Meet The Man Behind SofaSofa!

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Over the past few months we’ve brought you an insight into the people who make SofaSofa tick. Now it’s the turn of the man at the top, our CEO, Lloyd Ridgwell.

With over 25 years of service at SofaSofa there’s no one better placed to answer questions on how the family business started, how it’s grown over the last three decades and the direction it’s going in.

It seems the special ingredient to running a successful business is being focused on offering fantastic quality products at affordable prices and understanding the team that you work with. Easy!!

Read on to find out what it means to be a successful CEO in the furniture manufacturing industry.

 

20171129_150441 (2) SofaSofa's CEO

 

How did the idea of SofaSofa come about?

L: My family had been manufacturing upholstery since the early ‘80’s, and over time, opened up new workshops in South Wales to cope with growing demand. Each workshop specialised in a specific type of upholstery from high-end leather chesterfield pieces to affordable loose cover compact sofas. We began by marketing these products separately under their own brand, but increasingly, we realised that it would be beneficial to also amalgamate all our upholstery brands under one name; SofaSofa.

How did SofaSofa earn its name?

L: We needed something punchy, and sofa.com had already been taken by an internet squatter!

 

SofaSofa Logo in Showroom

SofaSofa's Logo in Wales Showroom

 

What were the biggest obstacles in developing SofaSofa and how did you overcome them?

L: I think the emergence of the internet has been the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity for us. As a 'direct to the consumer' company that sold most of its products through a brochure, the transition to an internet-based company was relatively straightforward. However, the infinite scale of the internet can make it very challenging to find our customer… and find them at the right time.

What has been SofaSofa’s greatest moment of success?

L: I take a lot of pride in creating and maintaining manufacturing jobs in South Wales. When we added our 70,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Rhymney, creating 127 jobs with the help of a local grant, that was a good day!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting-up SofaSofa, and what would you do differently?

L: The growth of the internet has been revolutionary for most businesses, and we could have been quicker to launch our website. Also, it would have been good to have a heads up about the financial crash!

 

Sofas in SofaSofa Showroom

SofaSofa's Stunning Showroom in Wales

 

What makes SofaSofa unique, and why should people buy your products?

L: We manufacture all our products in the UK, we only sell direct to the public, and we don’t have expensive showrooms across the country. We are the only sofa company in the UK that does this. In doing so, the cost savings to the customer are enormous!

Who are SofaSofa’s biggest competitors and how do you compete with them?

L: The furniture market is dominated by large out of town retailers that still import a sizeable amount of their goods from Eastern Europe and the Far East. We compete by offering better made British upholstery at a 'direct from the manufacturer' price free from retail overheads. Our online competitors are almost all wholesalers and importers, so their prices to the customer are significantly higher.

 

SofaSofa Banner - Handmade By Us in the UK

 

Describe your typical day at SofaSofa?

L: No day is quite the same. These days my job is really about ensuring my management team have everything in place to function at their optimum level ( sorry for the management speak!). So, my day is spent checking in with the department heads to see how things are going.

What’s the hardest part about being the owner of SofaSofa?

L: Customer or employee dissatisfaction hurts the most. We are a family business at heart so we value a friendly, personal relationship with customers and staff, so when this goes wrong for whatever reason, it is painful.  We can and do make mistakes from time to time, but when we do, we ensure it is corrected and not repeated. But it still hurts!

What’s the greatest part about being the owner of SofaSofa?

L: The opposite of the hardest! Customer and employee satisfaction, and I love to see new designs coming through.

How do you come up with new ideas for the business?

L: We have a design and development team that are constantly beavering away on new designs in a corner of our Crumlin factory. They work closely with our raw material suppliers to spot new trends in the market, and react as quickly as possible to changing customer demand.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

L: When I first began work in the furniture industry, I started on the production floor learning to cut, sew and upholster (admittedly not very well), gradually moving from production to office to management. I was mentored throughout this time by a man called Philip Harris, our design and development director. They broke the mould when they made Philip. He was truly inspirational, a one off, and the nicest man I have ever had the good fortune to meet. It was an absolute privilege to work with him and I miss him every day.

Apart from SofaSofa, what company do you admire the most and why?

L: I like owner-managed independent companies like us. In a world dominated by multi nationals, I admire companies that produce unique and individual products that can compete with the larger brands on price, quality and style.

 

Emerald Velvet Sofa

Lloyd's SofaSofa Favourite, the 3-Seater Agatha Sofa in Opulence Emerald

 

 How do you believe the furniture industry will change in the next 10 years?

L: Sadly, I see the large retailers continuing to dominate the market, but I am hopeful that there will continue to be a space for smaller independent companies like us to survive and thrive.

 What are SofaSofa’s future goals and where do you see the company in 5 years?

L: The market remains quite volatile since the financial crash, so customer confidence is still a little shaky. We will keep producing great designs at direct from the factory prices, and this should see us through any turbulent times ahead.

 What is your favourite SofaSofa model?

L: It changes almost weekly! At the moment, I think the velvet Agatha looks stunning; a touch of decadence in austere times.

 


We hope you enjoyed meeting the father of SofaSofa, and had some great insights into the business world of furniture!

Posted in Uncategorized on 5th Dec 2017

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