27 May 2024, 01:24
By Furniture News Jul 14, 2016

Kelvin Kennedy, Corndell Quality Furniture

Kelvin Kennedy is the director pf Corndell Quality Furniture. Corndell is one of the UK’s largest suppliers of cabinet furniture. Based in the Cotswolds, its dedicated team includes experts in finishing, creating high-quality colour and surface finishes across the company’s broad ranges.

How did you enter the trade?
In 1985 I joined Stompa Furniture as an area sales representative.

Who was your inspiration?
An old family friend who taught me how to conduct myself in business. He was a man of huge integrity, kindness and wisdom. At the height of his profession he was a CEO of a global brand. It was the principles of how he lived his life out and his strong faith which will forever be an inspiration to me.

What was your career high point?
My appointment as sales director of Corndell.

… and low point?
Obviously, the day Corndell entered administration last year.

… and the turning point?
Since entering administration and the subsequent recovery of the business, the team here in Witney have been overwhelmed by the level of support demonstrated by our retail partners. I’ve been personally really encouraged by this wave of goodwill, and it has created a determination to drive forward with the same level of skill and service as ever, but now with a heightened recognition of the power of this brand and our ability to build and sustain relationships with customers.

Describe a typical working day
No day is ever the same. I could be leaving home at dawn for a meeting with a retailer, running one of my regular sales and management meetings with the team at head office, or we could be in the factory reviewing a new product range or finish option. Recently, I’ve spent time working on our rebrand and setting up the NEC presentation.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
Managing an outdoor pursuit centre in the Lake District with a focus on youth development and management training.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
Any exhibition we attend is a great opportunity. I enjoy meeting up with potential and established customers and friends in the industry.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
It’s important for us now to re-establish the reputation of the brand. We’re working hard on new product, and have a dedicated designer on board. We are committed to communicating more effectively our brand strengths, and new ‘from here … to here’ positioning, which highlights our passion for the process of delivering great furniture – right through to inspiring the customers in how they furnish their homes.

What company do you most look up to?
I love driving – I have to in this job! – and I have to say that BMW is a great example of product innovation, superb customer service and powerful communication. It’s a real inspiration.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
I’m too much of a perfectionist, which hugely annoys me and those I work and live with!

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
I think it’s the combination of long-established retailer relationships and working on a brand with great heritage which is most enjoyable – but also seeing the launches of directional products and technology that are creating new opportunities. Things are moving quicker now, and there’s a real momentum building which I find refreshing.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!
Years ago, whilst I was perusing the products in a John Lewis furniture department, I heard a loud shout go up: “Shoplifter! Stop him!” The red mist rose, and my natural retailer instincts kicked in as I realised the burly brute was running straight at me, and, with a tackle that Manu Tuilagi would be proud of, I floored him!

As I held him down awaiting assistance and the plaudits that would obviously follow, I heard him mutter something into JLP’s deep pile carpet – something suspiciously like “let go of me you x@*%#$, I’m the store detective!”

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