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Case Study – New Sales Channel

In 2005, Screwfix Direct was a £250m turnover multi-channel retailer selling a broad range (13,000 products) to the building trade. Screwfix started with a screws and fixings catalogue in the late 1980’s, grew the catalogue range significantly and added a website during the 1990’s to become the market leader in direct selling to the trade. In late 2003 it was decided to test a new sales channel – Trade Counter outlets supporting take-away sales. The objective of this new channel was to increase sales to existing customers as well as attracting new customers who preferred the take-away method of purchasing rather than order and delivery.

The Business Challenge:
Screwfix started from a blank sheet of paper for Trade Counters. They had to formulate the customer proposition, establish the project team, design the retail format and location strategy, define the supply chain logistics and develop systems and processes to support the new channel. They wanted the first trial outlet to open in 2004 and fiv
e more in the 1st half of 2005, with minimal impact on ‘business as usual’. This was a major challenge but almost certainly key to the future of the business.

advocus involvement:
Screwfix asked Mike Beckett of advocus to act as project facilitator and mentor for Trade Counters. This role involved several key functions and activities:

  • Running the project kick-off workshop with the Directors and key players, generating the top-level plan and ensuring buy in.

  • Running other workshops to formulate the detailed customer proposition, design the retail format and define the supply chain and system infrastructure.

  • Providing project QA input to the steering meetings every month.

  • Providing one-to-one mentoring support to the Sponsoring Director, Project Manager and various members of the team.

The main objectives of the role were to ensure smooth running of the project and provide an independent viewpoint to the Screwfix Operating Board regarding progress.

The project was a resounding success with the first site opening in Bristol during December 2004 and another five open by June 2005. The Screwfix customers have given a big ‘thumbs up’ to the new channel and there are now plans to roll out this format across the U.K.

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Why advocus?
Colin McCarthy, Operations Director at Screwfix, explained “We used
advocus because of their extensive knowledge and experience of multi-channel retailing, but also because of their proven ability to help businesses implement major projects and manage the resulting change. The advocus consultants are very professional in all their interventions and they bring a robust planning and follow up approach to projects.

The Trade Counters project was a great success in terms of time, cost and quality. This success was the result of commitment and teamwork from the whole project team, and Mike Beckett played a significant role in that team providing invaluable help and advice. The best recommendation I can give for
advocus is to say that Screwfix has used them on eleven projects over the past three years!”

advocus is a multi-channel retail consultancy with specialist skills in strategic facilitation and change management. Our aim is to work with clients to establish a blueprint for a better future with robust achievement plans and stakeholder ‘buy in’. At advocus we assume that every client is different and we do not operate with ‘one size fits all’ solutions. Our involvement will always be tailored specifically to your situation.

advocus contact:
Mike Beckett
Tel: 07718 636 970