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Furniture for the post-ownership generation. Introducing Monty Space.

Our relationship with our homes is changing: 1 in 3 of UK millennial's will never own their home

The UK simply isn’t building enough houses, prices are unaffordable for the majority and consequently the number of households in the private rented sector is booming. The number of households renting in the UK increased increased by 63% from 2007 to 2017 (an additional 1.7 million households).

This growth has been on the most part been driven by ever growing numbers joining “Generation Rent”; 46% of 25 to 34-year-olds are renting — up from just 27% a decade ago in 2006/2007. According to Halifax, the average age of a first-time buyer is now 31 and the deposit needed is over £33k, and £115k in London.

 

46% of 25-34 year olds are renting in the UK46% of 25–34 year olds are renting in the UK

Renters are embracing the flexibility of renting

In London our proprietary research suggests that renters aged 25–34 stay in the same accommodation for on average only 1 year and 7 months. This is supported by ONS data which shows that at the end of 2017, 62% of households in the private rented sector in the UK had spent under three years in the same accommodation.

The Knight Frank 2019 tenant survey found that people change rented home for a variety of reasons, including for a larger/ better property (21%), relocation for a family (19%) and relocation for work (18%), with forming a new household (4%) and downsizing (3%) also common themes. Indeed, 30% of millennials say they enjoy the flexibility of renting and like that they have none of the ongoing costs of owning property, including maintenance.

This trend towards experience, flexibility and access has created new business models across a variety of sectors and is increasingly shaping the property sector.

Value is driven by service and experience, not the asset

Space as a service is the new driving force behind strategic decisions, both for commercial and residential property. It is no longer about the physical asset itself, instead value will be driven by the service that can be provided to the user when they need it. We’ve seen this through the innovative service wrapper that WeWork put around office space, in Co-Living with players such as The Collective, and now in the ever-growing Build to Rent sector in the UK.

 

Vertus Living common area - Canary WharfEarlier this month Canary Wharf Group joined the long list of asset owners to launch an experience focused residential brand — Vertus Living

 

As property ownership becomes a thing of the past, property will become increasingly about the service rather than the asset itself. Increasingly in the PRS sector you have players, such as Residently, Livly, Rentify, who have realised this and are looking to create value through improving the rental experience with a tech-centred approach. Indeed, consumers have experienced customer-centric improvements in the way they bank, eat and socialise, and will increasingly expect more from the property rental industry.

How has the furniture industry responded to changing consumer needs?

Low cost — no commitment and no worries

The furniture industry’s response to these societal and economic trends has centred around price reduction and mass production i.e. “fast furniture”. No business has executed this better than IKEA, who earlier this year had annual retail sales that exceeded 40 billion euros for the first time. This has been coupled more recently with the rise of direct to consumer furniture models, such as Made.com which has grown to £173 million in annual sales in less than 9 years, and low-cost furniture marketplaces, such as Wayfair. Gone are the days where consumers bought furniture to last, and even to be handed down through generations.

 

Fast furniture warehouse example in LondonIKEA provides one solution to low cost and low commitment consumer needs

 

In order to offer furniture at such low price points, sacrifices have been made in both service and product quality from fast furniture retailers. Consumers construct the furniture themselves and they accept the furniture is unlikely to stand the test of time. This is definitely not furniture designed with life span in mind. Consumers are happy to accept this in the absence of any similarly priced options, as they value the flexibility that comes with low priced options- who cares if you leave it behind at the end of a tenancy? Or if in two years you decide that you need to change your living room colour scheme?

 

Sofa waste on the street in Brixton- LondonA common sight in London — furniture waste awaiting collection where it will be incinerated or sent to landfill

 

But doesn’t this sound a bit unsustainable?

Fast furniture has led to an explosion in the amount of furniture being incinerated or sent to landfill. Every year 10 million tonnes of furniture are discarded in the UK, and only ~10% of this is recycled. Such a waste of valuable materials is a huge cost to the economy and the environment, and completely undermines efforts to move towards a low-carbon economy.

 

9 million tonnes of furniture waste is discarded in the UK every year

 

Most “fast furniture” is made from particle board covered in laminate or veneer. If the surface gets damaged it can’t be sanded back and re-varnished like solid wood, and if exposed to moisture the particle board swells and rots. The laminate is also prone to splitting at the seams and peeling away. It is unlikely to last more than a few years, especially if it is subject to any wear & tear (including disassembly and reassembly during a move). It’s therefore no surprise that furniture waste has boomed the past 10 years.

So what is the alternative?

Unfortunately it doesn’t really fit with our increasingly nomadic and experience focused lifestyles to purchase costly quality furniture. It brings a high burden of ownership i.e. it requires a large cash outlay commitment and is expensive to store and transport. Increasingly we are moving to a post consumer world where we value the freedom that can be achieved without ownership. Popular examples of disruptors that have capitalised on this shift are Uber instead of cars, Spotfiy instead of CDs and Netflix instead of DVDs. This movement from Products to Services and Ownership to Access will increasingly impact all areas of the home and property industry.

Low cost furniture has been the prominent solution to our changing needs as consumers, but this model is increasingly irrelevant for the modern world or the current generation. Monty Space offers a shift towards a collective and circular consumption approach. We offer high-quality, stylish furniture and decor through a flexible subscription model. We believe that the current model isn’t appropriate for the times we live in today and it simply doesn’t make sense for ownership to be the central way we consume furniture anymore.

 

Example Monty furnitureMonty offers furniture through a flexible subscription model

Furniture for the post-ownership generation

With Monty you can access quality, design focused furniture when you need it, for as long as you need it, through a flexible subscription model. Simply simply select the pieces that fit your style, subscribe anywhere from 3 to 12 months and schedule your installation date. We take the pain out of furniture so that you can fast forward from selecting your furniture to that “ahh moment” when you sit down on your sofa and take in your new living space. No more days off work waiting for multiple furniture deliveries, or evenings spent building flat-pack furniture.

We believe that when our lives change, our furniture should be able to change with us — without spending a fortune or damaging the planet in the process. We want to make it simple, convenient and sustainable for people to create homes in modern cities.

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