Family company celebrates 18 years of success

Set up by John Elcocks and his son David 18 years ago, Repose has grown to become a leading manufacturer of seating solutions. Lisa Wardley, the company's Managing Director, reflects on how the company has developed and evolved in that time.

Repose Furniture began in a small manufacturing unit in Cradley Heath, Birmingham in 1999 and since then has grown significantly, operating for a 23,500 sq. ft. facility - still in Cradley Health – and currently sells through a network of over 200 retailers across the UK.

"My father has always been in the upholstery and furniture markets," explained Lisa. "He left school at 14 and started working for Rackhams in Birmingham. By the age of 21, he was running his own national bedding company."

John has remained in the industry since those early days and is still very active within Repose today. His son David followed very similar footsteps, leaving school at 16 and working for an office furniture company before going into business with his father in 1999 with the formation of Repose.

Over the next 6 years, the company moved to larger premises in Brierley Hill, steadily growing before Lisa came on board.

"Just like my father and brother, I worked in the furniture industry from a very early age. I initially worked with my father after leaving college for his furniture company, learning the basics of how a factory works, the administration required to ensure orders were processed, deliveries made on time and more."

Lisa went on to work in a furniture shop to gain retail experience and supervised a factory shop floor. From there Lisa joined a large furniture manufacturing group as customer services manager before joining the family business with a wealth of in-depth knowledge of the furniture industry.

"One of the first decisions we had to make was in which direction the company was going. Chinese imports at the time for the domestic marketplace were crippling the industry. In addition to making standard domestic furniture for the high street, we already had a small number of mobility customers who we produced riser recliner chairs for, but this was not enough to keep the business going alone. So, we took the decision to restructure and focus on the mobility sector," said Lisa.

"With the support of the local Business Link, we received a grant and used that to produce brochures and a website prior to booking our first Naidex in 2006. We put all our investment into the show and worked on new products and mechanisms, all of which launched at Naidex."

The manoeuvre paid off, with the company receiving a great response from visitors and considerable interest being generated.

Lisa commented: "Over the following weeks and months, the phone didn’t stop ringing with enquiries from all over the UK. It’s been a rollercoaster ever since with production increasing year on year."

The company does not solely concentrate on the mobility marketplace, also focusing on care homes, hospital, the high street and working closely with occupational therapists to supply equipment.

"When one sector goes quiet, another will often pick up so we always have a steady flow of orders" explained Lisa.

With 18 years of success under their belt, we wanted to know Lisa's thoughts regarding the future of the market.

"I am hoping people will realise that buying off the internet is not the way forward. By purchasing off the internet, people may think they are getting a cheaper option but they don’t receive the aftersales service they can get from the high street, where they are buying from a face and someone that can ensure the chair meets all their requirements and offer after sales support.

"Looking to the future, it is my aim to continue growing in a controlled fashion, ensuring our retailers and end-users continue to receive the best possible level of service. We are also looking to reduce our lead times further and will be launching our new Celer product range, which will be available on five-day delivery."

Each month, the company has also been providing retailers with special offers as a means of support and will be announcing the launch of a retailer training programme later in 2017, being developed in conjunction with Kate Sheehan, one of the UK’s leading independent OTs.

"I love the mobility industry. Every product we supply is needed and a necessity. That’s what I like, as we are producing a piece of furniture that is actually going to help someone on a daily basis. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all the staff at Repose and our UK retailers for their support, as without them there would be no Repose! Here’s to the next 18 years," ended Lisa.

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