A WELL-known Bolton family firm is celebrating 40 years in business with the next generation at the helm.
M & S Bedrooms - based in Chorley New Road, Horwich – began life in the garage of Michael and Ann Stirling’s home.
They went on to rent an old funeral parlour on Deane Road for £5 a week, Michael sometimes sleeping there to get the necessary alterations finished and Ann and her sister Shirley helping out. The company’s first job amounted to £150.
Premises on Tippinges Road provided the company’s first factory and showroom and a shop was rented on Blackburn Road to create an upmarket showroom.
To promote the business, Michael had a trailer with a bedroom set to take to exhibitions. He even hired a horse and cart with two billboards attached which was driven around Bolton.
“Dad was always innovative, always thinking of new ideas,” stated daughter Kristina. “He created and developed plastic clip-on edging, various mouldings to enable manufacture of our own doors and unique door designs which are still popular.”
The company opened a second showroom in 1984 in Preston and went from strength to strength. A franchise shop in Lytham St Annes and other outlets across the North-west followed. After moving to bigger factory premises in Deane, the business moved to Horwich in 2011.
When Michael suffered a bout of ill-health, the family rallied round. Son Adam had already come into the company at 16, learning all the processes and adding his own creativity, just like his Dad.
Kristina trained as a hairdresser and had her own successful hair and beauty salon in Lostock. She still helped out in the business but, after having a baby and holding down two jobs, she decided to work in the family firm full-time.
Now, Adam and Kristina run the business. “We have never made standard furniture. The company’s strength always lay in manufacturing everything itself,” she added.
“It’s hand-crafted and special. Mum and Dad always wanted to offer something different to the market, personal to the customer and we still do.”
Working with the Tim Marner Creative Agency on a re-brand, they also have a new name: Stirling Furniture Design. However, the M & S name currently remains “because so many people still know the company as that and are still our customers today.”