Cornwall LivingIssue #98
Rising to the challenge
One of the south west’s leading independent electrical retailers takes on the challenge of lockdown and beyond.
During these unprecedented times we have been hearing many tales of triumph over adversity, and HBH Woolacotts is certainly one of them. From its inception over 40 years ago, the business’ ethos has always been to provide unrivalled customer service, the best support possible, free delivery, and basic installation on most major appliances, while at the same time developing strong relationships between the HBH team and leading industry brands. We speak with Director, Chris Hemmerle, about the challenges the business has faced during the pandemic and how he has been able to maintain his company’s ethos throughout.
“The lockdown and instructions to shut our stores came as a bit of a shock! While we were expecting it at some point, we hoped to have had longer than 12 hours to plan for it,” explains Chris. “At the time lockdown was announced we had over 1,000 jobs already booked for customers so, while we had to shut the doors, our first objective was to ensure we honoured them.” It was vital to Chris and his team that every customer received the goods they had ordered. Many were products such as televisions or kitchen appliances, which were going to be essential for people during the lockdown.
Adamant that they needed to maintain a service to customers that included points of contact for technical support and sales advice, as well as a delivery service, HBH Woolacotts set about charting a course that would see them through the next few months. “We felt strongly that our products and services would be essential to many people and that we needed to be there to support, regardless of the cost to the business,” says Chris. “We ultimately decided to set up three support centres in Bude, St Austell and Liskeard, with sales support staff and delivery teams working from each location. Phone lines from all branches were routed to these centres and geographically they were positioned well to ensure we could maintain a delivery service to every corner of the south west.”
The level of work that was needed to implement these changes shouldn’t be underestimated and it is testament to the passion and hard work from Chris and his team that customers have not been disappointed. They implemented free next-day delivery across Devon and Cornwall to ensure their customers were not left out of pocket, regardless of value, and supported those who had purchased products via video-link or telephone to maintain contact if needed. Remote payment services were set up, as well as extended finance to ensure customers’ payment options weren’t limited by not being able to visit their stores. Risk management was also at the forefront of Chris’ mind, so changes were made to ensure delivery services were carried out with minimal risk.
Chris is very proud of what has been achieved: “These services have been extremely well received and we’re planning on continuing all of them indefinitely to ensure that customers can shop with us in a way that best suits them.” In line with government guidance, Chris has been able to open all stores at the time of writing, but fully appreciates that the pandemic is far from over, explaining: “We need to remain alert and fully prepared to ensure that our stores are a safe place for people to shop.”
Chris also wants customers to be confident that they’re still going to receive the best prices around, and so is delighted to announce that HBH Woolacotts has brought forward its summer sale to coincide with their reopening. Running from now until the end of August, Chris believes there will be some excellent deals. “Given the recent circumstances,” he continues, “we’re confident that our prices and offers are likely to be exceptionally strong as manufacturers look to clear stock. We’re fortunate that we have plenty of storage space to make the most of any opportunities and hope to bring some really fantastic offers to our customers in the south west.”
“It’s going to be an interesting few months ahead,” Chris concludes, “and we’re not only ready to look after our customers; we’re also ready to react to any changes in guidelines or the environment to ensure we keep our staff, customers and communities safe.” As a Cornish, family run business, it’s clear to see that Chris and his team really are passionate about putting their communities and customers first.
HBH Woolacotts have already secured a range of LG televisions that represents outstanding value for money with full Smart TV, Freeview and Freesat TV Services, along with a 5 Year guarantee. Prices are as follows: 43″ £299, 49″ £349, 55″ £399 and 65″ £579. For those that really want to upgrade their entertainment they also have great offers on Panasonic and Sony OLED which represent the pinnacle of picture quality and will be available for close to £1,000.
Donít miss out!
The HBH Woolacotts’ summer sale runs from Monday 15th June to Monday 31st August. Visit your local store or shop online at