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ANF Blog

JAMES DRISCOLL TAKES THE FAMILY BUSINESS FORWARD

Driscolls Antiques


Dealer in Detail:  We are talking to James Driscoll of Antiques World in Clitheroe, Lancashire. James typifies young hardworking dealers in the industry today and interestingly he is successfully dealing in very traditional furniture contradicting all the evidence that the public only want painted, industrial and Mid Century!  Congratulations to James and his team for what they are achieving with the business and for their recent award from EDF Energy award for Apprentice Employer of the Year NW and good luck in the national heats later this year.

ANF comment:  We are very impressed with James' attitude about working hard to hand something valuable to his family and maintaining his apprenticeship scheme going foward. Go James!


Dricscolls Antiques



ANF:  Tell us how long you have been dealing and how you got into the business

JD:  I have been dealing for 18 years since the age of 17, when my father fell terminally ill. I decided to leave school and help him run the business which was a small antique and second hand shop in Todmorden.  We specialised in house clearances and restoration of furniture. I had always had an interest in antiques as my dad would always take me on all calls and deliveries when I was growing up, which was very exciting. He taught me many skills of restoration and the basics of running a shop.

ANF:  How long have your family been trading in Clitheroe?

JD:   After many years of struggling in our small shop I decided to move to a small warehouse in Mytholmroyd near Todmorden. I started selling furniture on the internet and it really changed the way of dealing so I needed more space. During this time my mother and father-in-law Barbara and Michael Heywood joined the team.  We started to expand the business by setting up our own website and selling more online. I then employed a joiner (Philip) who is still with me today.

The business carried on growing so 9 years ago we decided to take the plunge and take on a large 6500 sq foot antique furniture warehouse in Clitheroe that would give up plenty of room for further expansion if needed. We now have two large showrooms and two workrooms so it’s ideal.

ANF: What inspired you to take the family business to a new direction?

JD:  After years of struggling in a small shop with very little to no profit, I knew I had to do something as I could not carry on with the way it was being run. I knew of some antique dealers who were selling lots of smaller items on eBay and were doing very well, so I decided to start doing the same and it was successful. I never thought furniture would sell on the internet but I decided to give it a go. It went extremely well as I was only one of a hand full of dealers selling furniture on eBay at the time, there were only around 8 pages in the antique furniture section unlike the thousands that there are today.  I decided to go more upmarket with better stock as I appreciated fine quality antique furniture and enjoyed dealing in it.  I believe that if you enjoy your work you will usually succeed. This changed the way I wanted to deal as I knew the internet was a powerful advertising tool.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: What plans are there to keep the family involved in the business?

JD:  My wife Rebecca and I are both running the business and soon my daughter wants to join the company after a short college course. I am really pleased and want my other 2 children to join, but I will leave it to them to decide as I don’t want them to feel pressure to join and I want them to make their own path in life. I want to make a secure business for them for the future as I want to keep the antiques business alive and offer job security. With family involved I know I can trust them to run the business and hopefully they will learn and enjoy the antiques trade as much as I do. At the end of the day it’s a hobby and a job together, so it’s a nice thing to offer my family.

ANF:   You are a member of Antiques Young Guns  – do you think this organisation has helped your business and the trade in general?

JD:  I am a member of the Antique Young Guns but due to being so busy I have not had a chance to take part in much it has to offer. I am hoping to be more active with this in the future as I think it’s a super idea and maybe my daughter can become a member when she joins the team.

ANF:  We heard about your recent award from the EDF Apprenticeship Scheme. Can you tell us more about this and what you think your two apprentices has gained from working in your business?

Driscolls Antiques

JD:  I was very surprised to win the Apprentice Employer of the Year award. It was the EDF Energy Award for Newcomer SME of the Year, North West – Liverpool, Cumbria and Lancashire.

