Seven fast-growth lessons from Jeremy Harris, C0-founder and Managing Director of the Tile Mountain Group.

Jeremy Harris is managing director of Tile Mountain Group, and the company he co-founded in 2013 now turns over more than £50m and is expanding fast enough to enter the FEBE Growth 100.

The story starts in 2009, when Jeremy and his former Topps Tiles colleague Mo Iqbal, spotted an opportunity to sell home decor tiles online. So they got their heads together and spent the next three years carefully developing a robust IT infrastructure, culminating in the launch of Tile Mountain in 2013.

When they came up with their business idea, many people thought that tiles were ill-suited to online sales because customers wanted to see, feel and touch them. But this incorrect assumption created a golden pathway for the co-founders.

They took advantage rapidly, using navigation skills rooted in vast industry experience. It turned out that with the correct strategy, people were exceptionally keen to buy tiles online.

In April 2017, Tile Mountain moved into a £10m purpose-built 120,000sqft warehouse, showroom and office complex in Stoke. They’ve since opened eight more ‘destination’ showrooms containing coffee machines and kids’ areas, adding growing offline strength to their online muscle.

But with their powerful IT infrastructure, slick distribution system and huge warehouse capacity, the team soon began to consider what else they could sell. The answer – so far – is flooring and bathrooms.

In 2019, Tile Mountain acquired Kettering-based Walls & Floors and launched Flooring Mountain. Then, in 2021, MD Jeremy, executive chairman Mo and the crew unveiled another brand: Bathroom Mountain. These launches mean that the Tile Mountain Group is now targeting a market that, according to Jeremy, is “probably worth £4-5bn”.

Now let’s find out, in Jeremy’s own words, exactly how he and his entrepreneurial colleagues have achieved so much in ten years.


  1. Make digital sales a science.

“We spent three to four years developing Tile Mountain’s IT infrastructure. It’s the foundation of the business. We have a 300-strong team in the UK, but we employ 100 more in our dedicated IT office in Pakistan. Mo’s Pakistani heritage helped us to do this.”

“Our IT office gives us focused digital expertise and development power.

“For example, we track customers throughout the buying process. Say you’re looking for orange floor tiles. As you search on Google, we serve up a relevant ad (we have a team dedicated to serving up suitable ads). Click on the ad and you will reach a bespoke landing page – if you’re seeking orange tiles, the landing page shows an orange tile.

“Our modelling system monitors image and text click-through rates. If there’s a low click rate, we try different things.

“Next, we encourage you to order a sample tile. We mail the sample out quickly, and our customer service team steps in. Did you like the sample? Would you like us to send you a different tile? Is there anything else we can help with?

“All the way through the sales funnel, we’re measuring – click rate, conversion rate, email effectiveness, bounce rate – you name it.

“We can see real-time sales figures, margin, stock and best sellers. The data allows us to react quickly. Every day we review and adjust – prices, products and marketing. Continual evolution is part of our culture.”

  1. Automate and measure the hell out of everything.

“Automate, automate, automate – it’s one of our mantras. Someone once described us as an IT business selling tiles, and that’s not far wrong.

“If we’ve got a problem, our first response is to try to find an IT solution. That means we’re very data-driven. We track the fulfilment process like hawks: we monitor each pallet from picking to delivery. We take photos of each order. We sit down every Friday in each business unit to review customer relationship management data. If we’ve let a buyer down or made a mistake, we assess what’s happened. We’re trying to continually learn to eliminate errors. What’s gone wrong? How do we fix it? Fine-tune, fine-tune, fine-tune.

“Here’s a small example: we now put cones on every pallet of tiles to stop others from being placed on top – it’s probably saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds in broken tiles over the years.”

  1. Don’t sacrifice customer service on the altar of fast growth.

“One of our business pillars is good old-fashioned customer service. In other words, we look after people and, if we ever go wrong, we put it right fast.

“So we’ve always been careful to avoid growing so crazily that we can’t maintain our service levels. We came under pressure during Covid when our volume went up 300% almost overnight, but we worked desperately hard to maintain standards.

“For customer satisfaction, speed of delivery and good stock levels are vital. If you order a sample on Sunday evening, we’ll pick it on Monday and it’ll be in your hands on Tuesday, enabling you to have all your tiles by Wednesday. It has to be bam, bam, bam, all the way through.

“It’s vital we maintain our high Trustpilot score – we’re currently averaging just under 4.7 – and we continue to pull in good Google reviews. It doesn’t matter whether you’re turning over £1m or £100m, your customer service has to be spot on.”

  1. Build a ‘we’re all in it together’ culture.

“We’ve got a fantastic team; some of whom have worked with Mo or me for 20 or 30 years. If sales increase by 300% again as they did during Covid, we won’t lack people willing to stay in the warehouse till 3:00am. It’s so important to have a team who’ll step up and get stuck in – it’s a big part of the culture.

“But the only way to build that culture is to treat people respectfully and to lead by example. That’s one reason we’ve often been on the wrapping and cutting machines in the early hours. It helps with staff engagement because if the team see the owners getting down and dirty, it goes a long way.”

  1. Evolve (Part A): Move your digital marketing with the times.

“Customer behaviour has changed significantly in the past two years. Today, people don’t necessarily start looking for products with a Google search as they used to. Instead, they begin before that, seeking inspiration from Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram and from their friends. First, they’re looking at what other people – especially influencers – are doing. Then, once they’ve got the ideas, they start a specific search. That change means that our digital marketing is only effective if we aim it one step before the Google search.”

“Also, customers want to communicate more these days – not just by phone and email but also by text chat, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. So today you’ve got to be all over these mediums, all of the time.”

  1. Evolve (Part B): Flex your business model to strengthen the company.

“We started as a purely online business – that was where the original opportunity lay. Back then, we thought physical stores were a headache. But we’ve evolved. We now realise that some people want to touch our products, browse displays and speak to staff. We also know that we can do excellent business offline – the figures add up – so we’ve launched nine showrooms to strengthen the business.

“But we’ve tried to be different. Our showrooms are large, inspirational spaces with coffee shops and kids’ areas. We design them to be destinations located strategically in key areas. Working hand in hand with our website, our new showrooms are helping to drive the business forward. So much so that we’re planning to open more.”

  1. Take a leap of faith.

“Before co-founding Tile Mountain, I worked for a successful PLC in a well-paid, secure position. But I saw a wave coming and I had to catch it. Leaving my job was a massive leap of faith at the time, especially when many people thought tiles would never sell online, but I followed my heart and – thank God – it’s worked so far! And there’s much more to come.”

FEBE says…

The Tile Mountain story has a great deal to teach us. Few companies better show the tremendous power of skilled online marketing (there can’t be many home decoration businesses with a 100-strong office dedicated to IT). Similarly, the mantra of “automate and measure everything” has played a big role in the company’s success.

But alongside the tech prowess, Tile Mountain has many traditional strengths: elevating customer service has been vital, and recruiting a loyal team happy to get stuck in has also paid dividends. Moreover, flexing the business model and moving into bricks-and-mortar retail has provided more growth.

Tile Mountain is a rare beast: an ultra-modern tech company with bags of old-school know-how. These two complementary strengths are propelling it to fast growth without the need for external funding. And as Jeremy says, there’s much more to come.

So, next time the co-founder finds himself labouring in his warehouse at 2:00am, he might be tempted to swear…however, his physical presence also means that sales must have rocketed yet again.


Disclaimer: The statements made by our interviewees are an expression of their own views and opinions and in no way reflect FEBE Ventures’ views or opinions, nor are such views or opinions endorsed or supported by us.