The Sunday Times: Relax, you'll soon spend all day in my furniture stores
Sun 27 Jan 2013
Relax, you'll soon spend all day in my furniture stores
Charlie Marshall comes from a family steeped in business. His grandfather established Marshall of Cambridge, which owns Cambridge airport and turns over more than 1bn. His father owned and ran Marsh & Parsons, the estate agent, for more than 20 years. And his mother set up and ran two nursery schools.
Now Marshall, 38, has his own success story with Loaf, his online bed and sofa seller, which turns over 15m and employs 25 at its showroom and headquarters in west London.
His ability to spot an oppurtunity first showed itself when he was 14 and Barclays wrondly deposited 300 in his bank account, at an age when Marshall was more used to having 3 in it. "I went up to the high street and bought a ticket to Portugal, where I spent the summer sleeping on the beach and working in a bar."
The good news was that the trip set him up for A-level Portuguese; the bad news was that Barclays contacted his parents and asked for its money back while he was abroad. He paid them in instalments and moved his account to NatWest which gave him a 300 overdraft that he used to do the same thing the following summer.
He spent the time between those summers at Eton. "My family aren't shotgun-holding toffs, but I was always going to get the best education my parents could give me," said Marshall. "There is an ethic in my family that you have to give a really good account of yourself." Giving a good account in his case meant five As at A-level and a degree from Oxford. After University, he dida six-month stitn at a consultancy writing reports about the future of television and cinema, but there was never any likelihood he would remain an employee for long. "I always wanted to run my own ting. It's how my brain worked." He got his chance thanks to the property market, He bought a flat, renovated it and made enough from its sale to co-found his first business, a food producer called Primal Soup in 1998.