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Arighi Bianchi: Standing The Test Of Time

Nestled in the heart of Macclesfield, Cheshire, Arighi Bianchi stands as a beacon of retail excellence, boasting a 170-year legacy of serving its community with unparalleled dedication and quality craftsmanship. From its humble beginnings in 1854 to its current status as a premier destination for luxury furnishings and exceptional customer service, the story of Arighi Bianchi is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment.

Paul Andrews spoke to Nick and Sarah Bianchi, fourth generation leaders of this iconic retail emporium to find out more.

Established by Italian immigrants Antonio Arighi and Antonio Bianchi, the store began as a small furniture workshop, crafting bespoke pieces for local clientele. Their dedication to quality and craftsmanship quickly garnered attention, propelling the business to expand into a full-fledged retail operation. Through the years, Arighi Bianchi remained steadfast in its commitment to excellence, adapting to changing times while staying true to its heritage.

As Sarah Bianchi, Managing Director of the business begins, “The world of retail, in particular with respect to our living spaces, continues to evolve at a pace and it is important to recognise that our living spaces serve as a canvas for our individual identities, far beyond the transient allure of fashion. Our homes encapsulate our essence, inviting others into our most intimate world. This connection with our personal spaces is deeply emotional and unmistakably special.”

“As the custodian of a family legacy that has elegantly woven through the fabric of luxury furniture fashion for 170 years, it is important for us as a business to continue to evolve, to meet the growing demands of our informed customers and to remain relevant today.”

“The world of home décor continues to evolve too which affords us plenty of exciting opportunities to explore and bring to life. We are standing on the precipice of a new era in home décor and we continue to blend our rich heritage as a family business with new insights and designs, a love for the bold and the beautiful and a testament to the enduring legacy of luxury and a future that is crafted with confidence too.”

One of the defining moments in Arighi Bianchi's history came in the early 20th century when the store survived the devastation of World War II, emerging even stronger as a symbol of resilience and community spirit. During this time, the company diversified its offerings, expanding beyond furniture to include home accessories, lighting, and interior design services, cementing its reputation as a one-stop destination for discerning homeowners.

Throughout its journey, Arighi Bianchi has remained a family-owned and operated business, with each generation contributing to its evolution and success. Under the leadership of the Arighi family, the store has continued to innovate, embracing new technologies and design trends while staying true to its core values of quality, integrity, and customer satisfaction.

Many family businesses fail to stand the test of time, for many reasons, but Arighi Bianchi bucks that trend and continues to grow. As Nick Bianchi explains, “Being long established doesn’t mean that you are old fashioned. It means that you continue to appeal to customers’ desire for authenticity and trust, whilst confidently driving innovation.”

“I am often asked how, as a business that dates to the 1900’s, we have successfully continued to attract new generations of customers. Like many heritage brands, steeped in tradition and history; to stay relevant in an ever-evolving consumer world, we’ve focused on embracing innovation-led change while staying true to our roots.”

“I believe that by leveraging our legacy, like other brands that have stood the test of time, such as Barbour and more recently Barbie, we have been able to genuinely emphasise authenticity and craftsmanship, something that some of the newer retailers entering the market simply cannot replicate.”

“And it’s with admiration that I observe how huge brands have evolved to maintain their reputation as innovators. Disney, for example, ensures that its messages resonate with customers and reaches them through various touchpoints, as it continues to diversify into new areas of the entertainment and media industry. It has never been afraid to push the boundaries, something that has undoubtedly kept it at the top of its sector.”

“Narrative in family business is also important. It helps build trust and is an authentic differentiator that means a lot, especially when your name is above the door. I applaud our own story and how it is who we are and what we do too. My father, known to most as Mr Paul, visited Chicago in the 80’s and, loving how retailers were introducing cafes as part of the shopping experience, came back and launched Caffe AB, one of the first store-based eateries in the UK. Such an entrepreneurial and innovative move soon put Arighi Bianchi on the map and drove fame as the word quickly spread.”

“Of course, for a retailer like us to stay relevant as a consumer brand, it is about products and collaborations with next and exciting partners. We continue to work with brands, many of them family owned, that we have worked with for generations but are continually looking at our offering and developing new relationships too. The calibre of brands we attract supports our own identity and reinforces our family values. By injecting fresh perspectives into our offering, we can also attract new demographics without alienating our loyal customer base. This is important for us, and other long standing family businesses, because long-standing customers are our biggest advocates who pass on their positive experiences to younger generations too,” continues Nick.

“Relevance, customer experience and engagement are so important to businesses like ours. We support all that we do to innovate with new products, suppliers and experiences by engaging in storytelling through all that we do, digital platforms in particular that breathe new life into our brand narrative and at the same time fostering emotional connections with our customers. Ultimately, by striking a balance between honouring heritage and embracing innovation, we believe that we will continue to thrive in the years to come.”

Today, Arighi Bianchi stands as a testament to the enduring power of tradition and innovation. Its sprawling showroom, housed in a historic building that blends old-world charm with modern sophistication, offers an immersive shopping experience where customers can explore curated collections from renowned designers and brands.

The future is bright. The fifth generation are already actively involved in the business and as Lucy Mather in her role as Head of Ecommerce Activities adds; “I love seeing the store buzzing with customers looking for something new for their homes and it is extra special knowing that the store has been in my family for so long and that I can contribute to the next chapter in our ongoing retail journey too.”

Beyond its role as a retailer, Arighi Bianchi is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the Macclesfield community, supporting local charities, events, and initiatives that enrich the lives of its residents. The store's commitment to social responsibility extends to its sustainability efforts, with initiatives in place to reduce waste, minimize environmental impact, and support ethical sourcing practices.

As Arighi Bianchi celebrates over 170 years of excellence, its story continues to inspire and captivate. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a pillar of Macclesfield's retail landscape, the store remains dedicated to its founding principles of quality, service, and innovation, ensuring that its legacy endures for generations to come and is a great example of a family business that has stood the test of time.

As Sarah concludes; “It is a pleasure to a custodian of this business for future generations, aware of what has gone before but looking ahead and doing what needs to be done to remain relevant to consumers for years to come. Retail is changing and the retail experience needs to meet the needs and expectations of consumers which might seem daunting but for us here at Arighi Bianchi is truly exciting.”

“We have a great story to tell, operate from an incredibly iconic and beautiful building, have an incredible team working for us and a great community around us too. We have come a long way since a young adventurer, Antonio Arighi, headed for the silk town of Macclesfield, escaping the Civil War that was raging throughout Italy with a long journey on foot from the shores of Lake Como in Northern Italy, over the Alps and across central Europe.”

“Our business today was founded all those years ago when upon arrival, he set up shop, making clocks and barometers which he lent out to farmers on sale or return – a canny innovation that prove a real money-spinner and created a loyal customer base – that turned out to be the start of our incredible journey and one that he would be rightly proud of today.”

The Arighi Bianchi journey continues...


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