This week’s #madeinsandwell Monday star is a family business celebrating its 18th anniversary in 2017.
The company was set up as Repose Furniture by John Elcocks and his son David in 1999, starting life in a small manufacturing unit in Cradley Heath. Since then it has grown significantly, now operating from a 23,500 square feet facility and selling through over 200 retailers across the UK.
John has always been in the upholstery and furniture markets, leaving school at 14 and working for Rackhams in Birmingham. By the age of 21, he was running his own national bedding company. He is still very active within Repose.
David followed a similar path, leaving school at 16 and working for an office furniture company before forming Repose Furniture with his dad.
Over the next six years, the company grew steadily, moving to larger premises. Then Lisa Wardley came on board, bringing a further wealth of industry experience. Lisa is John’s daughter and David’s sister, and is now managing director of Repose.
Lisa and the team had to make a big decision regarding the direction of Repose Furniture. At that time, domestic furniture imports from China were having a detrimental effect on business. Fortunately, Repose had a niche.
“In addition to making standard domestic furniture for the high street, we already had a small number of mobility customers for whom we produced riser recliner chairs,” explained Lisa. “So we took the decision to restructure and focus on the mobility sector”.
Repose was lucky enough to secure a grant, using it to produce a website and brochures prior to attending Naidex, a huge trade show dedicated to independent living.
“We put all our investment into the 2006 show and worked on new products and mechanisms, all of which launched at Naidex,” said Lisa.
The move paid off, with the company receiving a great response from visitors to the show.
“Over the following weeks and months, the phone didn’t stop ringing with enquiries from all over the UK. It’s been a rollercoaster ever since with production increasing year on year,” said Lisa.
As well as supplying to the mobility marketplace, Repose focuses on care homes, hospitals and the high street, and works closely with occupational therapists to supply equipment.
The company has strong ethical and environmental policies, and all Repose seating is made in a single factory in Cradley Heath. Lisa said being located in Sandwell is important to the business for several reasons.
“As we have retailers across the UK, Sandwell is the perfect location for a company such as Repose as we are close to the motorway network which helps us to meet our delivery times around the country.
“It also means we are easily accessible, should retailers wish to visit our manufacturing centre.
“As a company, we like to do our best to support the local economy by employing local people and, for me, having grown up in the area, it is very rewarding to be able to give something back.”
And what of the future for Repose?
“It is my aim to continue growing the business in a controlled fashion, ensuring our retailers and end users continue to receive the best possible level of service,” said Lisa.
“I love the mobility industry. Every product we supply is needed and a necessity. That’s what I like, as we are producing a piece of furniture that is actually going to help someone on a daily basis”.
Congratulations to Repose and we look forward to seeing the company’s continued success over the next 18 years. #madeinsandwell Monday is a celebration of the talent and diversity of businesses in our borough. If you’re interested in being considered for a #madeinsandwell Monday profile, read this.