SETTING UP SHOP
It’s 1946 and the Second World War has just come to an end. But for two young RAF men, a new mission is about to take off.
Charles Barker and Alex Stonehouse both started work at Binns - the region's top department store at the time - before they set about creating a furniture store aimed at delivering a little pizzazz to a weary post-war Britain and opened their first store in Stockton on Tees.
Encouraged by a phenomenally successful first year of trading, the partners opened a second store on Newport Road in Middlesbrough and Charles' brother, Frank Barker joined them.
Frank had a strong background in advertising with a particular talent for writing copy, he really made a difference to the business and helped transform the building into a high class furniture store.
Some of Frank's original advertisements are a poignant reminder of an entirely different era, they would be considered quaint now but in their day they were cutting edge and hugely successful.
EXTENDING OUR REACH
Ever on the lookout for new avenues to explore, they acquired their next store in Darlington in 1953.
Where else should any further development take place but here, where in the Thirties Charles became very well known in competitive motorcycling circles, riding with Eddie Williamson and well-known Darlington butcher, Albert Zissler. They went on to win for Darlington the club team prize in the Scottish Six Days motorcycle trial.
THE FAMILY CONTINUES TO GROW
The next store to open was Redcar and Charles' son, current Chairman, Richard Barker joins the company to manage it.
By 1974 Richard has bought Frank and Alex's shares, becoming managing director and bringing a contemporary vision and ambitious growth plans
The company's fortunes expanded rapidly under Richard Barker's stewardship, they move to a larger store in Middlesbrough on Linthorpe Road and a further two stores are opened; Hartlepool in 1978 followed by Bishop Auckland in 1979.
The company took a big leap in 1983, opening a new store on Newgate Street in Newcastle.
By chance, Callers - the cities largest furniture store closed down at the same time so Mr Barker employed many of its experienced staff which proved a big success. They were an excellent team who helped the rapid progress in making a big impression on the retail landscape of the city.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
During the eighties, out-of-town shopping began to flourish and the Middlesbrough branch was the first to move premises off the high street to an old bakery factory on Cannon Street Retail Park.
It was a major shop change for the company, having showroom space of 35,000 sq ft and a 15,000 sq ft warehouse which was absolutely vast and very unlike local competitors. Even their bankers at the time struggled to accept that this was the future of retailing and the Barkers had to do a lot to convince them!
Cannon Park proved highly successful and was home to our Middlesbrough showroom and head office right up until 2015 when we moved to our current building at Teesside Park.
ANOTHER BARKER GETS ON BOARD
Richard's son and current managing director; James brought his own ideas to the business when he joined in 1991.
James had previous experience working with advertising moguls Saatchi & Saatchi, Macy's in New York and Harrods in London.
The combination of his advertising and marketing skills brought a new dimension to the way in which the company promoted itself. It was James who recognised the power of his advertising agency’s memorable ‘is your house a Barker and Stonehouse?’ - a slogan that seems to be known by every North Easterner you meet. Barker & Stonehouse is now firmly established as a covetable brand with a very loyal following.
WELCOME TO THE WEB
After a huge success in store, we launched our very first website for customers all over the UK to see what we had to offer. This proved to be a smart move and we've come a long way since then. Today, we have an extensive catalogue of products available online and a whole team of staff dedicated to our growing web presence.
We also took a step into Yorkshire, opening another new out-of-town store on St James Retail Park in Knaresborough.
Newgate Street, Newcastle was a thriving store but you could say we've been victims of our own success in so much as we had to move again in Autumn 1998 to the current store on Leazes Park Road - this gave us a car park and more showroom space with the opportunity to stock Italian designer brands that were becoming very popular.
In the same year we opened Metro Retail Park which is also a current store.
GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES
With further expansion into Yorkshire and the Midlands, we opened three stores just several years apart - Leeds in 2002, Hull in 2005 and Nottingham in 2008. Each of these stores are on retail parks due to the popularity of out of town shopping: extra space and plenty of parking.
TREES 4 TREES
We were delighted to provide funding and support for the 2008 launch of Trees 4 Trees, a programme that is very close to our hearts.
Based in and around the forests of Indonesia, this amazing re-forestation initiative ensures that for every tree used, an average of just over two more are planted. This means that the forest carries on being a sustainable source of timber. So far, almost 1.5million trees have been planted!
Trees 4 Trees also supports the local communities who sow, grow and harvest the trees; teaching farmers and their families about sustainable forestry management and environmental welfare.
In December 2012 we opened our first, purpose built, out of town store in Knaresborough and celebrated with a vintage themed launch party. We’re proud to say it’s one of the greenest retail stores in the UK – our commitment to sustainability runs throughout the design, which includes a ‘living roof’ covered in grass and home to a variety of wildlife and insects. We also installed natural lighting in the store, and an innovative heat recovery system.
Shopping can often be thirsty work, so we started to introduce some in-store cafes beginning with Knaresborough!
