Screwfix boss praises West Country lifestyle

Screwfix is one of the most successful companies to ever come out of Yeovil and its success keeps growing. Despite expanding far past its South West roots, the business still has strong links with the area and employs nearly one thousand local people in the area today.

From its humble beginnings as a single page catalogue dedicated solely to screws, Screwfix has grown into the UK's largest retailer of trade tools, winning Retailer of the Year along the way and registering sales running into the hundreds of millions.

Last year it became an international company, opening stores in Northern Ireland and Germany. Screwfix's head office is still based in Yeovil however, the town where the business was originally conceived.

CEO Andrew Livingston said that part of the business' success was down to its location in the rural West Country: "It gives people the opportunity for a different lifestyle. People want the kind of lifestyle that Somerset offers.

"I think living down here there are more advantages than disadvantages. It really is the most stable workforce; we find that when people join us they really do stay."

Having the majority of its success as an online company, Screwfix opened up its first store ten years ago in Yeovil and hasn't looked back since. The company now has 412 outlets across the country, with a further 45 set to open by January 2016. Plans have been drawn out to increase the total number of stores to around 600 over the next couple of years.

Kingfisher, which owns both Screwfix and DIY giant B & Q have said that, while the demand for do-it-yourself seems to be waning, the popularity of tradesman-centric hardware business is booming.

Mr Livingston said the transition from a solely online company to one dominating the tangible marketplace was a natural one.

"Quite a lot of people kept on turning up at our warehouse in Yeovil at the time. It didn't take us long to work out we had a business opportunity on our hands."
"We have probably done the reverse of other retailers; starting as an online business and then moving into stores."

Screwfix opened its first contact centre in Yeovil in 1998 to deal with an ever-expanding client base and last year it won two accolades at the South West Contact Centre Awards: Contact Centre of the Year Support Person of the Year going to communications coordinator Sasha Collin.

"Everything we do is truly customer-driven and is doable in Yeovil. It's such an exciting local story, keeping our skills in the area," said Mr Livingston.

Having conquered the online, catalogue and high street marketplaces, the question now surely is: what next for Screwfix?

The answer might surprise you.

Screwfix Live is the UK's biggest trade and DIY show, bringing together customers, suppliers and staff from the Yeovil branches. Around 15,000 people attended the event at the weekend, with suppliers from Yeovil displaying their wares at the event in Farnborough.

"We wondered what it might be like to get all these people together. We have been doing Screwfix Live for three years now and see it as an opportunity to fill the business with more knowledge. In some ways it is like a team building exercise.
"It means we can get everyone talking about the latest innovations in the industry.