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Trent in action - Furniture specialists you can rely on

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The Trent Furniture team invited a local photographer to take a look at the team in action and here is the end result.

Exclusive insight into the Trent Furniture team...

In this section of our site you get an exclusive snapshot into some of our latest furniture snapshots as well as a sneak peak into our furniture specialists daily lives

Our expert furniture team finishing a new wooden chair order:

Expert upholsterers in action - Rob from Trent Furniture

An insight into our furniture storage facilities and warehousing in Leicester:

Trent Furniture warehouse and storage facilities

Some of the tools of the trade:

Upholstery tools – tacks and hammer

Brighten up any space with some of our customer furniture favourites (in this case metal stacking chairs in stunning colours):

Stacking chairs in various colours

The finishing touches that make our furniture perfect for any occasion: 

Expert building and finishing a wooden chair

The chairs of choice for many a cafe and bistro business: 

metal stacking chairs - modern design

 

How to make your café stand out from the high-street crowd

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Ever since  Starbucks opened its first UK branch in 1998, on London’s King’s Road, our high streets have become overwhelmed by the big chains: Costa, Caffè Nero, Starbucks and Pret a Manger. 

There is no doubt that these chains have changed our drinking habits for the better, introducing us to a wider range of coffees and beverages, and bringing swift American-style service to the British high street. Twenty years ago, few of us would have been asking for a “latte to go” or ordering an Ethiopian-blend cappuccino. Ten years ago, according to the BBC website, there were fewer than 10,000 places to buy coffee in the UK and fewer than a third of those belonged to the big chains. By the end of last year, there were more than 22,000 coffee shops, and branded outlets had doubled in number.

Corporate uniformity for coffee shops and cafes

But the big chains have also brought with them a certain corporate uniformity: everywhere, we see the same logos, the same brands, the same chairs, tables and stools. Another high street, another Starbucks. And then there are the complaints that the owners of these chains don’t pay their fair share of tax, which adds to the sense that they have become too big and too powerful. 

But is the march of the high street chains coming to an end? It seems that we are seeing a fightback from independent coffee shops. Last year, Costa saw its share price fall on reports that its sales had been hit by renewed competition from independent cafés. Consumers, said Costa, are becoming “more demanding”. Market research and consumer surveys show that customers want more than just a cup of coffee in anonymous corporate surroundings: they want something individual, local, special, distinctive, authentic, real. In short, they are turning to independent shops and cafés.

Coffee shop discerning customers

If you are the owner of a coffee shop, or if you are planning to open one, you will doubtless know your latte from your cappuccino – but as consumers become more discerning, you will need to think about broadening your offering and making your business stand out from the high street crowd.

The flat white, for instance, is a relatively recent arrival on the coffee scene – a shorter, stronger coffee that was introduced to the UK by coffee-mad Australian baristas. Is it on your menu? And do you have a variety of different coffee beans on offer? Be aware, too, that these days people expect to find alternatives to regular cow’s milk, such as oat milk and almond milk. 
And what about tea?

This no longer comes in two varieties – with or without sugar. Green tea is increasingly popular, especially among younger customers, as are herbal infusions. Last year, research by Mintel showed that 37 per cent of British consumers aged between 25 and 34 had drunk five to six different types of tea over the previous month. The choice of drinks in your offering will help to distinguish you from the big high street chains. If food is part of your offering, handmade cakes and pastries will add an authentic flavour.

Cafe decor to be proud of

Likewise, you can make your café stand out from the high street crowd with your decor. Take time to visit some of the high street coffee shops in your locality, and ask yourself: how can I make my café look and feel different from these? As an alternative to bland, blank walls, you could source some vintage prints of your neighbourhood or local high street and get them framed and hung on your walls.

These will add individuality and would also be a talking point. Or you could feature the work of local artists. And do you have space for a bookshelf or two? In which case, you could become a mini-library, operating on trust, with customers free to borrow and return books at their leisure. Fairy lights trailed around the bar area add personality and a quirky touch to an interior. A handwritten chalkboard menu on the wall adds a personal touch – and also makes it easier to change things around and add new offerings. 

