Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Great Family Firm Is on a Roll

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Great Family Firm Is on a Roll

Article excerpt

Byline: By Guy Anderson

With a chain of 39 stores and sales of pounds 31m, family-owned Storey Carpets has come along way from its humble beginnings in 1921, writes Guy Anderson.

Storey Carpets is a familiar name in the North-East; but it could have been very different. "Heptinstall Carpets doesn't quite have the same ring, does it? People can't say it for a start," says Simon Heptinstall, grandson of the founder of the flooring retailer.

It was deference to his wife's family that led Paul Matthew Heptinstall to put his father-in-law's name above the shop in Roker Avenue, Sunderland, that he bought in 1921.

Six years earlier the Royal Engineers officer had survived the First World War, albeit after suffering a bullet wound at Passchendaele, and spending the remainder of the conflict as a prisoner of war.

On his return, Paul Heptinstall was nursed back to health at a military hospital in Gosforth by Jeannie Storey. They later married, and set up shop in Wearside selling new and reconditioned furniture.

"He did a roaring trade in washing mangles too," jokes Simon.

Carpets finally came in the 1950s when Dennis, Simon's father, gave up a career as a teacher to join the family firm.

"It was my dad who introduced carpets into Storey's," says Simon. "Manufacturers were just starting to make them on a broad loom. Fitted carpets were still some way off but people were putting linoleum around the edge of the room and putting carpet squares in the middle.

"My dad had an opportunity to buy some squares on sale or return from a wholesaler. He bought about 50 and put them in the shop with a really low mark-up and sold them within a week. The next week he went back to the wholesaler and picked up a couple of hundred. That was the start of the carpet business."

Simon joined the business at the end of the 1980s. Having studied for an MBA at Stirling University after a biology degree at the University of East Anglia, the young Heptinstall had planned to become a scientist. …

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