The Linen Warehouse & Décor is based in Windhoek and offers a multitude of high quality and affordable products for the hospitality industry, as well as for regular household consumers.
The owners are a brother and sister team, Riaan Els and Christa Reichert. The two started the venture in March 2010 and currently operate a total of four shops - two that cater for their hospitality industry clients (wholesale and large orders) and two that cater to the regular household shopper looking for fresh linens for their own homes.
Riaan, who had been in the marketing industry for many years, says it all started in December 1998, when he met a lady from Cape Town at a social gathering in Walvis Bay, and during the evening they chatted about what she does for a living.
She told him about the company that she worked for, which supplies linen and catering equipment to the hospitality industry.
Riaan then shared the idea with his sister, and asked her if she would be interested in such a venture.
In the same year, Riaan went to Cape Town to meet the owner of the company that the lady had told him about.
Soon afterward, the brother and sister team’s first company was started in Walvis Bay, under the name Culinaire Namibia. By March 2010, Culinaire morphed into The Linen Warehouse & Décor and was successfully opened in Windhoek.
According to Riaan, in the beginning they spent a lot of time sourcing only the best quality products available in the industry.
“We only sell products we believe in. We know our products by heart and are able to give the best advice to our customers on product selection,” he said.
The Linen Warehouse & Décor has recorded constant growth in its client base in Namibia, and exports its high quality products to neighbouring countries.
“We have managed to keep most of our clients, through forming strong, long-term relationships with them.”
According to Riaan, most of their clients, who started buying from the store when it opened, continue to do so to this day.
According to the sibling duo, among the obstacles that they have experienced since starting the business, was in 2010, when they struggled to secure stock deliveries, because of the overwhelming demands for linen, supplies and product transport caused by FIFA World Cup being hosted in neighbouring South Africa.
In spite of the hiccups in supply, their good communication channels with their suppliers and clients rescued them.
“We had no alternative but to increase our own stock in Windhoek, to avoid a repeat of what happened then.”
At the Linen Warehouse, the main focus is on service and quality of products, and Riaan says they get a lot of good feedback from clients on these aspects.
“We have the advantage of buying from the largest manufacturer of bed linen in South Africa, and due to our loyalty to them for the past 18 years; we have the agency in Namibia,” Riaan stated.
The brother and sister linen entrepreneurs pride themselves on the quality they produce.
According to Riaan, “We don’t need to shop around for our products, as we have agencies on most of our lines, buying from the correct suppliers, and the quality of the products is superior, due to the suppliers being in the market for many years.”
The Linen Warehouse started out with only one employee and it now it has a total staff complement of seven.
“Our main market is the hospitality industry and we manage this market from Windhoek (The Linen Warehouse & Décor) and in Walvis Bay, through Culinaire Namibia.
For the domestic market, we have a shop in Swakopmund by the name of Cotton Fields, situated next to the Hansa Hotel, and in Windhoek we sell to the domestic market from our shop situated at the Old Power Station Centre.”
The duo has plans to expand their shops to other towns, but they are quite adamant that they would like to keep the business at a manageable size.
Although they have not received any other financial support from the government or other institutions, they have invested their own capital back into the company.
“Growing bigger is what we want, without compromising on service with a smile, and to provide all our current and new clients with the best quality hospitality linen and related products,” Riaan said.
The Linen Warehouse supplies poly cotton 144 t/c, poly cotton percale 200 t/c and cotton percale (200 t/c, 250 t/c, 300 t/c and 400 t/c).
They also provide duvet covers, pillow cases, fitted sheets and flat sheets (king through standard sizes and extra length bedding.)
“All our suppliers have been in business longer than 45 years in business, thus we can provide consistency in quality of products produced and supplied,” Riaan said.
The Linen Warehouse is the Namibian agent for Lifson Products, a South African manufacturer of superior quality down, cotton and synthetic duvets and pillows.
They are also the key account holder in Namibia for Glodina Marathon, a South African manufacturer of superior quality towels and washcloths.
“We supply table linen in various kinds of materials. We can supply any size required.”
Riaan and Christa also offer hotel quality blankets, bath robes, cushioned hangers, shower curtains, bed sets and mattresses, mattress protectors and covers, mattress converters, slippers etc.
The Linen Warehouse also offers décor items, bedroom side-table lamps and other soft lighting products, as well as interior layout and decoration advice.