At Home Furnishings is owned by Marcus & Ann Dicken, part of the Dicken family...
Over 125 years of history
In 1878, Mr Harry T. Rodgers opened a small ironmongery business in Stockton and in 1925 Alice Dicken, Great Grandmother to Marcus Dicken, the current Managing Director, took over the business. She opened a second shop, managed by her son Harry. In 1960 Albert Dicken, the father of Marcus, entered the company, joining his brothers Robert and Terrence. They moved onto a 1 acre site in Portrack Lane, Stockton, which is now the site of the present At Home Furnishings store. They also purchased a 9 acre farm opposite and began to develop buildings which eventually formed the popular DIY Hypermarket, which attracted thousands of customers from all around the area, as this was the forerunner of today's large DIY stores.
In 1970, Dickens began aggressive TV advertising and, in 1976, ran the first 2 minute TV commercial (with a guest appearance from Marcus Dicken at 6 years old), still a rare event today. View this advert by clicking on the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3xiHJwIaQ8
In 1978, the company was bought by the Montague L. Meyer Group and Albert Dicken remained as Chairman. 1980 saw the Shiremoor store opened by Noel Edmonds. Being the TV idol hosting Swap Shop, he attracted thousands of people, causing major traffic jams on all the approach roads. In 1982 Montague L. Meyer merged with International Timber and Albert Dicken purchased the company back in October 1983. The following year, the Washington, Tyne & Wear store was opened, the largest DIY superstore in Europe.
In 1988, Marcus Dicken joined the company and in 1991, Ann joined. Four years later they were married. 1993 saw another link with Noel Edmonds, but this time it was his sidekick Mr Blobby from Noel's House Party. Famous for their Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad January Sales, Dickens booked the mad Mr Blobby to open the sale. Mr Blobby incredibly had the Christmas number one, and again thousands flocked to see this unlikely pop idol.
Two more large Hypermarkets were opened in Darlington and Newcastle before, in 1999, B&Q made an offer the Dicken family could not refuse and bought the company in April, 1999. So, in 2001, Marcus and Ann started At Home Furnishings in Cannon Park, Middlesbrough before moving back to Portrack Lane, Stockton in 2007.