How The Apprentice's Thomas Skinner pivoted his business to weather Covid
- Credit: Thomas Skinner
A lot has happened in Thomas Skinner’s life in the two years since he was fired by Lord Alan Sugar.
The former Romford market trader became a fan favourite during his appearance on the BBC’s The Apprentice in 2019.
Today he is managing director of Essex-based mattress company Bosh Beds, but he still looks back on his time on the show fondly, describing it as “the best experience of my life”.
He said while his Romford accent and lack of university education made him “a little bit of the outsider” on the show, he learnt a great deal about business from Lord Sugar, who in turn praised his “honourability” and wished him well even as he fired him from the show.
The Apprentice experience helped him scale up his business Fluffy Pillows, leading Thomas to – in his words – “go a bit mad”.
“I made the mistake of growing too big,” he said.
“I spent all the money that I’d earned in those short months buying things I didn’t need, fancy car, fancy watch – I thought it would last forever.”
Then Covid struck.
- 1 Upminster teacher who lied in his job application banned indefinitely
- 2 Investigation launched as spate of phones 'reported missing' from Royal Mail’s Romford depot
- 3 Hornchurch bungalow could be bulldozed to build three houses
- 4 Romford manager retires after nearly 50 years on the job
- 5 Aklu Plaza edges closer to full unveiling with part of first floor now open
- 6 BBC Question Time is coming back to Romford this month
- 7 Plans to demolish hostel and build emergency accommodation and health centre in Harold Hill submitted
- 8 Hornchurch school hopes to open car park for community use
- 9 Brentwood crash: Pensioner dies, as man arrested for drink driving
- 10 Jailed: 12 east London offenders put behind bars in March
The company’s pillow manufacturer shut down after its owner died of the virus, and Thomas suddenly found himself without a supplier.
“It was just – wow, what do I do?” he recalled
“I was stuck, I had all the staff and I had to sell my watch to pay everyone’s wages – all I had was the van.”
Thomas decided to pivot to mattresses, setting up Bosh Beds at the height of lockdown in April 2020.
He told the Recorder how he had bought “ten of the best mattresses on the market” and cut them open to work out how he could manufacture something similar for less.
Thomas said Bosh now supplies more than 200 hotels across the country with its UK-manufactured mattresses – he hopes it will soon be as big as its competition such as Dreams and Bensons for Beds.
He said customer service was his priority at Bosh, something he attributed to his time working on the markets in Romford and Dagenham.
“I think that’s where it’s grown from, is from being friendly on the market stalls – I’ve brought the marketplace to a big business,” he said.
“In Romford, everyone looks after you. That’s what I bring to the business world.”