Leisure Plan, based in Stansted Mountfitchet, has built a reputation of supplying the very best products for the outdoor hospitality sector – all from working with just three brands
A former congregational chapel, built in 1836, isn’t the most likely of places you’d expect to find a business that supplies to the high end residential and outdoor hospitality market, but you quickly realise that Leisure Plan isn’t like any other business.
From starting the business in a spare bedroom, then progressing to an office in Bishops Stortford, in the late 1980s they achieved their long held ambition to open a showroom allowing them to showcase the very best in the outdoor furniture market.
After rejecting characterless industrial sites, the opportunity of ‘The Chapel’ was not to be missed, but took a lot of haggling at the time. Owner Chris McCormack and his wife still had a mortgage on their house, they were under capitalised like most new businesses, and were heavily reliant on bank support.
This proved to be elusive in the purchase of the building, because the bank considered this expansion to be a non-viable plan for the business. Roll on 35 years and it is clear that the bank did not see the potential. Today Leisure Plan is the exclusive UK supplier of three leading brands of high quality, distinctive furniture designed specifically for the outdoor lifestyle and hospitality market.
It was when they moved to the rather unique showroom that McCormack started to tweak the company’s ethos.From the start, they concentrated on supplying specialist retailers in the outdoor furniture market, he says. “Then over a period of two to three years, I was convinced that there was another market who were very discerning – but how to reach them?”
Development concentrated on interior designers, architects, landscapers, super-yacht designers and specifiers, all with clients looking for something distinctive for their outdoor living projects.
This real feeling of exclusivity is apparent when you analyse what Leisure Plan’s product portfolio offers. They are the exclusive stockist and marketing partners to three brands – DEDON, EGOparis and Fischer Möbel – chosen because they share the same philosophy to design and quality, which perfectly complements Leisure Plan’s strategies.
“It was always important that whoever we were partnering, would need to be the manufacturers in order to maintain control of quality, reliability and availability.
“And supplying a discerning market, quite rightly demands something special beyond simply supplying product,” he continues. “We offer knowledge, guidance and a service which stretches from a ‘white-glove’ national home service to handling deliveries on a door-to-door service to overseas properties.”
The service Leisure Plan offer their clients also extends to the in-house manufacturing of the soft furnishings. After being let down on out-sourced cushion production, they set up their own in-house workshop in the early 1990s offering their customers a choice from a broad range of fabrics, enabling them to stamp their own personality on their chosen designs.
McCormack says that, despite the global issues we have all encountered over the past 15 months, demand for their products has not relented, and looking at the many different facets of their service that’s not a surprise. From the showroom in a chapel, to championing three leading brands: you won’t find a business with as many unique selling points as Leisure Plan.