26 May 2024, 16:03
By Paul Farley Apr 04, 2024

Simon Fishpool on 125 years of furniture retail

Fishpools of Waltham Cross is one of the South East’s biggest retailers of quality furniture, and a destination popular with shoppers from Hertfordshire, Essex and London. Last month, the business celebrated its 125th birthday, with an in-store event and staff party – Furniture News asked MD Simon Fishpool to tell us more …

is 125 years old – congratulations! How did you celebrate reaching this milestone, and how do you feel about it personally?

We marked this significant milestone by firstly saying thank you to our customers, employees and suppliers. We kicked off the celebrations with a big in-store event on 23rd and 24th March, with prize draws across the two days and gifting opportunities for previous customers. Following this, to celebrate our employees and suppliers, we hosted a big company party.

What do you think (founder) Ernest Fishpool would say if he could see the business today?

I would like to think that Ernest would like where we have ended up, but I’m pretty sure that he would urge us to keep evolving and growing all parts of the business, too.

Is there anything about retail as it was back in his time that you’d like to recapture?

I prefer to think about ‘reaffirming’ retail rather than recapturing, as we haven’t lost the best elements of the industry. We are reaffirming our great service and value, our huge product choice and selection, and ensuring we live up to our strapline, ‘furniture experts’.

What technological projects are you currently working on, and what’s in the pipeline for your online offer?

We are constantly working on how best to blend online and offline retailing, plus reviewing the IT and systems infrastructure required to support our proposition, in a way that makes the customer experience first rate.

Given that, how might the store look in 10 years’ time?

The industry has evolved so much – just think how much the customer journey has changed in the past 10 years! Everything will continue to evolve and the rate of change will probably increase, so it’s important that we continue developing and progressing the business with the times.

Fishpools, of Waltham Cross
Fishpools, of Waltham Cross

Can you summarise the business’ recent financial performance?

As trading has now normalised since the pandemic, we’ve continued to be financially rock solid. This is the benefit of generations of sensible, commercial investment back into the business, and no rent or borrowings to get in the way of long-term planning.

Some retailers see opportunities to grow their store portfolios in the current climate – are you tempted to expand?

Never say never, but the economics of land and property transactions in the South East are such that reinvesting in our store, DC, systems and brand is providing us with a better return at present.

Fishpools is one of the nation’s best-looking furniture stores. What does it take to keep it that way?

Reinvesting in store presentation and refreshing our product ranges is our 365-day-a-year, front-of-mind obsession.

Read the rest of our interview with Simon in April's issue.


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