Trevor Scott of Rugby Fitted Kitchens was pleased to hear of the reprieve for Pullman Furniture and looks back on his early associations with the company
It was with a sad heart I read the email from Phil Player of Pullman Furniture last month in which he announced that, after a lifetime in this wonderful industry of ours, he was winding up Pullman. But it seems that, at the 11th hour, he has found a buyer and both Pullman, and his loyal, hard-working staff, have had their future secured.
I go back to the mid-Eighties with Phil, when he, his brother and father, ran Homefit Furniture in Leicester. They were one of my main key accounts when I took on the role of midlands ABM for Burbidge doors.
Homefit was one of Burbidge’s first dealers and Phil was instrumental in helping David Burbidge develop the range in those formative years of the components side of the industry.
Later, when Burbidge decided to enter the complete kitchen market with its Monet flat pack and Lovell bespoke painted range, Phil again played a key role in the development of the cabinet and became one of the two manufacturers Burbidge used for the production of these, at the time, very successful ranges.
Later, after I had left Burbidge, Phil’s brother emigrated to Australia and he offered me the role of his national sales manager and in effect, in time, I replaced his brother. Sadly for all of us, this was short-lived as the recession of the early Nineties kicked in and Homefit, which at that time was a significant supplier into the new-home market, found its full order book to be worthless, as developers stopped building for stock and only wanted kitchens as and when a property was sold.
Cash flow dried up and Homefit was forced to close its doors for the last time. Prior to the closure, we had been working on a rebranding exercise and the name of Pullman had been agreed upon, so it came as no surprise to me that when Phil had dusted himself off and bounced back with his new business that he called it Pullman Furniture.
By now RFK had been in existence and for a few years and Pullman was one of our main carcass suppliers, but Phil decided he wanted to supply complete kitchens rather than carcasses only – a decision I fully respected, but it meant we went our separate ways.
Phil has always been a perfectionist and I would suggest his product is without doubt one of the best and most highly-engineered, using only top-of-the-range components and beautifully finished.
Phil’s dealers must be sighing with relief at the news of the buyout, as they were, I’m sure, going to find it difficult to replace him come the autumn, when the last Pullman kitchen was going to leave the factory.
Certainly, my own career in this industry would’ve taken a different path had it not been for my association with Phil, but all good things must come to an end.
Phil and Kathryn can now relax and enjoy their well-earned retirement without the stress of trying to run a small business, knowing Pullman’s future prosperity has been secured and is in safe hands.
Cheers, Phil. Live long and prosper.