Adaptability is key says 160 year old British manufacturer Charles Bentley

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In 1860 Charles Bentley sold his first broomstick and today the Loughborough family business that carries his name has had to adapt massively during the coronavirus pandemic. Adaptability has been key to the firm’s 160-year success but perhaps never more than during the past few months.

As a major provider of dropship services for the UK’s biggest home and garden retailers, Charles Bentley & Son was hit by order cancellations as shops closed their doors in the fight against coronavirus and quickly had to adapt to a surge in online demand to accommodate a change in consumer behaviour.

Employing over 150 people, the firm produces two million brushes annually from their factory in Monarch Way and, in addition to their wholesale business, has operated a home and garden ecommerce website since 2005.

“It has been a tough time for retailers across the board and we’ve certainly faced many challenges. Clearly the closure of most retailers had a massive impact on our core retail business, however, as a key supplier of professional and industrial hygiene products our focus shifted to ensure we were in-stock and ready to supply vital goods into the NHS, industrial and educational sectors.

We have suffered significant losses from order cancellations during our peak sales period, but it is our adaptability and diversification as an independent business that has enabled us to pivot our operation.”
– Andrew Steel, Ecommerce Director, Charles Bentley & Son

Results have seen a 500%, year-on-year increase in sales of painting and decorating supplies between March and May.

The firm has also experienced a three-fold increase in barbeque and garden furniture sales as well as a surge in online demand for brushes and brooms with sales up 1,000 per cent year on year.

“Adaptability doesn’t just apply to our product portfolio, it also applies to our team. We have prioritised staff availability in customer services and technical roles to keep our ecommerce operation running smoothly through what has been our biggest peak in sales.
We’re working proactively with our retail partners to prepare for the future and supply products that customers need. Stepping in to provide warehouse storage and pick and pack services for a large chain retailer after its existing provider went into lock down has allowed the business to showcase its flexibility.
It provided us with an opportunity to solidify our partnerships and really demonstrates our flexibility as a business. Our workforce is a primary focus for us, keeping our teams safe and safeguarding jobs for the future, so having the agility to react to our partners’ changing needs is key.”

– Andrew Steel, Ecommerce Director, Charles Bentley & Son


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Meet the retailer: Charles Bentley

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