Cousins was founded in August 1984 by two brothers Robert and Edward and their cousin William - and the first Cousins' furniture store opened its doors in Tyseley, Birmingham, on 17th August 1985.
Origins back to 1921
The original family business had been established in 1921 and had originally specialised in selling items and materials reclaimed from household demolitions. It had sold such things as reclaimed timber, 19th Century fire surrounds and roll-top baths to builders, and also to private customers doing their own home improvements.
The business then developed into a builders' merchants, selling building materials, aggregates and, later, new fireplaces and baths, alongside the reclaimed items. Even at this early stage, they had built a private zoo on-site, which proved a huge attraction for all ages and an unbelievable "ahead-of-time" marketing tool for the firm.
As time moved on, the business began to sell household electrical items and also furniture, which was to become the future of the business.
Cousins in Tyseley
The first Cousins' furniture store opened in Tyseley, Birmingham on 17 August 1985. It was converted from former plumbers merchants, GR Francis's warehouse and trade showroom and retailed from a 50.000 square feet showroom with adjoining offices and warehouse. The store was officially opened by the famous comedienne and impressionist Faith Brown to a blaze of publicity. It showcased many brands that are still displayed today including Parker Knoll, GPlan, Wade and Slumberland. The interiors were very much ahead of their time, inspirationally displaying the latest collections in beautifully accessorised room settings. The new venture was a resounding success, and the warehouse was soon relocated to a new site, allowing the showroom to be expanded by over 30 percent.
Cousins opens Dudley store
By 1995, a second retail site was acquired when they purchased the freehold of the landmark Tesco building in Dudley, in the West Midlands. This was transformed into a 90,000ft² furniture showroom, with its own customer restaurant. The store was opened on 17th August 1996, by Jack and Vera Duckworth from Coronation Street, bringing the town centre to a standstill. It marked a return to the Black Country for this local family.
A second, separate 12,000ft² unit was developed on the same site, opening in 1998. This sells budget ranges and end of line furniture.
A new head office
Due to the resulting high sales volumes, the head office, warehouse and distribution functions were centralised to a 4 acre site in Oldbury on the side of the M5, which the company had purchased from B.P. Oils. This opened in September 1997 and the new 65,000ft² warehousing facility utilised a palletised, computer-generated order picking system and pioneered the use of articulated fork-lift trucks in the furniture industry.
The relocation of the main offices from Tyseley to Oldbury allowed fresh expansion and the subsequent refurbishment of the original Tyseley showrooms in 1999 - to its existing size of 90,000ft², complete with a new customer restaurant.
By November 2004, Cousins had set its sights on building a flagship store in Manchester and establishing itself in the North-West of England, having gained an unquestionable reputation for quality and service in the West Midlands.
Cousins expand in Manchester
They purchased a 4 acre site on the A57, Regent Road at the end of the M62 in Salford and soon built an inspirational 90,000ft² new concept flagship store which stands just 1.5 miles from the centre of Manchester. The store offers the largest selection of furniture in the whole of the North-West, and offers impressive room displays that set new standards in the furniture industry.
The store has been acclaimed as England's finest furniture store, attracting customers from across the North-West and regularly from Liverpool, Preston, Yorkshire and the Lake District.
This flagship store also incorporates large lighting, picture and furniture accessories departments, plus a customer restaurant where you can contemplate your thoughts.
New North West distribution centre
Due to the Manchester store's resounding success, the Company has had to re-think its initial plans to trunk home deliveries up the M6 from their Oldbury distribution centre. By Christmas 2005, they had opened a new 33,000ft2 warehouse close to Manchester Airport on the M56 which now forms the hub of their North-West home delivery network.
This gives us more space for products and vans and allows us to make deliveries to customers local to Manchester quicker and easier.
Our Stressless studios
2010 witnessed the opening of Cousins' first Stressless Comfort Studio in Manchester, showcasing the largest selection of these ergonomically designed chairs and sofas in the North West. Due to its resounding success, flagship studios were opened in the other two stores in April 2011. All now offer an unrivalled selection and shopping experience for this world leading brand.
The success of the Manchester store’s venture into home accessories saw the appointment of a Homewares Buyer in Summer 2008 with the subsequent opening of new Homewares Departments in the Tyseley Store, in the Midlands, in December 2008.
This exciting new venture includes departments for tableware, cookware, furnishing accessories, and a picture and mirror gallery. It has involved a significant investment, with a cutting edge store fit-out by Jameson Smith Associates and showcases leading brands such as Denby, Joseph Joseph, and Parlane.
April 2011 saw a significant change in the running of the business, with the appointment of John Shotton (Robert's eldest son) to Managing Director and Matthew Shotton (Robert's youngest son) to Retail Director. Robert now assumed the position of Chairman, further strengthening the family influence on the direction of the business.
Alongside these corporate changes came the groundbreaking appointment of the first non-family member to the board of directors. Richard Foster became Operations Director having started with the company as an 18 year old junior bedding sales consultant when the Dudley store opened in 1996 but has since departed the company.
2012 to Present
The future is evolving
Retail continues to evolve and is no longer just a bricks-and-mortar operation; increasing emphasis is now being placed online with the internet and various social media channels. Recent years has seen a significant commitment and investment by Cousins toward enhancing their online presence and service. Their brand new website, launched at the end of 2012, boasts a seamless multi-channel shopping experience and mirrors the unprecedented levels of service they provide in store.