Huw Williams, Managing Director of Toons Home Furnishers, reflects on a successful 2022 and shares an insight into the year ahead.
With over 50 years of trading under their belt, it’s fair to say that Toons Home Furnishers has seen it all when it comes to business. In more recent years, the challenges of Covid, lockdowns, supply chain issues and general market uncertainty have been a task for every business, not just in the furniture industry but the country and world too. How to manage such challenges is one thing, but to emerge with a continued success story is another. For Toons, 2022 proved to be another year of growth but not without its challenges.
“Like everyone in the trade we have suffered a lot from supply chain issues and delayed delivery dates on almost everything we sell. Throughout the last year we only lost two orders as a result of this and the key to this has been from being honest with our customers and we have kept our customers fully informed at every step on any changes to delivery dates. Most customers appreciate open and honest communication,” revealed Huw Williams, Managing Director of Swadlincote-based Toons Home Furnishers.
“Year 2021/2022 saw our turnover reach £5.5m, which is an increase of £1.4m on 2020/2021, and despite large capital investments in the business during this period, we still turned a profit of £305,000 and are debt free.”
Included within these investments was the complete replacement of their vehicle fleet, moving from mainly leased to owned, which has reduced logistics costs and enhanced environmentally friendly processes. “If we hit tight times, we won’t have a big monthly lease charge to pay, which will cut outgoings,” Huw said.
On sustainability, Huw continued: “We currently recycle all of our cardboard and mattress returns and around 50% of our plastic. We are seeking a workable solution for recycling carpet uplifts but are not there yet with that. We changed all of our lighting from fluorescent to LED, which in hindsight was a good decision due to the increases in energy costs, along with updating our vehicle fleet with more efficient fewer polluting vehicles. We sell a number of products, carpets and furniture made from recycled plastics and this is becoming an increasingly important trend from customers.”
Furthermore, and as this interview took place, Toons is carrying out a full refurbishment of their popular Honeypot coffee shop, as well as finalising plans to incorporate a play area later in the year to encourage families to visit. “We are also in the process of organising the installation of solar panels on our roof, which will not only make us self-sufficient in electricity, but will enable us to generate an income selling excess capacity to the grid,” Huw added.
“We have just started the process of moving a lot of our carpet ranges to Toons own brand, which will progress throughout the year and will result in improvements to margins in that area. Our IT department is in the process of installing a fully integrated IT system, which will replace the outdated individual systems that are not connected and do not communicate with each other.”
Reverting back to trends, Huw highlighted that they are starting to see a move away from the colour grey and the market seems to be moving towards greens and blues, with people becoming “fed up with grey and needing a change”, while the cost-of-living crisis will lead to consumers seeking for more value. “I think this year will be a year where due to cost-of-living increases, people will be looking for more value items and will be more likely to shop around for the best prices. We are also seeing an increase in people using the interest free payment option as they seek to spread the cost of purchases.”
As for a personal highlight and the key to their continued success, Huw added: “The highlight for me this year was being able to share the success in the business with those who made it happen by paying our staff a decent bonus off the back of a good year. The finances are looking very healthy.
“The key to my success is the people who I work with in Toons. They provide a great and knowledgeable service to our customers and this leads to a lot of repeat business and recommendations and consistently high levels of customer satisfaction in our surveys. Most importantly, they enjoy their jobs and care passionately about the business, with the average length of service for Toons staff being around 25 years.”