The supply channels, promotion and retailing of modern Scandinavian furniture and furnishings in seven provincial British locations, 1945-1975

  • Jonathan Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis deals with changes in furniture retailing in the postwar period, showing how the overall shortages of stock and the encroaching dominance of British-made branded lines led to the emergence of innovative new channels of supply for modern Scandinavian furniture. The high profile of Scandinavian wares relates closely to the continuous promotional activities of the assorted Nordic export organizations who encouraged sales in Britain during a time of closer economic collaboration under European Free Trade Association membership. The thesis goes on to explore how a phalanx of seven progressive retail furnishers located nationwide steered their firms to engage enthusiastically in accessing, promoting and selling Scandinavian lines. Being geographically dispersed in provincial locations challenges the notion presented in current literature that modern Scandinavian furniture was the specialism of a small number of well-known London retail furnishers only. The seven shops were integral players in the operation of collective buying schemes such as the Green Group, formed specifically to acquire exclusive Scandinavian lines. As well as the advantage of higher profit margins such specialization also helped differentiate the firms from their competitors and contributed to their commercial success. There is presently no known literature that deals with furniture buying groups and the thesis will bring new knowledge to the field. The directors of the seven firms were all known to each other through their involvement with the main furniture retailing trade bodies and the Council of Industrial Design. These pre-existing collaborative networks helps explain how new group buying initiatives were founded and operated. All the shops studied engaged with architectural renewal of their premises as they transformed themselves into modern specialists. Research methods have included making extensive use of archives and oral testimonies, resulting in a thesis that gives a unique insight into the world of the progressive independent retail furnisher and their Scandinavian specialism in a period of rapid change.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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