A longstanding independent North Leeds retailer is defying the high-street doom and gloom, and reacting to the evolving retail landscape, by investing £500,000 to transform itself from a discount shop into a high-quality furniture showroom.
QLM House and Home opened in 1997 in a 15,000 square foot retail space on Northside Retail Park in Meanwood and until recently, it stocked more than 20,000 discounted products, ranging from pet supplies to paint and stationery to gardening equipment.
The retailer was also renowned for offering an extensive range of beds and mattresses, as well as a vast selection of Hallmark greeting cards, and in recent years both these divisions have grown into the most successful parts of the business. As a result, QLM’s founder, Maurice Esofsky and wife Debby have transformed the entire store into a furniture showroom, stocking and supplying an extensive range of living, dining and bedroom furniture, as well as working with Hallmark to create a standalone store which is the card giant’s only ‘Gold Crown’ store in Leeds.
Maurice learned his trade working on market stalls 40 years ago, progressing to become Managing Director of a renowned Yorkshire based discount chain, which operated 50 stores across the North of England before it was sold in 1996.
He founded QLM in 1997 and it now employs a team of 15, with an annual turnover in excess of £2million, which is predicted to rise by 30% this year. It’s also evolved into a family business with Maurice’s wife Debby, sister Riva and daughters Danielle and Natasha all now involved.
As part of this latest investment, the store’s entire shopfront and branding has been completely replaced, a customer coffee station has been installed and the ground floor now showcases more than 100 sofas, arranged in 27 different room sets, rise and recliner chairs along with dining and occasional furniture. The first floor offers over 60 beds, a wide range of mattresses, a bedroom furniture studio and German manufactured sliding door robes. The company is stocking major brands including Leeds based Harrison Spinks, Dunlopillo, Relyon, Myers, Salus, Sherborne, Millbrook and Sleepeezee. The showroom also offers an extensive range of high end furnishings including lighting products, mirrors, rugs, pillows and cushions.
Next door, QLM Hallmark, stocks approximately 4,500 greeting cards, as well as offering a specialist balloon display service and a large gift range including Yankee , Woodwick and Stoneglow candles, Disney merchandise, Peter Rabbit products, Joma Jewellery and Katie Loxton pouches.
Debby said: “We’ll be very unique in the area and there’s nobody else nearby offering such a wide, quality product range across two floors. It’s a formula that our customers have loved over the years, so we hope they will still come to us for their next big purchase.
“Noticing a change in the retail landscape, we decided to bring in this new retail proposition and fill a gap in the North Leeds market for desirable and upmarket household furniture.”
Maurice added: “I’ve worked in the retail industry for more than 40 years selling discount, low margin, value products but the time has arrived, due to outside influences such as the internet and heavy cost cutting by the bigger chains, to move away from this extremely competitive sector in order to build a more customer service led environment where we can offer a vast selection of quality furnishings from well-known leading brands, at affordable prices.
“As well as offering value for money and exceptional customer service, successful retailers have to identify trends and react to the market, and that’s what we’re doing at QLM. We had two distinct divisions of the business that were doing extremely well and out-performing everything else, so it made sense to solely focus on and expand these. Plus, both cards and furniture are two things that people still largely buy on the high street.
“When it comes to furniture and beds, most customers would prefer to try before they buy and feel safe with the knowledge that any potential problems will be dealt with face to face and not over an e-mail. Before choosing an Italian leather sofa, you want to sit on it first and appreciate the quality and it’s the same with a bed or mattress that you need to lie on. We pride ourselves on offering customers this experience, along with expert advice and a price promise to ensure we offer the same great value that you might find online.”