Tableware for cafes

Cups and saucers can help your café stand out. Do they all have to be exactly the same? Mixing things up can help create a homelier atmosphere. If you serve tea in pots, an array of different decorative teapots can add interest to your tables – and look attractive stored on shelves. Your takeaway cups are also an opportunity to offer something distinctive: branded cups will cost a little extra, but they are unique to your café – and they function as a little travelling advert every time someone takes one out.

Furniture...

And then there is furniture. This is perhaps where the big high street chains are at their worst: ranks of identical chairs and tables which vary little from one branch to the next. These chains will have a strict corporate identity, which will prevent them from introducing anything that looks too distinctive or different. But if you are running an independent coffee shop, the choice is entirely yours. 

Mix and match furniture for cafes

Why, for instance, should all your furniture look the same? Why not mix things up? Trent Furniture has a wide range of tables and chairs for use in cafés. Many of Trent’s chairs are upholstered in durable, easy-to-clean fabrics.

These offer a chance to add colour to your café – and they don’t all have to be the same colour; mixing and matching will create warmth and add to the sense that a human being rather than a faceless corporation is behind these choices.

Trent Furniture’s Italia bistro chair, for instance, is a classic design with an upholstered seat available in a wide range of colours and patterns. Or you could introduce a mix of wood and metal chairs and tables, combine traditional with modern, or source some vintage pieces to sit alongside new chairs and tables. Trent Furniture’s Bentwood Slatback side chair, for instance, could be used alongside Trent Furniture’s Dalton chair and its Napoli side chair.

How to arrange your cafe furniture

The way you arrange your furniture will also be important. Here again, you can stand out from the high street crowd. A typical high street chain café will have identical chairs and tables set out in rows, whereas a smaller neighbourhood coffee shop can set things out at different angles, as well as changing things around when the mood takes.

Mixing up furniture heights

Mixing high furniture with low is also effective: Trent Furniture’s Bella tall stool would look good at a windowside counter or alongside a Trent Furniture poseur table. Regular-height chairs and tables could fill the main space, while corners and walls could be occupied by low tables and chairs or perhaps even a sofa or two.

Finally, if you are independent and local, don’t be shy: shout about it. Publicity material and menus could be headed with a phrase such as “Your local independent café”. If you have a social media presence, make sure that you use it to emphasise your local independent credentials. 

Eco-friendly cafe products 

And with all the recent publicity surrounding the use of plastic cups and straws and their effect on the environment, perhaps now is the time to clean up your act and adopt more eco-friendly products such as paper straws and compostable paper cups with biodegradable lids. Again, if you are an eco-friendly café, don’t be shy: blow your own trumpet. Be proud of it. It will all help to make your café stand out from the high street crowd.

 

Why is stacking furniture the best for wedding venues?

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Take a look at our wedding venue furniture and you'll see that the vast majority of it is stacking furniture, while much of the rest consists of wedding dinner tables with folding legs, essentially making these stackable too.

Why is this so important? Well, there are two excellent reasons why stacking furniture is the best wedding venue furniture, and of course it all comes down to the amount of space available.

decorated wedding table

For most venues, keeping a ballroom permanently laid out with banqueting furniture is an unacceptable option, as you may need that space for other events, whether with a different seating layout, or no seating at all.

Meanwhile on the wedding day itself, it's not uncommon for the same room to be used in several configurations, for the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and the evening reception - so you need to be able to quickly and safely reconfigure your wedding venue furniture.

Why folding tables are easier to move

bride posing with flowers

Stacking tables with fixed legs are one good option for wedding venue furniture, as they can take up much less room than individual fixed-leg tables that do not stack - but if you need to move your wedding tables around quickly and safely, consider folding tables instead.

These have legs that lock securely in place when the table is in use, but can be folded flat against the underside of the table top for transportation and storage.

Combined with trolleys for rectangular and round tables alike, this makes it incredibly easy to pack away your wedding tables at times when you only need chairs - such as during the ceremony - or when you need to clear a space completely for the evening reception and dancing.

Space-saving stacking chairs for wedding venues

wedding guests book

Stacking chairs don't mean compromising on appearance, as modern frames are designed ingeniously to slot on top of each other, without standing out as looking like 'stackable furniture' when in use.

Frames are built in sturdy metal so only a small amount of care is needed when stacking chairs to avoid any damage, and there's a choice of fabric finishes so your upholstery can suit your venue's interior design scheme.

