With their 150th anniversary fast approaching Higgins Building Supplies in Wellingborough were looking for ways to improve sales and hit that milestone in spectacular fashion. An area highlighted as having a huge potential for growth was decorative aggregates.
With Long Rake Spar becoming an approved supplier for NBG at the beginning of 2015 the timing was perfect for Higgins to change suppliers with a view to increasing their decorative aggregate sales. They were one of the first merchants to embrace the new deal for NBG and were impressed with the variety of aggregates on offer.
Tim Cleverley the Sales Manager for the Midlands & South West spoke to Nigel Higgins MD at the end of 2015 to review how he felt the first year of stocking Long Rake Spar products had gone. Looking at the figures, Nigel reported that the Landscaping category had increased by 20% year on year and that decorative aggregate sales had increased by nearly 40% since switching supplier. “We have always had an excellent reputation for landscaping products, and they form a good proportion of our sales, so these increases were not coming from a low base level”
As well as ordering the traditionally stocked decorative aggregates such as Cotswold and slate, Higgins took the opportunity the change of suppliers presented and invested in many of Long Rake’s exclusive products. “We took a chance and weren’t sure at the beginning of the season how Long Rake’s decorative products were going to go, however the figures show it’s happened” commented Nigel.
Stocking several products from Long Rakes exclusive range in 2015 including Black Ice, Apricot, Flamingo, White pebbles, Ice blue and Onyx, has given the Higgins customers a much wider selection. Staff have found they have been extremely popular within their branch as they offer customers more choice than the standard range seen at national merchants, “I’m convinced that we have increased our sales by stocking Long Rake Products, the decorative range has done something for us” Nigel remarked. “These are products that sell well in conjunction with the paving – not instead of it, and at a better margin than many paving products.”
Tim also spoke with Ben Mayes the, product manager to get his opinion on Long Rake products, “I’m surprised at the volume of your stuff we’ve sold this year” Ben commented and and went on to say that they needed to order another full load from Long Rake despite it being Winter and traditionally a slow time of year for decorative aggregates.
Long Rake offer training to stockists to assist in the sales of their decorative aggregates and to ensure all staff have the confidence to maximise every sales opportunity. Early in 2015 Tim and Long Rake’s Key Account Manager, Chris Bourne visited the branch and in small groups throughout the day, discussed the range and its unique selling points in detail which clearly assisted in boosting the confidence of our front line sales staff.
Outdoor aggregate displays are common within merchants however Nigel commented, “if the weather is bad people often don’t want to venture outside to look at them”, Higgins came up with the innovative solution to this problem by creating an indoor display unit to showcase Long Rake Spar’s products and encourage sales. By creating this display inside, Higgins not only made it easier to maintain but Nigel went on to say it helps draw people’s attention to the area and helps to channel customers outside to their additional hard landscaping displays.
150 years after first opening their doors Higgins are constantly evolving, and at the end of 2015 introduced more indoor space offering customers a sales counter and shop three times bigger than the existing area. This makes the overall customer sales experience easier and more relevant to the modern tradesperson.
With decorative aggregates now forming an integral part of Higgins’ business, both parties are keen to see the growth enjoyed in 2015 continues throughout 2016, thereby ensuring the 150th year for the Higgins business is both a memorable and successful one.
Builders Merchant: Higgins Building, Plumbing and Timber Supplies