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U.K. Sofa, Mattress Makers Hit with "Aggressive" Foam Price Increases that will have to be Passed On

Britain's furniture and bedding retailers should brace for imminent price increases with sofa and mattress makers here coming under intense raw material price pressure, particularly for foam.

All three of the big three foam suppliers — Recticel, Vitafoam and Carpenter — are understood to be passing on some of their own increased production costs to finished furniture and bedding manufacturers after a rise in the cost of the chemicals that make up the foam recipe.

Recticel CEO Olivier Chapelle told The Furnishing Report the company "is currently facing huge price increases imposed by its raw material (Polyols & Isocyanates) suppliers.

"Given their amplitude and suddenness, Recticel has no choice but pass them through immediately to its customers."

The timing has not gone down well with manufacturers, who are busier than ever with order books bursting at the seams.

"I've filled my order book up until the end of January," said the md of one manufacturer faced with taking either a high single-digit percentage price increase within weeks or try to source alternative supply.

"They want to give me a price increase now but I can't go and get a price increase on any of the products that have already been sold."

He added that he had called another of the foam suppliers to enquire about switching, but was told they were "too busy" to be able to take on new customers at present.

Another major U.K. producer said his suppliers were "both coming in with aggressive price increases" citing capacity constraints further up the supply chain in the chemicals sector.

Sofa and mattress customers of all three of the big suppliers have said prices are going up by varying negotiated amounts, forwarding emails and official letters confirming the new increases and timing. The rises are going through the supply chain, also impacting the cost of converted foam products.

BFM, the association of British Furniture Manufacturers, subscribes to industry raw material pricing data and said it was aware that the constituents of foam have been increasing in price.

Nick Garratt, its md, said: "Manufacturers are already operating on tight margins, which have been squeezed further because of Covid-19."

He added that they have already had to put in place additional measures surrounding safety in the workplace resulting in a rise in their manufacturing costs.

"Obviously, if they start getting raw material price increases on top they will have to pass that on to their retail customers.

"Manufacturers have invested tens of thousands of pounds on things like temperature monitoring machines, spent a tonne of money on personal protective equipment (PPE) and even things like sanitiser aren't free. Putting social distancing in place in the workplace is hitting them from an efficiency point of view as well. They might have big order books, they they are under a lot of pressure."

Vitafoam declined to comment, while a senior U.K. official at Carpenter didn't immediately reply to emails sent on Tuesday and Thursday of last week.

The U.K. external communications manager for BASF, the chemicals conglomerate that supplies foam constituent parts, said that he had "tried all possible avenues in Germany and the U.K., but cannot find anyone able to comment."

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