Ecommerce specialist Furniturebox set for global expansion
Two school friends who started their online furniture business aged just 18 are in the hot seat after sales soared to £17 million just seven years later.
Monty George and Dan Beckles, both aged 25, started Furniturebox straight after leaving school. They are now making annual profits of £2.4 million which are being reinvested so they can rival the UK’s leading furniture brands such as Dunelm, Habitat and Ikea.
The two entrepreneurs, who both live in Bristol, have invested £3 million in a new 88,000 sq ft new headquarters and warehouse at St Modwen Park business estate which will allow them to do next day deliveries nationwide.
They have just broken into America and expect the 95% sales growth of the last three years to accelerate as they push into new markets internationally.
They are part of a new breed of UK ‘Gen Z entrepreneurs’ creating ecommerce businesses worth millions. They employ 53 staff at the new HQ which has transformed their fortunes.
Dan said: “Moving into the new warehouse has been incredibly exciting because we can increase our capacity by fivefold and it is so easy to dispatch orders being right next to the M4.
“We are running an incredibly efficient model which means we can easily access all the markets which are important to us – from our own website to other big online sellers such as Amazon, Robert Dyas and many more.
“The business has really grown over the last three years and now we are looking to expand internationally with that solid foundation behind us.”
Monty is a professed serial entrepreneur who was selling tech products on eBay when he was still at school. He persuaded Dan to turn down a place at university and join him in setting up Furniturebox in 2015. They saw a gap in the furniture market.
Monty said: “I could see that there was a huge market for furniture and it was very under-developed online. I bought a couple of containers of furniture and persuaded Dan to join forces with me to sell it online. That is how the business started.
Last year, Furniturebox was ranked as the fastest growing small business in the south west in the Sunday Times’ list of the UK’s most successful private companies, as well picking up the same accolade in the popular ‘Lightning 50’ league table which tracks growth rates for hundreds of online businesses across the UK.
According to the duo, the key to managing the explosion in sales was bringing in retail operations software specialists Brightpearl five years ago.
Dan said: “Brightpearl has been incredibly important for us because we sell through nine different channels in the UK but we are now expanding in the US through the big furniture store Wayfair.
“Without Brightpearl, we were having to draw data from different channels and everything was being done manually. Monty and I were cutting and pasting orders onto Amazon on a Sunday night before starting the new week on a Monday. It was exhausting. Suddenly all those orders were inputted electronically and it revolutionised the business.
“Finally we had an automated central hub for all our activities – from sales to stock management.
“It meant that we have been able to cut back on staffing doing manual administration and reinvest those savings in other areas of the business.”
Just 10% of UK entrepreneurs are from a BAME background (black, Asian and minority ethnic) and Dan is proud to be flying the flag for diversity as a businessman from a mixed race family.
He said: “I hope that my example will lead to more people from a BAME background starting their own businesses.”