Sunderland e-commerce business move to larger premises to cope with demand

Variety.co.uk, which sells a huge range of items from home and garden furnishings to sports and games equipment, is moving from its current offices at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland to a larger unit on the same site

Cllr Mel Speding of Sunderland City Council and John Orr of Variety
Cllr Mel Speding of Sunderland City Council and John Orr of Variety

A growing Sunderland e-commerce business is making its second move into larger premises in just four years to cope with increasing demand.

Variety.co.uk, which sells a huge range of items from home and garden furnishings to sports and games equipment, is moving from its current offices at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland to a larger unit on the same site.

The company, which started trading in 2010 in an incubator unit at the BIC, has seven staff and plans to recruit another two people after the move. It is also aiming to increase its expansion rate of at least 30% per year to reach the £2m turnover landmark.

John Orr, who founded Variety, said: “We are moving to bigger premises to accommodate more storage space and more staff in customer services, accounts and administration.

“We are always looking to expand into different product sectors and countries worldwide. E-commerce is becoming more and more popular and with 90,000+ products already for sale we intend to be at the forefront in our sector. When you look at our counterparts in America they are floating on the stock exchange. Our aim is to have that happen here as well. That same growth is already happening here.”

The company sources its products from suppliers around the UK. It sends items out across the UK from the Isle of Skye to the Channel Islands and has delivered to some very prestigious London addresses.

John, who was born in Sunderland, previously ran a business which designed a fold-up motorbike that could fit into a car boot. He was supported by Sunderland entrepreneur Sir Peter Vardy who continues to mentor him.

He has also been strongly supported by Sunderland City Council, which provided advice and guidance to help with Variety’s move into larger premises.

“The city council helped out when we initially expanded and has helped us again,” said John.

“I’ve found the City Council helpful to entrepreneurs, both as a younger person starting a business and as an established business owner aiming to grow. They have been a great support.

“I would say Sunderland is a brilliant place to start and grow a business. The city has everything you require to help an enterprise flourish from start-up to expansion.”

Councillor Mel Speding, of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland is renowned as a great location for manufacturing and engineering industries, but Variety is a great example of the newer types of technology and entrepreneurial companies that are also thriving here in Sunderland.

“We are pleased to have helped advise on Variety’s expansion and can offer similar support to other new and growing businesses.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer