A True Family Business
Founded in 1984, Cousins was the brainchild of two brothers Robert and Edward Shotton, along with their cousin William. With great endeavor, drive and commitment, they opened the first Cousins furniture store in Tyseley, Birmingham in 1985.
Origins back to 1921
The original family business had been established in 1921 and specialised in the trade of items and materials reclaimed from household demolitions. Reclaimed timber, 19th Century fire surrounds and roll-top baths were just a number of things sold to builders as well as to private customers keen to do their own home improvements. The business then developed into a builders' merchants initially selling building materials and aggregates and later included new fireplaces and baths alongside reclaimed items. One of the highlights was the private zoo on-site, which proved a huge attraction for all ages and was an innovative marketing tool for the firm.
The business later evolved to include the retail of household electrical items and furniture, which forged the future of the business. They opened their first purpose-built furniture showroom in 1981.
Cousins in Tyseley
The first Cousins' furniture store opened in Tyseley, Birmingham on 17 August 1985. It was converted from former plumber’s merchants, GR Francis's warehouse and trade showroom and retailed from a 50,000ft² shop 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 and Ercol. The interiors were innovative, inspirational and displayed 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%.
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, selling budget ranges, special purchases and end of line furniture.
A new head office
With business booming, the head office, warehouse and distribution functions were centralised to a 4 acre site in Oldbury. The site, on the side of the M5, had been purchased by the company from B.P. Oils and opened in September 1997. 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.
Cousins expand in Manchester
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.
They purchased a 4 acre site on the A57, Regent Road at the end of the M62 in Salford. There they built an inspirational 90,000ft² new concept flagship store 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 showcases stunning 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, Liverpool, Preston, Yorkshire and the Lake District.
This flagship store also incorporates large lighting, soft furnishing and accessories departments plus a customer restaurant perfect for contemplating your thoughts.
New North West distribution centre
Due to the Manchester store's resounding success, the Company had to re-think the logistics of 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 provided more space for sold orders and stock for a more efficient delivery to customers local to Manchester.
New Homewares Departments
With the success of the Manchester store’s venture into home accessories a Homewares Buyer was appointed in Summer 2008. This meant the subsequent opening of a new Homewares Department in the Tyseley Store in December 2008. This exciting new venture included 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. The Dudley store followed on with the same offering in 2009.
Our Stressless studios
2010 witnessed the opening of Cousins' first Stressless Comfort Studio in Manchester, showcasing the largest selection of the ergonomically designed chairs and sofas in the North West. The studios were a roaring success so the concept was rolled out into the other stores in April 2011. All now offer an unrivalled selection and shopping experience for this world leading brand.
A new Family influence
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.
Venturing into online
The company continued to evolve with increasing focus placed online with the internet and various social media channels. With significant commitment and investment by Cousins toward enhancing their online presence and customer satisfaction, their new website launched at the end of 2012. The website as well as the creation of our social media pages allowed for a seamless multi-channel shopping experience that mirrored the unprecedented levels of service provided in store.
Cousins Turns 30
Cousins celebrated their 30th anniversary at their flagship Tyseley store. With special events for the children and a visit from Smooth radio; guests, staff and even Robert enjoyed this significant milestone that brought back the 80’s spirit. With an increasing emphasis on the imagery of the website, the company welcomed an in-house photographer and had a purpose-built studio with 360 spin me technology installed at their Dudley store. A new visual merchandiser was also appointed in 2016 to help further enhance the visuals, room settings and in-store experience.
A new photography studio
With the benefit of the new studio, Cousins looked to move to e-commerce platform Magento with a brand new website that will incorporate all their new photography, product and in-store information further strengthening their company brand.
With a strong online presence, Cousins also completed an extensive store refurbishment project with more themed room settings to help customers envisage new looks in their home. With a team of interior designers, visual merchandisers, decorators and electricians they enhanced the overall level of shopping experience in each store incorporating the latest trends in home fashions.
An innovative new website
As Cousins looks to launch their new, innovative and design-conscious website, the potential for further online growth develops as retail continues to advance. They are dedicated to building their online strategy and continue to pioneer new techniques within the interiors sector that further enhance customer experience.