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Steve Smedley | Michael Tyler

Modern sofa maker Michael Tyler Furniture returned to the January Furniture Show at the NEC in 2017 after a 16 year absence. It was a decision that literally transformed its business.

Most exhibitors are happy if they can impress visitors enough to sell them their products. Michael Tyler impressed one visitor — upholstery producer Hjort Knudsen — so much it bought the company.

Acquired by the major Danish manufacturer some months later, the 2019 January show will see Michael Tyler exhibiting from a stand twice the size as in the previous year. 

"We have 200sqm this year, up from 75sqm for the past couple of years," says managing director Steve Smedley, who adds that the Hall 1 island stand will be taller than in previous exhibitions with a beautiful wooden floor and lighting gantries all around to showcase the products.

The Hastings based manufacturer — one of only a handful of companies holding the prestige Manufacturing Guild Mark — has been at the vanguard of British upholstery design since its inception in 1976, and in recent years has also led the way in the move to upholstery unit systems.

"We've certainly seen a huge move to corner groups over the past six years and they probably now account for virtually 50 percent of production," said Mr Smedley.

New fabrics will feature extensively including fresh colours. “We’ve seen an increase of colour coming through amongst the grey tones, with the emergence of pastel colours, including looks such as very pale blues and pinks which we hadn't seen for some years."

Plains are also coming more to the fore, he adds, with stronger patterns likelier to feature on back cushions and scatters, rather than the main body of the sofa.

Following the change of ownership, Michael Tyler is also the UK distributor for Hjort Knudsen products, which includes manual and electric recliners, sofas and unit systems. 

After it showed a handful of Hjort Knudsen chairs at the NEC in January 2018, this years larger stand will feature a broader selection across all of its brands, with no compromise on presentation.

"When you are producing high-end products such as Michael Tyler it is important the product looks its best. The exhibition provides us with an opportunity to showcase the best of what we can offer, and to present it in the optimum way — giving retailers an example of how the ranges could be presented within their retail space."
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