Mark Robey: A passion for Design


Robeys have a passion for quality. A family business, Robeys has been established for over 30 years and has become a leading importer and retailer in the UK of exclusive fireplaces, refrigerators, cookers, kitchens, outdoor furnishings and interior design accessories. You could say that Managing Director Mark Robey is a patron of the arts – or rather interiors – sourcing prestigious and individual products from around the world and bringing them to the Robeys showroom in the Derbyshire countryside. Their unparalleled collection of continental designs, coupled with the genuine dedication of Mark and his family are the key to Robeys success.

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What’s the history of Robeys?

It all started in 1982 when we were mainly retailing the more traditional stoves and cooking ranges. When you compare those products to our current ranges of fireplaces, such as the Ortal and Piazzetta, you can see how far we have come. The products on display in our showrooms don’t just serve a function, they enhance a lifestyle.

It is a family business with my wife Sharon and son James very much involved. I am as passionate now as when I started the company. It speaks volumes that many of our main suppliers are family run businesses too, who share a similar passion for high quality, exclusive design and high performance. For example, we have been partners with Meneghini in Italy for nearly two decades and are the sole UK importers of their stunning fridges. We launched Meneghini kitchens at Decorex; it was the first time they were featured in the UK and they are astonishing examples of Italian craftsmanship.

How is the luxury interiors market changing?

It’s clear to us that people are spending more money on their homes now – as a nation we are moving and improving. There will always be a market for high end luxury products, and that’s why it’s important for us to meet the demand by continuously introducing many new and exciting designs.

We have lots of loyal existing clients – two generations in many cases – who look forward to us introducing them to new high-end brands and collections. We relish in the fact that we are constantly on the cutting edge of design and quality. It’s interesting to see an increasing number of people coming to our showroom in Belper from all parts of the UK. And pretty much every week we are shipping products worldwide to discerning customers.

What first inspired you to join the luxury interior design world?

We started from modest roots, focusing on good quality products that were fairly traditional. We observed a new gap in the market for designs that reflected people’s lifestyle, and to cater to this demand we gradually sourced new and exclusive collections. Their popularity astonished us and it’s simply snowballed from there.

Our journey started in the 90’s with a range of stoves and continues now with some of the most outstanding, contemporary designs and brands that are available in the world today. The prestige attached to the Robeys name was something I never anticipated, but certainly fills me with pride.

You sell such beautifully crafted pieces, you must have a favourite?

I love to sell such stunning designs, but it would be impossible to choose a favourite! Each is incredibly unique and beautiful, plus there is always something new coming through our doors. Their exclusivity derives from the fact that they are works of art in themselves – yet high performance and practical. Form is not sacrificed for function or vice versa; it is a perfect harmony of the two.

For example, take a look at the Outsign cooking system, which is new to Robeys. It combines contemporary design and elegance, but at the same time it is easy to use and maintain, and is a unique concept designed for intensive use.

You travel around the world sourcing new products for the showroom – where is your ideal place to source from and why?

It is a difficult question to answer as I believe that true design transcends the borders of a country - it is a feature we find in brands from many countries within continental Europe and further afield. What remains the same across the board is that these are mainly small, family companies that, like Robeys, appreciate exclusive bespoke design.

However, if I was pushed I would say the country with the most prodigious reputation for design would have to be the powerhouse that is Italy. This is because the Italian brands we stock, such as Meneghini and Piazzetta, have a vast and unparalleled heritage in handcrafted design. Both demonstrate an innovative style that is unique to the country, and that’s why personally it’s one of my favourite places to source from.

What were Robeys activities at Decorex 2015?

It was great to be participating at Decorex and we were really looking forward to featuring a number of brand new products, because pictures and words simply don’t do our products justice. Decorex has such a great atmosphere and is always filled with the most creative interior designers and architects. That’s why we brought lots of remarkable products to exhibit, including the Ortal Stand Alone 75 TS fireplace, the outstanding Piazzetta Panoramic Oslo fireplace that features a 360° view and the new Outsign outdoor cooking system.

We also showcased the new Viking range of outdoor furniture from Borek, which is a great collection of dining tables, lounge sets and parasols, available in an array of colours and materials. We also chose Decorex to unveil the new Meneghini kitchens, which was the first time they were seen in the UK.

What’s the future for Robeys?

We are currently investing and expanding our infrastructure, with a new warehouse and a delivery service throughout UK, Ireland and Channel Islands. Our export business is also increasing, and we are currently working on projects throughout the world including South Africa, Australia and Turkey.

As long as people come to us seeking what we have to offer, we will keep supplying high end luxury products. Their enthusiasm feeds our passion for quality.

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