UK Enterprise 2020

246 | UK Enterprise Awards 2020 Aug20086 Best Furniture Repair & Upholstery Service 2020 - Wiltshire Some pieces of furniture need that extra bit of care and attention, using skills from experts in the field. None are more expert than the team at Richardson & Paige. We profile a firm committed to making a traditional craft accessible to all. In a beautiful rural setting in Wiltshire, amid the rhythmic hum of sewing machines and gentle tapping of hammers, you’ll hear the chatter of a happy team. What this team does is breathe new life into furniture that’s precious to its owners. It could be a treasured family armchair handed down through generations, or it could be from a stately home visited by millions of tourists each year. Whatever the project, to this group of traditional craftsmen and women, each day brings challenges, rewards – and ultimate job satisfaction. You can be sure that each piece of furniture passing through their hands is treated with the love and respect it deserves. Who you hang out with matters The team are well established and are growing in numbers! New recruits are made very welcome, and Robbie Richardson, Master Upholsterer and co-owner, believes that although upholstery skills are of course a prerequisite of working in this niche business, advanced skills can be learned from those in the workshop with more experience. It’s an environment open to knowledge sharing and problem-solving; therefore, personality and customer service skills are the deciding factor when choosing new members to join the team. Robbie has been an upholsterer for over 40 years, and just one conversation with him will demonstrate his absolute pride in his profession. To him, this traditional craft has served to provide not only a living but a creative outlet for him and partner Nikki; and also the thrill of keeping alive a traditional craft that’s centuries old. Inspired to learn this skill by his Grandfather, a cabinet maker until well into his 80s, Robbie never stands still, both literally and in his approach to his business! The methods used in the workshop remain traditional in every respect, but he now fully embraces technology, finding new ways to reach and delight his customers through social media, on and offline courses, Zoom calls with customers – even a new podcast! He’s also a member of a supportive business mastermind community who has helped him shape the business to date. The customer will always come first, whether in the workshop or online It’s this attitude to continuous improvement and exceptional customer service that has seen the business grow from two people working through the night to complete projects, to the successful business it is today. It’s a thriving enterprise that is not only the ‘go-to’ company for both stately and private homes across the UK, but it also hosts workshops and courses open to all. What makes them different is more than their customer-first approach. It’s an ability and willingness to blend modern-day expectations of service and technology with traditional craftsmanship and good old fashioned values. To quote Lord Asquith of Bath “Richardson & Paige are the Rolls Royce of Upholstery.” Artisan crafts are more popular than ever before Many of us have used creativity as a way to stay positive and busy during lockdown. And maybe because of this, Artisan crafts are even more popular, and people are re-evaluating what they want from their careers. This surge of interest in traditional skills has led to even more exciting developments for Richardson & Paige. Their upholstery workshop will remain the heart of their business, but more focus on community values and artisan crafts after the outbreak of COVID-19 has led to an increase in enquiries for courses and workshops. So Robbie and Nik are doing all they can to respond to this demand. They’re increasing the frequency of classes – and have also created a remote ‘course in a box’ where the customer can follow step by step video instructions from Robbie, with all the tools and materials provided, wherever they are in the UK. Reaching a new audience of hobbyists and budding upholsterers When initially trialled to a test audience earlier this year it was so well received it will be added to the business mix as a product and service that will focus on building a remote community of hobbyists and budding upholsterers. Aptly named The Upholstery In A Box Company it will sit neatly within the Richardson & Paige brand, appealing to a broad spectrum of new customers. From businesses looking for new and innovative team building projects; to hen parties wanting to make something special for the bride and groom. Even hotels looking for weekend guest activities, as everything needed for either a chair or stool project will come neatly packaged in a box and delivered wherever required. Although the idea was one ‘in the making’ before COVID-19, having the headspace and time to develop it during the enforced lockdown has meant the demand for the product has become apparent, and the development has moved forward faster than planned. The official launch of The Upholstery In A Box Company is set for early 2021, and the entire Richardson & Paige team are looking forward to influencing a new wave of traditional upholsterers – whether as a career or as a fulfilling hobby or team building activity! Company: Richardson & Paige Name: Robbie Richardson Web Address: