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Archive for September 2008

The Family History of Plumbs

The foundations of the Plumbs business were laid by Tom and Bernice Plumb who began selling rigid cotton seat covers and cushions on a market stall in Blackburn.

 In 1954 a cushion cover would have cost 3s 11d.

The market business flourished and the product developed with the introduction of a variety of stretch man made fabrics.

The first shop was opened 35 years ago. In 1967, Geoff Plumb, now Chairman, began to work for his father cutting out scatter cushions. These were then sent out to be sewn by women in their own homes. Many of these ladies continued to sew for Plumbs for 20+ years. As business flourished Geoff wanted to try a mail order advert.

In November 1967 Geoff ran a small classified advert costing £8 in the Scottish Daily Record. Orders rolled in and the first mail order venture was a success.

This sparked the idea of placing a full page advert in the Daily Mirror. The advert went in February 1968 and proved to be an outstanding success.

1971 was the year of a terrible postal strike - this caused chaos to the mail order operation and so a large number of Plumbs shops began to appear across the United Kingdom. Sales increased and more products were offered.

The idea was novel as at the time no chain stores such as Marks and Spencer or British Home Stores carried home furnishing departments.

In total Plumbs had over 90 shops stretching from Plymouth to Kirkcaldy.

Requests were frequently being made for a measuring service in the home. Customers were looking for a more fitted product and furniture was becoming more complicated. The 'in home' service gave reassurance as all the measuring was done by the professionals.

The recession of the early 80s put an end to the shop days. All attention was now focussed on the emerging home consultancy service.

In the 21st century, Plumbs are now striving to become the established market leader for reupholstery and curtains, as well as loose covers. Over a quarter of enquiries now come through the internet and recommendations. A far cry from the first classified adverts in the 1960s.

The company is still very much a family business, and many employees have several members of their family working at Plumbs. This is also true of the Plumb family, with lots of family members actively involved.

So after 50+ years, the story continues for Plumbs.


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Keep and restore, don’t throw and destroy

We've been banging on about it for ages, “Keep and restore, don’t throw and destroy”!

This is becoming more and more prevalent in our society not only for environmental reasons but now it effects your wallet more than ever.

An article I've read on the site,, is also saying the same message. However we have always come at this from a sofa or furniture point of view.

This article says something more, which is, why stop there? What if your electrical appliances break-down, go out and buy new? Not only are there masses of second-hand white goods that will save you money. But why not try and get it repaired? In most circumstances it will be cheaper.

Read the article here...

As a society we need to move on from our throw-away culture. Maybe the ever talked-about credit crisis will bring on the change that's needed.


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Looking back at Plumbs

I always feel writing for a blog can be quite time consuming particularly finding inspiration of what to write about. However it helps working for a company that has been going for over 45 years as there's usually a wealth of resource to plunder.

Which is why I've been reading all the back-copies of the Plumbs company magazine. Not only did I find some great stories I'd like to share with you but the accompanying photos have given me a great laugh, showing early nineties hair-styles and fashions, much to the embarrassment of some of my colleagues.  Here's one photo of a young Laura Calvert, Joanna Whitworth & Sarah Page.


In particular, I came across a section called "Amusing Anecdotes, Hot Tips & Facts". Any staff member who contributed to this section was given a box of chocolates, so as you can imagine there were plenty received.

Here is one of my favourites, which was sent in from a consultant:

"I was showing a customer fabrics when the telephone rang and she left the room leaving me with her parents, who were a quiet couple. However, I carried on talking about Plumbs Covers and fabrics trying to encourage a response. My questions and statements only drew blank looks. After about 8 minutes the lady returned and listening to my chat, smiled and informed me that her parents neither spoke or understood English!"

More to come...


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