December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A family-run bed firm enjoying its best ever year has been thrust into a national spotlight by Kevin McCloud, star of popular Channel Four show Grand Designs.
Amanda and Stephen Oldfield’s bed designed out of recycled scaffolding by their son Harry, 27, was chosen by Mr McCloud as a Green Hero product and displayed on his stand at the Grand Design Birmingham exhibition from October 4 to 6.
The accolade has topped a remarkable year for the family who have seen booming orders of their wrought iron range at home and abroad despite what Mr Oldfield senior described as “no help from our bank whatsoever”.
Now based in 3000sq ft premises in a converted dairy in Nethergate Street, Harpley, near Fakenham, his wife said the rollercoaster journey they had been on since setting up the company had not always been so comfortable.
“Ten years ago, when we were living in the Midlands, we had beds delivered for our boys and decided they were not good enough,” she said.
“We thought we could do this better and that’s how it started; it was also a way for us to get back to Norfolk.”
The enterprise, which also includes their other son Jack, 30, had the best possible start when buyers at John Lewis immediately snapped up the chance to order one of Mrs Oldfield’s designs and rolled it out to 24 stores.
A further lucrative order came in from the Cotswold Company but after the early highs, the Oldfields were soon brought down to earth when both contracts abruptly ended.
Setting up the website, wroughtironandbrassbed.co.uk, now accounting for 90pc of their trade, they also opened up a shop in Dersingham, later moving to Harpley for bigger premises. The beds are made in nearby King’s Lynn and Flitcham.
Mrs Oldfield said: “Eighty-five per cent of our sales are outside Norfolk. Some people look online but still want to come and look at the bed here. Someone recently drove over from Buckinghamshire.”
Her husband, a former accountant, said their annual turnover reflected their ups and downs, rising to £450,000 during the John Lewis years and dropping to £210,000 in 2008-9.
He said: “We have since been growing and growing. Last year it was 400,000 and this year we are heading for over £500,000.
“We receive no support from our bank who say they are not lending to retail or manufacturing businesses at the moment,” he said.
“They tell us to come back in two years if we have survived the recession.”
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.