McIntosh , G Plan and Ladderax 1975-1980 styles are changing !
The late 1960’s saw the British economy weakening and the pound falling . It was not a good time for the better quality makes as tax rates rose for higher earners ,and some companies like Dalescraft , Fyne Ladye seem to have to dropped out of the market and change direction whilst Greaves and Thomas were taken over by their much lower quality rivals Schreiber . Harris Lebus who had been the largest British maker for over 50 years had tried to change direction with the Europa range , but this failed and the company closed in 1970 . This left G Plan and McIntosh and a few other mid-market makers of contemporary furniture in a stronger position as they were able to take a larger share of a smaller market . Industrial strife , high inflation and the Middle Eastern oil crisis followed in the first half of the 1970’s .
Schreiber were on the up with cheap mass production bringing prices down and new names like MFI were competing at the cheap end of the market .
The long low sideboards on legs which are so popular today started to be replaced in the late 1960s , firstly by larger taller highboards , but also in the case of G Plan with modular units firstly Form 5 , but then onto Fresco ones also . People had more stuff and they wanted to display it in glass cabinets . The early 1970s G Plan and McIntosh catalogues gradually changed , with more wall units and modular systems and fewer sideboards . Then around 1975 traditional styles started to appear , mainly in the Regency style . In the late 1960’s there was a move in the Antique market from Queen Anne and Chippendale to the Regency period and the reproduction market soon followed suit . By the mid 1970’s Regency was the look for reproduction furniture and British taste was becoming noticeably more traditional and conservative .
Staples Ladderax which was becoming less popular in the 1970’s even came out with a Regency mahogany veneered version in about 1975 and even tried producing matching coffee tables . This was desperation as it looked totally wrong and didn’t sell in large numbers and Ladderax disappeared soon after !
G Plan launched Arcadia in 1975 . Regency mahogany meets modular wall unit . It was G Plans first move back to the traditional style some 20 years after they’d launched Brandon and gone to a total contemporary look . The writing was on the wall for modern British design . McIntosh in their 1975 catalogue intoduced the Cramond wall unit system with brass handles and a slightly more traditional look . There was only a small half page showing a Dunfermline and a Moy low sideboard whereas early 70’s catalogues were still offering a good choice of different models .
The 1977 McIntosh catalogue devotes 2 pages to Abbotsford range of Regency style units very similar to G Plans Arcadia as well as The Tulip Bedroom range also in mahogany . Tulip was Regency meets Stag Minstrel in style and was their first bedroom range for about a dozen years . McIntosh in the 1950’s and early 60’s like most of their mid-market competitors offered bedroom furniture , but by about 1965 were so busy making dining sets they dropped out of the market completely apart for the odd special order . It was a sign of the times that having taken over their rivals Beithcraft they now launched Tulip made in Beith . The 1977 catalogue shows plenty of teak wall units , tables and chairs and occasional furniture but not one long low sideboard and Regency stripes had joined the fabric options for dining chairs ! McIntosh was having to change , but struggling to come up with anything new and exciting , and it wasn’t long before financial problems dealt a final blow in the early 1980’s . They were taking over by ESA a successful maker of School Furniture to become ESA McIntosh . Domestic furniture was soon discontinued and replaced by contract work .
By the mid-1970s teak was no longer the wood of choice of younger buyers . Antique furniture , Reproduction mahogany was becoming increasingly popular as was Pine and other things like white sprayed finishes . There were still plenty of buyers looking to add pieces as they moved to larger houses , and also people moving in the opposite direction so wanting smaller pieces to fit in with their existing furniture . Some firms like Nathan continued successfully without making changes but most didn’t . The late 1970’s was a hard time for most British makers of contemporary pieces with glass makers Whitefriars and stainless steel manufacturer Old Hall struggling before being taking over and disappearing .