Boutique Modern CEO Dick Shone

Meet Dick Shone, Managing Director of Boutique Modern

Modular housing business Boutique Modern builds affordable and social homes with sustainability at their core.

The business takes pride in delivering beautiful flats and houses which fit in with the local area and help residents to reduce their energy bills using super insulation and considered design.

It is the first certified B Corp in the UK modular construction industry, which means it is meeting high standards of performance, accountability and transparency.

With nearly 70 staff, more than 240 homes delivered and 12 years in business, Boutique Modern developments can be seen around Sussex, including Palmerston House in Fort Road, Newhaven.

Corinne Day, programme director at Newhaven Enterprise Zone said: “Newhaven has a long history of manufacturing and Boutique Modern has made excellent use of a skillset which exists here.

“The business provides one of the solutions to the nation’s housing shortage and is helping local authorities across Sussex to develop hard-to-access sites in town centres at speed but with finesse.

“We’re so proud Boutique Modern has chosen Newhaven as its place to call home and we look forward to cheering them on from the sidelines as the business grows.”

With plans to expand the business and hire more employees all right here in Newhaven, we caught up with Managing Director Dick Shone to find out what’s next for the business and what he loves about our town.

What inspired Boutique Modern to become a B Corp?

Boutique Modern decided to become B Corp accredited as we felt it was the right thing to do for our clients, our team and our future.

We believe in being open and transparent about what we have achieved and what we need to do more of. We understand it’s a long road to net zero, but we believe this is the best way to forge a path towards a responsible future.

B Corp certification is an extremely rigorous process, and it means that we can be held to a high standard. The B Corp movement is designed to make business a tool for good and as any company knows, there’s always more work to do to build on success.

What kind of sustainability practices does Boutique Modern have in place?

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. As a modular construction manufacturer, we have already taken a sustainable approach to modern methods of construction.

In terms of specific practices, we are reducing our emissions as much as possible and offsetting the remaining emissions using quality, verifiable carbon offsetting schemes.

We have been monitoring and mapping our energy consumption in the office and the factory, while using the Normative Carbon Calculator tool (recommended by the SME Climate Hub) to calculate our carbon footprint based on our company size, organisation activities, spending and revenue.

We have also carried out extensive research into our suppliers, looking three steps upstream to understand where their materials come from and what methods of transport are used. All in all, we are always assessing what we can do to improve sustainability here at Boutique Modern.

How does Boutique Modern connect with the community in Newhaven as a business?

Boutique Modern exemplifies the spirit of community, sourcing 90% of its supply chain from the county and investing £7m annually in local materials and subcontractors. Our collaboration with East Sussex College has nurtured local talent, with 40% of our workforce joining us from the college or the local employment centre.

Why is Newhaven such a great place to base a business?

The people of Newhaven have so much skill, talent and passion, which is why we chose to be based in Newhaven and why we plan to stay. We’re now up to nearly 70 employees and around half of these are based in the local area. The town has a long history of manufacturing, so the skillset already exists here for any business looking to set up in the town.

Newhaven also has excellent transport links. Trains from Newhaven operate twice an hour each way, so our employees can commute from Lewes, Seaford or Brighton and beyond.

Newhaven is also experiencing a steady period of growth and we are so excited about contributing to the developments here, one step at a time.

Tell us what it’s like to work at Boutique Modern?

It’s very fast paced and no two days are the same. We have plenty of projects in the pipeline, so there is always something to keep us occupied.

It’s highly rewarding too, knowing that what we build is going towards helping the lives of people who need affordable and social accommodation – all the while delivering just one of the solutions to the national housing shortage.

Tell us what makes Boutique Modern special?

Boutique Modern stands out as it is a B Corp modular manufacturer with a mission-driven focus on helping to transform derelict, often difficult to build on plots of land, that would not otherwise be possible without modular construction.

We can help to solve the national housing shortage if we strive to adopt the modular approach, which is what makes our purpose special.

We also have such a brilliant, highly skilled group of staff, who are all dedicated to our mission.

We want to challenge the perceptions of what working in the construction industry is like too – at Boutique Modern our homes are put together in a factory-controlled environment before they are craned into position on site. This reduces the time our employees have to spend outdoors or away from Newhaven.

We take a lot of pride in taking care of our people, supporting our local community and delivering beautifully designed homes which make people happy.

What’s next for Boutique Modern?

Big plans are in motion for 2024. We plan to double our capacity this year with a new factory opening in Newhaven once planning has been approved. Once we’ve got it up and running, we’ll have opportunities to take on even more exciting projects and hire more employees.

Where is your favourite place in Newhaven?

The Engineer is the Boutique Modern boozer – it’s our favourite pub in Newhaven and is where our team enjoy a catch up over a drink after work or for team celebrations. Our team also love working so close to the coast, we have one particular employee who goes for a sea swim before work every day!

What’s Newhaven’s best kept secret?

It’s got to be the DFDS ferry over to Dieppe in France. It only takes four hours and saves me time and petrol when I decide to head to France.

Why go all the way to Dover for Calais or the other way to Portsmouth instead for Le Havre, when you can hop on the ferry right here in Sussex? I am constantly amazed that people don’t know about it.

What’s your favourite place for lunch in Newhaven?

The best place for lunch in Newhaven is the Boutique Modern canteen! It’s great to catch up with team members away from their desks and to get to know each other better whilst eating the delicious sandwiches from Mamoosh. The new factory canteen will allow the whole company to get together from time-to-time for lunch. Occasionally we also love visiting The Sidings.

How has Newhaven Enterprise Zone supported the business?

Boutique Modern has been working closely with Newhaven Enterprise Zone for the last five years. We are looking forward to applying for all three of the Newhaven Enterprise Zone funding pots for Transforming Newhaven, Empty Properties and Low Carbon… Watch this space for news!

Read more of our Q&As with Newhaven business owners here

A worker building modular housing in the Boutique Modern workshop in Newhaven
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