Febland Group Ltd has been trading for over 70 years since it was first established in 1952, Dexter Febland would like to present a brief history of the Febland family business.
My Grandfather Simman and his wife Lily started the business as we know it by opening a couple of stalls in 1939 within the Blackpool South Shore Market, where they sold fancy goods and costume jewellery.
When grandad was conscripted into the Air Force my grandmother held the fort for 7 years whilst looking after 3 children.
Following the war, an influx of seasonal gift buyers into Blackpool motivated Simman to travel to Italy in search of small factories. In Murano he found Venetian glass clowns, bowls, vases and lamps, in Vicenza, ceramic ladies, animals and jardinières.
In Florence he sourced our first best-selling line, majolica ceramic donkey carts for the princely sum of one shilling and eleven pence!
Fast forward a few exciting years and at age 17, my father Anthony Febland, was sent to London with a suitcase of samples and struck lucky with a large order for Lewis the tobacconists.
Around this time, Simman, on one of his winter trips to Milan, discovered some amazing porcelain pieces displayed in his hotel and went to visit the young artists, Guiseppe Cappe, Bruno Merli and Tiziano Galli, the famous Capodimonte sculptors.
The porcelain pieces my grandfather bought took off and the Capodimonte business was a big success for Anthony Febland & Co “Toneshades” Ltd, later to become Worldwide Capo di Monte Porcelain Co Ltd (1967).
As the business grew it became more problematic to import highly detailed and delicate pieces from Italy without having them stolen or broken, so in 1965 my father Anthony set up his own haulage business, Febland Italiana, with offices and warehousing in Novara Italy, and moved export cargo to Italy and imports from Italy back to the UK.
I can recall very early memories of crawling around under the counter at my grandma’s Capodimonte shop on Queen Street in Blackpool.
A defunct cashier till as entertainment and being mesmerised by the venetian glass figurines and sculptures on display, particularly the “Cheats” by Bruno Merli (pictured above) which I believe was one of the best sellers.
Even more fascinating than the venetian glass pieces was the process of making them.
It was around this time Dad founded the Venetian Glass Company based at Squires Gate Industrial estate Blackpool, he invited a family of expert glass blowers from Italy to join him on this business venture and produce authentic Venetian glass ornaments in front of the seaside town’s tourists and residents.
He would pick them up on a double-decker bus, sign-wrapped in flames with the tag line… “Hottest place in town”.
In 1975 my father married professional artist Diana Zwibach and together they shaped and developed the business working tirelessly to make it a success.
In 1977 Febland Europa, as the haulage company was now called, were instructed by a customer to collect an order of reproduction Italian furniture from Pistoia and deliver to Manchester.
We were instructed to unload only after proof of payment to the supplier and when the customer failed to pay, we were obliged to unload the goods in our warehouse.
We had never bought furniture from Italy before, but it became apparent after lots of customers asked about prices of the goods from this trailer load, that demand was high. It was a range of baroque reproduction furniture with carved beech wood frames and before long, we were buying trailer loads on a regular basis.
My parents travelled to Italy two to three times a year, visiting factories, and buying exquisite porcelain, ceramics, glassware and furniture.
On 31 August 1983 the name Worldwide Capo di Monte was changed to the current name of Febland Group Ltd.
As the years progressed and the imported furniture became the dominant part of the business, my dad started the manufacturing side of the business, due to customer interest in domestic and contract bespoke items. As the years progressed and the imported furniture became the dominant part of the business, my dad started the manufacturing side of the business, due to customer interest in domestic and contract bespoke items.
I remember starting a night shift in our production department, where I worked part time in my teens, employing my friends to make bespoke seat pads for the popular wrought iron dining chairs.
My parents always encouraged me to keep up my studies and further my education at university, which I did at Sheffield Hallam.
Pharmaceutical Chemistry, as interesting as it was, didn’t excite me as much as what was happening back home so a few years later I was back in Blackpool, with an upholstery gun in my hand, only this time with an in depth understanding of the structural properties and composition of carbon-containing compounds.
At 23, whilst working my way up the ranks within the family business, I joined my Dad on a trip to the far east. The year was 2001, I remember it well as it was a day after the 9/11 bombings.
We currently have 2 generations still working full time and the fourth generation is showing promise in the business at a young age, with my niece Willow happy to assist customers at the weekend.
We are still selling lighting, furniture, giftware, and porcelain, but now from a large site in Blackpool with 5 warehouses and 2 showrooms that are open 7 days a week, to both retail and trade customers.
Alongside this, our production department make bespoke contract quality furniture for hotels, restaurants, bars and other commercial businesses. We have a website, are active on all social media platforms and still have sales reps out on the road. Negotiating the ups and downs (of which there are currently many) of the importing and distribution business, especially with such a diverse product range definitely keeps things interesting.
We are still a conscientious, caring family owned and run company who value our staff and customers, and hope you receive the personal service we all strive to provide.
I too hope that the Febland name will continue long into the future with the strong foundations and work ethic provided by my forefathers.