Charisma Blinds

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Charisma Blinds's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Charisma Blinds is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Proprietor Philip Devlin
We offer quality and choice
Charisma Blinds is a manufacturing and retail company
that supplies the Belfast and County Down area. Bought
as a franchise in 1995, it is owned by the proprietor
Philip Devlin, who has changed the business model and grown
significantly in recent years. With over 20 years’ experience
and a full range of roller, vertical and venetian blinds, Philip
TheParliamentary Review
that they offer the best-quality
products at competitive prices.
Alongside my brother, I bought Charisma Blinds as a franchise in 1995. Despite the
franchisor’s supplier Rydale Scotland going into administration, we began running
the business independently and have built on early success to grow it ever since.
We now have the experience to advise and help any client decide what is best for
their windows and use our website and extensive showroom to display the array of
blinds on offer.
Since we started selling blinds 20 years ago, the choice of fabrics, colours and
finishes has increased dramatically. We are always checking what is new in the
marketplace and ensuring we can give our customers the best possible advice
and choice for their shading requirements. I employ three full-time staff and five
part-timers, all of whom have brought different expertise and experience to the
business. When I first started out, I knew very little about blinds, but I have learnt
new skills and we now offer our own designs alongside those purchased from five
local sources.
We offer the widest selection of blinds in the local area and we really pride
ourselves on quality and choice. I have grown to be very passionate about the
»Proprietor: Philip Devlin
»Founded in 1995
»Based in County Down,
Northern Ireland
»Services: Manufacturing and
»No. of employees: three full-
time and five part-time
Charisma Blinds
Highlighting best practice
sector and we are members of the
British Blind and Shutter Association.
They are highly active and passionate
about what they do, playing a key
role in the adoption of child safety
legislation. We are proud to be a part
of it.
Most of our business comes
through retail while we also work
with contractors and construction
companies on new-builds and
With each client we provide a full
service, from first appointment all
the way to fitting and removing any
old blinds in place. To stay relevant,
we have also enhanced our range
of offerings and we now offer more
high-end solutions such as plantation
shutters, and products such as remote
control electric blinds.
Ensuring a high level of
customer service
Customer service is a vital aspect of
our business and is a value that was
drilled into me throughout my career.
I have a background in retail, prior to
purchasing Charisma Blinds, having
worked for Granada TV rental in the
When we purchased the business
in 1995 my father, who worked for
the organisation that is now Invest
NI, helped finance us and put in the
initial groundwork, but despite having
limited experience in the sector my
understanding of the importance of
customer service gave me confidence.
Our customer care book is central to
our services and it gives our clients
the confidence that they will receive
a properly maintained, high-quality
Clients are able to use the book to
follow up on their fittings and give
feedback on the quality of service
they received. Prior to the finished
product being fitted, we offer fixed
appointments for consultations and
welcome any prospective customers
to look around in our relaxed and
We offer a huge range of choice and
our staff are happy to spend time with
customers regardless of the price and
type of product they are looking for.
We welcome around 45 customers
a week, many of whom are repeat
customers, and this steady success is
very much a result of the flexible and
personal service we offer. The last four
years have been a period of substantial
growth and we have benefited from
Outstanding customer
service is integral to our
sales offer
service is a
vital part of
our business
the number of new-builds currently
under construction.
Securing our sustainability
As we look forward, there are a
number of external factors that we
are keeping an eye on. Brexit, firstly, is
impacting the manner in which people
spend and this is having a knock-on
effect on our business.
While I don’t think this is a long-
term issue, it has resulted in a slight
slowdown over the past year. We
hope and expect, though, that when
it becomes slightly clearer with regards
to how things will be concluded,
spending will return to its previous
The effects have been similar to
those that we experienced during the
recession following the 2008 financial
crash; however, the impact on our
business has been less pronounced.
During the recession it is important
to note that the building trade was
particularly badly hit and this is not the
case at the moment. The building and
construction industries are enjoying
a boom, so providing the UK does
not leave the EU without a deal, we
are confident that we can continue
The blind trade has also grown,
moving out of the dark ages into
a time when there is a greater
emphasis on customers and orienting
manufacturing practices around their
preferences. This can only be good for
the sector and ourselves.
We will remain patient, however,
and look carefully before taking any
decisions about our future expansion.
While growth is the aim, I am
acutely aware of the need to remain
sustainable and profitable. We value
the customers we have immensely and
our primary concern remains to serve
their needs.
The last four
years have
been a period
of substantial
We continue to drive
efficiencies in our
manufacturing facility

This article was sponsored by Charisma Blinds. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster