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19/03/2014

Welsh oak furniture company looks to craft further success

A highly promising Welsh furniture company that handcrafts furniture from its own designs is set to receive a £50,000 micro loan from Finance Wales as they look to build on an impressive and successful first financial year.

Celtic Forest (Celtic) was established in 2012 in Llandarcy, Neath bringing together a small group of local craftsmen with over 30 years’ carpentry experience to provide high-end premium quality furniture for the home and garden. Each piece is exclusively designed and handcrafted from Welsh timbers from ecological and ethical sources.

Recognition of the quality of their work has come quickly since Celtic beat over 600 exhibitors to win the “Best in Show” award twice at the BBC Gardeners’ World Live show. More recently they also triumphed at Channel 4’s Grand Designs exhibition.

Such success has helped the company land contracts with national retailers such as Leekes, as well as regional contracts with local councils and Welsh outlet stores. A manufacturing business alliance has also been set up with several other Welsh producers to help promote a wider range of local products including wool, slate, soap and candles. Celtic is now expanding its operations as the business continues to grow. Having secured a loan from Finance Wales it’s investing in new equipment to improve efficiency and reduce production costs, as Director Nathan Phipps explains:

“We have a lot of experienced carpenters in our workshops and we pride ourselves on making high-quality, customised pieces of furniture that don’t have a big impact on the environment. All our work is done with ethically sourced Welsh timbers, mainly oak, as it is one of the most durable timbers in Europe and will normally last three times longer than imported furniture which is not suited to our climate. 

“People are taking notice of the furniture we are creating and we are extremely excited about the future. Thanks to the loan from Finance Wales we can purchase equipment such as a new wood mill and laser engraver, both of which will make a real difference to the speed and efficiency of our operations, in some instances we will save ten-fold on production costs.

"The vast majority of garden furniture is dominated by foreign imports from Asia. We’ve done well because we offer handcrafted, bespoke furniture from local ‘green’ sources, which is relatively low in cost and widely available. With Finance Wales’ support we can continue to build in this way.”

Finance Wales Investment Executive, David Knight who structured the loan said:

“Celtic Forest is a fine example of how quickly a business can grow when it has the right experience and expertise behind it. The company was very professional in its approach, spending a lot of time working with market research data from the Horticultural Trade Association before going to market. This, coupled with decades of carpentry experience and clear vision for their products means that they have made excellent progress in a short space of time.     

“As local consumers begin to look beyond mass-produced imports, a company like Celtic Forest really stands out by offering furniture that is personal, extremely well-made and locally sourced. With Finance Wales’ loan they can continue to deliver this trademark quality but on a much larger scale.”

Finance Wales’ investment in Celtic Forest came from the £150 million Wales JEREMIE Fund.