Spotlight on Dalesbred

Dalesbred specialise in manufacturing bespoke hardwood furniture and a range of new upholstery. They also make curtains and blinds, re-upholster tired old suites and restore furniture. Here owner Simon Robinson shares the story of his business.

How Dalesbred came about...

At 30 years-old I was a self-employed farm worker and could see that there was a great possibility that I could be milking someone else’s cows for the rest of my life.  I wanted something different - I wanted to run my own business.

So, I needed to look for another career. The main criteria was that I wanted to stay in the Dales where I had grown up and, being a practical person, thought cabinet making could be the answer. (It really was as simple as that, although we did juggle a lot of other ideas at the time).


My main motivation is the variety of work. To be honest I could be described as workaholic, I get bored very easily. Different projects, doing different things was a way to keep me interested. Shortly after converting the Old Blacksmiths Shop in Austwick my wife, Sally, became disillusioned with the NHS and decided to retire and took up upholstery, which complimented the work that I had started perfectly. That was the start of Dalesbred - 22 years on and we have grown from just Sally and myself to having eight full time and two part time staff.

In addition to that, over the last 3 years we have been joint developers at The Courtyard, near Settle, where we now have our main showroom. I have to admit that, when we started, I was hoping that the recession was nearly over. That wasn't the case, but we have survived, even moving into new workshops in Settle for the cabinet making (creating more jobs) and leaving upholstery and curtain making at the Smithy. Plus, the new showroom and Courtyard development has not just created the work we were hoping for, but has also attracted our desired customer base.

The most valuable lesson

If I could offer one piece of business advice it would be, “Don’t be proud. Always try and employ people who are better in their field than you!!” It will only benefit your business and, by working with people that have superior skills than you, you will learn new skills yourself.

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