It’s a family affair for Lomas

In 1983, Roy and Ann Lomas fell into the office furniture game as second hand dealers. Hard graft and an unwavering commitment to give the customer what they want saw Lomas Office Furniture and Stationery gradually expand.

In 1987, straight out of school, their son Mark joined the firm as both office cleaner and part-time salesman. He now leads a team of 12 from Lomas’ King Street offices and showroom in Blackburn. Ann and Roy still play a big part in day-to-day operations.

This year, the business celebrates its 30th year.

It’s a story that is echoed in many family businesses. And Mark, who is now a director in the firm, feels it’s the family element to the business which has been the key catalyst for success.

“Being a family business is strenuous and challenging. But the passion that it breeds throughout the business can’t be underestimated. It gives us an approachability and personal touch that cannot be matched by our competitors,” said Mark.

The furniture and office supplies market is notoriously cut throat. National and international players squeeze margins, and succeeding as an SME in the industry is no mean feat. Coupled with the fact that just 30 per cent of family businesses survive the transition to a second generation, it would have been easy for Lomas to fail. Instead, it goes from strength to strength.

Mark added: “Personal relationships are key for us, and again, being a family business really helps in maintaining those relationships.

“Long-standing relationships with manufacturers help us to get great quality products at good rates, which are passed to our customers. We are reactive to our customers’ needs – if you look after your customer, they’ll remember and come back.”

Mark also puts the businesses expansion down to the reactive nature of their operation. New services and product ranges have been developed on the back of customer requirements. The business is now offering an office interior design service with full project management, and early revenues have been encouraging. Also encouraging for Mark is the move by Hive, Blackburn and Darwen’s powerful network of business leaders, to urge local businesses to buy local.

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