Furniture Clinic

A family run company with its roots firmly in County Durham is planning for 50 per cent growth after moving to bigger premises in Consett.

Furniture Clinic, which was founded by managing director Ben Staerck and his dad Keith in 2005, had outgrown existing factory space at Hobson Industrial Estate in Burnopfield.

Initially the focus was on finding bigger premises to rent, however after being told about the County Durham Growth Fund and the grant support available, Ben started looking at options for purchase.

Ben said: “Our growth since we launched has been organic, driven by the needs of our customers.

“We started life at a 1,000 sq ft unit at Team Valley, and after eventually outgrowing a further two properties, in 2010 we moved to a 12,500 sq ft facility at Hobson Industrial Estate in Burnopfield. We went on to add another 4,000 sq ft by expanding the building but by last year we’d reached the point of full capacity.

“Staying there was really holding the business back as we had no space to take on new work and needed to do something about it.

“I wasn’t in the market to buy as the size of the property we needed was very expensive, however when we were told about the County Durham Growth Fund, it made the option to purchase much more realistic.”

Furniture Clinic, which manufacturers products to restore and repair leather, fabric, and wood predominantly for the DIY market, applied for grant support and was awarded £245,000 to facilitate the move to a 50,000 sq ft facility at Number One Industrial Estate in March.

The business currently employs 60 people with turnover at £7.5m for the most recent financial year.

Ben’s aim is to increase that to £10m over the next 12 months – something which he believes is achievable with the extra capacity the move to Consett has given them.

“It’s not only about the move, it’s the fact we’ve been able to invest in new state-of-the-art machinery which will make production much more efficient. The additional space and increased productivity means we’re able to bring in even more work – which we definitely couldn’t do at our previous base.

“We’re also passionate about protecting our environment so all future orders of plastic bottles will be for those that are 100 per cent recycled – preventing around 30,000kg of plastic ending up in landfill. That’s very important to us.”

The County Durham Growth Fund is managed by Business Durham in partnership with UMi and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). All successful grant applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers.

Sarah Slaven, managing director of Business Durham, said: “Furniture Clinic is a home-grown success story, a company which is now putting in place ambitious plans to grow thanks to the grant support they’ve received from the County Durham Growth Fund. That’s exactly what the fund is there to do.”

Simon Allen, investment centre director at UMI, said: “The grant funding awarded to Furniture Clinic has facilitated the move to significantly bigger premises, which means the company now has the capacity to bring in more work, cementing its long-term future in County Durham.”

John Healey, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW LLP, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that Furniture Clinic is putting in place plans which will see it become a £10m-turnover business in the next year – all made possible by the County Durham Growth Fund.”