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A Stitch in Time: Where it All Began…

Family-owned and run businesses tend to have a unique charm and resilience and here at Cowans we’re no different - we have charm in abundance, have you met Sam and Joe?!...


The history of Cowans dates back to the 1900s when Victor, Philip’s Grandfather began his millinery business.  Philip began helping out on Saturdays during the late ’60s, joining the family business full-time in 1970.  The next generation brought ‘fresh eyes’ with the ability to adapt the business to the ever-changing needs of the market and the customer.  It was during this period that Cowans Fabrics opened shops in Boston, Lincoln and Nottingham bringing their experience and knowledge to a wider audience.  This growth continued into the 90’s and beyond and so Philip Cowan Interiors was born.


Sam, our Managing Director joined his Dad Philip in the mid-90’s although he’d been the ‘face’ of the business long before that as you can see! 

Together, there wasn’t much between them that they didn’t know about all things Curtains and Blinds - there still isn’t! 

Philip recognised the need to change direction and to develop the contract side of the business so he alongside some of today’s existing team, namely Sam, Sue and Greg moved to new premises in 1998 and Philip Cowan Interiors as we know it today was born.  The new premises provided the space to service the Healthcare and Hospitality sectors on a much larger scale.  

Sue, who still works at PCI as our Office Manager often reminds us how lucky we are to have such ‘plush’ office amenities, none of which were afforded to them in the cold Norfolk Street unit where it all began!  She may well have mentioned this a few (hundred) times over the years…

The contract side soon took off and it quickly became apparent that the ‘new’ premises were no longer sufficient enough to incorporate everything needed to continue growing and so the hunt began for a new PCI HQ.  It wasn’t long before the perfect site was found, land acquired and bought and building began.   The move to where we still are here in Sutterton in 2004 provided a huge amount more space, parking and an area to create a showroom for our clients - we think even Sue approved!


It wasn’t long before the decision was made to introduce in-house manufacture at Sutterton which began in a small way initially.  The space has evolved over the years, with a side extension added to create a dedicated workroom.  With a team of talented and experienced seamstresses put together, it meant we could offer an end-to-end service overseen and managed by us. 


In 2018 Philip decided it was time to hand over the reins to Sam and devote a bit more of his time to sunshine and golf!  He may well have taken the ‘good’ coffee machine with him (cheers Phil!) but he left a wealth of knowledge and experience in Sam.  

Times were changing but the roots of the business remained the same.  We are still recognised for the same excellence of service and quality within the industry we always have been.  Greg our Head Fitter who has worked for the family for over 36 years is still out measuring up jobs and wearing his shorts all year round come rain or shine - if you know, you know!  He is just one of the familiar faces whom our clients have come to recognise time after time on each project we work alongside them on.  It’s this friendly, yet professional familiarity which sets us apart.

Philip Cowan Interiors has naturally grown into and out of the Sutterton HQ.  As such, the workroom underwent even more expansion last year in 2023 to make room for our investments in new, state-of-the-art machinery.  Our fleet of vans has increased to keep up with demand ensuring our fitting teams can cover every inch of the UK and beyond on any given day.  

Our workshop and goods-in facility have been maximised to increase capacity and a large, new area on the first floor provides a fantastic office space.  Much to the delight of some we’re now fully air-conditioned too - seriously fancy and a far cry from that draughty Norfolk Street lock-up where our journey began!  Sadly there’s still no ‘good’ coffee machine, despite Joe’s best efforts  - Sam maintains we can’t have it all!

We’re excited to see where the years ahead take Philip Cowan Interiors and our team and we look forward to documenting this with you along the way.

We’ll keep you posted on the ‘good’ coffee machine situation too…!

1 Comment

John paul Mannion
John paul Mannion
Jun 06

Omg some great companies long since gone great write up

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