To help service the huge demand in the South-East that we were getting from our website, we opened our first London store in Battersea.
As a northern-born brand this was a significant occasion for us and thankfully the store has been a huge hit with shoppers and interior design journalists, showcasing the best of our furniture collections.
Our historic building retains many of the characteristics of the old candle factory which began manufacturing products in 1830. In recognition of the building’s history, we’re proud to showcase a wonderful collection of Farris candles in a beautiful boutique space.
BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In 2015, we return to company roots and open our £4.5 million Teesside store, which is also home to our head office. Baking doyenne Mary Berry cuts the cake to mark the official opening, and the impressive 48,270 sq. ft. building welcomes more than 3,600 fans through its doors.
An amazing state-of-the-art shopping destination, the store showcases three floors of dramatic architecture. Some of its striking features are crafted from recycled and sustainably sourced materials, such as walls of reclaimed wood salvaged from discarded fishing boats in India. A truly special and inspiring place to visit, it presents stunning seasonal set-ups, designer brand studios and historical memorabilia throughout.
Shoppers can also take a break from the fun and refuel at the luxurious Chadwick & Co Coffee House and Kitchen, located on our second floor. With a wealth of restaurant experience behind him, top regional chef Daryl Chadwick serves up fresh, local produce all year round. Stop by during the warmer months and you can even enjoy the outdoor terrace.
An important aspect of the store’s design, fantastic green credentials include the only ‘living wall’ in Teesside, which was fitted with 14,000 plants and is sustained by a 6,000 litre tank of harvested rainwater. Our Teesside branch also benefits from low-energy heating, a unique lighting system and a planted roof. To top it off, solar panels generate almost half of the store's electricity, reducing carbon footprint by an incredible 46%.
Our tenth UK store opened in Hove on April 1st and we were joined for the day by special guest George Clarke; architect and presenter of TV shows including Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man.
The store features many eco-friendly credentials including the use of reclaimed and recycled materials throughout the building.
GREETINGS FROM GUILDFORD
Our newest store, based in Guildford, opens its doors on December 16th – just in time for Christmas! An instant hit, it clocks up more than 10,000 happy customers in its first year.
Boasting 42,000 sq. ft of fabulous furniture, the store invested in the latest technology to make navigating its signature room sets a breeze. What’s more, the in-store Queensbury Café is open 7 days a week, serving up exceptional hot and cold drinks alongside freshly baked goods and sandwiches. Their menu includes delicious vegan and gluten-free options, too.
Located on the site of an old Fire Station in Ladymead, Guildford is our third store to open in the south. It is handily positioned near the A25 and the A3, as well as being easily accessible from the M25. You’ll find plenty of free parking spaces on-site, as well as bus routes and two train stations nearby.
Designed with sustainability and environmental welfare in mind, our Guildford branch has earnt a Very Good BREEAM rating, which we are especially proud of. Among its star features is a living wall on the exterior of the building that makes the perfect haven for flora, fauna and wildlife. Inside, we’ve installed energy-saving lighting and thermal insulation for optimum efficiency.
DELIVERING THE GOODS
Introduced in 2018, our state-of-the-art logistics system does away with paper entirely to ensure highly efficient real-time communication between warehouse, driver, customers and our HQ. Logging each step of the way, the result is better customer service, as well as maximum deliveries made per fuel consumed – so it’s kinder on the environment, too.
SUSSING OUT SUSSEX
To serve growing demand and assist deliveries, we unveil our first warehouse in the south. Benefitting from the latest computerised warehousing technology, the 54,000 sq. ft. distribution centre allows staff to use real-time stock management, meaning we can deliver furniture even quicker! Located in Crawley, West Sussex, it makes reaching our nationwide fanbase easier than ever.
CELEBRATING 75 YEARS
2021 marks a special anniversary for us, as we celebrate 75 years in business! We’ve come a long way since 1946 and what a thrilling journey it's been.
To mark the occasion, we have a year ahead that is full of exciting design collaborations, sustainable initiatives, plus a whole raft of inspiring new products and branded merchandise. We can't wait to share our celebrations with you!
CARBON NEUTRAL PLUS
We’re delighted to say that Barker and Stonehouse has become a Carbon Neutral Plus company and, as far as we know, we are the first UK furniture retailer of our type to do so.
This has been several years in the making and has been achieved by continually reducing our carbon output due to vigilance on heating, lighting, wastage and by numerous initiatives and investments. These have included the use of solar panels, better delivery routing and how we have designed and constructed our stores with the environment firmly front of mind.
This Carbon Neutral status has been verified by an independent specialist company, who, not only granted us carbon neutral status, but also Carbon Neutral PLUS, due to the work we have done over the last ten years with our reforestation programme in Indonesia with the Trees4Trees organisation.
This is a journey that doesn’t just end now we’ve reached this status. We will continue to work hard to find ways of making greater improvements to our environmental performance in all areas of our business.