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Kathryn Lukehurst becomes joint-md at Gerald Lukehurst

KLukehurstKathryn Lukehurst has become the third generation of the family – and the first woman – to run leading furniture and flooring independent Gerald Lukehurst.

Kathryn, 35, joins her father Martin – chairman of the Minerva Buying Group – as joint md after a successful career in the computer software industry.

'I come from a male-dominated computer industry and have always been treated well,' she says. 'I'm quite a confident person and know what I want.'

She says she is expecting to add a different perspective to product choice, bringing her own sense of style to the selection process to appeal to new as well as long-term customers.

It was always likely she would join the family firm, which has outlets in Rainham and Sittingbourne. As early as 10, she was in a family photograph promoting the business and at 14 she helped in the office and worked in the glassware department, 'mainly dusting and running errands. I had always thought I would come into the business at some point but I wanted to go out and do my own thing before I came back.'

She acknowledges that independent furnishing firms face tough challenges in an online world with fierce price competition. But she is convinced that a clicks and mortar approach with a combination of good customer service and an effective website will prosper. I believe independent furniture retailers will always have a role to play on the high street,' she says.

'I am proud to be working for the business that my grandfather began and my father has continued so successfully. We are a close family and I love being with Dad every day.'

'Kathryn brings fresh, modern ideas and definitely has the qualities to run the business,' says Martin Lukehurst

Gerald Lukehurst opened his first shop in Rainham in 1970. His son Martin joined the business in 1972 when the Rainham store was extended. The Sittingbourne High Street store opened in 1983, closing in 2010 when the firm expanded to Sittingbourne Retail Park.

A converted Victorian chapel in Orchard Street, Rainham, showcases carpets and curtains.