Business booming for South Tyneside furniture firm

Bill Hartshorne and John Orr with the beds available from the online furniture store Zuggi, with children Charlie, four and Katie six.

Bill Hartshorne and John Orr with the beds available from the online furniture store Zuggi, with children Charlie, four and Katie six.

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A couple’s struggle to find the perfect bed for their son led a father to launch his own online furniture business.

John Orr used his e-commerce skills to create Zuggi – selling unique children’s furniture – and Mews, selling country-inspired solid wood furniture.

Some of the furniture.

Some of the furniture.

The 37-year-old took the leap into self-employment after being made redundant, following 15 years in the online furniture trade, earlier this year.

He was inspired after recalling the struggle to find the perfect bed for his two-year-old son, Charlie.

With the help of Tedco Business Support and a £25,000 Virgin start-up loan, his business has been soaring.

It is decision the father of three does not regret.

Mr Orr, whose business is based at Warehouse 21 at the Port of Tyne, South Shields said: “When I was made redundant, I knew instinctively that I wanted to remain in online retailing but needed time to consider the right types of products and ideas.

“During this time my son turned two years old and we set out to buy his first bed. After hours of research I found the vast majority of children’s novelty beds were being sold at high prices and only in the smaller toddler size, which he would quickly outgrow.”

“I began to look at suppliers across the world who could offer bespoke children’s furniture that would suit the UK market. Once I was satisfied with the quality and style of the products I set about planning how to launch the business and more importantly, how to fund it.”

Mr Orr was supported by Tedco’s business advisor Bill Hartshorne after being put in touch by Virgin StartUp – a not-for-profit organisation, which delivers government-backed business loans to new enterprises.

Mr Orr said: “The response has been so positive that we have had to effectively doubled our sales forecasts for the first six months of trading.

Bill Hartshorne, Tedco business advisor said: “John has extensive experience in the furniture selling market and is keenly aware of how to sell successfully online.

“Where he needed help was in getting his business investment ready, and that involved looking at the wider marketplace and his business plans in greater detail to ensure he had the right strategy in place to grow and develop.”