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The most ‘remarkable’ year in Loughborough manufacturer's 160-year existence

An award-winning Loughborough family business has boosted its customer service department having seen a 700 per cent rise in sales of decorating supplies in one of the most “remarkable” periods in its 160 year existence.

Health and safety manager David Majewski

Business is booming for British manufacturer Charles Bentley & Son which, despite the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, has successfully adapted the business over the last eight months to navigate a sudden change in purchasing habits.

Since April, sales of decorating supplies have grown by more than 700 per cent, revealing a new appetite for DIY throughout periods of lockdown. But that’s not all, with 2020 sales figures revealing our gardens have also been getting a new lease of life.

Over 318,000 parcels have been shipped from the company’s warehouse in Monarch Way – more than double that of 2019 – including 7,000 barbecues, 70,000 garden furniture sets, 16,000 parasol bases and 20,000 homeware products such as home accessories and furniture.

Steve Law, Sales Director, said: “Sales have changed fairly dramatically owing to changes in shopper behaviours and certain sectors being more adversely affected than others, with hospitality being a prime example.

“Moving into 2021, we have focussed on enhancing our already strong decorating ranges as we expect to see further increases within the general market in this area. With the launch of the Express Ordering Portal, we are providing our trade customers with the tools to manage their ordering cycle and see our stock levels 24/7.”

Staff promotions to recognise outstanding performance and new appointments have helped to enable the smooth running of a shift in sales.

Natalie Wheat has been recruited as Customer Relations and Process Manager and joins the Senior Management Team, and to cope with an expansion of the warehouse due to the surge in online sales, David Majewski has been appointed as Health and Safety Manager.

Brand videographer Major Singh

Mandeep Aietan has joined the company’s Quality Assurance team to continue driving product satisfaction and compliance and following a successful internship Major Singh has joined the team as Brand Videographer to help enhance sales and communications. The firm is also looking to boost the ranks with a Trade and Brand Marketing Manager.

Andy Steel, eCommerce Director, added: “We managed to navigate our way through the initial lockdown, transform how our warehouse could safely support eCommerce parcel pick, pack and ship and increase our capacity from around 7,000 orders a week to more than 16,000.That really is a remarkable achievement.

“At one point this summer, we had more than 5,000 customer service communications and a 24 day response time, we have that now down to a more manageable 500 support tickets and a two to three days response time.

“Importantly, we are learning from those peak sales, and the challenges such a surge in demand for our products brought us.

“We are reviewing the warehouse infrastructure to cope with our new-found level of sales, whilst reviewing procedures to streamline those to make the overall customer experience second to none. It really is an exciting time for the business and I feel lucky to be part of something so special.”

Launching as a manufacturer of brushes for chimney sweeping in 1860, sixth generation family-run Charles Bentley & Son has been supplying homes with quality goods for decades.

Now an employer of 146 people, the firm produces two million brushes annually from its factory in Loughborough and has operated a home and garden ecommerce website since 2005.

Plans for the New Year include 1000 new product listings with key selling partners, Homebase, Robert Dyas, Wilko, Wayfair, Next, Studio, JD Williams, QD Stores, Dunelm and Rymans, across home, garden, and active categories.


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