Sustainable office furniture retailer 2NDHND snapped up by Edinburgh firm in move hailed as key moment in supporting “large-scale decarbonisation” of sector

An Edinburgh-based firm is aiming to create the UK’s first large-scale circular marketplace for office furniture, fixtures, and equipment after buying assets of a contemporary that recently fell into administration.

Bureau Group, which helps companies to refit and redesign offices by procuring and removing FF&E sustainably, has snapped up assets from second-hand office furniture online retailer 2NDHND that had a warehouse in Kilmarnock – saying the deal represents a key moment in supporting “large-scale decarbonisation” of the commercial furniture sector.

The acquisition is billed as securing five jobs at Dundonald-based 2NDHND, which last month went into administration prompting 13 redundancies, as well as the promise of creating more, including apprenticeships. Bureau Group, whose clients included online travel firm Skyscanner, investment giant Abrdn, and law firm Brodies LLP, says the new roles will include design-focused positions as part of plans to upscale refurbished FF&E.

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The acquiring Edinburgh-based business also said the deal sees it gain furniture remanufacture in-house for the first time. It is now working on building what it says will be the UK’s largest remanufacture facility for commercial office furniture, seeing items from the private and public sector revamped to “category one” condition – almost new – and ready to be resold, or redistributed to charities, schools and other not-for-profits. More that 17,000 pieces of furniture are already in the warehouse ready to be redistributed.

Bureau Group co-founders Andy and Jennifer Russell say the acquisition is a 'pivotal moment in supporting large-scale decarbonisation of the commercial furniture industry'. Picture: Stewart Attwood.

The new arm of the business will initially operate as a direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform under Bureau Group’s The Office Crowd banner – which also includes the option to buy new, sustainably sourced furniture – before ultimately also providing complete furniture refurbishment for business-to-business procurement teams.

Additionally, Bureau Group and The Office Crowd will commit to managing the lifecycle of any new item of furniture bought, meaning they will buy the item back when the customer is finished with it, refurbish it, and put it back on sale.

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Bureau Group co-founders Andy and Jennifer Russell say the acquisition is a “pivotal moment in supporting large-scale decarbonisation of the commercial furniture industry” as it seeks to prevent millions of tonnes of office furniture going to landfill every year.

MD Mr Russell said: “The conversation around the circular economy and commercial furniture has been getting louder for some time, but the thing that makes it possible doesn’t exist in a serious way. Nobody is doing this on a mass scale – until now.”

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He added that Bureau Group’s role is to help organisations achieve a sustainable approach to procurement, “and the creation of this facility and marketplace is a massive leap on our road towards it”.

Group operations director Mrs Russell said: “We see huge value in this market, and are pleased to rescue the industry-leading skills and experience here in Scotland and add it to our offering as part of our plans to build a stable market.”

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Shona Campbell, partner at administrator Henderson Loggie LLP, said: “Bureau Group presented an ambitious, exciting and most importantly viable plan for the future of the business, and Henderson Loggie LLP is delighted the ongoing employment of five people has been secured.”

Bureau Group, which also has branches in Glasgow, London and Seattle, says it is on course to turn over more than £10 million next year, delivering projects for UK-based companies from Shenzhen and Miami to Singapore and Barcelona.

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Recent projects include renovating Abrdn’s HQ, including 6,000 computers being recycled, and unwanted furniture donated to charity.