SME Export Track 100

The modern office is a changing landscape, and the stylish and contemporary chairs, sofas and tables made by this furniture designer – based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire – are playing their part. Naughtone’s clients include Google and Facebook, global tech titans whose different ways of working have made them pioneers of the informal, collaborative workplace of the 21st century, with bar stools and benches replacing boardroom tables.

The firm was started in 2004 by friends Kieron Bakewell, 38, and Mark Hammond, 36, who were joined three years later by Matt Welsh, 40. It won its breakthrough contract with the BBC in Glasgow and has now added Nike, Etsy, and Amazon to its roster of clients.

Its reputation for quality manufacturing, as well as innovative products such as the Hush wing-back chair and Trace table – which is sold at New York’s Museum of Modern Art – helped it increase international sales to an annualised £4.5m in 2016. It self-funded this 280% per annum rise in exports before the founders sold a 50% non-controlling stake to US furniture giant Herman Miller last June for an undisclosed sum. Herman Miller has revenues of more than $2bn (£1.6bn) and has been manufacturing and selling office furniture for more than 100 years.

Committed to remaining independent, Naughtone continues to make products at its workshop in Elland, West Yorkshire, but the partnership has enabled it to start manufacturing in the US too, with its first overseas showroom opening in Chicago last year. A stronger US presence has helped win contracts with LinkedIn in New York and Airbnb throughout North America.

It has several other big projects in the pipeline, including one for advertising giant WPP and another for Huawei in China. Its plans to start manufacturing in China to serve the growing Asian market are part of Naughtone’s strategy to grow globally, with ambitions to hit £100m in total sales by 2020.

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Company details
ActivityFurniture designer and manufacturer
LocationNorth Yorkshire
2 yr av intl sales growth % pa279.90%
International sales £000s*†4,480
Total sales £000s*†9,617

If applicable:

* Supplied by company † Annualised figure