Out of office

PUBLISHED: 06:17 04 August 2014 | UPDATED: 07:35 04 August 2014

Claire-Louise Brutnall with TV gardener Christine Walkden

Claire-Louise Brutnall with TV gardener Christine Walkden


Meet Claire-Louise Brutnall of the home and garden stone company, near King’s Lynn.

Claire-Louise Brutnall, 45

Managing director of Foras

What’s been your career path?

International buyer, national account management, business consultancy and sales training. I trained and worked in a fast-moving consumer goods company, then moved into buying, and went on to become an internet project manager. I met Norfolk farmer, John Wootton, and we fell in love. He wanted a change from farming and I wanted a change to something more bespoke and emotive, and two years later Foras was born (along with two children in the process). We have diversified into importing sandstone, limestones, travertines, porcelains and mosaics from Asia and Europe as well as English stones, and have developed a range of complementing Designed in Norfolk, affordable, real stone sculptures, water features, birdbaths and planters. The Foras showroom and gardens, at Stow Bridge, near King’s Lynn, has more than 10,000sqm of landscaping to give you ideas and inspiration for your home and garden. Foras won two gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and we are part of a new showroom opening in Burnham Market very soon, Burnham Home and Garden (on the Green).

In the office, biggest challenges?

Getting things done on the to-do list for future strategy and growth along with new product development. I still enjoy product development, but am I am getting less and less time to do it. Most of our key signature pieces in the sculpture and pots were designed in Norfolk by locals. Plus trying to find the time to organise time off work to spend with my family.

Out of office, three favourite pastimes?

Enjoying Norfolk, getting out and about with my two children and seeing what is going on in this great county. I want to engage more with local businesses in Norfolk, of which there are many. We have recently worked with Crane sheds in helping dressing their stand with our features for RHS Chelsea, where they won five stars for their display.

First record – and what are you listening to today?

Embarrassment by Madness. These days I am a lot cooler in my music choice with a great mixture, anything from Rudimental to Pharell. My children, who are only five and nine, have dipped into the CD collection of their father, who was (a long time ago) a session DJ in and about Norfolk - so instead of nursery rhymes we get anything form Ian Dury to The White Stripes!

First car – and what do you drive now?

Black Fiat Panda - I loved that car. My Nissan Navara truck is relative luxury but with a very large boot, great for putting in lots of samples, as apart from the stoneware we have a new range of garden accessories. So when I am going round the country to our stockist I like to have a boot full of goodies to show them and get feedback on.

What’s your exercise of choice?

Walking and running, though I tend to do more walking than running!

Where is your dream holiday?

An island with very few people on it but filed with their culture and architecture – no phone signal or WiFi, with blue, calm seas and white sand. Where I could go sailing from the beach, fish for my dinner and cook it on the same beach on my return. Heaven . . .

Favourite place in Norfolk?

The beaches and a summer evening with my friends eating tapas at the Wiveton Cafe with a sea view on a warm summers evening. Nothing better and not done enough!

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