Brazier Interiors looks back as well as forward after half a century in business
CELEBRATING half a century in business was always going to be a huge landmark for Hampshire business Brazier Interiors.
But in these tough economic times the occasion is even sweeter – particularly because the business continues to go from strength to strength.
It’s constantly adding new names to the impressive list of clients it has worked with – IBM, British Aerospace, Barclays International, Southampton Airport, Carnival and many more.
But although Brazier Interiors has worked with an impressive list of big names it also carries out interior design and refits for business of all shapes and sizes, from small offices and dental surgeries to whole bank chains and huge warehouses.
It also works increasingly as a specialist contractor to a number of large multi national construction companies, as it is subcontracted to source and install the interiors for their new projects.
One of the major reasons for the company’s enduring success as one of the south’s leading specialists in the design and build of workplace environments has been its ability to move with the times.
Commercial environments have changed a lot since 1961 when the company first formed alongside the iconic Southampton construction company Brazier & Son Limited, and Brazier Interiors has been there every step of the way.
“In the early days the company’s core business was installing suspended ceilings and constructing clean rooms for pharmaceutical industry,” says Managing Director Roy Martin at the company’s premises on the outskirts of the New Forest.
“Since then the business has evolved, with core activities now being category A and B fit-outs and turnkey projects for major clients. However, we continue to provide independent support for local SME companies, with everything from space planning, interiors design and maintenance to minor partitioning alterations and refits. We also continue to carry out carpeting and flooring via our sister company, G P Hollick, another great name from Southampton’s past.”
Roy says that as well as the company evolving over the last 50 years, clients have changed too: “Clients these days like to have a ‘one-stop shop’ rather than having to brief lots of different companies about their needs and we’ve adapted our business to cater for that need.”
Roy puts the success of the company over the last half century down to the full service he and his team give.
“We speak to the client, find out their needs and give them the solutions to actually help their business thrive and succeed. We acknowledge that good interior architecture is a major factor relating to staff retention, which is currently a major issue with companies desperate to retain good people."
External factors have also played a major part in the changing face of the company over the last 50 years.
Technology has, of course, moved on and Roy and his team are now able to offer clients services that they could only have dreamed of a few years ago.
“We are able to offer our clients an even more innovative service these days,” continues Roy, who was appointed MD in 2006 and subsequently purchased the business and premises from Philip Brazier in 2010.
Working closely with businesses to create a profitable working environments has always been a key part of what Brazier Interiors does, and this goes beyond simply making the workplace look attractive.
Roy explains that the company keeps up to date with the latest management styles and ways businesses are run.
“We can help to create better working environments by factoring this into our design,” says Roy.
The 1990s sparked an emphasis on communication within workplaces across the UK and the world, leading to a trend towards open plan offices.
Today, says Roy, with people spending more and more time at work and the need for employers to make the work place appealing in order to retain staff, interiors firms need to adapt their approach.
“We need to factor into our designs the things staff actually want. We all need an incentive to work and a great working environment is certainly one of them.”
Increased global awareness of environmental issues has also had a big impact on the interiors industry and the company itself over the last few decades.
“We use a lot more sustainable materials today,” says Roy.
“We’ve changed the products, techniques and processes we use in recognition of this and to move with the times.
“Companies who refit and change on a regular basis due to their constantly changing needs now have the comfort in knowing that a “Brazier” fit-out would be at least 80% reusable or recyclable.”
This innovative and flexible approach has no doubt been a factor in the company riding out these tough economic times.
Roy says that historically Brazier Interiors has done well in recessions because it has a loyal customer base.
And even though he admits that the current recession is the worst he has experienced, he adds that the company is doing well and the majority of its work comes from its existing customer base.
It’s clear that after some 50 years of working with the building industry and with a wide range of businesses, Brazier Interiors’ reputation is what has made it a success.
But Roy recognises that a company’s reputation is only as good as its last job and the firm is constantly looking at the latest developments and ensuring it continues to innovate and evolve to offer customers what they want as well as need.
As the company moves into the next 50 years, Roy is looking to continue its development by offering more, very specialised services.
He says that one of the key factors for the future is going to be a growing emphasis on working in harmony with the environment and in particular energy efficiency, recyclability and reducing waste, which is a huge issue within the the industry.
He is also looking to return to the construction side of the industry which is, after all, part of the company’s heritage. This would mean the company could design, build and fit workspaces, offering its clients an even more thorough and personalised service.
It’s hard to predict how Brazier Interiors will change and develop over the next 50 years but with its strong brand, reputation and ability to evolve, it seems certain that when it celebrates its centenary it will still be one of the leading specialists in its field.