01869 320 320 sales@morleys.co.uk

Morleys are delighted to announce the appointment of Adam Smith as Managing Director. With almost two decades of experience within education supplies in the UK and internationally, Adam has a wealth of experience overseeing contracts with the DFE, MATs, contractors and local authorities, managing strategic business relationships with key stakeholders and partners, and leading our design, sales and marketing and project delivery teams.

Supported by David Green, Finance Director, Adam commented: “I am excited and ready for the challenge, Morleys has a rich heritage and a market-leading reputation for supplying furniture into the education market and being ahead of the curve for inclusive and student-centered FF&E design. I am passionate about this business and the people within it. We have a proposition that puts our clients at the heart of everything we do, using our expertise to really add value. We have ambitious plans for the year ahead.”

We interviewed Adam for his insight on the current UK landscape within educational supplies:

How is the education category shaping up for you in terms of sales and what are your projections for 2024?

It has been a challenging time for education over the last 12 months, particularly around teaching staff retention and recruitment, post-Covid impacts on teacher and student well-being, attainment and attendance, as well as budgets being stretched by maintenance costs and rising energy bills. However, despite the market generally being down for school furniture procurement, we have seen an uplift in sales versus prior year and we are forecasting growth for 2024.

What are the current product/sub-category trends within the education sector? Are there any trends/products that are declining?

Where we have seen schools investing is in key collaboration areas such as libraries and sixth form centres and specialist areas such as laboratories. These are important extensions of the learning environment where schools see the value in creating environments that benefit a whole-school approach. There has also been increased popularity for sensory areas to support students with SEND. We have generally seen a decline in classroom provisions.

With budget cuts frequently affecting schools across the UK, how has this impacted your approach to pricing and customer relationships?

Budget cuts has brought the importance of best value into focus, and how we believe Morleys adds value is by ensuring we offer schools a great customer experience, value for money, and saving schools time by offering expert guidance, advice and account management.

With the ongoing adjustments to digital learning environments, how have your products or services evolved to meet the needs of schools?

Our in-house design team are increasingly creating flexible and collaborative spaces that incorporate different types of media and technology. We recognise the demand for schools to ensure they have innovative digital environments for students to explore, research and develop their digital skills. We offer a range of furniture with integrated power and data, from charging hubs to soft seating. Even our marketing activities have moved away from printed collateral and are focussed on digital channels. In relation to our design services this creates much more opportunity for us to improve customer experience, as we can provide schools with 3D visualisations so clients can see the furniture and equipment in situ before committing to a decision. There are still challenges in the UK with the implementation of technology as some schools have much better equipped estates and systems than others. Classroom layouts remain quite traditional, whereas European markets have been early adopters of agile learning spaces, finding ways to integrate technology throughout the learning environment.

Have any recent changes in UK education policy/compliance standards/regulations impacted sales and product demand?

We have found that schools are much more aware of their responsibilities when it comes to sustainability and reducing their environmental impact by looking at better procurement practices. We promote circular-economy and waste reduction and help schools to do this through our FF&E Legacy Surveys. We are finding an increased demand for these services as not only do they save schools time and money, but they help schools identify furniture and equipment that can be repurposed, reducing carbon emissions by reusing rather than replacing.

How critical is sustainability in the educational procurement process? How does this impact your role as a supplier and the products you provide?

Sustainability and finding ways of reducing carbon footprint is critical to procurement not just in education, but across all sectors. We take our role as a supplier very seriously and demonstrate our commitment to sourcing eco-friendly products and materials, and supporting sustainable production processes, by ensuring all our timber-based products are sustainably sourced from FSC® or PEFC accredited suppliers, promoting product ranges and materials made from recycled and recyclable content, selecting manufacturers who are working towards a Net Zero strategy, and ensuring our packaging is recyclable or reusable.

Top tips for dealers selling in the education category?

I think the key to working with buyers in the education sector is a partnership approach, ensuring your products and services offer genuine customer value and you are experts in your field so can offer invaluable support and advice.

Following your recent appointment as Managing Director, what does the future hold for Morleys?

I have been fortunate to have been involved in the growth of Morleys over the past seven years and have been involved first-hand with how the business has adapted and flexed to meet the changing needs of our customers. From expanding our presence in FF&E, developing a market-leading in-house design service, to exploring new supply chain partnerships, product development opportunities and expanding our offering into new territories and sectors, the key to Morleys’ success is the relationships and trust we have formed with schools, contractors and architects, the knowledge and expertise we have within our team to help clients make informed decisions about product suitability, quality, and BS standards. Through our FF&E design services we ensure we support pedagogy and create inclusive and enabling environments. The future for Morleys is extremely positive as we continue to invest in and develop our people and remain committed to adding value for our customers.

About Morleys

Morleys has been at the forefront of learning environments since 1929. With offices in Bicester and Swansea, and soon to open one in Haworth, Morleys are respected in the education sector for their knowledge and expertise supplying furniture for Early Years through to Higher Education and offering comprehensive FF&E design solutions. Morleys contribute to government policy discussion through their membership of BESA and are dedicated to creating spaces that inspire a culture of learning and inclusion for educators and students in schools across the UK. Within the Morleys portfolio is Principal Furniture, Invicta Education, Reflections on Learning and Morleys x Wesco.

If you have an education project in the pipeline and would like to know more about the benefits of working with Morleys and the service we offer as FF&E design consultants, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

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