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11/04/2016

Local jobs boost as £400,000 North East Growth Plus Fund loan helps Furniture Clinic expand

A Durham company set up by father and son Keith and Ben Staerck in 2004 is expanding with the backing of a £400,000 loan from the North East Growth Fund which is managed by FW Capital.

Furniture Clinic manufactures a range of products to clean, repair and restore fabrics, leather and wood.  These products can be used on furniture, car interiors as well as goods such as handbags, luggage and saddles.

The company’s high-profile customers include Rolls Royce, Harvey Nichols, Radley, Barker and DFS while around 50% of the company’s business is currently online.

Furniture Clinic has gone from strength to strength, opening new branches in New York and Hong Kong, since Ben became managing director when his father Keith retired in 2012.

In 2013 Ben spotted a gap in the market and launched Handbag Clinic to clean, repair and restore designer handbags and in 2015 the company opened its first store on Kings Road in Chelsea.  Stores in Islington and Newcastle have since been opened.

Having expanded rapidly since it was established, the company has recently recruited 10 staff and currently employs 65 staff.

Expansion will now see the company recruit at least 20 staff in sales and management as well as in its repair team as it aims to increase its annual turnover from £2.4 million to over £6 million over the next 3 years.

“We now have a range of more than 100 cleaning products for leather, suede and wood and we have invested in automating our manufacturing equipment and processes to the extent that we are currently bottling around 18,000 cleaning products a day.

“The business has seen rapid growth with a good mix of online and trade sales. FW Capital’s investment will underpin our expansion plans and enable us to find new customers both at home and abroad,” Ben explained.

Furniture Clinic’s products are currently available in the UK, US, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Vietnam, Russia, Latvia, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.

Michael Vassallo, Senior Investment Executive at FW Capital, said: “I was impressed by Ben's vision for the company and his dynamism to take the business forward.  The company is already a huge success in a niche market and our loan will be instrumental in the company’s expansion over the next three years.

“We’ll be working with their management team to strengthen their position in the UK and international market places.  FW Capital is eager to work with more ambitious businesses like Furniture Clinic who need an injection of capital to help them achieve their growth plans.”

Named Young Business Person of the Year at the 2014 North East Business Awards, Ben was shortlisted for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum in 2015 and has just been named as BQ magazine’s Emerging Entrepreneur for the North East.

Furniture Clinic’s loan came from the North East Growth Plus Fund which is managed by FW Capital. The fund invests between £350,000 and £1.25m per round in established businesses based in the North East. 

North East Growth Plus Fund