Anthony (Tony) Febland has passed away.
The owner of Blackpool furniture and furnishings supplier Febland Group, which is coming up to its 70th year of trading, Anthony was a well-liked and respected figure in the trade, and a familiar face at exhibitions, where he would often present some of the shows’ most eye-catching lines.
Anthony was born in Blackpool in 1936, the first child of Simman Febland and Lilly Tax, and had two sisters, Lorraine and Elizabeth. With ambitious parents always working on various businesses and projects, Anthony excelled at school, and went on to study history at Oxford University.
There, he became part of the local jazz scene. Already a pianist, Anthony bought a double bass (the perfect excuse to crash parties and clubs through the back door), formed a band and gigged around town, making friends with notable characters such as Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.
“He was a man about town, a huge character, he drove a hearse because he could fit his bass in the back,” Anthony’s family recalls. “He always made an entrance, and this carried on throughout his life.”
Ultimately, the extent of Anthony’s extra-curricular activities (which were not permitted at the time) resulted in his expulsion from Oxford – to which he responded by talking his way into Cambridge, where he enrolled on a languages degree course.
Anthony had a natural affinity for languages and spoke three fluently. “His Italian was so good, he was able to distinguish the difference between the dialects according to regions,” says his family. However, Anthony was soon in trouble again when the university discovered what had transpired in Oxford. “A lot of people say he is one of few – if not the only person – to have attended both colleges and get expelled from both.”
He then spent time in Italy as a tour guide for a travel company, and eventually joined the family business, driving Italian ceramic gifts and capodimonte samples around the country. Fuelled by the success of these imports, Anthony started a European freight business, comprising Febland Italia (in Novarra) and Febland Europa (in Blackpool).
One truck soon became a large fleet, and Anthony “accidentally fell into the furniture business after being lumbered with a load full of Italian reproduction chair frames”.
Anthony met his wife Diana on a London bus whilst she was studying at the Royal College of Art in Chelsea, and the two soon started a life together in Blackpool, where they produced Venetian glassware, imported furniture and lighting from Italy, and began their own manufacturing operation. Over the following decades the business expanded to encompass giftware and statement furniture sourced from around the world, and Febland Group remains a popular supplier to this day.
“Anthony was an absolute one-off,” say his family. “An intellectual, entrepreneur, musician and comedy genius, highly respected and admired by the many people whose lives he impacted, creating jobs and opportunities for many.”
Anthony leaves behind his wife, children (Tibor, Dexter and Tali), grandchildren, and the many friends he made during his time in the trade.