Retail Focus with Arighi Bianchi

Sarah Bianchi, CEO, at Arighi Bianchi, talks about recent investments and celebrating their 170th anniversary year.

Meet Sarah

My role is focused on the high level strategic direction and leadership of Arighi Bianchi to ensure the ongoing success of the company.

Recent investments?

Continuous investment is vital in ensuring that Arighi Bianchi maintains its advantage and remains successful for generations to come. As such we have invested heavily across the business – from strategy and branding through to store updates and a new website.

2024 marks our 170th anniversary and our focus is firmly set on how we can evolve our business in line with consumer trends. To secure the success of the business for years to come, we have invested in a new growth strategy which will see us evolve our offering to become a destination, offering shoppers experiences that complement our interior collections. The strategy is focused on driving both store and ecommerce growth, with a brand building, customer experience focused approach. This will be underpinned as ever by product quality and service excellence.

As part of this strategy, we have launched an exciting, destination-led campaign for 2024 called ‘Postcards from’. This will see us combine new accessories collections and brands with in-store events and food and drink takeovers. This first destination to launch is LA and we are offering people the chance to win a luxury £5,000 holiday to Los Angeles as part of the campaign.

In store we’ve invested in new and refurbished showroom spaces, a new accessories department and a new-look Caffè AB, complete with a delicious new menu. Whilst earlier this year we re-launched our website, enhancing the aesthetic and the user experience, whilst also welcoming a growing number of new brands including Assouline, Paul Smith and independent Los Angeles based scent brand PF Candle Co.

In line with our 170th year celebrations we have also invested in the Arighi Bianchi brand to ensure it stands the test of time. We unveiled a new visual identity in 2023. This rebrand was 12 months in the making, celebrating our heritage, with a refined colour palette and logo featuring our iconic Silk Road store.

Our very first lifestyle publication also launched this year. Our Giornale (newspaper in Italian), which features interiors, luxury lifestyle, travel, food and drink, and beauty is another investment in brand, which sees us evolve our offer to maintain our position as a leader in all things luxury.

Future plans?

In 2024 we’ll continue with our ambitious plans for the Arighi Bianchi brand, leveraging our position as a much-loved interiors brand, to evolve into a trusted lifestyle brand. This will be brought to life via seamless instore and online experiences, new products and partnerships with national brands from across the lifestyle spectrum, including fashion, food and drink, wellbeing, tech and more.

With 2024 being our 170th anniversary year, we’ve got lots planned throughout the year. We’re particularly looking forward to our “birthday” party in June, which will be a celebration of our independent, family-run business and hopefully a big community event for Cheshire and the surrounding areas, with all our past, present and future customers welcome.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to deliver a shopping experience that can’t be found elsewhere. For me, this involves the combination of perfectly curated products and brands, 5-star service which offers warmth, friendliness and expertise, and the additional Arighi Bianchi magic we’re known and loved for. Ultimately, we want to help people create homes they love living in, find pieces they treasure and have a brilliant time doing so. 

On sustainability, what is your business doing on this topic?

Sustainability is very important to us and we continue to learn and evolve our sustainability practices. In addition to funding EV charging points in the car park, we’ve been working hard to reduce waste and plastic usage and driving efficiencies with investments including LED light upgrades. At Caffè AB we work with very local suppliers, which ensures the highest quality of ingredients whilst supporting the local economy. We also work closely with suppliers to ensure that they share our sustainability ambitions too and we believe in sharing best practice as an industry so that we can collectively do our bit.

How has recent business been? What trends are you noticing?

We’re realistic about current market conditions and we know that for many customers, the current economic situation is having a significant impact on their spending choices, in addition to growing shifts towards buying experiences over products.

Consumers are taking additional consideration when purchasing big ticket items and we’re seeing many customers spend more time researching products, materials and sustainability credentials, so they can be certain they’ve chosen well.

What would you change in the industry?

I think the industry has traditionally been a little insular and often looked inwards when it comes to things like innovation. That’s why at Arighi Bianchi, we’ve looked outside of the sector, to take inspiration and learnings not from our competitors, but from leading global lifestyle brands, in order to understand how to achieve lasting success.

What challenges do you currently face and how are you overcoming these?

In a competitive market, where consumers have a wealth of choice, particularly online, it is easy to focus on things like price in a bid to remain competitive. But with the Arighi Bianchi model being very different to that of our competitors (for example we employ all our logistics staff in house, when many similar retailers outsource them), we have to be much more innovative in our strategic thinking.

That’s why our approach has always been to deliver a unique a retail experience, underpinned by service, quality and of course the excitement around not knowing what you might discover.

I feel that Arighi Bianchi has evolved with the times whilst remaining true to its values of service, quality and doing the right thing for customers and community. These come through at every customer touchpoint – and our training and management coaching ensures this spans the shop floor to our online enquiry service, helping us maintain our 5 star Trustpilot rating.

Do you have any staff you would like to pay special thanks or recognition to and why?

I’m incredibly grateful for every single member of staff at Arighi Bianchi. Our 125-strong company-wide team is a genuine extension of our family and every month, when we celebrate work anniversaries in our company newsletter, I’m blown away by the tenure of some of our colleagues. We have one colleague who will celebrate 50 years with us in 2025. That commitment to Arighi Bianchi is never lost on me and we’re honoured to have been people’s chosen place of work for generations.

Why do you think customers choose your business?

Years of customer feedback and our ongoing relationships with our loyal and returning customers tell us that customers love Arighi Bianchi because there’s nothing quite like it and we’re fortunate that customers travel from across the UK to visit the store. We know they value our commitment to delivering consistent customer service and how we’ll always try to go above and beyond.

I personally think we there’s an underlying bravery and desire to do things differently. After all, we’ve lived through centuries of war, recessions and suchlike, there’s nothing we can’t get past and as a result we’re adaptive and bold, from our iconic store frontage through to every marketing campaign (we famously turn our store into the North West’s tallest advent calendar at Christmas!). This helps to deliver the Arighi Bianchi experience, which is simply like no other and I think customers really do appreciate this excitement, with the warmth and familiarity that a family-run business brings.

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