BCI article by Reading Indies

We've been featured in an article by READING INDIES.

READING INDIES is a celebration of the eclectic independent businesses the town centre of Reading has to offer and an insight into the unique people running them.

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It’s sleek and stylish, almost the Heals or Crate & Barrel of Reading – but Beadle Crome Interiors in Oxford Road is also totally surprising.

A vast three-floor furniture store, the beautifully designed displays in its showroom are planned to inspire.

From sofas and dining sets that would not look out of place in a modern Italian palazzo or a wharfside home in Reading, from bespoke beds and mirrors that could enhance a cool Copenhagen loft or a Kennet Island apartment, Beadle Crome has its finger on the design pulse and keeps it there year after year.

While the town of Reading is rising in the urban chic charts, becoming almost a mini London, Beadle Crome – despite having been established in 1971 – has not lagged behind.

If you don’t want your home to look like an Ikea identikit, here’s where to shop. Because your pieces will be modern, unique and they will be delivered ready-made – while we all know the jokes about flat packs, it’s serious business sometimes how much of your time can go into them.

If you favour the aforementioned Heals or even made.com you need to try Beadle Crome for furniture that will make you stand out from the crowd.

There’s a vast range of sofas which come in hundreds of fabrics, ceramic dining tables and chairs mingle with more traditional wood, a variety of beds with matching bedroom furniture, coffee tables in all kinds of materials from minimalist to ornate, custom-made shelving solutions and more.

Says one of Beadle Crome’s directors Howard Olley: “We aim to sell high-quality modern furniture that will last, that’s where we try to differentiate because customers increasingly search for better value for money and the company can offer this having created good relationships with suppliers and working with like-minded independent retailers.

“This gives the company access to very competitive prices and selective original designs maintaining the quality that is so important to our customers. Part of it is about trying to inspire people.”

Another surprise is that around 80 per cent of Beadle Crome’s stock is British. Says Howard: “A few years ago I’d have said you were mad if you said we would have so many British furnishings, but the value has come back to the UK. There seems to have been an influx of good British designers and also great British fabrics. It’s very exciting for us to be selling it.”

Other best-selling ranges are Calligaris, an Italian company specialising in contemporary dining furniture, Stressless, a Norwegian company producing comfort recliners and sofas and Ven Jakob, a German supplier producing high-quality dining and media storage solutions.

Howard – who hails from Caversham and began in the family company by dusting the furniture at 12 – works hard to ensure the showroom and website are full of variety, travelling to trade shows all over the world as well as the UK.

But Beadle Crome has kept up to date with social trends, too. “You can order all your needs online and if you take the interest-free or other finance packages you can sign it all in the comfort of your own home,” said Howard.

The company has just worked with someone for a 3D tour of the store for the website and a walk-through video as well.

With their own delivery vans, Beadle Crome also has the edge on other suppliers. Says Howard: “We have a delivery office that coordinates so everything is as smooth as possible.

“You won’t spend the day texting the delivery company and having timeslots moved. We are here 7 days a week and you can talk to us about your order any time. This can be demonstrated in no better way than our five-star rating received on feefo reviews.”

The company will also bring your order fully assembled or they will assemble it in your home, bring a carpenter if needed, fit shelves and even vacuum up after themselves. It’s this service they are especially proud of.

They are also pleased with how they ‘dress their set’. The store is most definitely experiential. Says Howard: “People are bowled over by the presentation. It’s not about plonking a sofa in the corner – we put a lot of thought and effort into our displays so that our clients can visualise the scales of the furniture in their own homes. Even if you just came in to buy a light or a vase you’d be inspired.”

Landlord packages have been a boon for Beadle Crome, and Reading’s housing boom helped that. Beadle Crome has a tie-up with Haslams Estate Agents who recommend their services to landlords – and the partnership created a unique opportunity.

“I built a show apartment at the top of the building. So Haslams’ sales team could send landlords round and we look after them. We can bespoke a package that’s a different, cheaper price range for us because of buying in volume. We must have furnished 500 apartments in the last four years,” said Howard.

It’s a good few years since the company opened its doors in Reading in the 70s, starting in The Butts Shopping Centre before moving to its new much larger site in 1993.

Howard (above, right) is still passionate about the business as is finance director Jonathan Dodd (above, left) who talks of how committed the company is to Reading. He said: “We are very committed to the town because we own this huge building. Our clients like visiting us in the centre of Reading which is walking distance from all the great shopping opportunities and the company has made parking easy with customers getting free parking at Chatham Place.”

Meanwhile, Howard provides a fascinating glimpse into the Reading housing market. He explains: “Sites we supply like Kennet Island and Green Park have seen a switch from investor-led buying to overseas visitors buying as holiday homes.

“Many people from the Middle East will be over in the summer to escape the heat, say, in Muscat. We’ve seen about 30-40 of that kind of customer. It’s Reading’s great proximity and links to London that make it economical for them.”

As to the future, well, both Howard and Jonathan have high hopes. “We’re excited about the potential in Reading,” says Howard.
“We believe we are in a good position to take advantage and we hope to thrive.”

44/52 Oxford Road RG1 7LA

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12th August 2019

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