FURNITURE specialist Curtis Office Furniture has started the year with new business plans and a new showroom following a fire next to its premises in November.

The blaze caused extensive smoke damage in the firm's Darlington base.

Despite this the company continued trading and turned what could have been a disaster into an opportunity.

In March, Curtis will unveil its new image at the launch of its refurbished and extended showroom. This will incorporate specialist ergonomic seating, furniture, storage and partitioning.

Curtis Office Furniture, which was established in 1986, designs, supplies and installs furniture to businesses across the UK. Its client list includes Jarvis Rail, RAC and Northgate Vehicle Hire.

Roger Curtis, managing director, said: "The fire in the adjacent building was a serious problem for our business to overcome. We have used the incident as an opportunity to develop new plans and positive thinking about our future.

"We will now implement our long term strategy for growth and development, opening a new showroom, offering new products and giving our business a new image. Our New Year's resolution is to put the setback behind us and work for success in 2003."