Furniture retailer Heal’s — which started as a bed maker during the Napoleonic Wars — has opened a new concept showroom on London’s Westbourne Grove.
Long established as a designer, manufacturer and retailer of modern and contemporary furniture, its latest Queens Building outlet has been specifically designed to meet the company’s “ongoing retail strategy to provide the best possible in-store and online” experience.
“Shopping habits have changed beyond recognition in the past ten years and we needed to respond to the new consumer digital age and how customers research and shop,” explained the chair of Heal’s board, Will Hobhouse. “Service, whether online or in-store, is paramount and we know that the changes we are making will ensure we’re at the top of our game.
“We are two years into a programme of change to ensure Heal’s remains at the forefront of British design, and more importantly, to put the customer at the centre of all we do,” he added.
The art deco former cinema building, a short walk from Kensington Gardens, houses the most comprehensive lighting collection in the capital and, claims Hobhouse, returns Heal’s innovative style and service back where it belongs in the heart of West London.
The high-tech store will offer Heal’s styling service with a team of design experts on hand to discuss interior projects, using the firm’s extensive collection of exclusive and designer furniture, stand-out fabrics and made-to-measure services. Conceived as a “one-stop shop” for design professionals, its facilities also include an all-encompassing “library” of exclusive fabrics for customers to examine.
To be known as “Heal’s at Queens” among the retailer’s seven-store chain, the Westbourne Grove outlet was conceived and project managed by British designer and former finalist of Heal’s Discovers, Matthew Elton, who was instrumental in launching Heal’s Ambrose collection in 2014. All the fixtures and fittings — including a showcase in-store kitchen — were designed and produced at Heal’s workshop by Elton and his team.
“Growing up in London, I always knew of Heal’s and what it has come to stand for,” commented Elton, who now heads the company’s contract furniture, kitchen and shop-fitting division. “Having a hand in keeping that tradition going has been a wonderful experience.
“The Queens Building is a local landmark and the team and I are very proud of what we’ve created, and feel privileged to be part of the Heal’s programme of change.”
Starting out as bed-makers and feather-dressers in 1810, and later embracing the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, Heal’s has a long history of collaborating with prominent designers.
The target of a 1984 management buyout, its most rapid development has come since the turn of the century, however, with several new stores outside the South East including one in the centre of Manchester — although this store has since closed — at Redbrick Mill in Batley, near Leeds, and Brighton on the south coast.
September, 2006, saw the refurbishment of Heal’s Tottenham Court Road premises, a site it has operated from since 1818, and a year later the launch of its online website and store.