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Mearns retiring from Sterling following rebrand

 Murray Graham, Gordon Mearns, Lesley Graham, Euan Graham and George Knowles

Family-owned Sterling Furniture Group is seeking a CEO after Gordon Mearns announced his retirement after 20 years as managing director.

Mr Mearns steps down after overseeing the first steps of a major rebranding that will see the majority of its shops trading under the new “Sterling Home” brand, which is already being used on the company’s online store.  He will remain in position until the new CEO is appointed.

During his two decades in the hot seat he has grown the company to 600 staff working across 10 branches.

It will be 50 years in September since founder George Knowles Senior saw the growing popularity of out-of-town retail parks in the United States.

He converted an old mill in Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire, into his first furniture store, which was made famous in a series of legendary television adverts starring sports broadcaster Dougie Donnelly.

The founder’s son, George Knowles Junior, took over the company in 1985 and began expanding his family’s business beyond Scotland’s Central Belt.

Mr Mearns, who joined the business in 1984 and rose through its ranks to become its finance director, became managing director in 2003 following the tragic death of George Knowles Jr at the age of 41. 

Lesley Graham, Sterling’s buying director and the daughter of its founder, said: “On behalf of the family I want to extend our thanks to Gordon for his years of service and stewardship at Sterling Furniture Group.

“He became managing director under difficult circumstances and has led the growth of our business for more than two decades, including our acquisition of Forrest Furnishings in 2016.

“Gordon has set us on an exciting course by spearheading our rebrand to Sterling Home – as well as streamlining many of our systems and processes behind the scenes.

“As we prepare to mark our 50th anniversary, we’ve already begun a significant investment in our Sterling Home stores and our online shop.”

Members of the third generation of the family are now also working in the business, including Ms Graham’s two sons, Murray and Euan and her nephew, George, who will shortly be appointed as company directors.

Sterling Furniture Group grew its pre-tax profits to £4.2 million in the year to 28 February 2022 from £2.5m a year earlier, on the back of turnover rising to £55.5m from £40.1m.

Against a backdrop of uncertain trading conditions the company predicts a stable financial position in the year ahead.

Market analysts at GlobalData value the UK living room furniture market at £3.9 billion and expect it to grow by 25% by 2025, while highlighting the continuing trend for customers to browse for items online.

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