A favourite of upcyclers, repairers and those wanting to reconnect with their heritage, the Surrey-based company’s chalk and mineral-based innovations are child-safe certified and have just scooped a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Six tons of Frenchic paint is now being shipped daily to customers around the globe, says Pam Gruhn who founded the business five years ago with the aim of creating alluring but competitively-priced coatings “with no toxins or bad pongs”.
Turnover is expected to top £10million this year and front doors especially are having a major moment during this spring’s restrictions.
“People are looking to lift their spirits, front doors offer a welcoming face to the world and are perfect for social media before-and-after photos,” Gruhn explains. “No primer, varnish or sealant is needed with our Al Fresco range.
“It works on PVC, UVC, wood or composites, and at £6.95 a pot it’s a lot cheaper than buying a new door.”
As well as having an online community numbering hundreds of thousands of fans, Gruhn is a longstanding champion of small independent retailers and has shaped her business model to provide as much value possible both to customers and her stockists.
She was determined therefore to help Frenchic’s 400-strong UK network survive the Covid-19 shutdown, many of whom fall outside Government support.
“We are out there delivering supplies to them so they can still do business and they are organising contactless deliveries to customers,” she adds.
For in-demand Manchester upholsterer and furniture restorer Sharlene Decourcey and her solo operation Decourcey Designs, which trades within a bigger retailer now closed, this has been a lifeline.
“Commissions I had, to refurbish a social club for example, have been put on hold. But because of Frenchic, with my dad who helps with the drop-offs, I can still supply customers. This means I can still pay my bills during this crisis,” she explains. “It is as fundamental as that.”
The credibility that comes with being a Queen’s Award winner for its innovations is already boosting further export interest in the brand.
Gruhn has driven it from scratch, but pays tribute to the chemist in the north of England whose formulations help turn her revolutionary product ideas into reality.
“Painting is therapeutic,” she says. “It’s a fresh start.”
Published at Sat, 09 May 2020 10:56:00 +0000