Huw is the MD of Toons Furnishers in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, which has sold furniture and flooring for more than 50 years. Huw joined Toons in 2017, having managed stores for Wyevale Garden Centres, Wickes, Staples and more. A former councillor, Huw is also a keen gardener, and enjoys restoring MGs and Harley Davidsons.
How might a child describe what you do?
The man who sells things.
What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?
The economy is the main challenge for me. We’re probably facing many more months of very difficult trading conditions. The Government needs to do more to help stimulate the economy.
If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?
I would carry out a major rebuilding programme on site and look to expand the number of stores we have.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Retail is detail.
What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?
Work life balance means making time for yourself and your loved ones.
Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?
A director called Derek Parry, who sadly passed away a few years ago. He recognised I had ability, and nurtured it. He was a hard but fair boss.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Open your own business and don’t work for others – you have the ability to be successful.
What’s been your best day in business to date?
When I was recognised as Manager of the Year at Wickes. I’d put a lot of effort and hours into turning round their worst store, and it was a proud moment when my award was presented at their national conference.
What’s the biggest myth about our industry?
Its sad to say that the biggest myth is that the best quality comes from the big-brand manufacturers. We have an increasing number of smaller companies producing some great-quality products now.
What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?
I do wish that some of the big furniture retailers would be genuine about their sales periods – a lot seem to have almost permanent sales on, and this causes scepticism amongst customers.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?
I think the furniture industry will have to move more to sustainable products which will be easier to recycle at the end of life. Customers are becoming much more aware of the fact that a lot of our products end up in landfill.
This interview featured in November's issue.