Cornwall LivingIssue #109
Back with a bang
South west electrical retailer HBH Woolacotts has taken a pragmatic approach to recent lockdowns and has invested in its retail business to ensure it comes through the pandemic in the best possible condition.
Despite having to shut its nine stores, the Bude-based company was able to trade online and over the phones throughout the pandemic as well as continuing with the in-home delivery, installation and repair services for customers.
However, in addition to this Woolacotts took the time to invest heavily in parts of the business to try and future-proof and minimise future downtime, the biggest project being a large scale refurbishment to the St Austell superstore. Director Chris Hemmerle says: “We’ve used the time to complete a couple of major shop improvements including a big refurbishment in the St Austell shop which would have taken out half the shop and caused significant disruption if we were open. It’s been a three-month project, but the lockdown has been the perfect time to do this albeit unplanned. We’re confident in the future and excited that we’ll be reopening in St Austell with an exciting new look store.”
The St Austell store has undergone a substantial remodelling and as part of the refurbishment, the 18,000sqft superstore at Gover Road is now also home to Cornwall’s first and only Sony Centre and Panasonic Store. Chris says: “We’re delighted that brands such as Panasonic and Sony have invested in the store, in our business and in Cornwall and it will be a real positive for customers to be able to see a full range of products in the very best environment.”
The new look store also includes a dedicated LG Shop-in-shop, a vastly improved audio section including a larger wireless audio space for brands such as Sonos, Bose and Yamaha, as well as a Premium Hi-Fi room which also includes a Dolby Atmos Home Theatre area.
“Its been nine years since we first opened in St Austell and as technology moves on and product categories change we need to keep the shop up to date,” says Chris. “We’re hopeful that the changes we’ve just made will make the shop more interesting and relevant for customers for the next nine years!”
As well as the refurbishment in St Austell, HBH Woolacotts also undertook a number of other projects aimed at making the business more sustainable and reducing the impact the business had on the environment. These include;
New Cardboard Bailer: a new bailing machine was added to the in-house recycling plant to improve the capacity to bail and ultimately recycle waste packaging. Woolacotts aims to recycle all waste packaging that is recyclable and not send any to landfill. The new machine vastly improves the overall capacity and means the business now has separate machines for cardboard, polystyrene and plastic – the resulting bailed waste is sent to local recycling centres for processing and ultimately re-use.
Solar Panels: as part of improvements across the business, solar panels have been added to suitable roofs where possible to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint.
Paperless Systems: significant time has been spent developing and improving the IT systems with the long-term goal of a paperless system and one that can improve communication with customers, particularly on deliveries and field work.
Chris says: “Unlike the original lockdowns where there was a lot more uncertainty we felt that this lockdown was the perfect time to improve our business for projects that would have otherwise caused disruption. We’re confident in the future for both our business and the local economy and as such we’re committed to investing in and improving our business while also reducing our environmental footprint and the impact our products and services have.”
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