Tim Oulton, Founder and Creative Director of Timothy Oulton and the Halo Group, shares an exclusive insight with Inside Furniture into their next stage of growth as the brand expands across the world.
British furniture brand Timothy Oulton has revealed an extensive programme of global expansion.
We caught up with the man himself, who shared an insight in how the Sofa Workshop acquisition has been received and what future plans the company has in store, as well as growing its global footprint.
Starting with the latter, Timothy Oulton’s extensive programme of global expansion will see seven more owned and operated Timothy Oulton galleries, joining an existing 11 standalone showrooms and 30 other retailer partners all over the world.
Timothy Oulton spaces in Hamburg, Los Angeles, Barbados, Glasgow and Malibu began to open from October 2020, joining San Francisco, which launched in July and Miami, set to open in the early part of 2021.
The brand will double its size at Horizon Plaza, Hong Kong, making the gallery its largest in the world. Timothy Oulton is also extending the footprint of its Noble Souls collection with a first dedicated space on the King’s Road, London.
Tim Oulton, Founder and Creative Director, says: “Despite the economic climate the Timothy Oulton brand continues to go from strength to strength. We opened a London flagship in 2018 and already have a presence across five continents in international gateway cities, so our approach is backed by the power of a brand that we know works.
“Our in-house design and manufacturing capabilities mean that we are able to expand without compromising our premium product and we look forward to further growth.”
The expansion is the next step in Timothy Oulton’s growth strategy, which recently saw it acquire Sofa Workshop from DFS Limited, comprising 20 stores across the UK and an online retail business.
How is this side of the business going so far?
“It’s a little early to tell – we’ve redecorated all stores, and trained the teams, despite the ongoing disruptions due to Covid.
“The ‘workshop’ and the importance of how things are conceived and made is at the core of what we do; Sofa Workshop shared that same spirit and focus on craftsmanship. Like us, they believed in store level retail and great service, but they didn’t have a strong leather sofa offering. We saw a perfect fit between our skills and theirs.
“What’s encouraging is that the new leather collections are leading at this early stage, with particular success from our new motion collection called Glide,” Tim revealed.
In keeping with what’s trending, Tim also highlighted that its Rex collection has been a hit during 2020, along with its home bar collections like Biohazard and Hudson – all part of the Timothy Oulton brand. On top on their respective successes, the brand will be introducing “new additions to these collections in the New Year, as well as other exciting new innovations”.
“We’ve also seen a real uptick in our Noble Souls collection. I think the appeal of things that are natural, simple, trustworthy, extremely comfortable and beautiful is what people want to fill their homes with at the moment.,” Tim added.
Another growing trend, moving away from products, is digital. This is an area the business feels is important, but not at the expense of its physical ‘touch and feel’ concept.
Tim explained: “Digital is important and growing more so, it’s fast and responsive. But the human touch is key, and we would never want our brand to become an online experience at the expense of our galleries and our Ambassadors.
“We want to build relationships with customers, understand their needs, and help guide them into creating really distinctive spaces that work for them. We believe that for a great experience the future is going to be some kind of hybrid between digital and real life interactions.
“One great example of this is the launch of our live chat during the Covid-19 restrictions. A lot of websites have live chat, but we decided that we wanted a REAL live chat experience. So now, if you visit our website, you can instantly connect on live chat – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a real life sales ambassador who has been trained in our workshops, and who has personally met me. Is that digital, or analogue?”
It’s an exciting time for the brand and their message is simple. “We are in it for the long haul,” says Tim.
“We’ve had a pretty clear and consistent vision in mind for a while, so our strategy hasn’t changed much. We’ve often been accused of “swimming upstream” or going against the tide. But we just look to make the right moves when the opportunity arises, consistent with our vision.”
The world awaits.