Smith Brothers Stores
Smith Brothers is one of the largest and oldest independent merchants operating from the UK directly focusing on supplying to the commercial and industrial mechanical services sector. Operating from England and Wales, SBS now forms a fourteen depot network which includes a head office in Blaby, Leicester.
With a history dating back to 1897, the company has surpassed 120 years of trading and is still family-owned with the 5th generation present within the 300+ strong workforce. The core business specialises in the distribution of pipework, valves, air conditioning with all associated fittings and ancillaries. Offering added value over our competitors is the ambition and is achieved in a multitude of ways. Firstly, drawing from our close relationships with carefully selected and quality assured suppliers. Secondly, maintaining excellent stock levels at all branches, therefore, reducing supplier lead times, which combined, provide unrivalled levels of service with competitive pricing.
Today sees Smith Brothers stockholding in excess of £20 million with the heavy investment primarily aimed to reduce delivery times, plateau any price increases for our customers while being prepared whatever the exit strategy regarding Brexit. Branch stock levels are encouraged to remain high so reliance isn’t placed on drawing stock from the rest of the group, meaning our suppliers deal with all areas of Smith Brothers.
Advertised business hours are 7:30 am till 5 pm Monday to Friday, however virtually all branches extend beyond this by opening earlier, closing later or operating on Saturdays, especially during peak trading periods. For example, SBS Southampton regularly starts from 6:30 am and SBS Rainham can often be found still open at 6 pm loading lorries for next day deliveries. Outside these hours Smith Brothers can be reached through our website, social media, our App and even Area Sales Managers who may offer emergency ‘out of hours’ assistance. Traditional service is same-day collection or next-day delivery via our silver FORS accredited fleet of vehicles, such as HGV’s with Hiab crane capable of lifting over two tonnes. If required, at extra cost we also offer same-day delivery despatched and en-route within 60 minutes, however, it is usually within 20 minutes if no outside carrier is required. Keeping the customer informed during their purchasing journey is crucial to customer retention, which is why many areas of the business are focused on improving this capacity and developments are constantly evolving.
We feel the business has an obligation to assist consumers in understanding the products sold by helping them to facilitate projects prior and post-install. That’s why our customers have access to technical product managers who can offer specialist support, such as onsite or office-based training on a select range of products. Besides technical product managers, all sales managers can facilitate customer training (both on and off-site), take-offs and meet specific project requirements such as timed delivery slots. Internally, training is always underway particularly with our drivers as the transport department keep the roads safe and business ecologically focused. Intense induction training, which includes health and safety, along with regular CPC courses give our transport employees a great foundation for success. It isn’t just SBS who believe our process is comprehensive, the fleet recognition scheme FORS agree, awarding Smith Brothers Bronze membership in 2013 then upgrading the award to Silver in 2017, which we have maintained since. Safe urban driving courses, e-learning modules for our employees along with lower emission vehicles are recent developments which have helped progress SBS in this area. To mark staff commitment and company successes, Smith Brothers thank staff annually with awards for 25 and 10 years of continuous service. This year these awards will be presented at a national staff and partner event, which the company is holding as a ‘thank you’ to all employees throughout the business.
Smith Brothers believe the business demonstrates all the characteristics of a ‘Wholesaler/Distributor of the Year’ as we remain committed to the industry aiming to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for everything HVAC. Focusing on 2019, SBS has invested in relocating three branches (Oldham, Birmingham and Rainham) which move to larger more modern premises, increasing operational output massively. To help engage more with the industry the business has also produced multiple videos to help customers see inside the business. This year saw the company enter the top 10 in the BMN Leading Lights supplement, move up the Leicestershire Top 200 Companies produced by Leicester Mercury and finalists at the H&V News Awards for Collaboration of the Year. We believe the continued strives taken this year mean we deserve to retain the winner’s trophy.
Fundamentally the performance of a wholesaler/distributor can be judged by its customer base and turnover, which has increased again both last year and forecasted this year to an operation of over £115 million. It’s the product area growth and stock levels, along with our operational capacity which really sets us apart. Therefore, we feel a more than a capable candidate for such an award plus our unprecedented successes are not just for today. Standing still is effectively going backwards in our industry so the importance of being proactive can’t be undervalued. This is why our investment strategy is for sustainable growth through the continued development of our people and product range, with the support of our suppliers and shareholders. Smith Brothers will continue to maintain our desire to surpass our customers’ expectations with a level of service that will continually add value to their changing needs.