Des Kelly Interiors celebrates 50 years in business, marking half a century since ‘the Carpet Man’, Des Kelly Snr, opened his first store at Cross Guns Bridge in Glasnevin in Dublin. The golden anniversary will be marked by a staff celebration later in the year and a series of consumer promotions reflecting the brand’s 1970 launch. Founder Des Kelly passed away four years ago, and the company is now led by his sons Greg Kelly, Gerardo and daughter Youlanda Kelly. Many members of the extended Kelly family, children and grandchildren, work across the network of ten showrooms throughout Leinster and the online retail business.
The company has employed 100’s over the last 50 years, many of whom have been with the business for decades. On a number of occasions, three generations of one family have worked in sales or as fitters for the interiors business. The wholly Irish owned and run family business has grown significantly, based on affordable quality and expert advice in beds, floorings and home furnishings. Recently a large new central warehouse, soon to be the company’s head office, was established at North West Business Park in Dublin to receive all carpet, wood flooring, beds and furniture for dispatch to stores and direct to customers.
In the early 1960s, Des Kelly (a pioneer of recycling!) originally sold second-hand furniture from his back yard in the inner-city, later extending to carpets and vinyl, which was then called ‘oil cloth’. On opening the shop at Cross Guns Bridge in 1970, people travelled from all over the east coast to deal with ‘the Carpet Man’.
Carpet was way out of reach of the average working-class family at that time and was seen as an unaffordable luxury, according to son Greg Kelly. “Des changed all that and made carpets easily affordable. He revolutionised the carpet industry in Ireland, and some might even say that he invented it”, Greg Kelly says of his father’s business foresight. Greg Kelly attributes the business success and longevity to incredible staff loyalty, with a number of employees with the business for over 40 years.
A Part Of Irish History
Des Kelly supplied and fitted ‘the Pope’s carpet’ in 1979 for the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Phoenix Park, covering the walkways and full altar in a grey carpet. Almost forty years later, the company also provided carpeting for the mass celebrated by Pope Francis in 2018, as well as supplying new carpets for the bedroom and offices that accommodated the Pope at the Holy See Apostolic Nunciature on the Navan Road in Dublin. Members of ‘Guaranteed Irish’, the Des Kelly business has 90% Irish suppliers including Navan Carpets, Ulster Carpets, Furlong Flooring, Respa Beds, Natural Sleep, Spring Air and many more, a deliberate business position to ensure continuity of supply, competitive prices and quality.
The late Des Kelly was a pioneer, a hard worker and a tremendous example to his family, according to daughter Youlanda Kelly. “Dad would be so very proud to see the business he started from nothing still thriving and growing after fifty years. His work ethic and pragmatic approach was the best education in business that any of us could ever have had”.
Helping The Community
Des Kelly Snr was involved in volunteering for homeless charities in Dublin, including the Morning Star Hostel, and donated generously to local charities working with less well-off people. He was also a loyal fan of his local Bohemians Football Club and the company remain club sponsors to this day. The businessman had eight children with his wife Youlanda, who predeceased him.