While in the age of online shopping, cutting out the retailer seems like the obvious choice, forty years ago, it was a bold and unique concept for Harry Ridgwell, who started Thomas Lloyd Furniture as a small business dedicated to making leather sofas at affordable prices.
Now the largest UK manufacturers of hand-made leather furniture, Thomas Lloyd is part of the SofaSofa Group with Harry Ridgwell’s son, Lloyd, in the role of CEO.
Alun Rees from South Wales started working for the family-run business at the age of just 17. Now 57, he has celebrated alongside his fellow workers, past and present, with an afternoon of food, drinks and reminiscing at the factory showroom in Treorchy as the company marked a momentous four decades of trading.
Alun, who lives just half a mile from the Thomas Lloyd factory showroom, began his career as a ‘Finisher’, hand-studding and antiquing furniture. Now an Upholstery Technician and a supervisor in his field, he says, “I’d just left sixth form and wanted to get straight into the world of work. I remember having an interview on the Monday and starting work on the Tuesday – and I know it’s cliché to say this, but it honestly feels like yesterday.
“I always admired Harry for what he did. He had a great presence. Starting a business like this was an ingenious thing to do, and it really did take off.”
With all furniture still produced exclusively in the UK, Thomas Lloyd maintains traditional upholstery methods of cutting, pleating, buttoning, studding and finishing its furniture by hand.
CEO Lloyd Ridgwell says, “As we celebrate 40 years of Thomas Lloyd, I feel incredibly proud. Not only of the milestone achievement, but of the fact we still have staff working with us who have been here since the very first year.
“My father strived to build a business that offered better quality furniture at low prices made in the UK – and it remains the cornerstone of our business to this day.”