Online sales an extension of Stapleton’s founding ethos
Wholesaler celebrates eighty years in business
When Sydney Stapleton set up his business in a simple shop parade at 195 High Street, Watford in 1937 he was one of a number of businessmen taking advantage of the growing market for tyres. Growing his business through the 1950s and ‘60s, his personal renown as one of the industry’s most dynamic characters and an entrepreneur of considerable foresight followed. The location of its headquarters in the vicinity of the M1 is testament to this – in the 1960s Stapleton’s supplied replacement earthmover tyres used to build the Watford-Milton Keynes stretch of the motorway.
In the present day, while celebrating 80 years in business, the company has continued to follow its market-driven approach with an e-commerce platform designed to support its retail customers, with ProfitLink and TyreSurf. These are supported by 1,100 staff at eight regional sales offices and eleven distribution hubs nationwide, served by a fleet of almost 400 delivery vehicles, with the potential of handling a capacity of 1.5 million tyres at any given time. Illustrating the company’s growth, Stapleton’s states that its late-1940s weekly wage bill amounted to £20.
“You could say that change has been the only constant in Stapleton’s development over the last eighty years – and of course many of the technological innovations would be beyond anyone’s imagination back then. But actually I think we’ve managed to preserve the essence of Sydney’s vision. No matter how broadly we spread the nationwide network we have never lost sight of the local focus that we believe is a key factor to success,” says Stapleton’s wholesale director Nigel O’Hara.
Today, the strategy continues to be formed by localism, with dealers’ opinions informing the broad brand portfolio – from the premium brands to exclusively distributed, brand-driven but competitively priced products from Nexen, Maxxis, Matador, Prestivo, Event and Riken for which the company has Key Dealer Programmes, helping to promote growing brands further. “Perhaps the most important of all our business strategies is our eagerness to listen to our retailers; to understand what they need to succeed and to do our utmost to provide it,” O’Hara adds. “Regular feedback asks for a breadth of choice across all market sectors and price points is vital to securing sales and staying competitive. With that in mind we never stop developing and refining the Stapleton’s stable of exclusive brands.”
Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 1987, Stapleton’s group supply chain director Ashley Croft pointed out that Stapleton’s approach “is very much a true distribution type of service similar to the trade we were engaged in in 1937, but then it was on a much smaller basis.” The growth in scale again over the last 30 years has been supported by investment in systems and strategies to maintain a “personal touch”. ProfitLink, Stapleton’s e-commerce system introduced at the turn of the millennium has been overhauled with the recent ProfitLink Mark-Up System, a user-friendly, flexible and intuitive pricing and profit management platform.
Development of TyreSurf system
Building on ProfitLink, Stapleton’s developed TyreSurf, which O’Hara calls “a platform to capture the ever prevalent increase in online sales.” The system can be used as a fully branded transactional website or a tyre widget embedded into the customers’ existing site, with full mobile optimisation. It also has marketing application, because Google local set-up is part of the package, giving the retailer increased online visibility in their area.
“When you think about it, the ethos isn’t all that different from Sydney Stapleton’s ‘hands-on’ approach. It’s still about that constant exchange of information and mutual support, giving retailers the information and promotional punch to stay ahead of the competition,” O’Hara continues. This is also exemplified by the recent support of retailers’ TPMS business; Stapleton’s produced a guide to help retail partners benefit from new requirements brought about by EU legislation. “On the back of this we hear our customers who embraced the regulation early are reaping the rewards,” O’Hara states.
Stapleton’s also has initiatives to help independent retailers offer higher levels of service and presentation, “rolling out some ambitious branding and promotional initiatives,” adds Stapleton’s commercial director Stephen Childs. These include shop fits in partnership with exclusive brands, branded courtesy cars, and digital media screens in key dealers’ customer service areas.
In 2016, Stapleton’s won the NTDA Tyre Wholesaler of the Year award for the second year running, which managing director Yutaka Kimbara said shows its “long term and exclusive manufacturer partnerships, innovative retail support solutions and industry leading supply chain service, provided by the best team in the industry,” and working to grow the business further.