Loaf Laid Back Growth Impressive Online and Offline Balance
From an initial investment of £350,000 to about £20 million today and an expected growth of over £100 million in the next few years, Loaf is expected to continue its great run. Loaf was founded in 2008 as the Sleep Room by Charlie Marshall. He had to sell a previous business known as the Primal Soup Company to raise the capital including using some of his personal funds he had from real estate investments to bring his idea into fruition.
At the beginning, Marshall invested £350,000 and mostly focused largely on selling beds where he provided a dozen styles of bed styles. Before he made up his mind on the single mattress he intended to use for the Sleep Room, as the company was initially known, Charlie Marshall visited more than 187 bed and mattress makers.
The Sleep Room was rebranded back in 2012 into its current name, Loaf. Rebranding was mostly due to an expansion of the product range offered by the company beyond the sleep and bed related items. This included the introduction of armchairs and sofas plus an announcement that Loaf would now be selling textiles, lighting and rugs. By 2013, Loaf had announced its entry into the world of kitchen furniture.
Rapidly growing company in the UK
Around 2013, the growth of the company hadn’t gone unnoticed by the media and was listed in the 2013 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 where Loaf took the 40th position as well as the third fastest among growing retailers across the UK. In 2014, the growth of the company didn't stall but went up and Loaf made it to the list at position 52 in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 even as its turnover went up to £15.9 million from about £7.8 million within one year. In the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 of 2015, Loaf was named the 34th among the rapidly growing companies in the UK.
In 2014 Loaf also got a boost as Monsoon & Accessorize announced their acquisition of a significant stake in the furniture company. As a result Charlie Marshall, the founder, believed that the company's investment would definitely go beyond £100 million in a few years according to his projections, which was reinforced by Loaf's 2014 turnover of £20 million from £15.9 million in the previous year. Marshall had started the company after noticing a niche where affordable yet beautiful beds were in demand and customers wanted a hassle-free purchase, thus creating the then online homeware business.
Loaf had about 40 members of staff within its West London headquarters in Ladbroke Grove by 2014, which has since grown as the company continues registering a steady growth. In just three years up to 2014, Loaf had grown by over 80%.
As early as 2012, Loaf had the idea of setting up unique retail outlets known as Loaf Shacks that would boost its online offering. As the online presence of the homeware business grew, the idea for the shacks grew even further.
Perhaps the stake grasped by Monsoon and Accessorize’s Peter Simon as he sought to branch out into the world of furniture had an effect on the first ever offline presence of Loaf. Marshall believed through the experience, choice and guidance of Simon, Loaf would eventually accomplish its goals of filling the UK market gap that existed for unique laid-back homeware and perhaps become a household company in the short run. With the popularity of home styling in the Loaf style, it was just a matter of time before the Shacks were a reality.
First physical store
The first ever Loaf Shack or physical store opened its doors in September 2015. The 8,000 square feet retail store is found along Battersea in London's Queenstown Road. At that time, Loaf had started offering furniture covering the whole home beyond the 12 bed styles and a single mattress style the company had started with in 2008. Consequently Loaf posted £27 million in terms of sales in 2014-2015. Considered Britain's most laid back store, the first Loaf Shack was even termed as the ‘slowroom’ and hardly the ‘showroom’.
The reason for the new physical showroom was largely because, according to Loaf, customers wanted to touch and also see the furniture they wanted to buy before they completed the sale. In the store there're chill-out sections, corners for children and an ice cream traditional style parlour.
Aside from sofas and beds made in Derbyshire, the first Loaf Shack also had a diverse collection of accessories and gifts from cashmere blankets, tableware to bath scents and organic candles. Essentially, in the next few years Loaf plans to at least have 10 physical showrooms open.
Loaf Shack by Notting Hill
After the success of the first Loaf Shack the company is expected to launch another physical showroom by July 15th in the Notting Hill area. While the first was 8500 square feet the second one will be a tad smaller at 5500 square feet. It'll be replacing the original home of the brand from Exmoor Street and will have eight rooms, including a loft space in the New York style and filled with light. Charlie Marshall grew up around the Notting Hill area and the new store will be giving people an even better place to chill.
Just like the store in Battersea, the new one will be inviting customers not only to explore but also relax considering there's an inclusion of table football, arcade old school games, cinema playing re-runs from various classics and a testing area for mattresses.
A laid back future of growth
The 40 employees by 2014 are expected to grow to over 60 Loafers, as they love referring to themselves. As indicated, physical stores aren’t being created to replace the online offering of the company but work hand in hand to give customers a feel and view that's a little hard to conjure online.
According to Marshall, Loaf is not all about low prices only but also increasingly about brand allegiance and service quality. As the company runs fast towards its £100 million turnover mark the clicks and bricks experience it offers is all about reaffirming the brand and offering their ever growing number of customers the most fantastic of laid back experience.