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Businessfocus BuSINeSS mATTeRS IN YouR commuNITY


As one of Bristol’s oldest family businesses continues to expand, SARAH FEELEY talks to company director Graham Bultitude about home-grown success story Bristol Batteries


calculation. “We thought ‘there’s X number of people living in Bristol and they own X number of cars, which means they’ll need X number of replacement car batteries’.” Now, almost 40 years later, that fledgling


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car battery business has grown bigger than the Bultitudes ever dared to dream. With an annual turnover of £5.8 million supplying batteries for both domestic and commercial use, the company has around 5,000 commercial clients, some as far afield as Japan and continental europe. And in one of the toughest economic climates in living memory, the firm has seen growth of more than eight per cent year on year. So what’s the secret of their success?


“one of our company’s greatest strengths is its broad base,” says Graham. “until 25 years ago we worked exclusively in the automotive market, but now we supply to 29 different marketplaces. Anything electrical and portable has a battery in it, and we supply a vast variety. We aim to be as broad a supplier as possible. “This our fourth recession, but we tend to


do quite well in a recession because it forces companies to look for more competitive, flexible suppliers to keep costs under control. companies find us and are often surprised at what we can do.”


hen husband and wife Graham and Jacqualine Bultitude decided to start their own business in 1972, they did a simple


As well as the automotive industry, Bristol


Batteries’ customers span a spectrum of fields including emergency lighting, standby power, telecoms, IT backup, aviation, healthcare and emergency services, to name but a few. Graham and Jacqualine are incredibly


proud of their dedicated workforce, which they see as crucial to their company’s success. “They’re the best,” says Graham. “We have a vast range of experience within our staff, and most have been with us in excess of 10 to 15 years.” How do the couple inspire such loyalty?


“You should set an example, not just sit in a box,” says Graham. “You should never ask anybody to do a job you can’t do yourself.” The company started out in Backfields


before moving to Newfoundland Road in Bristol city centre, and last August it moved to new premises in Albert Road, St Phillips. “We’d outgrown our old premises,” says Graham, “and with 14,000 square feet we’ve now got twice as much space as before so we can meet increased demand.”


“Recession forces firms to look for more competitive, flexible suppliers”


Jacqualine and Graham Bultitude


As well as its headquarters in Bristol,


the firm has branches in Swindon, exeter, Plymouth and Truro. Graham and Jacqualine have both been in Bristol since the ’60s. “Bristol is such a vibrant city,” says Graham, “it’s the centre of the South West, and our family are here.” The couple have three daughters (their


eldest erika works with them part-time as their assistant) and three granddaughters, and Graham and Jacqualine celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last year. At work, the couple have separate offices,


with Jaqualine working on the HR and marketing side of the business and Graham concentrating more on finance and IT. Taking stock of nearly four decades of business, Graham says: “Jacqualine always says we get dealt a new set of cards every year. I tend not to look back, I look forward. Learn from the past, certainly, but look to today’s challenges and move with the times. “our aim is to get more customers, but


we’ve never been a greedy company on margin. our aim has always been to give good value.” CL


www.bristolbatteries.com www.mediaclash.co.uk Clifton Life 75


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