It’s no longer ‘curtains’ for much-loved blinds firm

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A well-known Derby blinds firm that ceased trading last year has been saved through investment inspired by the company’s long-serving workforce.

When the owner of Raynesway Interiors died unexpectedly after contracting Covid-19 in 2021, the firm he had built up since 1989 was thrown into disarray.

Bob Pearce had not prepared a will or put any succession plan in place, so his long-term partner and the two children he had raised as his own inherited nothing. The business instead passed to Bob’s estranged biological children.

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Bob’s non-biological son Paul Pearce and Paul’s brother-in-law Tony Hales stepped in as directors in an effort to keep Bob’s legacy alive, attempting to run the firm without pay.

From left: L-R Brian Thomas, Gary Barber, Stuart Campbell, Teresa Griffin, Steve EcobFrom left: L-R Brian Thomas, Gary Barber, Stuart Campbell, Teresa Griffin, Steve Ecob
From left: L-R Brian Thomas, Gary Barber, Stuart Campbell, Teresa Griffin, Steve Ecob

But following attempts to buy the firm, issues with the firm’s bank meant Paul and Tony were eventually forced to resign as directors.

The remaining employees took responsibility and worked for months without receiving any wages. And further attempts by Paul and Tony to buy-out the firm faced frustrating delays as Bob’s estate went through probate.

But then came a breakthrough. The Chaddesden firm’s unpaid staff clubbed their savings together in order to force the company into liquidation.

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This enabled Tony and Paul, along with two other investors, to finally buy the assets of the business, which installs shutters, blinds, awnings and window film.

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Now, a new firm, Raynesway Blinds, has risen from the ashes of what was once Raynesway Interiors. Brian Thomas, one of the other investors, has taken a very active role in the day-to-day running of the business alongside Tony.

In just a few months, the new directors have steered the business back on course. Their order book is looking healthy once more and the company is in the process of paying back staff for their lost earnings and lack of redundancy when Raynesway Interiors folded.

Tony Hales, who is married to Bob’s non-biological daughter Jodie, said: “We wanted to keep the business together in Bob’s name. We needed to salvage what we could for Bob’s memory and for the staff that had stood by the business while it faced an imminent threat of closure.

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“It was hanging by a thread but we owed it to the employees who basically stepped up and took control while protracted legal negotiations were taking place.

“The whole thing provides an important lesson to business owners: get a succession plan in place, as you never know what is going to happen. Bob would have fully intended to pass the business onto Paul and Jodie – but without a will, that wish counted for very little.”

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Tony keeps a close eye on the business, though Brian continues to spearhead the daily management of Raynesway Blinds. All four investors are supporting the business for no payment while it gets back on its feet.

Tony said: “This is mainly about keeping our five current employees in a job at the moment. The customers love them and they are really good at what they do.”

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Raynesway Blinds continues to seek additional investors to aid its planned expansion, and it is keen to speak to anyone who is interested.

Part of the expansion plan involves broadening the firm’s commercial and public sector client base to supply more facilities such as offices, schools and universities. It has also launched a referral scheme as an incentive for businesses able to provide leads for new domestic and commercial orders.

With orders increasing, Raynesway Blinds is currently recruiting for a new sales executive.

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Tony added: “It was touch and go, and there’s been a lot of hard work and tears along the way. But our dream is for Raynesway Blinds to succeed and grow.

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“We’re delighted by the response we’ve received from our customers, and we know it will prove to be a fitting outcome for Bob.”

For more information about the company visit www.rayneswayblinds.com or call 01332 280585. To enquire about investment/affiliate/commercial opportunities, email [email protected]. To enquire about the sales executive role, email [email protected].

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