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September 2021 ertonline.co.uk


Q&A


Q: What made you want to re-brand? Ben Gilks: I originally had the idea of changing to NE Appliances seven years ago, but I was never fully concentrated on it. Our previous store was all about the luxury end of the market and it was solely reliant on people walking through the door, so as soon as the pandemic hit we went from big business to nothing. While we were closed I had time to think about completely diversifying and how I could improve the business. The first thing I did was set up the new website


neappliances.com – and I could suddenly see that the amount of stuff we were selling called for a better distribution network. That’s when I started looking for new store premises. The website is a massive part of the rebrand


because so many appliances are sold online these days and I thought I’ve got to make the transition in order to continue to be successful.


Q: And how do you feel now you’ve made the move? BG: It’s the best thing I’ve ever done! There was an incredible amount of work to make this all happen but now we are settled things are definitely going in the right direction; we’ve just had a record month and that’s given us all a real buzz! I don’t want to be the biggest appliance retailer in the country, I just want to have my fair share of the market. I was quite nervous about changing the name


from Nailsea Electrical to NE Appliances and moving from one side of the city to the other, but we put together a huge marketing campaign to ensure that we maintained our local business. We sent personalised letters to all of our customers, we had billboards around Bristol and we did local radio and TV advertising. Our customers have been blown away by the


transformation. A lot of our regulars still see the Nailsea team and they keep coming back to us because they know we go the extra mile. New customers have been utilising the website, so it’s the best of both worlds and that is what we are aiming towards. When we went into the first lockdown retail


changed immediately; bigger home projects were put off initially and it switched to distress purchases. We still had loads of orders coming in between five and seven o’clock every evening because people were sitting at home browsing online. If someone’s washing machine breaks down they usually just jump online and order it as soon as they can. We were losing out on business before by not being in that online space, but now we are 24/7 and it’s changed things completely. We’ve also now got a trade aspect to the


business with the new trade counter in store and that’s really started to pick up; customers with one of our trade cards can get 10 per cent off appliances and they’re ready for collection within minutes of their order.


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