Meet The Owner - Paul Glasswell

How has your business changed during its 71 year history?

Shopping habits have changed significantly in the 71 years since my grandfather started the business. Television sets were only in a limited number of houses and there were only 3 channels to watch. Consequently, the furniture exhibitions he ran at that time were very much a social event. Nowadays with the popularity of online shopping, the way people are exposed to home furnishings is vastly different. Our website is very much a shop window, hopefully encouraging people to come in store.

What has the biggest challenge been during that time?

I would say that we don’t have big challenges, we have constantly evolving smaller challenges. For example, the whole retailer format is changing; the demise of the British Manufacturing industry means that many more products have to be sourced from abroad, leading to greater travel and the difficulties of designs perhaps made half way around the world being brought to the UK.

The internet plays a huge part in people’s current shopping habits, how does Glasswells take advantage of this?

The increase in online retailing has been our most recent challenge, as the choice available through the internet is vast. Many shops have seen the volume of trade reduce through their high street stores as a significant proportion of their trade has been redirected through their websites. We have seen that the click&collect method of shopping has become increasingly popular. We try to make sure as much information as possible is readily available on our website to help customers with whatever they may need.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about Glasswells?

People may not realise that we still do an awful lot of hand work through our carpets and curtain departments. Our business is service orientated, and a lot of the things we do are bespoke and made to order, they are selected by customers, made to that size, made in that shape; it’s not a DIY sale when you come to Glasswells. We are not only involved in selecting and advising on a product, but often it is us installing it and making sure that the correct product is doing the job for the customer in the way they want it to.

As an independent family run business, why would you say it is important for people to shop local?

It’s very important to keep the vibrancy of your community and local towns. If you make all of your big purchases outside of your local environment, you cannot be surprised there is not much of a selection in your local high street; no one will have those products because no one is asking for them.
We are a constantly expanding business, and by local people spending their money in local businesses like Glasswells, they are enabling more jobs in the county.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say that my leadership style is fairly hands-on and, whilst I employ experts to run the various day-to-day sectors of the business, I am a visible member of the workforce. I am proud that Glasswells are known for being the expert home furnishers in the region, having a vast number of long-term and experienced staff, and that is what sets us apart from the rest.

What’s the best part of your job?

Being the managing director of an established family business has so many great aspects; we employ around 280 local people across our retail stores, commercial interiors group, warehousing and removals, and being able to offer these opportunities is very rewarding indeed. I’ve been lucky enough to see the business grow and evolve and the need for forward thinking certainly keeps me on my toes. Probably the best thing is the satisfaction we bring to so many people’s lives; we all know there’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying your newly decorated room, all the furniture and accessories that make it homely, and it’s wonderful to think that the team at Glasswells has helped deliver that overall package.