Big Interview with Peter Delaney

Peter Delaney, Sales Director at Gallery Direct, shares an insight into his day-to-day role, what he loves about the job, who his two industry icons are and what 2024 holds for the company.

Let’s start with you. Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m originally from South East London, which is where the origins of Gallery Direct began back in 1973, as a family manufacturing business specialising in framing and wall décor. I took over from my father Mick and developed the company into what is now, a market leading contemporary interiors business.

On a personal note, I am family focused, love spending time with my wife and our grown-up girls, both who have professional careers. I enjoy cycling and have always been big into rugby. As well as being physically beneficial, I find sport is a great stress reliever.

What is your current job role and key responsibilities?

Sales Director – I took this role on in 2023, to allow me to focus on driving the sales and marketing functions further within our business. The job is front ended, being sales and product development focused. Through client meetings, I am able to share the strength of Gallery and its offer, being best placed to communicate Gallery’s ongoing design focus and new product development plans.

What do you love about your job?

I love new product development, working with the team here in the UK as well as our overseas offices and factory partners to bring truly exciting furniture to market. I also enjoy meeting with the characters across our industry, learning about their businesses, discussing how we can help and support their growth, and explaining the unique customer benefits of trading with Gallery and our extensive category offer.

What time is your alarm clock set for?

I never wake up to an alarm clock, I wake naturally. I begin by thinking about what I need to do that day for the business. I’m usually answering emails to our overseas teams from 05:00ish. When I’m at home and not out on the road visiting customers, around 6am, I jump on my turbo cycling trainer for half an hour, followed by a shower and breakfast of coffee, yogurt and fruit (my wife is trying to keep me healthy!). I’m in the office around 8am.

Why did you choose to work in the furnishing industry?

I didn’t choose it, it chose me … Having finished my A levels, I was going to have a year out, but was coaxed into helping out in the family business in a sales role to cover for a colleague. I landed the Harrods account in the first couple of weeks, selling a couple of hundred mirrors and was hooked, and stayed with the business ever since.

Who do you most admire in the industry and why?

There are many people in the industry who I have great admiration for. On a wider level, I really respect family retailers who have succeeded over 2-3 generations, evolving over the years to changing consumer habits to continue to be relevant to customers now.

On personal level, I have a great fondness and admiration for a number of our current team who have ‘grown up’ with the business and are doing a sterling job. Two characters I would like to call out are industry veterans James Hudson and Nigel Waller for their unbridled enthusiasm and passion for the industry, their product knowledge and expertise as well as being such positive people to spend time with!

Have there been any special moments during your career?

‘Magic moments’ during my career include securing a contract for one hundred and twenty-seven 40 foot containers for a US customer. I rang my Dad to tell him the amazing news, and to ask for an upgrade to business class for my flight home as a reward. His response was ‘how do you expect us to make that’ (we found a way!), and a resounding ‘NO’ to my upgrade! Coming up to current day, I’m totally buzzed about our latest range of furniture, … and still find myself holding my breath when the daily contact sheets come back from our location photography, thinking WOW that’s fabulously commercial!

What is your favourite item of furniture you own and why?

My leather Mr. Paddington Chair that sits by the log burning fire in our breakfast room. I love sitting quietly in it with a cuppa while reading the paper.

Mr Paddington armchair

What do you think is trending within the industry at present?

Organic and geometric shapes and forms seem very on-trend across multiple categories, and an emphasis on the colour green. Come to Gallery and you can see and buy it!

What would you change in the industry?

I would just have one trade show at the start of the year that covers all interior products. Apart from that, I wouldn’t change a lot – it’s a great sector to be in, the majority of people I meet in the industry are friendly, welcoming and enjoyable to work with.

Can you share an insight into your future plans?

2024 is extremely exciting for Gallery. All the ‘heavy lifting’ post covid to get the Company positioned correctly has been done and we look forward to delighting our customers with our extended product ranges across categories. We are going to continue to invest in our ‘furniture first’ strategy and are looking to create exciting complementary products across categories to make Gallery the easy choice for home interior needs.

What do you enjoy most outside of work / free time?

I enjoy eating, drinking and making merry, as well as exploring new places and challenging myself to cycling up some of Europe’s toughest climbs. The two don’t really complement each other, but I guess they balance each other out!

What might someone not know about you?

I’m a Scuba Diver.

If you had a different career, what would it be?

In my sixth form, I was lucky enough to get a taste of the Royal Navy, as I fancied being a Royal Marine. My ambitions moved on as I was then going to be a merchant banker but Mick had other ideas and I joined the family business. In retirement, well who knows, as I have always wanted to run a fleet of ice cream vans!

Finally, if you were an item of furniture, what would it be and why?

(Laughing) – I’m going to say, it would be our new Gallery Vancouver Kitchen Island, because it’s robust, good looking and the centre of all things.

www.gallerydirect.co.uk / www.bigfurnitureshow.com/collections/gallery-direct

Five Fun qs:

1) If you could hack into any one computer, whose computer would you choose and why?

Anybody who knows me would know I don’t have the required skills and inclination to do this, but if I had to choose someone it would be Donald Trump – I think it would be entertaining!

2) What fact amazes you every time you think of it?

Billions of Galaxies out there … and thus the probability of life somewhere else in our universe.

3) What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

Proposed to my wife in the back of a taxi in Boston.

4) What is the most important object you own and why?

My fondest is a 2003 Rugby World Cup winning jersey signed by Jonny Wilkinson.

5) What did you think was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now?

Wearing denim dungarees and a straw hat whilst pretending to be WHAM!

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