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It's sofa, so good as Cousins celebrates 30th anniversary.

Byline: Jasbir Authi Staff Reporter

CAN it really be 30 years? Furniture store Cousins is a Birmingham and Black Country institution.

And it is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the day actress Faith Brown cut the ribbon and first welcomed customers to its Tyseley store in 1985. It was a hot ticket. Customers queued outside for their first look, wanting a glimpse of the future.

An advertisement placed in the Birmingham Mail for the grand opening of the Tyseley store showed three-piece suites for knocked down prices, stylish dining tables with wheel back chairs and Welsh dresser, and bedroom furniture finished in plush ivory and gilt. The Dudley store came later, with Coronation Street legends Jack and Vera Duckworth Liz Dawn and Bill Tarney declaring it open in 1996.

Such was the excitement that traffic brought the town centre to a standstill.

Tastes have inevitably changed over the decades, due in part to the rise of home furnishing gurus such as Laura Ashley, Cath Kidson and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, and TV programmes like Changing Rooms.

The growth of large out-of-town superstores has also played a part - and then there's biggest game changer of all, the internet.

But with the addition of their third Cousins superstore in Manchester, brothers Robert and Edward Shotton have managed to keep up with the trends, changing fashion and the way we shop by offering the widest possible range under one roof.

Besides, there's nothing quite like sitting on that sofa before making the decision to buy.

Thousands of us still opt to visit the showrooms, where we literally make ourselves at home, lying on beds, plumping cushions, pulling out drawers, peeking inside wardrobes. Just looking at pictures isn't the same.

The history of Cousins can, in fact, be traced back as far as 1921 when the family ran Cole's, a household store in Bilston, Wolverhampton which specialised in reclamation from household demolitions.

The business developed from a builders' merchants to a household electrical store. There was also a small private zoo to attract families.

But by 1985, people were investing time, imagination and money into making their house feel like a real home stamped with their own identity.

Robert and Edward, along with their cousin, opened the 50,000ft Tyseley store which stocked brands such as Parker Knoll, G-Plan, Slumberland and more.

As they grew to become the most prestigious home retail buying group in Britain, Cousins increased its buying power and introduced even more leading brands.

Thirty years on, consumers are favouring Nordic designs with clean lines and white, hard floors, with neat retro-styled modern upholstery.

With space at a premium in newbuild homes, Cousins have answered with the need for innovative storage space solutions, such as Ottoman-style storage beds and stools.

Robert Shotton says there is no real secret to their success, other than being passionate about what they do.

"As a family-run business we appreciate the value of 'home' and try to instil these values in everything that we do," he explains.

"A piece of furniture is not a frivolous, impulse buy purchase. It is something that will be on display, and more importantly cherished, in your home for years to come. It is important to get it right, and we pride ourselves on helping our customers to make the right choices.

"This level of support, coupled with our unrivalled range of products, has struck a chord with our customers for 30 years now, and we hope will continue for another 30 years.

"We also would be nothing without the ongoing support of our suppliers. Many have been with us since Day One and being able to travel this incredible journey together has been a fantastic experience. I'd like to thank everyone who has been part of the Cousins story."


Customers queue outside waiting for the grand opening at Cousins in 1985 |
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 27, 2015
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