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  • We Are UMi

Nominee Q&A - Furniture Clinic

Following investment in new premises to help scale its business and enter new markets, Furniture Clinic has boosted production by 300%. Here, Managing Director Ben Staerck tells us about the company’s development and future plans.

Tell us a bit about your business?

Furniture Clinic provides premium cleaning and restoration products and services. The upcycling and restoration of all things leather, fabric and wood keeps Furniture Clinic at the heart of the circular economy.

The company was established in 2004 by my father, Keith Staerck, and I joined the company a year later to further develop our digital presence. From humble beginnings in our family garage, we now sell over one million products each year to dedicated B2C and B2B customers in over 30 countries worldwide.

How has the company developed?

When we launched, our range consisted of two products: a wood restorer and a leather cleaner. Since then, our offering has grown spectacularly and currently spans more than 100 specialist products across our leather, wood and fabric ranges. We now have over 50 staff and have recently moved to a new 50,000 sq ft factory in Consett, County Durham, from our previous 16,500 sq ft premises nearby.

What is the ethos behind the company and has this changed or developed since you started?

Our ethos has remained the same since we started. When you buy Furniture Clinic, you buy more than a product. You invest in our decades of industry-leading experience and truly individual service. We are dedicated to our customers finishing their projects to an unparalleled quality and with complete customer satisfaction.

What’s the business’s USP?

We don’t just sell the product, like many of our competitors, but provide technical assistance and advice with comprehensive guides and videos to help our customers to get the best results. This is combined with an unrivalled and very knowledgeable customer services team.

What investment have you sourced for the business and how has this helped you to go further?

At the end of last year, we secured a grant from the County Durham Growth Fund that enabled us to move to a larger premises and increase production volumes by 300% to cope with growing demand.

What is the most important thing to remember when applying for funding/investment?

Take time out to look at all eventualities and don’t be afraid to take risks as it is the main way to grow your business.

UMi is currently running its Go Further campaign, which celebrates organisations with the ‘foresight to inform and respond to the changing world around them’. How does your organisation fulfil this?

We continue to focus on our core proposition but are not afraid to diversify. Being one of the leading UK suppliers of leather care and restoration products, last year we launched a range of new products focused on the wood care market following extensive research into this huge market opportunity. The products have done extremely well, and we plan to develop and launch another 15 new products in the next 12 months, which we anticipate will add a further 50% to our turnover.

What has been your company’s greatest achievement?

Our greatest achievement over the last year has been relocating to our 50,000 sq ft premises in Consett, and getting the new factory running efficiently, resulting in increased production capacity and stock levels.

During this time, we have also worked on our Quality Management System and, in March 2021, we were thrilled to become ISO 9001 certified.

What is your business’s short and long-term plans?

We will continue to bring new products to market having recently recruited a Senior Polymer Chemist and established a dedicated in-house growth team (covering R&D, product design and marketing).

We will invest further in the new factory and we are in the process of installing a new bottling line with another one planned for next year.

Long-term, we plan to open in more overseas territories. Starting with France, we are launching separate international websites and using local third-party logistics companies to handle distribution.

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