‘There will be a strong return to local independent stores’
Sirius Buying Group’s MD, Steve Jones, on the year ahead for the retail industry.
t the start of this year, it was announced that Steve Jones took over as Managing Director of Sirius Buying Group. Previously Commercial Director, Mr Jones is well known
across the electrical retail industry and is dedicated to helping independents reach their full market potential.
The Group said it was introducing “a raft of new initiatives” in 2021; to
find out more, in his first interview with ERT in his new role, we caught up with Mr Jones for this exclusive story.
Q: How have things been for your retail members and for the Group as a whole recently? Steve Jones: : It’s been a busy time with many challenges that we weren’t facing this time last year, but retailers are just getting on with it. We are doing our best to provide guidance and a high level of support; that, combined with the financial support from the Government, appears to have put them in a temporary comfortable position ahead of 12 April. We are encouraging our members to use this opportunity to prepare their businesses now for the future. I feel there will be a strong return to local independent stores. Whilst
the level of people purchasing online will settle, many consumers’ shopping habits have changed and accelerated and retailers need to make sure they are visible online for their customers that want to support them as a local independent. One of the things I am most proud of is the growth in our membership
in the past year. We had more enquiries than ever before and now we’ve got more members than ever before, and there are already five new members this year.
Q: What are your plans for the months ahead? SJ: The first thing is making sure our members are fully equipped and prepared for reopening. We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline and we’re looking forward to the Group progressing this year! We are also working on a project that I can’t talk too much about at the
moment. We’re making sure members are fully prepared to take advantage of the digital revolution that retail is experiencing and making it simple for them. Not to take away from what they’re doing on the high street, because there’s still a future for that, but this is an opportunity to reinvent themselves a bit. Our current online platform could benefit more of our members so we
are developing something that everyone will be able to easily take advantage of to enhance their online offering and this will be a game changer for them.
The annual Suppliers Trade Show Awards winners in 2019
Q: What about when retail stores reopen? SJ: Our immediate focus leading up to 12 April is making sure suppliers are getting their info out to members. We will continue our monthly virtual member meetings, which have been
very successful. Pre-COVID we used to do monthly roadshows around the country but – while you can’t replace face to face – doing them digitally does make it easier and attendance numbers are really good. It’s a great additional string to our bow; suppliers love it because they’re getting their presentations across to more people, and the members love it because they’re being kept fully up to date.
Q: What are your longer-term plans for the Sirius Buying Group? SJ: We are very optimistic that our Suppliers Trade Show will go ahead in September. The same one we’ve all known and loved for the last 20 years – with the gala dinner, too! Also, a big part of our strategy in the coming three to five years is offering
the benefits of the Sirius Buying Group to the kitchen channel; we are in a unique position to add value to kitchen studios without them having to change their business model at all. We can offer them enhanced margins and huge cost saving benefits and we’re really excited to keep getting that message out there alongside our approved kitchen suppliers.
Q: What have you learned during the pandemic, do you think? SJ: Like everyone, we’ve had to think on our feet this year but we’ll use this opportunity to take forward the things we’ve learned and add to our existing operations. No one should ever just keep doing the same things they’ve always done – it’s good to try new things as that’s how we learn and grow. This last year has forced us to do that whether we like it or not!
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