Smith Brothers Stores
With history dating back to 1897, Smith Brothers is one of the largest and oldest independent merchants operating in the UK directly focusing on supplying to the commercial and industrial mechanical services sector. After over 120 years of trading, the business remains to be family owned, with the 5th generation present within a 350+ strong workforce.
The business currently operates in England and Wales, however the addition of our first Scottish branch, as well as the introduction of a team to support Northern Ireland based customers working within the UK, means that in 2020 Smith Brothers will support the HVAC industry across the whole of the United Kingdom through a fourteen branch network excluding head office based in Blaby, Leicester.
The core business specialises in the distribution of pipework, valves, air conditioning and all associated fittings and ancillaries. Our key ambition is to offer additional value above our competitors. Our experience allows us to draw from excellent relationships with carefully selected, and quality assured suppliers, whilst also maintaining excellent stock levels at each branch, helping to ensure that supplier lead times are kept to a minimum. This combined with our extensive inter-branch delivery network enables us to provide unparalleled levels of service with competitive pricing.
Today sees Smith Brothers stockholding in excess of £20 million with the heavy investment primarily aimed at reducing delivery lead times and plateau any price increases for our customers. Excellent branch stock levels are encouraged so reliance is not placed on drawing stock from the rest of the group, meaning our suppliers work with every Smith Brothers branch. The business significantly increased its stockholding at the start of the year due to the potential impact Brexit may have had on the supply chain. These increased stock levels are still been maintained where necessary as the world continues to adapt around the Covid-19 pandemic.
Advertised business hours are 8am till 5pm Monday to Friday, however virtually all branches extend beyond this by opening earlier, closing later or operating on Saturdays, especially during peak trading periods. 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 – even on bank holidays. 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 to improving this capacity and developments are constantly evolving.
We feel it is essential that the business has the knowledge and capability to advise consumers by offering extensive guidance on our products to help facilitate projects prior to, and post installation. That is 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. In addition, all sales managers can facilitate customer training (both on and off site), take-offs and meet specific project requirements such as timed delivery slots.
Our transport department strives to further improve our delivery service and ensure goods are transported safely whilst the business remains ecologically focused. Therefore, every driver undertakes a rigorous induction routine and partakes in regular training which includes health and safety, along with regular CPC courses. 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 ever since.
Smith Brothers believe their staff are paramount to the business’s continued growth and success which is why we strive to provide a positive working environment for all employees. Staff contribution and achievements are often celebrated with internal awards, and additional training and career progression opportunities are regularly available. General staff wellbeing is a top priority which is why in February 2020 four SBS staff members underwent external training to become the company’s first Mental Health First Aiders.
In an industry where standing still very often leads to moving backwards, it is imperative to remain pro-active, especially during these unprecedented times. It is this pro-active approach that ensured the speedy implementation of effective social distancing measures across the business as well as offering contactless deliveries to any site, ensuring both staff and customers are kept safe at all times. By taking swift action, Smith Brothers was able to remain operational throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period, providing a service to contractors working on essential projects such as the Wigan and Exeter Nightingale hospitals.
Our investment strategy allows for sustainable growth through the continued development of our people and product range, with the ongoing support of our suppliers and shareholders. Part of last year’s investment saw the successful relocations of SBS’s Oldham, Birmingham and Rainham branches, whose customers now benefit from a larger and more modern premises with an increased operational output. This year we look forward to the official opening of SBS Glasgow, the business’s first branch in Scotland.
Smith Brothers believes 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. Fundamentally the performance of a wholesaler/distributor can be judged by its customer base, which increased again this year.
We believe our continued product area growth, high stock investment, ever-increasing operational capacity, and the knowledge and dedication of our staff, really does sets us apart from our competitors.
For more information, visit the SBS website: www.sbs.co.uk