House of Reeves furniture store is put up for sale at £2.5m

Another part of the fabric of Croydon society could face major changes after 150 years, following the past decade of frustration and disappointment with the way the Old Town area has been allowed to become run-down.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

At the heart of Croydon: the Reeves furniture showroom in the distance, the island site (foreground) created after the 2011 riots is now derelict

The House of Reeves furniture store, one of the mainstays of Croydon business for more than 150 years, has been put up for sale, carrying a guide price of £2.5million.

The business in the Old Town is so synonymous with Croydon, a tram stop has been named after it – Reeves Corner.

It became world famous in 2011 when arsonists set light to one of the business’s buildings during the Croydon riots, the shocking pictures being shown on television news bulletins around the globe.

The Reeves family was quick to reorganise their showrooms in order to trade from the other side of the tram tracks. But the scene of the fire has been left derelict and come to blight the area, with attempts to redevelop it thwarted repeatedly by the council’s planning department.

Global news: how the Reeves furniture store burned in August 2011

According to sources close to the Reeves business, trading remains strong.

But some shareholders have grown tired of the uncertainty and difficulties, and they have opted to sell off the property for development after a decade of frustration and disappointment with the way the area has been allowed to become run-down.

A full-page ad from Wandsworth-based estate agents and auctioneers Barney Estates appeared in local papers last week offering a “unique site in the heart of West Croydon, famously known as Reeves Corner”.

The ad states, “The site spans approximately 14,000 sq ft and offers a wide variety of development possibilities, subject to the relevant planning consents.”

Devastated: the impact of one night of rioting 11 years ago has never been put right

Intriguingly, it continues, “The existing tenants will remain in situ for up to six months after completion.” This suggests a speculative sale effort, giving the furniture business time to re-locate if successful.

Insiders suggest that what is available for sale is three separate parcels of property, including the building currently used by the House of Reeves furniture business.

The derelict site in the middle of the roads and tram tracks is 40per cent owned by the Reeves family and 60per cent owned by the Whitgift Foundation, and it is this property which is most likely to be sold. It is being marketed by Barney Estates separately, and has been given the name – apparently without any sense of irony – as “The Icon Corner”.

Computer generated images on the ad show a 100-metre-high Shard-like skyscraper on the site, which measures less than one-fifth of an acre. They give this site a guide price of £2million.

“The Whitgift Foundation have had no real income from the property for 11 years,” the source said.

For sale: how the Reeves Corner site appears on the estate agents’ website, with CGIs of possible mixed-use redevelopment

The source suggested some scepticism about whether the sale of any other part of the property will be successful, “given all the shenanigans that have gone on over the years with the council”.

The derelict part of the site was offered for sale in 2021, evidently unsuccessfully.

“Icon Corner”, Reeves Corner and another nearby site are all included in an auction taking place this Thursday.

Barney Estates today confirmed that the property was first advertised last week and that it has so far attracted “a fair amount of interest”.

Their newspaper advertisement refers to a previous planning application which had gone to appeal after being rejected over the proposed height of the development.

Barney Estates’ own website has two separate listings for the property at 114-120 Church Street, one commercial, one residential, and lists two different prices: £2million and £2.25million respectively, both lower than the amount cited in the newspaper advertisement.

The House of Reeves is Croydon’s oldest and largest furniture store and has been trading since 1867, when established by Edwin Reeves from the same building the business occupies today.

Five generations: the family-owned business is proud of its part in Croydon history

The company’s website states, “House of Reeves is still a family-owned furniture retailer, now in its fifth generation. There are no other companies in the area who are still run on a daily basis by the direct descendants of the original family and we are one of the few independent furniture retailers left in the south-east.

“Few will have missed the sight of our adjacent sister store being razed to the ground in the August 2011 riots. This highly publicised event has spurred us on, and we now have a fully refurbished surviving store, displaying a wide range of quality and affordable sofas, beds and furniture for the home.”

Inside Croydon approached Graham Reeves, one of the firm’s directors, about the possible sale of the company’s long-standing home, but he declined to comment.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to House of Reeves furniture store is put up for sale at £2.5m

  1. Lewis White says:

    The buildings comprising the remaining built-up part of the site include what looks like a 17th Century or early 18th century farm or townhouse, plus some wonderful original victorian shop windows, which must be unique in London–or the rest of the UK.

    These are priceless survivals — and surely must be grade 2 listed? They need rescuing. 200 years of relative neglect are obvious.

    Time to really look at the use of the site–and inject new life into it.
    Restore, respect, renew, …….but not raze to the ground.

    With regard to the island site… once the site of the other half of Reeves furniture store– then burnt down in the riots…….
    very sad — and it was quite a whacky “period building”, but what a tremendous landscape asset !

    It could be re-designed as a London Square, rather than fill it up with mediocre buildings– which is the equally sad fate of most of the area nearby. It is sunny, open–has some trees–but needs a use.

    If this were now trendy Deptford, Bermondsey, or Peckham, this site would have a railway carriage in the middle, dispensing decent (if pricey) beers and burgers, with outdoor seating around. In Germany, it would have a wine terrace and and beer garden.

    Did I spot a mushroom grower across the road? There’s a prime ingredient for decent food.

    Please do say—– “can the council have an environmental and architectural heritage vision, and also get on board local entrepreneurs, such as brewers Cronx, and Anspach and Hobday, and maybe, local social / catering enterprises ? ”

    Please don’t say…. “It’s only the bottom end of Croydon” or “Who cares what goes there” or “bung up some new buildings to fill the holes”.

    This is a once-in two-lifetimes opportunity to save the architectural gems that are here, and give them a new setting.

    Wanted– Council and developer with vision, realism, commitment and willpower.

  2. derekthrower says:

    Think the fundamental problem that the business is itself encountering is that the population is getting poorer by the year and the Government is deflating the economy by reducing the income at the disposal of Consumers. This is not a Croydon specific problem, but one afflicting a great deal of the Country, which is now paying for rapid economic decline.

    • All of which is undoubtedly true, DelBoy. But our sources indicate that this is not a sale because of problems with the business fundamentally, but because of differences between the shareholders over those who want to carry on in the same location, and those who want to cash in on land values…

      Those recessionary pressures, and the glut of over-priced “luxury executive apartments” in Croydon town centre may also have a role to play when the auctioneer lifts their gavel.

  3. Gavin FL Palmer says:

    Also Croydon Council built all over the three car parking sites nearby making the store more reliant on online sales and passing traffic. Thats okay for the tram passengers and some from cars passing on the bypass.
    Personally i mark the change of name from Reeves Furniture Store to the grander but less meaningful House of Reeves. If Nebraska Furniture Mart works for Warren Buffett then Reeves Furniture Store would still work.
    Putting both named signs up side by side would keep the benefits of both brandnames.
    Good value I regularly use them as trustworthy.
    They can also have made up mattresses to size and its still good and comfortable after over a decade.

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