Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sale Won't Be the End of the Storey

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sale Won't Be the End of the Storey

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme King

The founding family of Sunderland's Storey Carpets is set to share almost pounds 20m after announcing the sale of the 86-year-old group to national chain Carpetright.

The Heptinstall family, who founded Storey Carpets in Sunderland in the early 1920s, own the vast majority of the business and will be paid pounds 18.5m upfront, with a potential further pounds 1m on top of that.

It is not yet known if any job losses will result from the takeover but it is expected Carpetright will try to make savings on head office costs.

The company's 30 stores are to continue trading on the same basis as before, with Essex-based Carpetright saying it wants them to compete with its existing estate of more than 500 outlets.

Storeys is a well known name in the North-East and also operates under the Walter Wall, Woodland Floors and UKCarpetsDirect.com brands.

Storeys was headed by Simon Heptinstall, grandson of founder Paul Heptinstall, who launched the firm under his wife's family name in 1921.

Carpetright European chief executive John Kitching will now take over the same role at Storeys, but the company will still be run by the same management.

Mr Heptinstall said: "I got a call last autumn asking if I would be interested in selling and I eventually went down to talk to them. One thing that took me by surprise was what nice guys they were. They are down to earth and passionate about carpet retailing. I have always regarded Carpetright as a fierce competitor ( and that will not really change. Storey Carpets will still compete head-on with the Carpetright brand.

"As far as they are concerned, the Storey Carpets management will run the brand. We will be in charge day-to-day, though my title will change to sales and operations director, and my boss will be John Kitching, though he won't be based here.

"They have already talked about locations to expand."

On potential cost cuts, he said: "It might happen, but they will not announce any changes of that nature until they understand how we service the business ( they won't second guess."

The deal will boost Carpetright's estate of stores in the UK and Europe to more than 560, which could raise issues with the Competition Commission, according to one retail analyst yesterday. …

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