Swap out your seat pads

Finally, if you allow guests to choose their own colour scheme, consider investing in spare sets of seat pads for Chiavari and Henley banqueting chairs.

With these, you can offer wedding venue chairs with an appropriate colour of upholstery - removing the need for the happy couple to provide seat covers to suit their colour scheme, and helping to make their big day a little easier to organise.

See our range of wedding furniture at - https://www.trentfurniture.co.uk/products/all-industries/wedding-venue-furniture/1.

Alternatives to wooden beer garden furniture

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If you're facing costs to repair or replace wooden beer garden furniture damaged by the rough weather in recent weeks - not to mention the wear and tear of leaving it outside through the winter months anyway - then you might reasonably want alternatives to wood that will stay in better condition for longer.

Luckily, you no longer need to use natural materials that crack or rot, or need sanding down and repainting every year, as there are synthetic alternatives to wooden beer garden furniture that look great, while needing far less routine maintenance to keep them at their best.

Beer garden with swing

Synthetic wood beer garden tables

Trent Furniture's Capra tables are 70cm square or round outdoor tables in a synthetic light oak timber effect that is also used as decking on luxury yachts - a sure sign of its resistance to the toughest of conditions.

When used on these synthetic wood beer garden tables, it gives you a durable, natural-looking timber aesthetic, but with the performance of manmade materials including water resistance and a light oak colour that will not fade in sunlight.

That means in most cases, the only maintenance you'll need to carry out is a wipe down with warm soapy water, to lift dirt off of the surface and out of the realistic wood grain, so the tables are set to go for another spring-summer.

food and drink on a beer garden table

Wood effect stacking chairs for outdoor use

Monaco wood effect stacking chairs are the perfect complement to Capra beer garden tables, again using synthetic wood slats on the seat and chair back, with the same benefits in terms of low maintenance and durability.

The aluminium framed outdoor chairs match the same polished aluminium pedestals on the Capra outdoor tables, and if you want to move away from wood effect completely, we have all-aluminium alternatives available in outdoor chairs and tables too.

More pub and hotel garden furniture options

Our full range of pub and hotel garden furniture has plenty of options, including tall bar stools and outdoor poseur tables, wicker and rattan chairs and tables.

Together it gives you good control over the final look and feel of your outdoor furniture, so you can match it to your interior design scheme.

You can even use the same furniture in indoor spaces, especially where you need to resist environmental elements such as splashes of chlorinated swimming pool water, or exposure to direct sunlight in conservatory areas.

See our range of outdoor furniture at - https://www.trentfurniture.co.uk/products/all-industries/garden-furniture/1

Choosing the right tables and chairs for your restaurant or pub

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The British pub is in transition. Social trends such as the ban on smoking in public places and the declining popularity of beer – and indeed alcohol in general - among younger drinkers are forcing pubs to change their ways.

There are commercial pressures, too. Many pubs are being bought up for development, often being demolished or converted into flats, though in some cases landlords and local communities are fighting back and saving their local pubs from the developers – as has happened with the Golden Lion in Camden, north London. And in northwest London, when a popular pub, the Carlton Tavern, was demolished by its new owners, the local council ruled that the demolition was illegal and ordered the owners of the property to rebuild it, brick by brick. The restaurant trade, meanwhile, is faring better, but while the number of enterprises is rising, it is still a highly competitive business. In 2017, the number of restaurants going out of business rose by one fifth.

This means that pubs and restaurants are having to fight harder than ever to maintain or increase their share of customers’ spending. One way they can do this is by making their premises more attractive, more comfortable and more efficient. Which means looking carefully at design in general, and at one factor in particular: furniture. 

Are your customers sitting comfortably?

Let’s begin with pub furniture. A relatively easy and inexpensive way of giving your pub a facelift is to invest in some new pub chairs and pub tables. You will be surprised at how much brighter and smarter an interior becomes with the addition of new furniture. Remember though, that while it might be tempting to go for a cheaper option, only commercial-grade furniture is built to withstand the rigours of a busy environment. 

Remember, too, that if pubs are to survive, they need to attract a wider customer base.

