships with leading distributors and manufacturers but also introduce my portfolio to furniture makers, retailers and designers who are looking for new and innovative products that make them stand out from the crowd. Starting conversations and having the opportunity to showcase the products on offer are key areas of development for me and will enable me and my clients to build on our success.”
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