Refurbish or Replace?

Refurbishment is a big topic of conversation for our clients at the moment, as many venues look to update chairs with more hygienic fabrics. But at any time, it’s worth considering refurbishing seats and/or retractable platforms rather than replacing them. Why? Because you will not only save time and money, you lower your environmental impact by using significantly less materials.

Our products are designed with refurbishment in mind

If your seating was made by Audience Systems, here’s some good news. We specifically design our chairs and retractable systems to last, and be easy to service. We also make parts as simple to replace as we can. All these things mean that refurbishment is often an option when seating starts to wear.

For example, the understructure of an Audience Systems retractable system will typically last around 25 years (and in fact, we service many units which are even older). Aftersales Manager Anthony Edgar explains. “Customers whose seating is really well used will often have to make a decision around halfway through its life. Despite the seating being in good working order, inevitably things like the foam and fabric might be showing their age. On a retractable system, the carpet might be worn or the fascias might even need changing to fit a new colour scheme in the room. That’s when customers start talking to us about refurbishment.”

Our refurbishment packages are completely tailored to your needs. So it might be just the chairs, or we might need to replace deckboards or fascias too. We might re-apply powder coat to railings, or update parts of the chair frames or understructure.

And, by the way, if you don’t have Audience Systems’ chairs, we are more than happy to work out a refurbishment package for you too - just take a look at the example below.


A refurbishment of theatre chairs (not originally manufactured by Audience Systems) at Eton College Theatre - before and after

Save time, money and materials

There are many advantages to refurbishment as opposed to replacement.

Firstly, it’s a less expensive undertaking than completely replacing your seating.

Secondly, we undertake each refurbishment in such a way that it creates absolutely minimal disruption to your venue. For example, when it comes to refurbishing chairs, we will typically replace the whole seat and back rather than attempting to re-cover them. That way, you can be assured that your seats will look good as new, and that they will meet the latest fire regulations. It also means that the work is carried out in the controlled environment of our seating factory, enabling you to still use your existing chairs in the meantime. Once the chairs are ready, we can come to your venue and replace all the seats and backs in a day or two.

Finally, a refurbishment, especially of a retractable seating system can save literally tonnes of materials from being used. To create a typical retractable unit, for example, (12m long, 10 rows deep) we use 4 and a half tonnes of steel and 800kg of plywood decking. If we can re-use your existing retractable understructure, that vastly reduces the impact of your seating update on the environment.

Upgrade as you refurbish

A refurbishment comes with opportunity to upgrade your seating.  also offers some exciting possibilities in terms of upgrading seats. At the moment, we’re having a good deal of conversations with customers about fabrics, and we’re offering a range of hygienic options that are easy to keep clean. Vinyl is an obvious choice, but we also have some innovative soft fabrics with special coatings or treatments.

But there are a whole host of other upgrades we can look at with you too, from adding sprung seats for extra comfort, to upgrading armrests, row letters, trims, or whatever works for you! Plus, if you have retractable seating, you might consider a functional upgrade – adding a motor to a system that’s currently opened and closed with pull handles, for example.


Before and after at The Curve - an upgrade from benches to Evolve chairs. 

More Information

Why not take a look at some of our refurbishment case studies to see what we can achieve?

At The Curve in Slough, we completely updated a retractable seating system changing benches to theatre chairs and updating the decks.

At Cardiff Metropolitan University, (seen in the header image of this article) we upgraded a retractable system which was not originally manufactured by us. We replaced some very tired seats with some smart new ones, completely changing the feel of the room.

At King Edward VII School in Leicestershire, we replaced some well-used seats that we had installed fourteen years before.


Or you can see our refurbishment web page here.