The owners of a Yorkshire-based retail empire – originally turned down by a number of banks for a start-up loan – are marking 20 years in business with a £200,000 investment programme.
The Yorkshire Linen Co, which is owned and run by Ross and Kirsteen Leventhal, opened their first store in Market Street, Halifax, in February 1993, relocating to the town’s King Edward Street in 1999.
The company, based on Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, now owns 43 outlets in the UK, Spain and Portugal, employs a workforce in excess of 300 and has a turnover over of £18 million.
Over the next few months, work starts on refurbishing its Leigh and Scarborough stores, in addition to relocating two Hull stores into one, bigger city centre operation.
Last year the company spent more than £300,000 upgrading its stores in Harrogate, Leeds and Hartlepool, plus opening new stores in Congleton, Cheshire, and its second store on the Algarve in Portugual.
Mr Leventhal said:
Twenty years ago, we were turned down by a number of banks to help get our business off the ground. We literally had to beg and borrow the £10,000 needed to open our first store in Halifax from family and friends.
This knock back made us even more determined to create a successful business. Six months after the opening of Halifax, we opened our second store in Leeds. I ran that whilst Kirsteen ran Halifax.
It was incredibly hard work. In addition to running the shops we also had to go on buying expeditions. It was a seven days a week operation.
Our business philosophy is simple. We supply stylish and quality bedding, bath linen and soft furnishings at the lowest possible prices, and we put the customer first.
In 2007, the Leventhals acquired The Linen Warehouse, which owned and operated nine stores in the North West.
And, with Spain and the Portuguese proving popular locations for Britain’s buying overseas property, the company opened stores in the Costas and the Algarve. In recent years it has also developed a highly successful on-line business.
Mr Leventhal added:
The high street has changed beyond recognition over the last two decades. Many of the household names we grew up with have disappeared.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy out there, it isn’t. However, we believe in the high street. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be investing in our stores or opening new ones.
Last year we opened our first Cheshire store, and it’s proving to be a very good move. We have a rolling refurbishment programme and we are always looking at new locations.
As part of our celebrations we are giving something back to our customers. Next weekend (Friday, February 8 – Sunday, February 10) we are slashing all the prices in all our stores by 20 per cent.