Raft emerged 15 years ago when Mick was furnishing a property and struggled to source ethically produced furniture that expressed luxury design. Along with business partner Heinz Frye, Mick built a furniture brand which endeavours to provide high-quality, long-lasting pieces with full provenance.
Since beginning the company, Raft has attained the stringently upheld ‘FSC Chain of Custody’ certification, which means that every level of the supply chain, from sourcing to delivery, is checked for sustainable credentials.
Raft is the largest retailer of FSC teak in the UK and produces its sofas in central London. The company is known for its pared back simple style which focuses on the natural beauty of reclaimed teak and for its luxurious bespoke handmade British sofas. The brand’s uniqueness starts from the beginning of the manufacturing process as every material used is sourced because of its sustainable benefits.
“We have a stringently monitored FSC Chain of Custody Certification, which means that every step of the process from sourcing to delivery is monitored for best practice,” explains Mick. “Our packaging is recycled and our accessories are fair trade where possible. We are also Solar Kiln drying our timbers, and sea freighting.”
Sustainability is one of the cornerstones of the brand and Raft goes to great lengths to ensure that they are at the fore of eco-design. It is not led by trends, but instead focuses on eco-friendly ways to develop styles and designs.
“We are always looking for ways to improve,” continues Mick. “In the last year we have opened a factory, hand making all of our sofas in the UK. From the FSC approved reclaimed teak to handmade beautiful British sofas, we offer what I think are the best quality products, with exclusive design. What’s more, you can walk into any of our stores and be told exactly where your product has come from and how it is made, something which I am very proud of.”
The definition of luxury is such a personal opinion in an industry full of differing styles and consequent preferences. “I believe luxury comes from the materials used,” explains Mick. “Be that the textiles you choose for your sofa, the throw you place on it or the wood that makes your table. It’s that extra touch of comfort. Our sofas are renowned for being especially deep and the cushions very full and plump – even the filling is UK sourced – as we manufacture our own, we can play with these aspects to add that extra touch that make it a luxury piece and something people are excited to come home to.”
For many, luxury is portrayed through the experience of the purchaser. Mick feels his biggest influence for Raft is his own experience as a customer: “The advice that I have most benefitted from is that you need to treat people with the respect they deserve. If I were asked to spend my money on something I would want to feel well informed, well looked after and that I was buying something that I would have for years to come and I want to make sure that this is what people get from Raft. I think that there is a real development in customer engagement in 2014.”
Mick regards provenance to be a key influence for business. A big part of adhering to ethical practices is ensuring that the materials used are sourced exactly as they claim to be and the way to affirm trust is intertwined with the superb customer experience. “We have proven that you can have great design and excellent sustainable credentials, there really are no excuses,” delineates Mick.
“The Raft look is very much my own sense of style and I am currently renovating my house with some of the new designs,” he continues. “I like simple, unfussy design with just a hint of colour. That means that I can add to it years from now.”
Raft is not only diligent in choosing materials, but its business partners are too: “It’s key that they are as passionate about the brand and its ethics as we are,” explains Mick. Last year the company opened four new franchises around the country, taking the total to seven and it has more planned for this year, bucking the trend on the high street.