TWO schoolmates who started their online furniture business aged just 18 are in the hot seat after sales soared to £17 million just seven years later.

Monty George and Dan Beckles, both aged 25, started Furniturebox after leaving Bishop Wordsworth’s Grammar School.

They are now making annual profits of £2.4m which are being reinvested so they can rival Dunelm, Habitat and Ikea as one of the UK’s leading furniture brands.

Salisbury Journal: Furniturebox founders Dan Beckles, left, and Monty George, right playing together as teenagers and now both aged 25.Furniturebox founders Dan Beckles, left, and Monty George, right playing together as teenagers and now both aged 25. (Image: Freelancer)

The two entrepreneurs, who both now live in Bristol, have invested £3 million in a new 88,000 sq ft new headquarters and warehouse at St Modwen Park next to the Junction 17 of the M4 at Chippenham where they employ 53 staff.

The new premises allow them to do next-day deliveries on orders placed at 8pm the previous day throughout the UK.

They have just broken into America and expect the 95 per cent sales growth of the last three years to accelerate as they push into new markets internationally.

Dan said: “Moving into the new warehouse has been incredibly exciting because we can increase our capacity by fivefold.

“We are running an incredibly efficient model which means we can easily access all the markets which are important to us - from our own website to other big online sellers such as Amazon, Robert Dyas and many more. 

“The business has really grown over the last three years and now we are looking to expand internationally with that solid foundation behind us.”

Salisbury Journal: Furniturebox won Wiltshire Life’s Business of the Year award for the second time in 2022. Photo FurnitureboxFurniturebox won Wiltshire Life’s Business of the Year award for the second time in 2022. Photo Furniturebox

Monty is a serial entrepreneur who was turning over up to £200,000 a year selling products such as computer tablets and phone cases on eBay when he was still at school.

He persuaded Dan to turn down a place at university and join him in setting up Furniturebox in 2015.

Monty said: “I bought a couple of containers of furniture and persuaded Dan to join forces with me to sell it online. It has been an amazing seven years of growth.

The key to managing the explosion in sales was bringing in retail operations software specialists Brightpearl, which transformed their online operation five years ago to make it highly profitable.

“We feel we can roll that out in other markets - in America, Germany and elsewhere. In the furniture industry, there aren’t really any other ecommerce companies doing the same thing as us.”

Growth exploded during Covid with most furniture shops closed and customers stuck at home with cash to burn.

Sales have risen from £9.4m in 2020 to £16.7m and last year Furniturebox was ranked as the fastest growing small business in the south west in the Sunday Times’ list of the UK’s most successful private companies.

Furniturebox picked the same accolade in the popular Lightning 50 league table which tracks growth rates for hundreds of online businesses across the UK. 

Dan said: “Brightpearl has been incredibly important for us because we sell through nine different channels in the UK but we are now expanding in the US through the big furniture store Wayfair.

“Without Brightpearl, we were having to draw data from different channels and everything was being done manually. Suddenly all those orders were inputted electronically and it revolutionised the business. 

“Finally, we had an automated central hub for all our activities - from sales to stock management.

“Customer service can leave comments on orders and our shipping was so much more efficient.

“It meant that we have been able to cut back on staffing doing manual administration and reinvest those savings in other areas of the business.”

Furniturebox expects global sales to grow from five per cent to up to 50 per cent over the next few years.