Together with her husband Ray, Deirdre founded ufurnish.com (previously Kuldea), an online search and comparison engine which presents consumers with a wealth of products from across the furniture retail sector. The business recently raised £3.4m in seed funding, bringing the total funding received since the platform launched to over £5.2m. Prior to 2019, Deirdre worked in the banking sector.
How might a child describe what you do?
Deirdre lists all the furniture on her website.
What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?
Making every person in the UK know that ufurnish.com exists, and the choice, value and time saving it can bring to them.
If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?
Bringing the team together more often, expanding the team to deliver more product features, and marketing, marketing, marketing.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?
I’m firmly in the work balance at the moment, but planning to bring the life balance into play more.
Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?
My chairman Pat McCann. He’s come from a similar upbringing to myself, and has grafted hard in his life to rise up through the ranks, yet he manages to remain so humble. I’m still learning, so having someone who you can ask how to manage something or observe firsthand how they deal with business is very useful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take on as much work – do fewer things, and do them to a higher quality. I was always rushing to get onto the next thing but would have been better doing less but to a higher standard.
What’s been your best day in business to date?
A toss-up between when ufurnish.com got its first investment to start to build the business, and when the first sale was made, showing that the business proposition had value and was going to work.
What’s the biggest myth about our industry?
That the cheapest item is better value than something twice the price. I think we need to educate consumers on quality and value. Value does not mean the lowest price. Think of it as a cost per wear – a sofa that you keep for 2 years is not better value than a sofa at twice the cost that you keep for seven.
What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?
Start always keeping the consumer in mind for all decisions, and stop thinking that the hard sale is the way to create long-term brand loyalty (and therefore sales). Using data insights to provide the most compelling service to individual consumers will help differentiate the winners from the rest.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?
I think omnichannel will become more important than ever. People are viewing retail as an experience, entertainment, something to find enjoyment from. Events and activity in stores will help to drive brand awareness and footfall, whilst online will continue to grow its share of actual purchase.
What question do you wish we’d asked? How would you have answered?
Q. What’s your superpower?
A. Underestimation. It’s amazing what you can learn from insights when people have dismissed you and don’t view you as important.
This interview featured in April's Furniture News.