Arighi Bianchi is a unique, fourth generation family furniture business which is housed in a striking Grade II listed building designed in homage to The Crystal Palace, which was originally built in 1850 in London’s Hyde Park. Victoria Noakes speaks to director Nick Bianchi to find out more about the business …
Providing a comprehensive offering for the home – including carpets, beds, sofas, dining and living room furniture, curtains, bed linen and accessories – Arighi Bianchi celebrated an impressive 160 years of business last year. With its store housing over 70,000ft² of showroom space and a locally renowned cafe bar, the company employs over 100 people and has a fleet of 20 of its own branded delivery vehicles.
“I joined Arighi Bianchi in 2004 after a varied career of working as a translator in the football industry, then for international food broker PA Ross as an account manager and a sales director,” says Nick.
“Arighi Bianchi is the oldest furniture retailer in the UK still registered as a limited company. The business was founded by Antonio Arighi who escaped the civil war in Italy. Lake Como – where he lived – was a huge player in the silk market, and Macclesfield – where the company is now based – was then the largest producer of finished silk in the world.
“The familiarity of going to a fellow silk town was an obvious draw to Antonio, although he initially produced barometers. As his reputation grew, he diversified into clocks and furniture and was joined by Antonio Bianchi, who was a skilled cabinet maker, in 1869.”
The vision, courage and determination of the business founders, in addition to the company’s substantial heritage, is the inspiration that fuels Arighi Bianchi to this day – an inspiration that has been passed down the generations. Arighi Bianchi sets itself apart from the competition with its personal service and long-serving staff who understand the philosophy of the business, as well as with its inspirational displays, iconic building and 120-seater cafe bar – which has become as well known as the store itself.
Arighi Bianchi hosts some of the biggest brands in the industry under one roof, including Duresta, G Plan, ercol, Hypnos, Parker Knoll and Vispring, and Nick’s brother Robert regularly travels the globe to source the best products and to react quickly to new trends. Nick reports that Arighi’s sofa and bed categories are currently performing particularly well, in addition to reclaimed dining and cabinet ranges.
The past year has been a busy one for the business, with the launch of Arighi’s nationwide TV campaign on ITV marking a significant landmark. However, the company is constantly striving to develop and progress further, and aims to expand both its online visibility and bricks and mortar presence in the UK.
“Being long-established does not mean that you are outdated – we see that our heritage really counts with our customers. Dad and I give on average 40 talks per year to the Rotary clubs, WI, business groups and Young Enterprise on the history of Arighi Bianchi,” explains Nick.
“A key role for us as a family company is to continually evolve the brand and the business. Liberty’s, which is 140 years old, and John Lewis, which is 150, are two other examples of flourishing businesses that never stand still. We have three people working on our social media and website, which is hugely important, with the online market getting stronger and stronger. Our aim is to continue to move forward whilst remembering to celebrate and honour our roots.”