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One of the North West’s most successful furniture businesses, showcasing fabulous luxury furniture was started by an ex serviceman selling door-to-door to hotels in Blackpool. The story of Stocktons is a classic tale of hard work, passion and family ties.
In 1949, after his stint with the British Army in India, Reg Stockton took a position with a company selling linens to hotels in Blackpool. He went door-to-door and soon developed a reputation for never giving up, always retrying with a smile and a new deal. After some time, the company he worked for decided to close operations and move out of the area. Where a lesser man might have found himself looking for work, Reg took over the existing business and carried on.
He was still operating door to door, but opportunity knocked for him on the day that a Blackpool hotel, who always bought their linens from Reg, asked if he could source carpets, curtains and furniture too.
Never one to deny chance, Reg set about the new challenge and soon found himself sourcing furnishings for multiple clients. In 1953 he, and his wife Maureen, opened Stocktons furniture store, on the corner of Oxford Street and Chepstow Street in Manchester.
At the start, Stocktons positioned itself as a discount furniture retailer. Reg would source furniture that was available in other luxury stores in Manchester and offer the same ranges at a discounted rate. He passionately believed that people should never buy what they couldn’t afford and applied this to his business.
In 1966 Reg brought his son Breck into the business, aged just 16. Breck started work on the van, on the basis that he should learn the business from the bottom up, within a year he had progressed into buying and started building his own future.
“My dad was horrified to discover that i’d increased our number of high priced suites from one to five” says Breck. “At the time he was happily providing mid-market furniture at low prices and doing very well. I argued that people would pay more for the higher end styles, and he was outraged. I was right though, we sold all five in a single weekend.
Dad realised that Stocktons was set to expand and that to maintain overheads he’d be better buying rather than renting. He found the property on Great Ancoats Street and took out his first ever overdraft to pay for it, for £70,000. Within 12 months he’d paid the loan off.
We now have 42,000 square feet of warehousing and 50,000 square feet of showrooms. Dad lived long enough to see it all, he was so committed to family and the business that we could never persuade him to retire.”
The Stocktons are an incredibly close family and have just celebrated Breck’s 60th birthday. His son Kit and daughter Talia joined the business in their teens; Kit on the lorries at 16 and Talia in the offices at 18.
Both now work in buying, and Breck acknowledges that both have added considerably to the range of luxury designer furniture that Stocktons offer.