TEESSIDE’S largest independent furniture retailer – which specialises in providing affordable furniture, fast – is celebrating its fourth anniversary.
Furniture Express, at Castlegate Shopping Centre, was set up in July 2013 by three former managers of the national Walmsley’s chain after it ceased trading.
Convinced they could set up an independent store to rival other big-name retailers, the trio, who have a collective 39 years in furniture retail, went into business.
And by slashing delivery times on everything from sofas and suites to beds and wardrobes, they have built up a solid and expanding customer base.
Jim Lucas, who runs Furniture Express alongside Michael Harrington and John Currell, said they knew from the outset they could take on the big boys – and the might of online retail, “because we knew we could offer an unrivalled service.”
“Many of our lines are exactly the same as those sold by the national retailers but whereas they will quote a delivery time of six to eight weeks, we will get it to the customer in less,” he said, “and we will also compete on price.”
Jim who was Walmsley’s Stockton store manager said the store’s success is proof that he, Michael – who was store manager for the Sunderland branch – and John, who was a relief manager, made the right decision to stick with ‘the high street.’
“We were fortune in that we didn’t have to borrow anything,” he said, “but we have also had a huge amount of support: from customers and, in recent months, from Stockton BID, which has gone out of its way to promote us.”
BID manager Karen Hindhaugh said: “many furniture retailers choose out of town locations but those are hugely impractical if you don’t have a car, which is why there is a lot to be said for a town centre location – as Jim, Michael and John have proved.
“But their success isn’t just down to that – it is down to the superb range of furniture, their vast experience in the industry and, above all, the service they provide and I hope they have many more successful years to come.”