Sublime: When was Sofas by Saxon established and by whom?
Matt Deighton: The business was set up in 1982 by Robert and Teresa Jolly.
S: How have the family's personal beliefs and values shaped the company’s vision and ethos?
MD: The personal beliefs and values which have been instilled since Sofas by Saxon was formed in 1982 run through everything that we do as a company today. We have a positive 'can do' attitude throughout the business, and with many of our colleagues having been with the business for over 15 years, there is a genuine family culture which it's a pleasure to be part of.
S: What was the reason behind opening your workshop to the public?
MD: When we moved to our new location in 2000, we installed a purpose-built showroom at the front of the workshop that provided a great elevated vantage point overlooking our entire operation. We believe in being as transparent as possible with our customers, and what better way to demonstrate this than by allowing our customers to see every aspect of our production process from the comfort of our showroom.
S: How long does it take to make a hand-crafted quality sofa like the Chesterfield or the Westminster, and how many artisans are involved from start to finish?
MD: Firstly, the process cannot be rushed. From assembling the frame to selecting and cutting the leather or fabric, to sewing and upholstering, there can be as many as 7 or 8 people involved in manufacturing a single sofa. The entire timescale from start to finish can be up to a couple of days, depending on the style and size of the sofa or chair.
S: Do you offer bespoke services to your customers?
MD: Yes, one of the advantages of making everything to order and having complete control of our production process, from manufacturing the frame to upholstering the furniture, means that we can offer our customers a bespoke service. Whether that's in choosing a unique leather or fabric combination, or changing the height, width or depth of their chosen sofa or chair, we can accommodate most customer requests.
S: Could you share an anecdote about a very demanding customer?
MD: I would prefer to rephrase the word 'demanding' as this may come across as negative. As a company, we love a challenge and it's fair to say we've been presented with a number of good challenges over the years, from doing the bespoke fit out of a sail boat with custom Chesterfield style seating, to a 12-metre sofa for a restaurant in Holland, to over 60 sofas to a customer in Iraq on very short notice. It's fair to say we've seen it all over the years —it's one of the things that keeps life in the company so interesting.
S: Are more people buying furniture made in the UK nowadays? What does it mean for the local industry – in your case Lancashire?
MD: It's difficult to say whether more people are buying furniture made in the UK nowadays as it's so difficult to know where most companies manufacture their furniture. What we can say with certainty is that one of the key reasons our customers purchase our furniture is due to the fact that it's made in our own Lancashire workshop and has been for over 35 years.
For the local industry, this is very significant. With close to 100 employees and many local suppliers, we are very much at the heart of the local community and therefore any customer purchasing our furniture is having a positive impact on the local economy and community
S: What other products do you manufacture?
MD: We manufacture sofa beds, corner sofas, footstools, chaise lounges, headboards, sofa beds and scatter cushions.
S: Name your favourite product. Why do you love it?
MD: The classic Chesterfield cannot be beaten. It is at the very heart of our company and is the foundation of everything that we do.
S: What are your plans for the future?
MD: We have an exciting range of models coming out in 2019 in a stunning array of new fabrics - that's in addition to the Harris Tweed collection which will also debut in 2019. Alongside this we also have some exciting export plans which will develop during 2019.
S: Finally, what’s your favourite hashtag?
MD: It's hard to pick just one, so I've gone for my favourite three:
#ShopLocal #BestofBritish #ILoveChesterfields