Prestige Beds – encompassing Bold Street Beds, acquired by the business in 2010 – was established in 1959 in Blackburn, and offers a wide range of mattresses, divans and adjustable beds to suit all budgets. Victoria Noakes spoke to marketing and IT manager James Dunne to uncover more about the business ...
Entering the business 10 years ago after leaving sixth form, James Dunne is the grandson – and namesake – of the late founder of Prestige Beds, and the son of the company’s MD, Joe Dunne. Having occupied his current role for around four years, James is also involved in all other aspects of the day-to-day running of the business, with the ambition to continue the legacy laid down by his father and grandfather.
“My grandfather was a pioneer in establishing the first company to specialise in beds in the country at that time, with beds only being seen amongst general furnishings businesses prior to then,” states James.
The company has four stores across Lancashire – two in Blackburn, one in Burnley, and Bold Street Beds in Preston – with the flagship store based in Blackburn housing the business’ warehouse and deliveries operations.
Together, these stores provide a vast selection of leading industry brands including Sealy, Silentnight, Rest Assured and Hypnos, plus an extensive range of bedsteads from the likes of Willis & Gambier and Bentley Designs, and headboards, pillows, duvets and mattress protectors from respected market leaders.
“Our inspiration comes from seeing larger multinational bed retailers in the area selling beds similar to what you’ll see in our stores at inflated prices, and charging what we feel are extortionate fees”
“Our inspiration comes from seeing larger multinational bed retailers in the area selling beds similar to what you’ll see in our stores at inflated prices, and charging what we feel are extortionate fees for services like delivery, assembly and old bed removal,” James says.
“We want to offer the people in our local area excellent-quality, affordable beds and mattresses from a company they can trust, with a level of customer service that we are extremely proud of, and that will ensure that our customers return to us. Putting in place an excellent aftercare service is equally as important as making sure that our customers know they can rely on us if anything does go wrong.”
Being a family business, Prestige Beds takes pride in what it does, working to give its customers a great experience from the moment they walk through the door until the product has been delivered. The company offers its expansive range in a wide choice of sizes, with free next-day delivery across the North-west of England, including assembly of the new bed and removal of the old one.
“We have some of the most experienced sales staff in the industry that have a vast wealth of knowledge. There isn’t a better place for someone to seek honest, impartial advice which puts the customer’s needs at heart when buying their new bed or mattress,” explains James.
This year has been a busy one for the business, with Bold Street Beds celebrating its 60th trading year, and the launch of new e-commerce websites for both Prestige Beds and Bold Street Beds, which have been carefully designed to be user-friendly as well as mobile-enabled.
Most recently, the company has also begun creating video reviews of its products as well as infomercials based on sleep-related topics and items such as mattress components to give its customers valuable background information before buying a bed or mattress from Prestige Beds or Bold Street Beds.
Although it provides a useful platform and offers unique opportunities, James cites the internet as being one of the biggest obstacles for the company right now, with the issue that some retailers undervalue many products by selling them at what can sometimes be “farcical” prices. He believes that this has come at the expense of many well-established independent bricks-and-mortar bed businesses.
“Suppliers who have suffered by seeing their brands undervalued have tackled this in order to protect businesses like us by enforcing a strict pricing structure, but this is almost impossible to monitor. Some manufacturers have introduced exclusive high street ranges and made it so that products seen in store won’t, or at least shouldn’t, be seen on the internet, but again, keeping on top of this is difficult,” states James.
“We want to offer the people in our local area excellent-quality, affordable beds and mattresses from a company they can trust, with a level of customer service that we are extremely proud of”
“The unsustainable business model of working on such small margins taken on by many of these e-tailers has seen them eventually fall by the wayside, but unfortunately this has come too late for many bricks and mortar businesses across the country.”
In spite of this, James’ outlook on the bed market is optimistic. He states that there is evidence to suggest that consumer confidence has grown steadily over the last 18 months. In addition, he feels that campaigns to increase awareness of the importance of a good night’s sleep as a way of improving health and lifestyle have benefited the business greatly. As such, James is positive about the future of Prestige Beds and Bold Street Beds.
He concludes: “Like any business that wishes to be successful, you need to keep moving forward and to continually evolve. Striving to improve all that we’re doing now is important, but our aim is to grow by improving our visibility online to bring in new customers, and hopefully open a fifth store in a part of the North-west where we feel a trustworthy independent bed specialist is needed.”
This interview was published in the Bed Show Preview Supplement 2015, distributed with the 2015 September issue of Furniture News magazine.