Juliet Singer KFR Trustee Press Officer - in Conversation
Juliet Singer, KFR, meets Monty George and Dan Beckles the 2 young entrepreneurs responsible for creating and founding the hugely successful Furniturebox.
I visited Monty and Dan at their vast new warehouse in St Modwen’s Industrial Park Chippenham where they now have a staff of 50. The growth and rise of Furniturebox is the success story of hard work and dedication coupled with a passion to achieve.
Juliet: 'Tell me about the very beginning, were you entrepreneurs from birth?'
“Not quite, but almost! We were both born and raised in Wiltshire, first meeting in Year 7 playing football against each other. Monty had a keen interest in selling online since his early teens and was selling a range of products on eBay, including pest control products, motor parts, you name it. For me, Uni beckoned but then Monty approached me about selling furniture online so I put Uni on hold to give it a go.”
Juliet: 'How did you finance the initial start up venture?'
“We had acquired modest capital from previous eBay successes to help fund Furniturebox. We bought our first two containers of furniture and we were unloading the contents with wheel barrows in my garden and searching for suitable outlets online, the furniture business gathered momentum.”
Juliet:'When the shekels started to roll in as 2 very young men were you tempted to spend spend on gleaming items winking at you? Ready cash must have been burning a hole in the pockets?"
“No we avoided wild spending sprees! We’re but very spending-conscious so we did not lash out on luxury items.”
Focussed and by now dedicated to the future of their business they prudently reinvested the modest profits in the future profitability of Furniturebox. Determined to achieve a steady growth, & make profitable decisions. From the grass roots of Monty’s garden in Dinton Wiltshire, to 2015 aged 17 they rented their first modest warehouse in Mere Wiltshire.
Juliet: "Which category of furniture was your starter choice?"
“We selected dining furniture to open the doors of what was to become Furniturebox. We were searching furniture designed with elegance and good looks combined with affordability. We like to say that our customer have champagne taste and beer money, so we make sure each piece of furniture that we design looks and feels high end, but is budget friendly.”
Some furniture is manufactured in Asia which produces various glass and metal furniture whilst other products come from Eastern Europe and India are suppliers producing sustainable solid wood furniture including the attractive mango wood which has a similar finish to oak.
There has been a seismic shift in shipping cost/rates benefiting the UK exchange rate. Thus enabling more British furniture companies to manufacture beds and sofas. Furniturebox would like to support and expand British made goods but the quality has to fit their exacting standards.
Furniturebox consigns goods for sale through Wayfair now a major partner in the USA, to be distributed across the States. Other channels we sell on include: Amazon, eBay, The Range, Robert Dyas, B&Q, Mano Mano, OnBuy as well as our own website.
Juliet: "Sustainability for our precious fragile planet is important to you?"
“The planet is critical to our business plans and we are currently offsetting 110% of our carbon, plus a solar powered warehouse. The warehouse at St Modwen’s Park is run on electricity. Electric car charging bays are numerous in the car park too.”
Conscious that the packaging of the products such as polystyrene and shrink wrap which come with heavy carbon footprints, Furniturebox is in consultation with Valpak to control the quantity of plastic based materials. The company is totally alert to detrimental problems associated with climate change and understand the need to offset the horror of landfill.
Juliet: "You have established a partnership with a local award winning Wiltshire reuse charity KFR Kennet Furniture Refurbiz? "
“We live in a throwaway society,” Monty and Dan replied.
“This has been a concern. Several years back we contacted a number of local charities to enquire whether Furniturebox could donate customer returns. The only enthusiasm and a positive result came from KFR.”
Immediately the initial link between a major company and a charity was established. Currently KFR vans pick up from Furniturebox on a regular basis; KFR volunteers build the flat pack furniture and sell in their Devizes warehouse. Furniturebox are making a big difference to a charity with the generous weekly donations enabling KFR to look after those in desperate financial need in Wiltshire. To address serious poverty.
Juliet: "What is the biggest lesson learnt to date in your young careers?"
There was a pause as this question was mulled over …
Monty and Dan agreed that they had been guilty of spending too much time working IN the business and not enough time working ON the business. They now set aside a regular uninterrupted space to address issues arising from ‘On the business’
Juliet: "Finally a couple of relaxing frivolous questions"
Hobbies – if you have time?
“We make time.”
Monty supports Chelsea. Dan supports Arsenal. Dan played for Amesbury Town FC.
Favourite holiday destination?
Dan – Barbados and travel in general. Monty is a skier.
Dan loves pan fried duck! Monty enjoys Thai cooking!
“Monty and Dan creators and founders of Furniturebox thank you for your valuable time.”