Saturday, January 28, 2023
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Firdaus Nagree – Founder and CEO, FCI LONDON

FCI LONDON – THE LARGEST LUXURY FURNITURE AND INTERIORS BRAND IN THE UK FOR COMPREHENSIVE DESIGN SERVICES

FCI London was established in 1985 and has grown from a 5000 sq. ft showroom to one of the largest luxury furniture and interior brands in the UK, showcasing over 700 brands under 1 roof in their North London showroom. It is an independently owned family business with deep roots in furniture design, manufacturing, and interiors.

The company, under the guidance of Founder and CEO Firdaus Nagree, offers a comprehensive interior design service with a team of trained designers, as well the most exclusive quality luxury furniture from the world’s best brands. The clients are spread across a variety of sectors, from high-net-worth individuals and corporates to the general public. The company ethos is centered around exceptional customer service and a commitment to finding the perfect furniture solution. FCI has built an incredible team of people with passion and commitment, and it is this that drives the success of the brand.

MORE ABOUT FIRDAUS NAGREE

Firdaus is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, father, husband, and passionate scuba diver who has founded or funded numerous successful companies since 1999. After beginning his career as a strategy consultant with Accenture, he became involved in the London property scene, trading properties from the age of 21. He has 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.

ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY & CHALLENGES

Firdaus shares, “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents had a furniture business in India, and after we moved from India to the UK when I was a kid, they set up a furniture business here called Furniture Craft. I saw a real opportunity to take it from a small mom-and-pop shop into something much bigger, and that’s how FCI was born.”

FCI quickly grew into a multi-store business with a reputation for uncovering hidden gems in luxury furniture, as well as bringing in exclusive, quality pieces from the world’s most respected designers.Building a business doesn’t come without challenges, however. Firdaus recounts some of his biggest trials, including the time in 2008 when the bank wanted to foreclose on one of FCI’s commercial buildings. At the last minute, the company signed a new tenancy agreement that brought in the needed cash and prevented the setback…“That was one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced, says Firdaus. “Things could have worked out very differently if we didn’t catch that break.”Another make-or-break moment for FCI was when the pandemic arrived in 2020. “The way the team members mobilized, the way they put their heads down to survive was just incredible,”he continues…“Every person bar none was committed to that, and it was both an inspirational and humbling moment.”

As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges that Firdaus faces on a day-to-day basis, but the primary challenge is getting the team right. He says, “You have to understand what drives your team and be clear on the culture that you want within the company. Once you’ve got the team right, everything else can work around that.”

CHANGES IN THE INDUSTRY

Personal challenges are not the only things that an entrepreneur faces. They must also consider their changing industry and how to adapt their business. According to Firdaus, in recent years, the online aspect of the furniture and interiors industry has increased brands’ visibility exponentially. Pinterest, Instagram, and other social platforms have played an important role in this, particularly for smaller brands. Software advances have resulted in product modelling and design becoming far more streamlined with much better processes, resulting in better and more sustainable products, while augmented Reality and Virtual Reality programs have created an added dimension in how customers select their interiors. Firdaus believes that people are making bolder choices as they can see what the result might look like before they buy. Both architectural and interior design have evolved so that spaces are being designed with wellness and sustainability in mind.

Firdaus had this to say: “These are all things to consider when strategizing about the future. And, of course, the overall objective is to be the best at what you do. We’ve won many different awards for best showroom, best interiors, best up and coming business, but I don’t think we get too excited about these…It’s really all about customer reviews. We do have some not-so-great ones and we try and learn from them, but the positive customer reviews that we get are the correct rewards to pay attention to. That’s the real measure of our success.”

LEADERSHIP

Perhaps most important of all is the leadership that Firdaus brings to the table. As a leader, he has clear end goals for 1 year, 3 years, 10 years, etc. and he constantly recalibrates to ensure that everything is linked to those goals. He says it took him many years to figure out how important company culture is, which is why he places so much emphasis on cultivating an open environment where people feel safe to share their ideas.“When you’ve got the right people in the right seats and you’re open to collaboration, there is a flood of ideas. This culture of learning and never being afraid to fail is what makes gives people the confidence to be great.”

Firdaus is also a member of EO, which he credits with much of his growth in his leadership role.“EO has been a huge part of my growth as a leader. It stands for Entrepreneurs Organization, and it’s a global network of entrepreneurs whose aim is to help members learn and grow and find peer support. It has around 14 000 members who want to learn from each other, people who want to grow with each other and have a safe space where they can be honest about their failures and their successes.”

We asked him for his best advice for leaders in similar positions.“It’s a simple thing, but I would say view each failure as a learning opportunity. I do get down when things don’t work out or when things don’t work out quickly enough, but I never wallow. I keep moving forward and it always turns 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,”

FUTURE PLANS 

The company plans to expand and grow exponentially this year. They’re currently in the process of doubling their team to continue to offer the exceptional customer service that their clients have come to expect. They are also building a SaaS platform that will revolutionize how people access design advice and allow them to optimize their living spaces without spending an arm and a leg.

ADVICE FOR THE READERS 

For those leaders who don’t yet have a meditation practice, Firdaus says that this has been the single biggest game-changer.He says, “I took a long time to get a breakthrough, a long-time of practice with nothing happening – until something happened and it changed my life.”Finally, there’s a great book he recommends if you have the time, called ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.

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