Creating transformative, positive spaces
Written by: Kriti Anand
An independently-owned family business with deep roots in furniture design, manufacturing and interiors, FCI London has grown from a 5000 sq. ft. showroom to one of the largest luxury furniture and interiors brands in the UK. Showcasing over seven hundred brands under one roof in a North London showroom, FCI sells exclusive, luxury pieces from the world’s most respected designers.
FCI’s foundation is its expertise in impeccable furniture curation. It was the first company to introduce many designer brands to the British public that are today widely recognised, such as Calligaris, Cattelan Italia, Leolux and Porada.
The ethos of FCI is centred around exceptional customer service and a commitment to finding the perfect furniture solution, no matter how complex the request. The company also offers a comprehensive interior design service with a team of trained designers, as well as a range of trade services for design professionals.
The Founder and CEO of FCI London, Firdaus Nagree, has brought together an incredible team of people who work either at their London HQ or remotely from a number of different countries around the world. The company has risen to heights of success owing to the passion and commitment of its team. “When you bring people into the company who understand your core values and have similar values themselves, you build a really strong team of like-minded people whose energy and goals align – and this is what drives success.”
The collective purpose of the team at FCI London is to create positive, happy spaces through quality interior design and stunning luxury furniture. They strive to bring happiness and contentment into people’s homes.
Over time, FCI has built strong relationships with their suppliers with their sights set on longevity. This allows them to offer bespoke options to clients that are exclusive and unique. But what really counts as their differentiating factor is their customer service. The company is genuinely a cut above the rest in its customer-first approach because it owns all the necessary moving parts in-house.
From the installers, the fitters, the delivery vans, the warehousing, the admin – it’s all in-house, none of it is subcontracted out. “We own that last touch experience that you have with the client and it has definitely won us points, particularly because we are in the luxury sector and expectations are very high.”
The Entrepreneurial Journey
Firdaus Nagree comes from a family of entrepreneurs: in 1985, his parents moved their young family to the UK and set up their furniture business called FCI. A small mom-and-pop furniture shop at the time, FCI grew through the relationships they created with local craftsmen from Italy, looking for designer furniture they could bring to the UK. Many of these craftsmen became some of the biggest luxury furniture brands to come out of Italy.
After doing a number of years at Accenture, Firdaus joined the family business to help it grow and evolve. They bought commercial real estate property in North London and that’s where the FCI showroom was born.
“I think like many entrepreneurs, my journey has been very challenging at times. I have been actively involved as an executive, board member or investor in a variety of sectors, including Digital Hospitality, F&H, Construction, Interior Design, Retail, Bridge Finance, Proptech, Education, Aggregated Logistics, Property, On-Demand Food Delivery and Insurance.”
For him, the primary challenge as an entrepreneur has been getting the right team together. “What drives us is our core values – the core values of the company as well as the core values of the individuals in it… Once you’ve got the team right, everything else can work around that.”
Firdaus has invested in start-up companies, often in fledgling or non-existent industries, founded by people with little or no experience, as an angel investor. This has been a great part of his entrepreneurial journey and contributed enormously to his growth, both professionally and personally.
A part of a global network for entrepreneurs called the Entrepreneurs Organisation, Firdaus believes EO has been the single biggest influencing factor in this journey. EO has around 14000 members whose aim is to learn from each other and have a safe space where they can be honest about their failures and their successes.
Awards and Future Plans
FCI London has won several awards for best showroom, best interiors, best up and coming business, but their motivation lies in reviews from the customers. Firdaus says, “That’s the real measure of our success and the thing that I am most proud of in our business.” Positive customer reviews are the correct rewards to pay attention to, and the rest are the ones to learn from.
Like virtually every other industry, the furniture and interiors industry has seen an exponential increase in brand visibility through social media and digital marketing. It has made it more accessible to all people across a range of price levels, and software advances have now ensured that people can see what the end result might look like before they buy. This has been the inspiration behind one of the biggest projects that FCI is currently working on – the development of a global SaaS platform that will revolutionise how people access design advice and allow them to optimise their living spaces within reasonable costs.
“We want to make people happy by transforming their spaces – this is our ultimate goal. If we can make someone’s space visually perfect to suit their style and keep it within their budget, this will go a long way towards contributing to their overall happiness, hopefully inspiring them to then pay it forward. We’re really excited to see what we can do.“
“One piece of advice that I live by is to always view each failure as a learning opportunity. It’s okay to get down when things don’t work out or when they don’t work out quickly enough, but the key is to never wallow. Keep moving forward and it will always turn out for the best. Everything that happens is a learning opportunity – you learn something, then you move forward and you try again. Most importantly, you never give up.
I would also say that in any leadership role, read as many books as you can on coaching because it’s a learned skill. If you take the time to learn this skill, the people you lead will benefit from it. As a leader, you’re a servant and your role is to serve the people that you lead.“
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