This means more young people, more families, more women. And furniture can help with this, by signalling that your pub is not just a tired old boozer with tired old customers, but a bright, welcoming and inclusive place. A big leather sofa or some comfortable armchairs, with low tables, can transform a wall or a corner into a cosy retreat. Contemporary high stools – known as “poseur” chairs – can be placed up against the bar for solo drinkers. There is no need to stick to a single style: traditional chairs such as Trent Furniture’s Wheelback chair could be combined with Trent’s Art Deco table. And the Wheelback chair is available either with a solid wood seat, or in an upholstered version for greater comfort.

Softly softly

Interior design trends come and go, and it would be ruinously expensive to follow the fluctuations from year to year. There are, however, long-term trends that are worth investigating. The pub-trade journal The Morning Advertiser suggests that pub interiors are set to become more “homely”, with an emphasis on comfort and tradition. So: solid wooden furniture, leather armchairs and sofas, and perhaps even cushions are the way to go. The Rovers Return in Coronation Street is an example of this: softly furnished booths, upholstered bar stools.

It’s worth remembering too that if you are buying in bulk, Trent Furniture’s pub furniture packages offer value for money.

You also need to think about disabled access. The law says you should make “reasonable” efforts to accommodate people with disabilities. Is there enough space between tables for a person in a wheelchair to move freely? And it’s not just about the law. A customer in a wheelchair might be accompanied by a group of family members or friends, so, by catering to the wheelchair-user’s needs, you are also welcoming in a larger group of customers. Everyone wins.

Restaurant furniture

If you are furnishing or re-furnishing a restaurant, there are some basics to be borne in mind. There should be a minimum of 18 inches (45cm) between chairs – more if you are aiming for the “fine dining” end of the market. When coming up with a floor plan, the flow of staff and customers is a crucial factor. Is there an easy path from the door to the tables, and from tables to the lavatory?

Can waiters move easily between tables? It might be tempting to squeeze in as many tables as you can, but this can be counterproductive. Customers resent being squashed together; they want to have private conversations and don’t want to be banging chairs or clashing elbows with their neighbours.

Before making any decisions, you could do some research by visiting neighbouring restaurants and taking note of what works and what doesn’t work. And try to take a look at your own restaurant through the eyes of your customers. When you’re setting out your furniture, take time to sit in every single seat, and ask yourself: would you be happy to sit and eat there? 

What’s your type?

You also need to think about what kind of restaurant you want to be. Traditional? Contemporary? Relaxed? Formal? Fast food? Fine dining? Family friendly? This will determine your choice of furniture. Customers who are popping in for half an hour will be less concerned about comfort than diners who are spending a couple of hours over a three-course meal. Trent Furniture’s Italia bistro chair would be suitable for a more relaxed environment, while Trent’s Abbruzzo dining chair would suit a more formal restaurant. 

As with pub interiors, it would be ruinously expensive to follow the short-term trends in restaurant design and furniture, which change from year to year. But one long-term trend worth bearing in mind is for mixing up textures, finishes, colours and styles. Even a vast chain such as McDonald’s is taking heed of this trend with its redesigned restaurants; one such, in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, features chairs and tables in contrasting materials, plastic and wood, combined with long banquette-style leather club sofas.

New ways of eating

Your furniture should also reflect today’s changing eating habits. Single people are more likely to eat out on their own; but so too are large groups or families. Mealtimes are more flexible these days; brunch becomes lunch which merges into dinner. So your furniture arrangement should be flexible. Be prepared to move tables and chairs around into new groupings as people come and go. Perhaps you could invest in a large communal “sharing” table – today’s diners are less squeamish about sharing a table with a group of strangers. 

Another consideration is noise. There’s been a trend in recent years towards restaurants with lots of hard surfaces – metal, glass, tiles – as well as noisy open kitchens with metal counters. This can look impressive, but sound bounces off these surfaces and can make conversation difficult. So try to incorporate some softer surfaces or fabrics into your interior – leather chairs, upholstered chairs, wooden tables. 

In conclusion...

It’s important to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. A word that’s increasingly used in service industries is “experience”. People come to a pub or restaurant not just for a drink or a meal; they want an “experience”. By taking a long, hard look at your offering, including your furniture, you can help to make that experience a pleasant and memorable one

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