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CEO Lance Peters. CEO Lance Peters. Featured


Business surges ahead despite devastating fire

By Keiasha Naidoo

ONE of the longest running furniture businesses in Western Sydney, John Cootes, will continue with its growth strategy despite a massive fire that destroyed the company’s warehouse in Yennora.

CEO, Lance Peters, said it was business as usual for his team. “There is no change in our operations, service to our customers and plans to grow our brand in NSW.

“The most important thing for us is that no staff were injured. Our safety measures, fire drills, and all the training we do went to plan. Everyone took care of each other, we have a very caring and family culture in this business and all the staff looked after each other,” he said.

Lance said John Cootes has a comprehensive insurance, and ultimately there would be no loss to the business.

“While this is a very sad incident, we knew in the next year or two we would have to look for a larger warehouse space. This fire means we will have to make temporary measures for now, and perhaps look for that larger premises ahead of our one to two year plan.”

John Cootes doubled its number of stores this year with the management team planning to grow the business even further in NSW. The John Cootes brand started over 33 years ago by John Cootes himself in Merrylands on the same site it operates one store from on Woodville Avenue. The business grew over three decades as a family run business that was connected to the community.

In June last year the iconic family business was purchased by an investment company, but is still run on the same family principles that built the John Cootes brand. Lance says he is proud to still have several staff within the business that have between 15 and 26 years’ service in the company.

“You can imagine when this store opened 33 years ago, there was probably nothing around this area. Now we are right in the middle of a busy commercial region with a lot of businesses. Back then everyone knew it because of its location and its connection with the area,” he said.

The new owners bought the John Cootes business with branches in Merrylands, Tuggerah and Penrith. Under the new management the business has expanded and opened three new stores in the last three months. The new stores are in Bathurst, Campbelltown and Taree.

“We have further plans for growth, and are looking at opening two more stores in NSW this year. We see tremendous opportunity in NSW and want to look at growing here before we look at other states,” said Lance.

While the business has a new owner, the team is still managed on the same ethos of the family-run John Cootes business. “We will continue to offer a large range of furniture, we continue to cater for different styles; and focus on bringing styles to suit large family homes as well as small apartments coming up in the area.

“Most people come into our store and are surprised that we offer such good value and are amazed at the size of our showroom. That’s what we want to continue,” said Lance.

With his executive team, Lance says they are prepared for growth. “Under the new management structure, we have a new CFO, and moved some staff into roles that we felt was more suited for them. Essentially though our buyers, logistics and sales staff are the same people who have been working in this company for several years.”

Lance said on average, the staff at John Cootes have between 10-15 years tenure in the business. With one executive team member starting 16 years ago in the warehouse moving boxes at just 21 years old.

“These are the family values we want to continue, where our people are part of the community and interact with our customers, and the local community,” said Lance.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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