Nicolle Hockin, Managing Director of Devonshire, talks about how the company has continued to adapt and grow despite operating in tough times.
To adapt is to adjust to new conditions or make something suitable for a new use or purpose. Many furniture businesses have had to do just this in recent years following the many challenges across the industry from Covid-19, increased shipping costs, the conflict in Ukraine and the cost-of-living pressures to name but a few.
One furniture company that has continued to meet these challenges head on is Devonshire Living. Based in the historic port town of Bideford, Devonshire boasts a 240,000sqft factory and warehousing facility, plus a 24,000sqft purpose-built showroom and local retail outlet.
As one of the UK’s largest independent furniture suppliers, Devonshire has continued to weather the turbulent industry and plans to come out the other side stronger than ever, all while celebrating an historic milestone, their 30th anniversary.
A well-respected business in the industry, Devonshire has built a strong reputation for quality, reliable products, and fantastic value for money since its inception back in 1992.
Nicolle Hockin, Managing Director of Devonshire, told us more: “As our name suggests, our location in the British countryside is an important story for our company. With humble beginnings as a small bespoke furniture spraying facility, our founder, and also my father, Peter Hockin continued to grow the factory from strength to strength, adding new phases and processes to the building over the years.
“All of our furniture is sustainably sourced from carefully selected suppliers from all around the globe.”
Devonshire is still an independent and family-run business, with Peter stepping back for Nicolle to take on ownership during 2019. You could argue it’s been one of the toughest starts for a new owner after the past few years, but Nicolle has kept the company pushing on, with May 2022 marking its 30th birthday as a Ltd company.
“In 2019 we closed the manufacturing facility to focus on the import, wholesale and distribution side of the business with our core values remaining the same – providing top quality service, upholding our environmental responsibilities, and supporting our local community wherever we can,” Nicolle said.
“Devonshire’s 30th year has been one of growth and adaptation so far. One big change this year has been the departure of long-term figurehead Andrew Waddell. For 21 of those 30 years, Andy rose through the ranks from HGV driver to MD of the company. Andy decided that this was his time to pursue new interests, and we wish him all the best for his future endeavours.”
With Andy’s departure and the current sales climate, Devonshire have taken the opportunity to completely restructure, looking at new and innovative ways to handle sales and operations in a more efficient and creative way, with Nicolle firmly at the helm.
“We have a full fleet of vehicles, a fully stocked warehouse with £4m worth of cabinet furniture, offices and a dedicated showroom all owned outright by the business, we have a solid foundation to build and expand on this new model,” Nicolle revealed.
“It may sound cliché, but the core of Devonshire’s model is quality and service. With an in-house quality control department, knowledge built over 25 years of manufacturing, a devoted and flexible customer service office, and a strong logistics team, it’s the people in the company which make the difference.”
Since taking over, Nicolle has advocated for a more flexible approach to customer service, encouraging the team to think outside the box to find the best solutions to challenges, with one of Devonshire’s key selling points being their paint spraying facilities, which currently offer nine colour options across their four painted ranges.
Nicolle added: “With the rise of internet selling in recent years, choice is becoming more and more important to the end consumer. From classic neutrals like Ivory and Moon Grey, to eye-catching pops of colour like Electric blue and Honeycomb yellow, we can offer that choice on an extremely short lead-time.
“One keen focus going forwards is the environmental impact of the supply chain, the beginning of which can be seen in our new Reclaimed Pine ranges Henley and Chiltern. These are produced from the wood of old demolished buildings.
“Despite the challenges of today’s market, we have entered our 30th decade in a strong position and will continue to maintain a high level of quality and service for many years to come.”