Preston's booming lockdown business JustRadiators turning up the heat in 2022

Despite the business being less than two years old, Dave O’Keefe is typically forthright when it comes to JustRadiators, a Preston-based company which sits under the Luxus Design umbrella alongside JustBedrooms and JustBaths. “I’m loving it, there’s no going back now!” he says, enthusiasm seeping in his voice. “Onwards and upwards all the time.”

By Jack Marshall, Reporter
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 4:55 am
Dave O'Keefe
Dave O'Keefe

And why would his outlook be any different?

Marketing Director Dave and his friend of almost 20 years Lewis Birch founded Luxus Design in the summer of 2020 after pondering the idea of going into business together whilst on socially-distanced walks. Noticing that plenty of people they knew were undertaking home renovations during lockdown, they spotted a niche.

Despite the prospects of starting a venture of this kind never having been on the cards up until that point, the pair threw themselves into the task. Faced with the economic uncertainty of Covid and Brexit, they nevertheless prevailed with Dave, originally from London but an adopted Prestonian for over 20 years, crediting his and Lewis’ get-up-and-go for spurring them on.

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JustRadiators' co-founders Lewis Birch (left) and Dave O'Keefe

In fact, Dave last year said starting the company was ‘the best thing I’ve ever done’. And recent news has done nothing to change his mind.

“We recently acquired Designer Radiators Direct and Great Rads, who were basically our biggest competitors,” says Dave, 40. “A business partner sold his shares and we thought it’d be a good time to see if he might be interested in selling to us and, lo and behold, it worked out and we ended up buying in early December.

“It’s about growing the business and looking to double profits and investment, so this was something we saw as enabling us to do so,” he adds. “It’s probably come around sooner than we expected, but it’s worked out and the pressures on now to make it work. We want to expand the businesses and the acquisition has helped in terms of the supply chain.

“We’ve taken on a competitor and we’ve got another showroom now, so it shows how strong a place we’re in,” Dave continues, with JustRadiators having also recently been named Retailer of the Year at the Red Rose Awards and Customer Service Team of the Year at the UK eCommerce Awards. “To win the awards we have leaves me speechless!

The JustRadiators team

“But it doesn’t mean we can slow down now, we want to push for more awards.”

Following the acquisitions, JustRadiators now has 16 members of staff as well as a new business development manager tasked with liaising with trade customers like interior designers, architects, and property developers starting soon.

As Dave has said from the very start, the name of the game is growth.

“JustBedrooms is local and Lancashire-focused and we’ll look to push the JustBathrooms side of things and get our teeth stuck into that once the supply chain on that front improves hopefully in the second half of this year,” says Dave. “But, with JustRadiators, we’ve got good deals with suppliers and there’s stock out there, so we can push hard.

“Other companies are dropping like flies because they’ve been selling at stupid prices online, whereas we’re all about margin,” he adds. “We don’t sell designer stuff cheap. The market is going up and the demand is there, so if you sell too cheap, you don’t grow and expand. If you build a model on that, it’s hard to get away from it and the suppliers know that.

“The business is all about getting the customer exactly what they want,” he continues. “The target is to double revenue again on last year, and we’ll do it.

“That’s where the acquisition came from: these things don’t happen on their own, you have to invest and put time into it,” says Dave, the enthusiasm and determination crystal clear in his voice. “Then you can create more jobs.”