We are only a small company but I was recognised for training my apprentice on a one to one basis of traditional restoration skills. I have now taken on a second apprentice and hoping to take on more in the future as the business grows.  We first took on our apprentice Daniel Gower over three years ago and he has completed level 2 and 3 qualifications.  We taught him very skilled traditional methods of restoration which are fast becoming a dying trade. He took to the job so well and is now a fully trained antique furniture restorer. We have now taken on our second apprentice James Gower and Daniel is going to pass on this skilful trade by helping to teach him. This way we are keeping traditional skill sets alive and growing our business with a keen highly skilled workforce. I think my two apprentices are learning a skilled trade and working on beautiful pieces. Every job is different and a new challenge so it’s an exciting trade to be in.

ANF:  Do your apprentices have plans to continue in your business long term and do you plan to take on any more apprentices? What was the selection process in choosing the apprentices to work for you?

JD: I am hopeful both Daniel and James will be staying within the business as a lot of time is spent in training them to the standard needed to restore our furniture. Dan has now been with me for four years and is a skilled restorer with a City and Guilds qualification.  I hope to offer the same opportunity to new young people as the business grows.  My trained apprentices can then teach my newer staff and hopefully this cycle will keep on working. It is hard to know who to select and its trial and error as not every person is suitable.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming an antiques dealer or joining the trade in any sector?

JD:  My advice is deal in quality as the run of the mill stock can be found anywhere. Don’t worry if you’re not successful with every piece of stock as if you lose money you have learnt a valuable lesson and you won’t do it again. Keep your cash flow constantly flowing as I found when you need finance from your bank they will not give it to you and when you don’t need it they will pester you to lend you money. Finally and most importantly, become VAT registered as this will hold you back if you keep below the threshold. The amount of antique dealers, who I hear are worrying about getting too close to the VAT threshold so they won’t buy a bit of saleable stock, it’s silly. At the end of the day we can use the margin scheme to help so it’s not as bad as some dealers think.

ANF: Do you collaborate with any other businesses in your area?

JD:  We have some of our pieces displayed in Shackletons home and Garden where these pieces are mixed in with their upholstered items and it does make a nice mix to show how you can mix antiques in modern interiors. Antiques do work extremely well in this setting and it shows a new side to how they can mix in modern homes.

ANF:  How important is your website for your business – has the balance between walk in sales and internet enquiries shifted much over the past few years?

JD:  My website Antique World is extremely important but my showroom is just as important as you cannot be solely reliant on the internet. The internet is good for driving customers through our doors but you cannot beat meeting clients on a face to face basis. I find the best sales are from local clients as you get lots of repeat custom, with them making weekly visits. The internet is the best advertising tool for worldwide and UK sales and we have got some really lovely clients from our website. Without our website we would not survive today as it’s an essential part of business.

ANF: What plans do you have for the future of the business and do you see yourself in for the long run?

JD:  We are hoping to open a restoration part of the business taking in furniture restoration for private clients. I am also hoping to grow our sales by adding unique collectibles. It’s always difficult to predict the future with the economy as it is, but I am feeling positive and hopeful we will keep as busy as we have been over the last few years.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: Do you have a personal favourite piece in your stock which you would like to take home and do you have any personal collections?

JD:  I have two particularly nice pieces in stock at the moment that I am very tempted to take home. The first is a beautiful Georgian Gillows Linen press with the most amazing figuring and completely original. The second is a figured walnut Queen Anne bureau of really lovely small proportions. Both are stunning quality and would look super in my home but we are about to have some large renovations to our house so it’s too soon to furnish it yet.

Driscolls Antiques

I do have a few nice pieces but I often change these to better pieces as I find them. I would love to keep lots of my pieces that we sell as I love most items I buy, I buy what I would like to take home and this way I know someone else will feel the same way as I do.

