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Business Analysis & Features

Spotlight on: Peter Harrison, Furniture Village founder

I haven't seen him before.

That's hardly surprising as he's not exactly a household name. But you may have sat on one of his sofas or seen his TV ads.

Why's that?

Well, he is the founder and chief executive of Furniture Village, who started it from a single store near Oxford in 1989.

How's he done?

Pretty well, actually. The chain now has more than 40 stores and delivered turnover up by6.3 per cent to £180.7m over the year to 3 April 2011.

Profits going up as well?

Not exactly. Pre-tax profits at Furniture Village, in whichMr Harrison remains the biggest shareholder, fell by 18 per cent to £3.6m over the period.

Oh dear.

Well, the reality is that for a relatively small furniture chain to still deliver a profit is no mean feat, considering that consumers are cutting back on big-ticket purchases and the housing market is in the doldrums.

How has he done it?

It appears its formula of focusing on efficiencies and margins has allowed it to absorb cost pressures and combat a significant increase in price promotions by competitors.

What else do we know about him?

Well, he claims to shun the limelight and doesn't seek publicity.

Funny that, because I read about him in a newspaper...

Yes, he put his name to a list of 68 business leaders who supported the then shadow Chancellor George Osborne's plan in April 2010 to stop a planned increase in national insurance. He also once wrote to Channel 4 criticising the TV series of Mary Portas, the Queen of Shops.

So he's not quite so shy?

We couldn't possibly comment, but we get the impression that he is not a fan of journalists.