22 July 2024, 22:11
By Furniture News Mar 26, 2024

Getting personal: Greg French, Westgarth

Ambitious innovator Greg is a director at Westgarth, a UK furniture agency working with premium brands from Europe and beyond (currently La Forma/Kave, SITS, Italia Living, Innovation and Flexlux) – and a director of Bolda, a market intelligence service which gathers and displays personalised data on trends, pricing and availability.

How might a child describe what you do?

Sell sofas!

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

Staying relevant with the right manufacturers. The nature of our business means that things can change quickly, so always being prepared and spreading risk has been a mantra for our business for decades.

Also, trying to keep my tech start-up going!

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

A driver for me! I waste so much working time during the day in the car sometimes, it digs into my evenings and weekends – it would be great to spend those hours doing work other than what can be done on the phone.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘Oh, you’re Phil French’s son!’

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

This is a tough question, and at times there isn’t any, especially as I don’t have a ‘job’ – owning a business is a lifestyle, but I try to make sure when the family do see me I am present, and my friends understand I can’t be around as much as they are, and that my family comes first.

It ebbs and flows, but there are times when I can be there for them to pick up from school or help out when needed, but other times which mean I can’t be.

Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?

My dad, he brought me into the business, gave me great experience and helped me grow.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t be afraid to try a few things differently.

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

There’s been two: sealing a deal with one of the UK’s largest retailers for one of our brands at the agency; and securing a deal for Bolda with one of the UK’s biggest retailers.

What’s the biggest myth about our industry?

That travelling to shows and factories is always glamorous. It can be hot and sweaty or dark and freezing, and extremely tiring at times, with a lot of travel that digs into your personal life at all times.

What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?

I think we should be experimenting a little more – we are a notoriously slow industry to change, which has its charm and nice aspects too, but I think experimenting more would be good.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?

Fewer, stronger independent retailers solidifying their positions, online retailing turning to more physical space, more entrants into the markets from large retailers expanding categories. New technologies will continue to disrupt the industry online – but who knows what that will be?! Hopefully Bolda will be one!

What question do you wish we’d asked? How would you have answered?

Q. What did Covid teach you?

A. To expect the unexpected, but also that it won’t be as bad as you think.

This interview featured in the March issue of Furniture News magazine.


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