I’ve known Vinny Lovell for getting on 20 years, he was the first retailer to leave me an eBay feedback on my trading account back in September 2004 but has since gone on to greater and better things. Now his current company, Bestport Europe Ltd, are celebrating their 10th Birthday today.
The Early Days
Vinny originally started trading on his own but then met with his current business partner. The first employee was Shirley who’s still at the company. The trio have grown and now have 10 staff with more to come onboard in the near future.
In the first few years they only imported 2 or 3 containers but now 24 or more arrive every year. The launch saw the company specialise in packaging supplies but as the years rolled past have expanded into garden, DIY (UK Distributers for YUZET) and sportswear (UK Distributers for Savi, Sportstape and Howies) and are supplying numerous amateur and semi pro football teams. They have plans to increase their product range now that they are settled in their current distribution center and are also sponsors of Dundee Stars professional ice hockey team.
Vinny started out just trading on eBay but Bestport Europe now retail across eBay, Amazon, Manomano and other main online marketplaces Due to exponential increases in sales they chose to implement ChannelAdvisor as their mutlichannel partner and have also now introduced Scurri for shipping. They’ve come a long way since the days of merging spread sheets into label templates!
The business has survived two recessions and seen four warehouse moves from storage containers to their current distribution center.
Other challenges over the years include trading through two different vat rate changes, and with the dollar rate started at $2.05 with their initial imports and due to Brexit (who knows what this will bring) currently down at $1.20. Plus the competition has increased many times over since over the past decade as more retailers have embraced marketplaces.
“Increased completion on marketplaces from major brands like Argos etc, means its vitality important to have excellent trading relationships with our Chinese/Indian/Taiwanese and Vietnamese factory’s and also not forgetting our European partners.”
– Vinny Lovell, Bestport Europe Ltd
In the early days eBay sales were primarily from auctions but now auction sales probably account for less than 1% of GMV. eBay initially had the greater sales but nowadays Amazon is increasingly important with perhaps 60% more sales than eBay.
Bestport Europe use FBA for certain lines but self fulfil the majority of orders. Their FBA lines increase weekly but orders from all other avenues are self fulfilled. Current volumes have grown from a start of 250 orders per week to a current volume which constantly exceeds 5000 shipments per week.
Brexit is a concern but Vinny is currently not overly worried as 95% of sales are from the UK. They are well placed to deal with any Brexit bumps but are also currently recruiting to grow their European sales and are therefore targeting bi-lingual staff. The ultimate aim is to fulfil orders from a European distribution center in the near future.
Trading has taken Vinny and his business partner to China, India, Canada, the Emirates and Europe as they source products and forge relationships with their clients.
I’ve always been massively impressed with Vinny and Bestport Europe and taken a fond interest in the business – after all Vinny did give me my first eBay feedback. It’s fantastic to see a business that has grown from just a few containers a year to one arriving practically every fortnight – the amount of stock they get through is simply staggering!
All the best to Vinny and his team and a huge congratulations on their 10th Birthday.