Thorns continues its record-breaking success

Thorns Group is one of the few companies in the events world to have claimed a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

In fact the company has twice made the record books for supplying furniture and catering equipment to the world’s largest silver-service meals – the most recent for no less than 11,500 people.

This staggering statistic tells its own story about Thorns, which now holds a stock of more than one million items at warehouses and offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

The group has expanded in recent years and now incorporates three separate specialist divisions – Thorns Furniture and Catering Hire, Camden Exhibition Services and Classic Technical Services.

Chairs, tables, office furniture, china, cutlery, glassware, silverware, linen, floral arrangements, bar furniture and even plasma screens and portable cookers and dishwashers are amongst the huge range of items all available for hire. The group even offers a bespoke furnishings service, enabling furniture and fabrics to be created in the specific designs and colours required by clients.

Thorns’ services are very much in demand for the big summer festivals and national exhibitions as well as for conferences, road shows and more modest weddings and corporate events. The group is also a regular supplier to a host of hotels and to many of the UK’s leading venues such as London’s ExCeL, Birmingham’s NEC and ICC, and the Manchester Central Convention Complex.

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, Royal Ascot, Twickenham rugby fixtures, Royal Agricultural Show, Silverstone motor racing, Royal International Air Tattoo and RHS horticultural gatherings such as the Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows are just a few of the headline events supplied by Thorns. It even provides furniture at Buckingham Palace for its garden parties.

Today, Thorns Group is one of the biggest names in the event, exhibition and conference hire business but it has taken 50 years of hard work and excellent customer service to get there.

Thorns’ origins were rather more humble and date back to the 1950s when Tottenham businessman Albert Thorn decided to establish a furniture and catering equipment hire venture as a sideline to his already successful hardware store and to the grocery business run by his wife Doris.

The couple’s new enterprise – Thorns Furniture and Catering Hire – was initially forced to store its equipment in a number of buildings across Tottenham, with younger members of the Thorn family and school friends recruited to help out with deliveries at weekends.

Despite being sold by Albert and Doris some years ago, the business still employs three members of the Thorn family. And the company continues to place the same emphasis on traditional customer satisfaction – attaching equal importance to all contracts, no matter how large or small.

The growth of the Thorns brand has involved the acquisition of a number of rival companies and a growing reputation for providing innovative, high-quality products at a competitive price.

Group Sales Director Clair Whitecross explained: “Through considerable investment, we have been able to enlarge and update our stock and introduce attractive modern ranges of everything from china to bar furniture. We have also invested in new fleets of vehicles, better computer systems and storage facilities.

“Good customer relationships are essential to winning and retaining new business. Getting the right staff to deliver excellent customer service is absolutely key and we are lucky to have built up a great team by attracting many of the best people currently working in the event and exhibition industries.”

A host of repeat orders each year are a sign that Thorns’ staff are managing to keep their customers happy. The group has also received a succession of top accolades, including being the only British winner at Special Event, the highly acclaimed event industry “Oscars”, hosted in Florida.

Thorns has also been featured for three consecutive years in the prestigious Inner City 100 league table, a government-backed listing of the 100 fastest-growing companies based in the UK’s core urban areas – and in Europe’s 500, a high-profile directory of the most rapidly expanding companies across the whole continent.

In recent months Thorns has again walked away with top prizes for its stands at trade shows – firstly at the Showman’s Show and then at International Confex at Earls Court where the group’s design team, led by head of exhibitions Adam Aston, beat more than 70 rivals to be crowned “Best Space” in the ‘Exhibition and Events Live’ section of the top-rated show.

The accolade was a fitting reward for Thorns’ striking design, which married diverse elements such as polka-dot furniture, the group’s new illuminated Atlantis bar and a stunning lilac lighting display.

The prize for Thorns’ exhibition stand added to a highly successful Confex for the group, which also acted as official supplier via two separate divisions – Camden Exhibition Services and Classic Technical Services.

All Thorns staff go that extra mile and when customers have an emergency, they pull out all the stops.

Sales executive Darren Jackson found himself in exactly that situation when he got a call from Pinewood Studios recently. Archer Films were in the middle of shooting a new feature film, starring acting heartthrobs Ewan McGregor and Matthew Macfadyen, when they urgently required an emergency order of desks and other office equipment.

The items were delivered the following day to the set – a derelict building at South Bank University in London. The set designers worked their magic. Thorns’ sleek, stylish black-and-white office furniture fitted in perfectly and helped to transform a floor of the dilapidated building into a totally realistic film-set office. Gemma Ryan, Set Decorator from Incendiary Ltd and Archer Films, said: “Darren was absolutely brilliant. He made the set look fantastic.”

So if you are in the cinema around Christmas watching a new release called “Incendiary” – you might just catch a glimpse of Thorns’ furniture on the big screen, posing as the Scotland Yard office of a Special Branch detective.

For more information, please see: