On Monday morning this week Paul Shearing and I visited Alexander Rose, the company at the bottom of Victoria Road with the large chair outside, at the request of Mike Brand, the Financial Director there. Alexander Rose was formed in 1994, by a Danish guy, Borge Leth, and the Pepera’s, a wealthy Ghanaian family, to sell garden furniture to the UK market, from their extensive factory in West Africa. The Pepera family remained 100% shareholders until 2010.
It was a fascinating look in at this large company, which now sells garden furniture to many parts of the world. Alexander Rose has been at the forefront of garden furniture design and manufacturing since 1994. Many of the items of garden furniture in Garden Centres around the country are from Alexander Rose,
Today, Alexander Rose sells quality garden furniture to a variety of business customers from high end retailers and garden centres nationwide, through to contractors; such as Architects, Interior Designers and Landscape Designers working on projects for Hotels, Spas, Restaurants, Golf Clubs and Care Homes. Alexander Rose also exports 20 per cent of their products to Europe.
However, they do specialise in more expensive items which are hand made in faraway places such as the Philippines, where they have a factory, and Bolivia, from where they buy a lot of wood. We saw some absolutely beautifully made items of expensive garden chairs, tables and loungers, all made by hand with a variety of cane and wood designs.
In summer, their busiest time of year of course, every week they have a dozen or so huge trucks arrive to deliver items of furniture from overseas, which are stored in the very large warehouse adjoining the office and showroom building. It is true to say that they are expanding their market now and increasingly doing a lot of business in Europe. This entails a lot of research and development of slightly different styles which cater for tastes in those countries.
Like so many businesses in Burgess Hill, Alexander Rose has employees who have been there for many years and who are essential to the running of the business. In the warehouse Mike told us of a guy working there who knew more about the details of the stock than anyone else, an ordinary guy who was a key gog in the company machine.
As far as the workforce in the Philippines was concerned, the company works in ethical ways, paying the proper rates and more and gaining the benefits through the quality of the furniture produced. This is another example of a very successful company with HQ in Burgess Hill, which maintains a contented workforce, trades sensibly and ethically and produces quality products for the British and European market.
Mike, who has been in post for nearly three years, was a generous and knowledgeable host, who gave us nearly two hours of his tiime. It was a fascinating insight into Alexander Rose, and we thank him and his staff for allowing us to look around. And yes, the huge chair outside is a notable feature, well known and sometimes a target for late nighters the worse for wear determined to scale it!