Bespoke furniture made in the North East is now on sale in the world’s most famous department store as the company behind it continues to grow.
The Original Sofa Co. (OSC), which specialises in using traditional methods to manufacture high quality Chesterfield furniture by hand, has opened a new concession in Harrods with the help of a second investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund.
The Team Valley-based firm, which stocks one of the UK’s largest collections of pre-loved, antique and vintage Chesterfields, worked with NEL Fund Managers to secure £100,000 from the Growth Fund at the beginning of 2014, which was used to fund the opening of a new showroom just off Sloane Square in London.
On the back of the showroom’s success, the OSC management team was approached by Harrods and has been working since November to get the new concession, which opened last week, ready for business.
NEL has provided a further £110,000 from the Growth Fund as backing for this latest stage of the OSC’s development.
Based on Team Valley, the 14 year-old firm’s sales are evenly split between trade clients and individuals, with orders coming in from both across the UK and a growing range of overseas markets, including China, North America, mainland Europe and Scandinavia.
Three new staff, including two new upholsterers, have been taken on in the last month to help manage the growth in demand that OSC is experiencing, and more North East jobs are expected to be created on the back of the interest that’s already been shown by Harrods’ customers.
Bespoke OSC creations can already be seen in a wide range of high profile locations, including Google’s London offices, Harvard University, Cambridge University Union, Red Bull’s headquarters, the St Pancras Hotel in London and several Dunhill venues around the globe.
David Robinson, founder and managing director of The Original Sofa Company, says: “We’ve made a great deal more progress over the last year than even we expected, and opening the Harrods concession really is the cherry on top of the cake.
“Our London showroom has really taken off, and there’s been a huge appetite for the high quality, traditionally manufactured products that we’re creating in both domestic and overseas markets.
“Much of the interest we’ve had so far in Harrods has come from international customers, and it’s great to know that North East manufacturing expertise is in such high demand around the world.
“The North East will remain as our manufacturing base as the company continues to develop, and it’s a real hive of activity. Adding two new upholsterers to the team is a real indication of the confidence we have for the future, and we’ll be looking to create further new jobs on the back of the new opportunities we’re now seeing.
“Making everything happen over the last year has meant we’ve needed to put a lot of new infrastructure in place, which obviously requires capital to achieve. We’ve had a great relationship with the NEL team over the last year, and going back to them for a second round of funding was very much the natural thing to do.”
David Thomas, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The Original Sofa Co has made fantastic progress in a relatively short time, and they’re all set to do even more through their expanding London presence.
“The availability of a ‘funding escalator,’ where vibrant North East companies can gain ongoing access to capital investment as they grow and their needs change, is crucial to both their individual success and the wider regional economy.”
Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.
Managed by North East Finance, it will see £142m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13.
NEL is looking to make around 130 investments from the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0845 111 1850.
The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.
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For further information, please contact Julian Christopher at Footprint Public Relations on 07891 005034 or via julianchristopher@btinternet.