Quick facts

About ScS Upholstery Plc

Despite being surrounded by comfy couches and armchairs, staff at ScS Upholstery have no time to put their feet up; the sofa retailing firm has ambitious plans for expansion and its employees are central to its success.

Commitment to training and maintaining first-rate staff to provide excellent service is one of the main factors the company attributes its success to. That and investing in the services of 1980s pop star and former EastEnder Martin Kemp in a high-profile advertising campaign. Headquarters are in Sunderland with more than 80 stores throughout the UK. A further 17 are planned this year.

Far from feeling bewildered by the rate of progress, staff report high levels of engagement. They feel they can make a difference in the organisation (shown by an 80% positive score here), they think they can contribute to its success (82%) and they are excited about where the company is going (79%), all top 20 scores. Dispatch manager Philip Averill sums up the appeal of working for a firm on the up: "I'd rather work for a successful company. If they're doing well I'm doing well."

This rings particularly true for those employees who are stakeholders in the company, Averill among them. "I was given share options when the company was floated, because of my length of service and job position. I cashed them in last year and bought a new car," he says. Plans are in place to award all managers £10,000 worth of shares in three years' time.

Most middle and senior managers have been promoted from within, and chief executive David Knight began his career at ScS as a branch manager.

Regional manager Mark Dawson is a typical example. He started working at ScS 10 years ago as a trainee manager and soon progressed to running three regions.

Dawson has himself been involved in helping others develop their careers, of which he says: "I think if you can develop someone from within then you should. It's lovely to be able to say to people that I've been a sales person and a manager. The rewards for this environment are very good. If you're successful you can do very well."

Not all his colleagues agree that financial "rewards" are the best; the 60% score for staff thinking they are paid fairly compared to people in similar positions in similar companies ranks ScS 60th, somewhat below its overall ranking, but it is the all-round package that is a good deal.

Colleagues get on well with each other while leadership and management are also strengths at ScS; workers say their manager talks openly and honestly with them (80%) and that they have a great deal of faith in the person leading the organisation (78%).

Knight is not so naive to think that having a high quality and happy workforce will automatically see the company through its continued growth, but he recognises its importance. "Anybody can put a few three-piece suites in a building — but the one thing that can really mess it up for you is your staff. "You need all the ingredients to be right."


Company Statistics

  • Annual Sales:

    £158,300,000

  • Earning £35,000+:

    10%

  • Number of Staff:

    1092

  • Staff Turnover:

    29%

  • Male to Female ratio:

    62% / 38%

  • Sites:

    83

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