18 June 2024, 05:39
By Furniture News Nov 11, 2022

Getting Personal: Chris Fletcher, Tetrad

Chris is the sales director at heritage upholstery manufacturer Tetrad. Founded in 1968 in Preston, Lancashire, Tetrad prides itself on delivering the best possible design, quality and sit, and the brand remains comfortably ahead of the trend curve to this day.  

How might a child describe what you do?

I’m a proud father of two boys, and they would say their dad’s a “sofa man”.

What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?

One of the biggest for our business – and indeed the industry as a whole – is skilled labour, particularly in sewing and upholstery. Whilst many of our operations (cutting and woodmachining, for example) have developed with technology to become more automated over the years with the introduction of various CAD/CAM packages, the core skills of sewing and upholstery remain very much craft bases, having not changed much over time.  

It takes years to develop the skills to manufacture a high-quality, hand-tufted Chesterfield, and through our continual apprenticeship schemes we are trying to ensure continuity for years to come.

If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?

With my background and years of experience in design and product development, I’d love to really push the boundaries of what’s possible – exploring and developing new sustainable and ecologically friendly materials, techniques and technology, to accompany great design aesthetics and comfort, would be a major focus. Creativity is the lifeblood of this business, and you can never create enough new and innovative products!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Best Seat in the House …

What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?

It’s very important to me to maintain a good work/life balance, and spending time with family is a real focus. Whilst this can be challenging, with business commitments, as a family we love to travel, and sunshine holidays are an essential chance to recharge the batteries!

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

Having joined the business in the late 90s, I spent almost 20 years working very closely with Tetrad’s founder and former chairman, Bob Cooper. Bob was a true pioneer of the industry, who had an insatiable passion for design and originality, and was a key influence in creating the style that the business has become synonymous with. Whilst he could also be a hard taskmaster, his pursuit of success and design innovation had a big influence on me.

What’s been your best day in business to date?

Wow … there’s been many good days (and some not so good!) along the way, but I think that my best to date would be the day we completed the MBO to take over the business back in 2014. The last few years leading up to it had been a really difficult trading period for the business, and that change in management gave us the opportunity to make the necessary changes.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

The deal of the century! In my experience, when it looks too good to be true, it generally is! I firmly believe that you do genuinely get what you pay for in this industry, and that if you spend a little more to purchase a quality hand-crafted sofa, over time it will prove to be a better value investment in the end!

This interview featured in the November 2022 issue of Furniture News magazine.

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