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Great Scott


In the beginning... Robert Scott & Sons have been supplying the industry with wipes, mops and microfibres for years, but their origins still reflect the minimalistic ethos which has kept the company in good stead over the years of change we have witnessed. “My grandfather started the business in 1932, and at that time, the whole of Oldham was just one huge mill industry,” described Alastair Scott, Sales Director. “All of these had tonnes of machinery producing oil, dirt and grime, so he went with the demand for rags and began making wipers for machinery. That’s where we started, literally supplying wipers for industry.”


Back in the 1930s, there was a huge cotton industry in the area, meaning a second source of income came into the offing. With the dozens of yarn off-cuts and end-of-runs, something which would otherwise have been wastage was turned into profit, by tying together the strands to make mops. Alastair continued:


88 | WIPES, MOPS & MICROFIBRES


Since starting the business in 1932, Robert Scott & Sons has gone from strength to strength with two key principles at their heart: simplicity and service. We paid a visit to their headquarters in Oldham, Lancashire, to find out how they intend to take their business to the next level.


“There’s nothing new in the cleaning industry, a lot of it hasn’t changed that much, but that’s how we’re still in business today. The company was relatively small for a long time; when I started, we had something like 35 employees, and now, we have 300 – it’s just in the last 30 years that it’s expanded so extensively.”


But expansion isn’t something Robert Scott is afraid of. With their most recent acquisition marking yet another milestone for the company, it appears the only way is up.


On The Grow According to Alastair, the real success behind their business’ development lies in their many buy-outs. “We’ve bought three of our competitors,” he said, “with the recent acquisition of Contico making a fourth. I was interested in the company for a long time, because it’s the same product range and the same buyer that we already talk to for our own product range – it was a perfect bolt-on to add to a wide range of low-volume lines. It just made sense.


“We’ve learnt something from each one of our purchases. With Harold Watson, we probably learnt the most though, as that was our first relatively large purchase. We learnt a lot of sales techniques – how to talk in conjunction with end users and our distributor base, how to concentrate on internal sales, how to look after the customer on a day-to-day basis and so on. How Contico differs from the others is that it’s much more of a brand image and a wider range of products – while the other manufacturers we purchased made the same things, Contico has allied products but of a completely different range.”


Taking on such a well-known brand as Contico could have its problems with consistency, but it is this presence which Robert Scott are confident about reintroducing to the marketplace once more after the initial lapse. As Alastair put it: “It’s a good opportunity to re-address the marketplace, get our name out there again, and explain to people why we


www.tomorrowscleaning.com


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