Stepping up to the challenge


Now in the top spot on the board of directors for Combined Independents (Holdings) Ltd. (CIH), new Chairman, Steve Scogings, speaks to Jack Cheeseman about his plans for his new role and how he wants to make CIH the buying group of choice

I n September last year, Steve Scogings took over as the new

Chairman of CIH after being in the role of Deputy Chairman for nearly two years. In total, Mr Scogings has spent nine years representing the CI Southend board for the South East of England region. Mr Scogings is a fresh face at the helm of the organisation, after

he took over from Robin Millwood, who was Chairman for 12 years. Mr Scogings brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of the independent electrical retail channel with 30 years with the electrical retail chain, Stellisons Electrical. With nine shops as part of the business, he feels that his retail experience was a key driver behind him being nominated for the Chairman’s position. As well as this, he adds that the industry is at a turning point where things need to start moving faster and he felt that it was time for a change and to introduce some new ideas. “A couple of the CIH directors approached me and asked if I would stand for the Chairman role,” Mr Scogings explains, telling me how the whole thing came about. “But I had to check with my brother - who is also my business partner - and speak to my family, but it was all really positive. My wife knew I already wanted to take on the role. She knows I’m passionate about this industry, not just my business, but all members of CIH as well.”

Q: What attracted you to the role originally? Steve Scogings: I thought we needed to unify the business and the members. It was fragmenting slightly and there was a disjointing between the board itself and its membership. The manufacturers had also become slightly less enthusiastic with our buying group as we weren’t doing the right things that would help them and we’d got a bit stale doing the same thing consistently.

Q: What do you plan to bring to the role? SS: I really think I can help with the relationship which we have with manufacturers. I’m already starting on a tour of the country to visit every group meeting - all 18 groups - which is something I said I would do in this role. I’m already looking at how we can save money in the business to make sure manufacturers cannot say we are too costly to deal with and

bring profit back to the members. I want to give the member more money in their business, and I want CIH to be seen as the buying group of choice so that we can be a beacon to the industry for independents. I want to push this not just for the members themselves but for the industry as a whole for the independent channel to be more relevant. The sector needs to be grown to stop the bigger guys dictating to everybody what goes on in the market, including the manufacturers.

I’ve been in the industry personally for 30 years this year. Or even longer than that if you include working after school back in the day! Within CIH when I joined the board locally and when I joined the main board we’ve gone from things mostly all being done in store to a 60/40 split with the online channels. Also, there are a lot more OEM brands coming into the market, leaving long-established brands suffering to a certain extent.

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