 

Driscolls Antiques Ltd:
Unit 6, Deanfield Drive,
Link 59 Business Park,
Clitheroe, Lancashire
BB7 1QJ

Save



Antiques News Blog

JAMES DRISCOLL TAKES THE FAMILY BUSINESS FORWARD

Driscolls Antiques


Dealer in Detail:  We are talking to James Driscoll of Antiques World in Clitheroe, Lancashire. James typifies young hardworking dealers in the industry today and interestingly he is successfully dealing in very traditional furniture contradicting all the evidence that the public only want painted, industrial and Mid Century!  Congratulations to James and his team for what they are achieving with the business and for their recent award from EDF Energy award for Apprentice Employer of the Year NW and good luck in the national heats later this year.

ANF comment:  We are very impressed with James' attitude about working hard to hand something valuable to his family and maintaining his apprenticeship scheme going foward. Go James!


Dricscolls Antiques



ANF:  Tell us how long you have been dealing and how you got into the business

JD:  I have been dealing for 18 years since the age of 17, when my father fell terminally ill. I decided to leave school and help him run the business which was a small antique and second hand shop in Todmorden.  We specialised in house clearances and restoration of furniture. I had always had an interest in antiques as my dad would always take me on all calls and deliveries when I was growing up, which was very exciting. He taught me many skills of restoration and the basics of running a shop.

ANF:  How long have your family been trading in Clitheroe?

JD:   After many years of struggling in our small shop I decided to move to a small warehouse in Mytholmroyd near Todmorden. I started selling furniture on the internet and it really changed the way of dealing so I needed more space. During this time my mother and father-in-law Barbara and Michael Heywood joined the team.  We started to expand the business by setting up our own website and selling more online. I then employed a joiner (Philip) who is still with me today.

The business carried on growing so 9 years ago we decided to take the plunge and take on a large 6500 sq foot antique furniture warehouse in Clitheroe that would give up plenty of room for further expansion if needed. We now have two large showrooms and two workrooms so it’s ideal.

ANF: What inspired you to take the family business to a new direction?

JD:  After years of struggling in a small shop with very little to no profit, I knew I had to do something as I could not carry on with the way it was being run. I knew of some antique dealers who were selling lots of smaller items on eBay and were doing very well, so I decided to start doing the same and it was successful. I never thought furniture would sell on the internet but I decided to give it a go. It went extremely well as I was only one of a hand full of dealers selling furniture on eBay at the time, there were only around 8 pages in the antique furniture section unlike the thousands that there are today.  I decided to go more upmarket with better stock as I appreciated fine quality antique furniture and enjoyed dealing in it.  I believe that if you enjoy your work you will usually succeed. This changed the way I wanted to deal as I knew the internet was a powerful advertising tool.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: What plans are there to keep the family involved in the business?

JD:  My wife Rebecca and I are both running the business and soon my daughter wants to join the company after a short college course. I am really pleased and want my other 2 children to join, but I will leave it to them to decide as I don’t want them to feel pressure to join and I want them to make their own path in life. I want to make a secure business for them for the future as I want to keep the antiques business alive and offer job security. With family involved I know I can trust them to run the business and hopefully they will learn and enjoy the antiques trade as much as I do. At the end of the day it’s a hobby and a job together, so it’s a nice thing to offer my family.

ANF:   You are a member of Antiques Young Guns  – do you think this organisation has helped your business and the trade in general?

JD:  I am a member of the Antique Young Guns but due to being so busy I have not had a chance to take part in much it has to offer. I am hoping to be more active with this in the future as I think it’s a super idea and maybe my daughter can become a member when she joins the team.

ANF:  We heard about your recent award from the EDF Apprenticeship Scheme. Can you tell us more about this and what you think your two apprentices has gained from working in your business?

Driscolls Antiques

JD:  I was very surprised to win the Apprentice Employer of the Year award. It was the EDF Energy Award for Newcomer SME of the Year, North West – Liverpool, Cumbria and Lancashire.

