(If you're looking for information on the furniture and ordering process, please read our Frequently Asked Questions)
OAKEA was founded in late 2004 by Henrik Pontoppidan, who at this time was the MD for a large pine furniture manufacturer in Hereford.
Through 5 years of running the Pine Furniture Factory, Henrik had supplied hundreds and hundreds of retailers, ranging from John Lewis to small independent Furniture Shops. Most of these shops were very reluctant to hold stock, and Henrik – thinking ‘out of the box’ – ran a persistent campaign to get retailers to hold stock of the pine furniture, which would lead to a much better service, as there would be no waiting time, when furniture was ordered by the public.
When he founded OAKEA, the aim was clear: To give the general public an opportunity to buy good quality Oak Furniture without the many frustrations often associated with this: Long lead times, large deposits to be paid up front, and endless wait to get potential problems sorted.
The strategy was, of course, to buy bulk – i.e. bringing everything in by the container load – and only offer what was held in stock. So the Oak Furniture, ordered by the customer was already bought, paid and held in stock, and could be delivered immediately.
Henrik remortgaged his house and invested £40,000 in stock and swapped his Audi for a Van.
During 2005 and 2006, Henrik, being a one-man band selling Furniture on ebay, practically lived in the van whilst delivering furniture throughout the country – a sharp contrast to the comfortable desk job he was used to. But this set out the philosophy of going the extra mile, and applying the personal touch with own fleet of vehicles and drivers, which is still a corner stone of OAKEA.
A New Website
In January 2006 the company’s first web site, www.stock2u.co.uk was launched, with a view to reduce the dependability on ebay, which had become an expensive and time consuming method, given the volume that was now being shifted. The web site soon overtook the ebay sales and by the end of 2007, ebay was finally dropped as a sales channel. By this time, a Hereford Furniture Showroom had been built, a delivery driver had joined the company and Soon after, an operations manager was employed. More vans and drivers soon followed.
The original warehouse became too small, and in the middle of the worst recession the country has seen, in June 2009, the company moved into twice the size premises. This was celebrated with a free pig roast for the public, live music, many new ranges of fantastic oak furniture being launched and a doubling of the delivery fleet.
In the same year, OAKEA – bucking the trend - was also the main sponsor of the Hereford’s fireworks display at Bonfire Night.
Until 2010, OAKEA was thriving on very competitive prices (due to direct bulk buying) quick deliveries, easy method of buying Oak Furniture without paying a penny up front and of course the personal touch. The Furniture offered was always carefully selected for quality and value, but the designs developed by the factories, could be improved. So in 2010, Henrik applied his skills from his background working in design, development and manufacturing, to use the financial strength built up over the years to launch a comprehensive product development programme.
The new larger premises were put to good use, with the arrival of OAKEA's new product launches the warehouse was soon very busy! In 2012 a new mezzanine floor was built to house the new ranges, a new Warehouse Manager was hired, a new system was implemented and the whole operation stepped up a gear!
In 2013 OAKEA launched a new payment system. All drivers would now carry a Chip & Pin machine on deliveries. Customers were already able to pay on delivery by cheque or cash, but now they could pay safely by card. OAKEA is one of the ONLY companies in the UK to offer this as a payment option, and it has become one of the most popular payment choices for customers.
As of 2015 OAKEA has over 250 different products on the website and in the showroom, Conservatory Furniture has been added and is also on display in the showroom. 10 years after Henrik first took to the road, the emphasis is still very much on giving the personal though, this can be seen in the positive reviews, and OAKEA's Trustpilot rating, which at the point of writing, was 9.7 with a Top 3 position in its category.
More to come ...
The future will see OAKEA bringing out their own designs of Oak Furniture, as well as moving into the conservatory with a comprehensive collection of Natural Rattan and Wicker Furniture, based on the most popular visual characteristics of the furniture, combined with state-of-art quality. The OAKEA designs stand out by the functions of the furniture, as emphasis is being put and the practicality in daily use, as well as dimensions used especially for the typical UK house.
Production is being outsourced to the appropriate factories around the world ensuring a consistent high quality, and the lowest possible price level.