Every now and again news of a business that has been quietly forging ahead within its sector starts to gain deserved recognition for its success. Addison Ross is one such company, established by brothers David & Tim Addison Ross in 1978 with £100. Now one of the UK's leading designers and suppliers of stylish, quality photograph frames and clocks and a soon to be launched home fragrance collection later in 2016. Addison Ross supplies its luxury designs to leading UK department stores and interior accessory boutiques, has its own online retail operation and wholesale business of which an overall 60% of sales are exported to 32 countries worldwide.
The early days of the brothers' exploits were several steps removed from where Addison Ross' business is today. From a 1,000 sq ft gallery in Northumberland at a rental cost of £625 per annum, they specialised in selling Sporting Art. They quickly introduced a picture framing service due to client demand, before opening their London gallery on Eaton Terrace where they hosted eight shows a year for established as well as emerging artists and to which members of the Royal Family were frequent patrons. From this new central venue they forged into supplying art to property developments, leading banks and hotels as well as continuing to work with private clients. Meanwhile the picture framing business, still based in Northumberland, expanded into specialist frames including Water Gilt, Hand Veneered and Colour Wash finishes. Art restoration was offered to Spinks, West End galleries including The Tryon Gallery, to architects and interior designers.
By 1990 David had met his Australian wife Sarah, who had, on a visit to his family been introduced to the craft of creating her own gilded photo frame using the factory machinery housed nearby. This proved to be her starting point in the business when this design quickly went on to be a best seller. The gap in the market for stylish, elegant photograph frames was clear to see.Their first appointment with Gore Booker, a small interiors shop in Covent Garden resulted in a £4,000 order. Within 12 months, Addison Ross frames were displayed throughout Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and House of Fraser all of which continue to stock the ranges today.
The Marquetry range of photograph frames was introduced in 1990. This swiftly headed to the top of the best seller list, hand made in Northumberland using raw materials from Tuscany. Now these frames are crafted by a newly established artisan workshop in San Gimignano. For David Addison Ross this proved the turning point in the business. He no longer worked with major corporates selling stunning artworks; where once a hotel's walls were complete, the project would end. With photo frames, new inspirations, designs and directions were always unfolding and needing to be explored and capitalised upon.
New stockists, including John Lewis, WH Smith, Next and Marks & Spencer were all attracted to the Addison Ross brand. The latter, upon receipt of what David and Sarah thought was a ridiculously large order were called in for a range review, during which the merchandiser interrupted proceedings with a so called 'problem'. The photograph frames had gone 'bulk'. Which resulted in a £1 million order there and then with immediate delivery required!
The Northumberland set up was vastly extended to the 10,000 sq ft factory it is today. Reflecting the update in government regulation some of the production was shifted to China and growing exports became an essential focus. Attending trade fairs in the US and Europe has resulted in 60% of Addison Ross' business being delivered overseas including back to mainland China.
By 2008 David had bought out the shareholding of the business and he and Sarah had moved their young family to Berkshire. The business focus was now intent on developing exclusive Addison Ross designs, scaling back on supplying large UK retailers. The brand has emerged in its own right utilising stunning new materials such as shell, shagreen, enamel, rose gold and glass all smartly packaged in Addison Ross's signature of taupe and ivory. It also means that the collections can mirror trends in homes and interiors - the recent fashion for taupe, greys and pastels are all reflected in the Addison Ross collections, updated twice a year. Faux skins including moc croc and shagreen are hugely popular, the fashionability of rose gold seen in jewellery and footwear is also reflected in the collection.
The brand is stocked across the US in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Restoration Hardware, Yves Delormes, Gumps and Nordstrom. Addison Ross designs exclusive collections for Claridges Hotel, Highgrove and the Venice Simplon Orient Express.
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