We are only a small company but I was recognised for training my apprentice on a one to one basis of traditional restoration skills. I have now taken on a second apprentice and hoping to take on more in the future as the business grows.  We first took on our apprentice Daniel Gower over three years ago and he has completed level 2 and 3 qualifications.  We taught him very skilled traditional methods of restoration which are fast becoming a dying trade. He took to the job so well and is now a fully trained antique furniture restorer. We have now taken on our second apprentice James Gower and Daniel is going to pass on this skilful trade by helping to teach him. This way we are keeping traditional skill sets alive and growing our business with a keen highly skilled workforce. I think my two apprentices are learning a skilled trade and working on beautiful pieces. Every job is different and a new challenge so it’s an exciting trade to be in.

ANF:  Do your apprentices have plans to continue in your business long term and do you plan to take on any more apprentices? What was the selection process in choosing the apprentices to work for you?

JD: I am hopeful both Daniel and James will be staying within the business as a lot of time is spent in training them to the standard needed to restore our furniture. Dan has now been with me for four years and is a skilled restorer with a City and Guilds qualification.  I hope to offer the same opportunity to new young people as the business grows.  My trained apprentices can then teach my newer staff and hopefully this cycle will keep on working. It is hard to know who to select and its trial and error as not every person is suitable.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming an antiques dealer or joining the trade in any sector?

JD:  My advice is deal in quality as the run of the mill stock can be found anywhere. Don’t worry if you’re not successful with every piece of stock as if you lose money you have learnt a valuable lesson and you won’t do it again. Keep your cash flow constantly flowing as I found when you need finance from your bank they will not give it to you and when you don’t need it they will pester you to lend you money. Finally and most importantly, become VAT registered as this will hold you back if you keep below the threshold. The amount of antique dealers, who I hear are worrying about getting too close to the VAT threshold so they won’t buy a bit of saleable stock, it’s silly. At the end of the day we can use the margin scheme to help so it’s not as bad as some dealers think.

ANF: Do you collaborate with any other businesses in your area?

JD:  We have some of our pieces displayed in Shackletons home and Garden where these pieces are mixed in with their upholstered items and it does make a nice mix to show how you can mix antiques in modern interiors. Antiques do work extremely well in this setting and it shows a new side to how they can mix in modern homes.

ANF:  How important is your website for your business – has the balance between walk in sales and internet enquiries shifted much over the past few years?

JD:  My website Antique World is extremely important but my showroom is just as important as you cannot be solely reliant on the internet. The internet is good for driving customers through our doors but you cannot beat meeting clients on a face to face basis. I find the best sales are from local clients as you get lots of repeat custom, with them making weekly visits. The internet is the best advertising tool for worldwide and UK sales and we have got some really lovely clients from our website. Without our website we would not survive today as it’s an essential part of business.

ANF: What plans do you have for the future of the business and do you see yourself in for the long run?

JD:  We are hoping to open a restoration part of the business taking in furniture restoration for private clients. I am also hoping to grow our sales by adding unique collectibles. It’s always difficult to predict the future with the economy as it is, but I am feeling positive and hopeful we will keep as busy as we have been over the last few years.

Driscolls Antiques

ANF: Do you have a personal favourite piece in your stock which you would like to take home and do you have any personal collections?

JD:  I have two particularly nice pieces in stock at the moment that I am very tempted to take home. The first is a beautiful Georgian Gillows Linen press with the most amazing figuring and completely original. The second is a figured walnut Queen Anne bureau of really lovely small proportions. Both are stunning quality and would look super in my home but we are about to have some large renovations to our house so it’s too soon to furnish it yet.

Driscolls Antiques

I do have a few nice pieces but I often change these to better pieces as I find them. I would love to keep lots of my pieces that we sell as I love most items I buy, I buy what I would like to take home and this way I know someone else will feel the same way as I do.

 

Driscolls Antiques Ltd:
Unit 6, Deanfield Drive,
Link 59 Business Park,
Clitheroe, Lancashire
BB7 1QJ

Save