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Former Adnams man takes on Beccles furniture firm

PUBLISHED: 07:59 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 06 July 2010

Elaine Maslin

A retail and marketing manager with experience at Guinness, the Wine Society and Adnams is set to put his stamp on a Norfolk furniture manufacturer.

Rupert Farquharson's CV in short

2003-2010 Retail director at Adnams

2000-2003 Sales and marketing executive at the Wine Society

1995-2000 Customer marketing manager at Guinness

1989-1995 worked at Bass (now Mitchells and Butlers)

1987-1989 University of Exeter reading Theology

A retail and marketing manager with experience at Guinness, the Wine Society and Adnams is set to put his stamp on a Norfolk furniture manufacturer.

Rupert Farquharson has joined Beccles-based Mark Elliot Furniture as managing director.

He already has plans to expand the business, with a new store closer to London, but only after focussing on the firm's current operations, to “make them hum”.

Mark Elliot Furniture, founded by Mark Elliot, has been running 23 years from its Beccles base, where it has a store and factory.

It also stores at Holkham, Holt, Norwich's Timberhill, Snape Maltings, Bishop's Stortford, Cheltenham, Monmouth, Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Stamford and Altrincham.

Profit last year was £277,000 on like for like sales up 16pc, with turnover at £5.4m, and the firm was on target to hit £300,000 profit this year, said Mr Elliot.

Turnover for this year is due to be £6m, but Mr Farquharson said his aim was to increase that to £8m.

“It is a fantastically interesting business, manufacturing in the UK and actually the consumer wants to buy British,” he said.

“The middle market brands are finding it difficult at the moment. But the top and bottom ends will both do well.

“While the country isn't making anything, here we have a great business with great potential to drive forward.

“We sold £2m of sofas last year, we want to work that capacity up.

“We probably need to open another store near London, but first we need to make our factory space hum and maximise our resources.”

The appointment comes after some change at the firm.

The firm has recently brought sofa production back in house after a company they were working with in bury St Edmunds started to struggle. They also took on five cabinet makers last year.

Mr Elliott said: “We have moved production back into our own factory. Mistakes were made listening to experts who said sub work out, but it was the wrong thing to do.

“We're going back to our roots and how we started in retail and manufacturing, making it ourselves and supplying our own shops.”

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