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In 1943, during World War II, furniture was part of rationing in the United Kingdom; the Board of Trade set up the Utility scheme which limited costs and the types of furniture on sale. A small number of simple designs were available in oak or mahogany. This scheme ended in December 1952. This, combined with the Festival of Britain led to a pent-up demand for more modern furniture.
In 1953, Donald Gomme, the designer at E Gomme, decided to produce a range of modern furniture for the entire house which could be bought piece by piece according to budgets. Advertising was part of the plan from the beginning. The name was coined by Doris Gundry of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, and the furniture was advertised in magazines and in cinemas direct to the public. Designs were available for several years so people could collect them slowly. All furniture was marked with the distinctive brand mark.
The success of G-Plan led to E Gomme becoming one of the UK's largest furniture manufacturers, with profits increasing sixfold between 1952 and 1958 when it was floated.
Another part of the direct marketing was the showrooms where the public could see the furniture. There were small centres over the country, and "The G-Plan Gallery" in Vogue House, St George Street, Hanover Square in London.
Donald Gomme left the company in 1958, perhaps the peak of the company's success. In the early 1960s the government introduced restrictions on hire purchase (the most common method of purchasing furniture), and in response to competition from Danish furniture the company introduced a Danish Modern range (designed by Ib Kofod-Larsen), which made the rest of the range seem dated, and Gomme lost their market-leading position, though they continued to be a major manufacturer making innovative designs with a very well known brand name.
In 1987 the Gomme family – major shareholders in the company – decided to retire. They sold the business to the then directors, who, three years later, sold it to the Christie Tyler group of companies.
In 1996 the Morris Furniture Group acquired the licence to make and market G Plan Cabinet furniture in Glasgow. This operates separately to the upholstery business.
- The G-Plan Revolution: A Celebration of British Popular Furniture of the 1950s and 1960s, Basil Hyman and Steven Braggs. ISBN 1-86154-310-7