the big interview


‘The sky’s the limit for independents’

General manager Chris McEwanexplains why he believes that Home Hardware (Scotland) is no ordinary wholesaler

stock. It led to a situation where retailers were in danger of going out of business, solely because they could not source stock. “At this point, Jim was contacted by a former member of the board at Andrew R Findlay to ask if he would like to purchase some stock from the administrator. Between them, Jim and fellow retailer Hugh Gibb Stuart purchased 97 40ft lorries full of stock - and this became the seed stock for Home Hardware (Scotland). Jim went on to invest a lot of time and money into creating the systems and structure that is now Home Hardware (Scotland).” Headquartered in Ardrossan, the company

employs 36 staff across its head office and distribution centre. The latter measures 67,000sq ft and carries 9,500 products from over 700 suppliers. It includes a 3,500sq ft showroom which is set up as a live shop, with one of every product available to members. Chris joined in 1991, following a career with

describes Home Hardware (Scotland). The business is owned by its members, who all run their own stores. There are currently over 60 independent members’ shops, located as far north as Orkney off the north-east coast of Scotland down to the Lake District in north-west England – and they all stock housewares. Home Hardware (Scotland) was founded in 1983

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by a group of retailers based in the west of Scotland and driven by late managing director Jim Ferguson. According to Chris, they came together “because a major retailer called Andrew R Findlay collapsed and the other wholesalers at the time failed to invest in

dealer-owned wholesaler - with strong marketing credentials.” That’s how general manager Chris McEwan

Wright’s Home Hardware in Prestwick and Hawick. He is responsible for the day-to-day running of the head office and distribution centre, and also currently looks after housewares buying – but will be passing this role to Lorraine Thomson, who previously worked as a sales assistant at Wright’s Home Hardware in Largs for two years. “Lorraine gained a wealth of product knowledge during her time working at Wright’s Home Hardware, and will now be able to apply that in her role,” Chris says. Housewares are sourced from a mix of trade

shows - Spring Fair in Birmingham, Ambiente in Germany, Exclusively Housewares in London and Canton Fair in China – and from reps who visit Home Hardware (Scotland). So how does a housewares retailer go about becoming a member? “By contacting us direct - or by calling our business development manager George O’Raw on 07535 733846 or emailing him at,” Chris says. “We can visit them - or they can visit us and take a look at our distribution centre and showroom. Our members are also happy to speak to anyone who wishes to find out more.”

“Our philosophy is

considerably different to some conventional wholesalers whose basic objective is to maximise their own profits ”

There is a one-year free trial, followed by a

one-off lifetime membership fee of £2,000. Home Hardware (Scotland) also offers corporate and non-corporate options. There are several benefits to membership,

Chris asserts. “Each member receives reliable weekly or twice weekly deliveries at an allotted time from our own vehicle fleet, ensuring a dependable service. A reliable flow of goods allows members to reduce their stockholding accordingly. Our overall stock availability averages 97%. Also, we know how important cash flow is to our members, and that’s why we ensure members receive credits for returned goods, normally within seven days. “We also offer direct shipment, which provides a flexible addition to our core stock business.

Ten years ago this month in Housewares Magazine…

• Eddingtons’ EggShell silicone egg poacher, Horwood’s Stellar 7000 cookware, What More UK’s 45L box and lid, and I.O. Shen’s Sahm Khom slicer were the best-selling products at Nova in Aberdeen, Malletts Home Hardware in Truro, EFG Housewares in Enfield and Savilles Cook Shop in Malton respectively.

• Lakeland was the winner of Housewares Magazine’s Mystery Shopper report on the Kent town of Bromley, beating ProCook and Debenhams for its ‘excellent customer service and easy-to-shop layout’.

• Four housewares products at the Autumn Fair were judged ‘Best at Show’ by a panel of retailers from the Cookshop & Housewares Association. The Ravi wine chiller by Jeray scooped the Most Innovative Product at Show prize; Best Packaging at Show was awarded to GW Associates for its Cross Cutting Garlic Twist; Beer Buddies by Plas Stak won Best New Product at Show; and GreenPan cookware clinched Best Product at Show.

30 | •

• A report by market research company Mintel revealed that Brits were on course to buy 88.5 million pots, pans and kitchen knives by the end of the year – spending £487 million in the process.

• Planit Products managing director Guy Unwin and his partner Caroline Kavanagh appeared on BBC series ‘Dragon’s Den’ to raise finance for their reusable Toastabags invention – and received offers from two of the Dragons.

• The 311-strong homeware chain Wilkinson (now Wilko) was set to open a new-look store in Walton-on-Thames on October 17, featuring strong signage, bold colours and a refreshed own-brand livery. October/November 2018

Source: Housewares Magazine October 2008

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