With a famous name behind them and a legendary Belfast building, Fearghal McAdam tells Ulster Life Magazine why Neptune Belfast is sure to reach cosmic heights…
Neptune is not only famous as the most far away planet, oh no, the name Neptune is famous across the UK for visualising, designing and materialising first-class interiors and finally the brand has come to Belfast.
After opening the first NI branch in Fermanagh a few years ago, husband and wife duo Ferrghal and Catherine McAdam officially opened their exciting new Belfast franchise on September 7 in none other than the old Ormo Bakery building on Belfast’s Ormeau Road – a building steeped in culture, history and representative of the robust fabric of our capital city.
Q. The planets are now in alignment Fearghal, so what do you want to say about Neptune Belfast?
A. “I guess I just want to say that we offer a fresh perspective on interiors in an inspirational store setting. We show people what they can do in their own home and it’s an attainable showcase for real homes and real people. We have kitted the showroom out with clever and stylish kitchen, living and bathroom areas and you can get an idea of how every house truly is.
“Although we’re big, we’re still family orientated and we’re accessible and realistic. There are a lot of interior design companies that do high end interiors but they look like the lobby of a hotel. People want to relax in somewhere that looks like a normal, family home; we design stuff that complements this. What really sets us apart, though, is that in our showroom, families and couples will casually bump into each other and they’ll sit down on one of the sofas and chat away and they look completely normal and at home. That’s what I love about this and I am lucky enough to see this every day.”
Q. And it’s not just furniture?
A. “No; we make all our own paint in-house; we sell the flooring on the ground, the lights on the ceiling and everything in between. What sets us apart is that we offer quality products in an inspirational setting. What we have and where we have it is really cool.”
Q. Why NI?
A. “When I moved home from London after 20 years, I was trying to find nice furniture at a normal price and I really struggled so I decided to set up a furniture store in Fermanagh. I originally had about 15 great suppliers but Neptune was by far the best so I removed the other suppliers and the NI franchise of Neptune was born.
“I come from a town called Red Hills in Cavan and my granny who started a company called Malone and Smith in 1906. This was unheard of in those days, but my granny was forward thinking and bought three stores, including a post office. Her post office was in charge of delivering the correspondence from the House of Lords to the Lords in Fermanagh so there is a rich, regal heritage that I admire. She was clearly an entrepreneurial person and so was my mum, who carried on the business until she passed. Hopefully I’ve got their genes.”
Q. You’ve said Neptune has ‘the best professionals in the country’; these are bold claims to make – can you back them up?
A. “There are six people in our NI team but we are also lucky to have amazing support and resources from head office as we are a franchise. The Neptune head office team is made up of the best professionals in the country and our visual merchandising team is very well known nationwide.
“Our range of products is carefully curated by our head office team and the owner of Neptune John Sims-Hilditch is married to Emma Sims-Hilditch who is our Director of Design. Emma is a famous interior designer in England and together John and Emma have built an incredible family business. Their daughter Daisy is the artist who creates all of our art and their other daughter Betty is our photographer and does all the photography we sell in-store too.”
Q. You were born and bred in Ireland so how does it feel to set up shop in one of the Norths most iconic buildings?
A. “When we opened in Fermanagh we started getting a lot of demand from Belfast customers at that time. The opportunity then came up to set up a truly amazing Belfast store in a truly amazing location. If I asked head office what would be their idea of the perfect location for a store like this, they would say it would need to be in an iconic building, connected to the main arterial roads with a park beside it – we have all of that and more with our Belfast store. We’ve all grown up eating Ormo bread so we love the brand and the building speaks for itself in terms of beauty so we were sure to remain complimentary and sympathetic to the original aesthetics.”
Q. What kind of a team do you and wife Catherine make?
A. “A great one. My wife is a professional accountant and is a great person to have in business. She worked at very high industry level in England so to have to her to bounce ideas off is wonderful. She’s an asset.”
Q. What floats your interior boat?
A. “For me, a relaxed feel is important; you shouldn’t be too precious about your home. I like a relaxed, contemporary look and with three boys at home, you have to be accommodating.
“We have a curved bathroom cabinet in the store and it is still one of my favourite pieces. It’s an example of a contemporary and really beautiful design that’s classic but has brilliant functionality. I’m certain that Emma must’ve had an input in the design because of the way the doors are made. They have double height inside for the likes of tall, hairspray bottles, etc. This cabinet is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s the functionality that I love.”
Q. Will Neptune be homing in on anymore NI locations?
A. “We’ve a number of concepts in planning right now so watch this space!”
Be sure to visit Neptune Belfast at the site of the old, iconic Ormo Bakery on Belfast’s Ormeau Road. Phone: (028) 9691 9988 (neptune.com/our-stores/uk/Belfast)
Main image: Husband & Wife Team, Fearghal & Catherine McAdam