Craft supplies business Crafter’s Companion has reported a boost in its retail presence after recruiting a high-profile trade team to increase support to independent stores.
The firm, headquartered in Spennymoor, County Durham, designs, manufactures and supplies craft-related products to enthusiasts across the world, predominantly through popular shopping channels in the UK and the US.
And since last March, industry sales experts have been reaching out to independent UK customers, helping the firm towards its predicted turnover of £7.2m. The company said more than 200 new outlets across the UK are now carrying its products after it created a dedicated distribution division last March.
Retail sales at the firm, which now employs over 60 people across its County Durham headquarters and its US operation in California, have also rocketed by 260% and the firm is on track to reach 1,000 stockists in just one year since the arrival of the new trade team.
Last year the firm posted revenues of £5.8m for 2012, a lift of 25% on the previous year, and further success is expected for 2013, much of which has been attributed to a surge in support to independent retailers such as in-store workshops, point of sale material and aid from the firm’s sales managers and trade support team.
Crafter’s Companion is run by Sara Davies, who won a Shell Women of the Future Award for Entrepreneur of the Year and an international Stevie Award for Women in Business in the same week. Since founding the company in 2005 while at York University, Davies has become a familiar face in the craft sector and regularly features on TV channels Ideal World and Create & Craft and is the current board chair at the Craft Hobby Association UK.
Davies said: “Our strategy to genuinely invest in supporting our retail customers and improve the overall support package to our distribution network is really paying off so far as it is benefiting our customers’ businesses as well as our own.
“It was a really big decision to bring in a dedicated team experts to develop the distribution side of the business but we are delighted with the team’s performance to date as they have really focused on building partnerships with retailers.
“The model we introduced involves our area managers being based on the road to visit customers at their stores to give them one-to-one support, tailored packages and offers to suit their individual store needs to help them increase sales.
“I’m a firm believer that the success to date is down to the personal touch and rapport our team have built with customers.”
Simon Duncan, who was appointed European commercial manager last March has led the team’s retail push to date, achieving increased distribution in Holland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Malta and Romania, with more in the pipeline for 2014.
In order to cope with growing retail demand, the company invested £100,000 to increase the size of its packing and distribution warehouse from 12,000 sq ft to 26,000 sq ft last year and employed a dedicated trade order dispatch team – a far cry from the firm’s origins in Davies’ university bedroom in 2005, while she was in the second year of her degree.