• Cindy W. Hodnett

Flexsteel, Welsh partner launch upholstery brand in United Kingdom

DUBUQUE, Iowa — U.S. manufacturer Flexsteel Inds. is partnering with Westbridge Furniture Designs Ltd., a Welsh upholstery producer, on a product line for the United Kingdom called Flexsteel Lounge.

 Flexsteel WestbridgeRoger Freeman, left, Flexsteel; Stephen Hampton, CEO for Belfield Furnishings and Westbridge Furniture; Paul Islip, Westbridge; and Chip Piekenbrock, Flexsteel, tour the Westbridge U.K. operation.

A representative for Flexsteel said the line will have 12 collections, each with numerous SKUS and options including wood finishes, cushion options, and fabric and leather selections. All will include Flexsteel's blue-steel seat spring unit.

Flexsteel and Westbridge launched the line in January at the Interiors UK 2013 show in Birmingham, England. Working models of Flexsteel's signature blue-steel seat spring were also on display.

"At Flexsteel, we always say quality begins on the inside, and it starts with our lifetime warrantied, blue-steel seat spring," said Lee Fautsch, vice president of sales, home furnishings for Flexsteel.

"It's always been our USP — unique selling proposition. And now we're taking it across the Atlantic Ocean," he added.

Westbridge Furniture was founded in 2004 as part of the Belfield Group of Companies headquartered in Holywell, Flintshire, Wales. The company sells to independent furniture retailers and high-end department stores throughout the United Kingdom, marketing three levels of upholstery goods — Westbridge, Flexsteel Lounge and Spirit. The company has three factories and more than 600 employees.

"We are very enthusiastic about our relationship with Westbridge Furniture," Fautsch said. "This is an outstanding company with visionary leadership. We're eager to work with them to introduce the Flexsteel brand throughout the U.K. and to expand global distribution."

Westbridge said that the style, scale and cushioning components are unique to Westbridge and designed to meet U.K. customer preferences and European industry standards on fabrics and foam.

Steve Hampton, chief executive of Belfield Furnishings and Westbridge Furniture, said his company wanted to partner with Flexsteel based on the company's quality standards and reputation for durability.

"We share a common culture and common values," Hampton said. "Flexsteel enjoys a powerful, positive image in the furniture industry and is well-respected for its long history of success, capable leadership and financial strength. We are excited for the opportunity to help build the Flexsteel brand in the U.K."

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.


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