comment DUNCAN PRATT-THOMPSONCEO of Scott Brothers and H&L Russel On The Board

What’s keeping you busy? We purchased our main competitor, H&L Russel, in October 2018. On paper these things look quick and easy. But integrating systems, customers, product ranges and culture have all been exciting challenges.

What’s on your agenda? As a business we want to focus more on our processes, so achieving Investors in People and ISO 9002 accreditations are key. These both impact every area of the business and are key objectives over the next six months.

What’s your background? I’ve always been involved in selling consumer goods, starting out selling garden machinery, then telephones, welders, compressors, handbags and luggage - so quite a broad product mix, but always selling to major national retailers and around Europe.

Tell us a bit about Scott Brothers. Scott Brothers is the leading household storage distributor in the UK, specialising in hangers, vacuum storage bags, clothes covers and clothes care. We are also the largest distributor of evaporative air coolers in the UK - diverse I know, but there’s a long story behind Scott Brothers!

What’s your working week like? I’m happy to say that no two weeks are the same and I’d be unhappy if there were. I like to be involved in all areas of the business, so my week will usually contain a mix of meetings with customers, looking at new products with our development team, and working with our supply chain team.

Most rewarding aspect of your job? Having always worked in product-focused businesses, I still get a buzz from seeing our goods on the shelf: taking an idea and then turning it into a saleable product that consumers enjoy and recommend.

“My first MD said it was better to be a shark than a whale. It’s essential to be able to quickly

change direction and follow the trends”

Most challenging aspect of your job? Staying focused when I enjoy variety. The two can be hard to manage sometimes.

During your time in the housewares industry, what products have impressed you most and why? I really like the Joseph Joseph range. They are brave with colours and materials and the packaging is always well thought out - and they seem to have a loyal customer base.

During your time in the housewares industry, which retailers have impressed you most and why? Lakeland continues to impress me. Not only for the consumer, where the service is exactly what the High Street needs, but also as a supplier. It is sadly becoming rarer to find true partners and Lakeland has always felt like one.

Scott Brothers is the exclusive distributor in the UK and Ireland of the Honeywell domestic and commercial evaporative cooler range

October/November 2019

What’s the biggest challenge & opportunity facing housewares retailers? The rising cost of goods and the lowering retail price expectations, which don’t go hand in hand. Pressure from online sales is driving price

The Packmate vacuum storage bags range is distributed internationally and exclusively by Scott Brothers

points lower on a daily basis, but retailers should be looking at ways of driving consumers into their stores. Selfridges Food Hall is a great example of this - it’s a place to enjoy shopping without feeling like you are being sold to.

What’s the biggest challenge & opportunity facing housewares suppliers? Our challenges are linked to those of our retailers: rising costs, falling currency and a shrinking customer base. We need to innovate in our product development and give customers a reason to pay that little bit more.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you joined the housewares industry? The rapid growth of online sales. When I started in 1998 there were no online sales. We then started to get ‘online only’ listings, which were a nuisance because of the low volume, and now every retailer we work with has a significant online business.

What one change would you like to see in the housewares industry? More partnerships. It’s a cliché, but the relationship between the distributor and the retailer is interdependent. We should be adding value to each other and working together more openly, using each other’s skills to achieve more.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the housewares industry? Stay lean and be nimble. My first MD said it was better to be a shark than a whale. It’s essential to be able to quickly change direction and follow the trends.

What do you do to relax? I spend an hour every morning in the gym with no emails and most weekends are spent being the mechanic for my 11-year-old son’s kart. Both give me time to switch off and reset. | 19

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