Family affair as retailer celebrates 75th anniversary

23 September 2022

Independent retailer Cookes Furniture is celebrating its 75th Anniversary - with one family having steered its fortunes since the company was established in 1946.

Founded by the late Edward Cooke, fondly known as ‘Ted’, the Sutton Coldfield business is now chaired by his son Graham, and granddaughters Michelle Pike, merchandising director, Vanessa Hoe, marketing director and Jennifer Davies, commercial director.

And, the family link does not end there, as Michelle’s husband James Pike is managing director.

James said: “We all live and breathe Cookes Furniture but we recognise we are only its custodians. The challenge for us, the third generation of Cookes, is to continue to trade a successful business that secures a presence for the next 75 years, for the next generation and beyond.”

Cookes employs about 70 people across its two main showrooms, one in Birmingham and the second in Christchurch, Dorset.

“We must be one of the largest independent multi-generational furniture retailers in the country,” said James.

The company has expanded to also include a Cookes Storage Service, a successful self-storage operation based in Sutton Coldfield and two Ripples bathroom showrooms. 

Vanessa said the family wanted the 75th anniversary to be a celebration of Cookes’ long-standing and close relationship with its customers and local communities. 

She said: “We have so many very loyal customers, we truly want to thank them for their support over many years and also looking forward to welcoming potential new customers in the future by offering quality furniture, expert advice and exceptional customer service.”

The company also prides itself on contributing to the local community.

Cookes Furniture have been avid supporters of the Royal Sutton Fun Run from the beginning, as well as supporting charities such as the John Taylor Hospice in Erdington, The Cancer Support Centre in Sutton Coldfield, Breast Friends and the Sutton Support Services for adults with learning difficulties in Sutton Coldfield. 

Looking forward, James said there had been a big rise in demand for upholstery.

He added: “The pandemic has caused people to review their lifestyles, and as a result we are seeing an increase in them choosing to invest in key rooms in their homes,” he said.

On the secret of 75 years’ successful trading, Graham said: “As well as ensuring the quality of the stock we offer, there has to be trust at every stage of the furniture journey with our customers.

“They know that if they have a query, they can rely on us to be upfront and provide a positive response, as quickly as possible. Trust really is what underlines us as a business.” 

Founder Ted Cooke was born in 1924. He served in the Royal Navy as a Petty Officer on the HMS Diadem, surviving convoy escort duty in the Second World War.

When Ted left the Navy, he set up a mobile library with his demob money and quickly expanded his offering to include haberdashery and household goods.

Joined by his son Graham, they started selling fitted carpets and purchased their first retail premises in Jockey Road which then sold both carpet and furniture.

In later years, they outgrew the Jockey Road shop and moved into Goosemoor Lane where they still have their impressive flagship showroom.

Pictured: Back row (from left) - Graham Cooke, Vanessa Hoe and James Pike. Front row (from left) - Jennifer Davies and Michelle Pike


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