The new Global HQ…
Here we are hunkered down in our new home and office in rural Dorset… I’m happy to report that it is very cosy under that thick woolly hat. (I swore I would never let Prue persuade me to buy a thatched house but now that we have ended up in one, I confess to being a big fan. The house warms up very quickly, retains its heat, insulates us from the sound of wind and heavy rain, and looks pretty special too!).
We have created an office at one end of the house and plan to create an office-cum-studio in the garden when we have got the necessary planning permission. In the meantime we will be able to show people 3 sets of furniture in different spaces in the house when the current Covid restrictions are lifted.
We are very lucky to have a modern garden room at one end of the house which is a perfect location for the Semarang furniture. More pics in future editions when we have got the piles of moving boxes out of the way!!
So why the move?
2020 was our 13th year of operation, and we had a good plan for growing the business sensibly… investing in online lead generation, focussing on the most productive shows, and building our network of display partnerships. Unfortunately the pandemic rode a coach and horses through these last two planks of the strategy. And being a seasonal business we found ourselves very financially exposed… overheads and sales/marketing costs too high, and insufficient cushion for the unscheduled dive in demand.
So for us – as for so many businesses – the pandemic forced a major rethink of the strategy; after much soul-searching and analysis, Prue and I decided the best and most sustainable option was to make the business leaner, more agile and more portable. We call it Fair Trade Furniture 2.0! The key elements of our plan are:
- use the web as the main way we find potential customers
- strengthen the display partnerships which give people year-round access to see and try the furniture
- reduce the number of shows we do but use them as a real showcase
- do a lot more of the work ourselves
- reduce the overheads significantly and thereby take a big chunk of risk out of the business.
The two premises we had in Salisbury were a disproportionate drain on our finances. By moving to a more rural setting and running the business from home we save money and have a better work-life balance. Our new storage and workshop facility is on a farm in Ashmore, less than ten minutes from our home. It’s a work in progress, but shaping up well. Where before our neighbours were the taxi drivers of Value Cars, we now have a large herd of cows!
Ashmore is the highest village in Dorset, and when the wind blows it also seems to be the coldest! So coffee breaks and lunch are taken in any sheltered spot we can find, the van being a popular choice!!
But the views and the local wildlife are lovely, and we think it’s going to be marvellous in spring and summer!
I mentioned work-life balance earlier. Well I’m pleased to say we are seeing a lot more of Prue’s grandson Arthur. He and his Mum and Dad (Charlotte and Matt) have moved into Rose House for about 4 months while they have major works carried out on their house in Poole. So far, so good…
Whether I am still saying that in a few weeks’ time when Charlotte has her second baby is another question!
However in the meantime coffee-time is fun-time with Arthur and the Gruffalo. What larks we are having!!
So it just remains to send you my best wishes