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Sofa, So Good as International Furniture Wholesaler Grows into New Cutting-Edge Warehouse

AN international furniture wholesaler that set up shop in Middlesbrough back in 2000 has welcomed Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to officially open its new warehouse and state-of-the-art showroom.

Baker Furniture, the wholesale business born out of Stockton-based national furniture retailer Barker and Stonehouse, began life by supplying a handful of other independent furniture retailers from its Teesside base. The company has since grown to supply more than 250 companies around the world, including Next, ScS, Cox & Cox and more, with its in-house team designing all of its products.

To support this expansion, the firm needed to build a new state-of-the-art warehouse, showroom and modern offices, and initially applied to the Mayor and Combined Authority’s Tees Valley Capital Grant Scheme for a grant to help fund the project.

However, following its success during lockdown when the public transformed their homes, the business took the decision not to proceed with the successful funding bid as it was able to self-fund the build.

Thanks to the hard work of its 50-strong team and new premises, Baker Furniture’s turnover is expected to reach £26million this year with exports to Europe of £7.5million. Barker and Stonehouse, which was established in Stockton in 1946 and today employs 460 people, has also posted a turnover of £71.6million.

This week, Mayor Houchen visited the new Baker Furniture premises where he met managing director Mark Callaghan and warehouse manager Stephen Wilson along with Baker Furniture chairman Richard Barker, Richard’s son and managing director of Barker and Stonehouse James and financial director Peter Soakell.

While there, he toured the new facility and showroom and thanked the team for its commitment to growth on Teesside.

Mayor Houchen said: “Barker and Stonehouse is a UK institution that had its beginnings right here in Teesside before going on to become a massively respected and recognised household name with stores across the country.

“Baker Furniture is yet another success story, shipping its furniture across the globe from a logistics base in Middlesbrough. I often point out how Teesside helped to build the world with structures like the Sydney Harbour Bridge having its roots here – now the world is built, we’re helping to furnish it as well.

“Baker Furniture’s growth is inspirational and is providing good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people in everything from design and retail to logistics. Their decision not to accept the funding offer we made to them so that we could help more companies across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool speak volumes about the values of Baker Furniture.

“It was great to visit, speak to Mark, Richard, James and more and see first-hand their new warehouse and showroom which I’m sure will serve the firm well for the future.”

Mark Callaghan, managing director of Baker Furniture, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mayor Houchen to officially open our new premises here in Middlesbrough.

“Using state-of-the-art technology, the new warehouse has twice the storage capacity of its previous unit, despite occupying a site just 40% larger. And our world class showroom allows us to replicate a genuine exhibition experience for our visiting UK and international customers.

“Following a very successful year, despite all the challenges retail faced because of the pandemic, we felt it was only right to withdraw our successful funding bid so that they Mayor had more money on hand to support companies across our region that needed it more than we did.

“The Tees Valley has a world-class reputation and we’re proud to be growing our business here, where it all started more than 20 years ago.”