Crown Imperial is a family run business with over 70 years’ experience in the manufacture of high quality British furniture. The company prides itself on offering an extensive collection of contemporary and classic fitted furniture in a wide choice of styles, with flexible options to suit you and your home. Renowned for its cutting edge manufacturing technology, Crown Imperial continues to demonstrate its true dedication to innovation and design to deliver a wonderful palette of high quality furniture products over six decades.
Crown Products was established by Len Head in 1946 following his retirement from the Royal Air Force where he had been flying VIP transport planes across the North Atlantic.
Following his success in obtaining a license to purchase timber as a raw material, the company began by manufacturing small wooden toys for children. This developed into a range of nursery furniture which was sold from a small shop in Fulham High Street, South West London.
An unexpected visitor to the retail shop asked Len Head whether he could manufacture a quantity of tables and chairs. The answer was – Yes, of course! The individual concerned turned out to be purchasing manager from local County Council and an order was received for 4,000 desks and 10,000 chairs!
This totally swamped the company which took 4 years to fulfil the contract. In the process, manufacture and retail of nursery furniture was inevitably side-lined. The company became contract manufacturers.
In 1959 the company relocated from London to a small derelict factory in Herne Bay, Kent. In this same year Michael Head joined the business. Crown Products was still a relatively small company, with just 12 employees.
The 1960s saw Crown evolve as one of the country’s largest specialist manufacturers of furniture with the British Government as our main customer. The company would supply furniture against contracts and at any one time the capacity of the factory would be fully booked with orders covering a 12 to 18 month period. We also manufactured the wooden frames for thousands of Lyons and Walls ice cream stands.
Following a heart attack in 1965, Len Head was instructed by his doctor to take a break from the business for 6 months. Michael Head became Managing Director of Crown Products with Len taking on the title of Chairman.
As the company expanded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, additions were made to the factory buildings. In order to reduce the cost of these additions, the company employed its own full-time bricklayer who spent almost 10 years laying bricks and carrying out other building tasks.
Having spent 18 years developing the business, Michael Head decided that in order to accommodate the new automated machinery being developed at the time, the company needed to start again.
The existing site was surrounded by allotments and although in principle the local City Council agreed that they would sell the land, they omitted to say that it would take 10 years to complete the deal!
In 1980 a political decision enforced a moratorium on purchasing of furniture by all Government departments. This was communicated in one go!
Full realisation of the impact this might have, took about three weeks – but rather than admit defeat and close down we decided to become kitchen furniture producers overnight!
In order to be different, we decided to concentrate on producing a high quality furniture for subsequent assembly – a new concept which was well received by the market.
Having finally secured the land for expansion, Michael Head set about designing his vision of a factory for the future. This was realised in 1987 with the opening of a brand new production facility covering 100,000 square metres.
The main production hall is 120 metres by 60 metres wide with no supporting columns to obstruct machinery and has all supply services supported from the roof structure. This allows total flexibility of product layout and was to provide the cornerstone of the companies expansion over the next 20 years.
Following the family traditions, 1990 saw Michael’s two sons Barry and Martin join the business. Both graduates from the University of Birmingham, they have helped carry the company into the 21st Century. Promoting the use of technology throughout the business, they have overseen the introduction of increasingly automated machinery linked directly to the offices and streamlined business processes to improve efficiency.
1995 saw Crown introduce their Imperial range of kitchen furniture, falling into line with the industry standard of 150mm plinth height.
This introduction required a massive technological change throughout the company, re-writing 15 year’s worth of internal rules and specifications. The benefits, however, were dramatic, allowing the company to start with a clean sheet of paper and to develop an immensely versatile cabinet system whilst at the same time taking advantage of facilities offered by more modern machinery to derive production efficiencies.
Crown in Daventry opened! Our 15,000 sq. ft. show centre, without sales staff, to help you dream up your new Crown Kitchen, Living and Bedroom furniture. Crown in Daventry has over 70 stunning displays, designed to inspire you.
Crown celebrate 60 years of manufacturing!
A far cry from the humble beginnings of 1946, Crown were pleased to celebrate 60 years of quality British manufacturing in 2006. Managing Director Michael Head reported that the Directors were ‘proud to have achieved so much over the first 60 years in business and looking forward to the challenges of the next 60 years !’.
Michael Head’s visionary factory, completed in 1987, has enabled the company to expand greatly over the past 20 years. Crowns product portfolio now extends to over 6,000 different products spread over 50 different kitchen styles and 15 different bedroom styles.
With production facilities capable of processing materials ranging from solid timber, melamine faced chipboard and MDF at speeds of up to 30 panels per minute, machines capable of drilling over 1 million holes per day and a factory building which does not require any external fuel for heating, the foundations are very firmly laid for Crowns current management team to guide the company through many more years of quality furniture manufacturing.
October 2008 saw the introduction of Crown LifeSpace – The innovative and flexible solution to all your ‘STUFF’. LifeSpace was designed to fill the void between your Kitchen and Bedroom furniture. Check out our LifeSpace section here – and dream up your perfect storage solution.
We have installed many LifeSpace displays at Daventry to demonstrate just how flexible the furniture is.
Crown continue to invest.
Pursuing their policy of continued investment, 2010 has seen several key items of new machinery introduced into the factory. A drill capable of drilling holes to accept hinges in 20 doors every minute and a new beam saw specially equipped to handle sensitive high-gloss materials.