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Client Stories

Beautiful & Functional: How Stylehouse Design has grown and thrived



When Michelle and Ian Robertshaw purchased Stylehouse Design, it was 20 years old and predominately a kitchen cabinetry business making a reasonable profit each year. The previous owners were expert cabinet makers and had an excellent reputation for installing beautifully designed kitchens and cabinetry in homes across Auckland.

“It was a diamond in the rough from the very beginning,” says Michelle. “The owners were very busy, even though the business had never been advertised and it still isn’t – it’s all word of mouth and referrals.”

Stylehouse ticked all the boxes for the Robertshaws, who had been searching for a business to buy for two years. Since they took over in 2018 it has gone from strength to strength. They kept the existing highly skilled staff and have since employed six more people; they’ve diversified the service offered, and they’ve doubled the revenue.

More than simply kitchens

The team at Stylehouse were always well-known for producing outstanding kitchen cabinetry. But Michelle and Ian quickly realised that there was low awareness of other cabinetry solutions the business could provide.  “We did our research and saw a gap in the market for a full-service offering, and now offer all household cabinetry including laundries, vanities, wardrobes, offices and entertainment walls,” says Ian.

They’ve also branched into commercial cabinetry, with clients like Paper Plus, Father Rabbit and Noel Leeming, and a furniture range is also on the way.

That breadth of service and skills has differentiated Stylehouse Design from its competitors and helped it thrive even in the tough economic conditions of 2020. With the team able to keep designing and planning during the lockdown, they were ready to ramp up manufacturing as soon as it ended.

“After lockdown, it’s been nice to get back to work and be so busy. New work has just kept flooding in, and no-one’s had to lose their job – quite the opposite, we’re bringing on an apprentice now too.”

Expert advice plays an important role

The Robertshaws have built a team of experts around them to help them successfully grow Stylehouse Design, including their lawyer, their mentor (also in the joinery business), and their accountant, Manisha Kesha at SME Financial. She worked with the couple throughout the due diligence and purchase process, and now meets with them every month to discuss the business – covering not only the numbers but also resourcing, pricing and growth strategies.

“SME Financial and Shriha have been fabulous; we’ve worked with them for a long time, and the monthly meeting is really nice for lots of reasons,” Michelle says. “Every time we meet, we can see the numbers are looking great and we’re keeping on track.”

The team at SME Financial helped the Robertshaws set up Xero and it’s been the perfect starting point for all their systems. Michelle had previously used Xero on a more limited basis, but now Stylehouse makes use of the Payroll and Projects features to get more out of the software: “It’s been great and we haven’t yet needed to invest in bigger systems – and having SME there when I get stuck has been really helpful.”

Feeling positive about the future

As well as Xero, there’s also a less state-of-the-art system in place that Ian & Michelle like to look at when they need a little reassurance: the large pull out trays with current and prospective client folders that sit in their office. Right now, they can look over and see that those trays are all filled with new work.

“We are feeling optimistic,” say Michelle and Ian. “We’re booked solidly for 3-4 months and looking at those full trays of new work, our prospects look very positive.”