When Bryan Dicker launched the interiors division at Holland & Sherry in 1998, he had a serious leg up on the competition: The now 183-year-old British textile house, long known as a supplier of men’s suiting for tailors, already had a worldwide network. “Because of the apparel side [of the business], we already had operations in place,” he tells Business of Home. “We used those parts of the business to generate an organization for the interiors.”
What began with only one desk amid the apparel business’s office in New York has steadily grown into one of the most highly sought-after names in fabric and interior finishes. The division, which started with just textiles, now produces and sells embroidery, rugs, wallcoverings, hardware, leather and trim, in addition to books, decor and vintage furniture from partner designers. In 2001, the brand opened its first showroom—a 150-square-foot space in New York’s D&D Building; today, it operates 16 offices and showrooms in seven different countries, including a 9,000-square-foot space in the D&D.
“Ten years ago, we had approximately 10 employees; now we have over 100,” says Dicker, the president of the company’s interiors division. In order to keep up with the fabric department’s growth, the company saw a need to consolidate and streamline its operations. Last fall, its teams moved into a 20,000-square-foot facility (“with room to grow”) in Owings Mills, Maryland, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Baltimore. The facility has proven transformative for the company, dramatically changing its distribution, sampling and revenue stream—and its ability to collaborate with both designers and other trade brands.
While Holland & Sherry will keep some distribution in Scotland, the majority of the product—made in the company’s fabric mill in Tomé, Chile—will be warehoused and distributed from the new location. The move also gives the company space to warehouse product from partner brands like Katie Leede & Co., Jed Johnson Home, Harbour and Alexandra Champalimaud’s outdoor and contract collection in one location.
“A bigger percentage of our business is done in America than outside of the U.S., so we felt distribution belonged here,” says Dicker. But it isn’t just warehouse space the company gained: The brand’s hand-painted wallpaper studio also moved into 3,000 square feet of the new facility—more than double the footprint it occupied in Brooklyn’s Industry City. The creative teams for both fabric and wallpaper relocated to Maryland as well. “Keeping all the products in one location as much as possible sets these teams up to learn from each other,” he adds.
In addition, the new center also is home to a new sampling facility that cuts, overlocks, and labels all fabric samples. The company recently invested in state-of-the-art machinery to produce its own samples after years of working with a partner, and has recently begun to produce samples for some of its partner brands as well. “Now that we have the new space and new equipment, we’re looking to make this service more widely available to other like-minded companies in early 2020,” says Helen Shannon, Holland & Sherry’s director of operations. It’s a strategic move that Dicker sees as an opportunity for new revenue: “If we can extend those services to [other companies], we can turn this warehouse into more of a profit center, rather than a cost.”
In addition to the added space, Dicker says that consolidating sets up the company for its next phase of growth—including increased opportunities for creative collaboration with the trade. “Our number-one client, if not our only client, is the interior designer,” explains Dicker. “We don’t even really consider them a client, we consider them a partner.”
He says that while the company’s relationship with designers often begins by selling stock product—things like the gray flannel stored in its warehouse—Dicker’s team has excelled at developing systems around working closely with designers to develop one-of-a-kind pieces. To grow that network, Holland & Sherry plans to open more showrooms—Seattle could be next—and hire more salespeople with the knowledge and experience to facilitate custom work with interior designers. “And we’re not just doing it on one product, but many,” says Dicker. “Today, there’s nothing more luxurious than having something that no one else has.”