Unitas Wholesale Member
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Hughson Brothers Wins Member of the Year 2015 picture


Hughson’s Director Carl Cross was delighted with the win. “It’s a great honour,” he says. “We’re never going to be as large as some of the mainland wholesalers, so it’s brilliant to be recognised for our work. It’s a testament to my incredible team and the £300,000 investment we’ve recently made in the business.”

Small Island. Big Competition

Despite its beauty, Shetland is a harsh environment for business. With the island’s population at around 24,000, Carl and his team face stiff competition to reach their share of retailers. The multiples have a presence along with other big name wholesalers.

Hughson’s has 16 members in their Today’s Retail Club. As well as looking after these and many other retailers, unlike more traditional wholesalers, Hughson’s supply ships, who support a number of oil rigs and fishing vessels.

Major Commitment

Carl has worked at Hughson Brothers for 19 years and made his way up to Manager and Buyer before becoming a Director and spearheading the recent £300,000 investment. Ask him the secret of Hughson’s success and he answers without hesitation “Great staff and an understanding wife!” The wholesaler is one of the largest employers in the area and many of the team have been with the company for more than 15 years. Going above and beyond is part of the Hughson’s service. Foreman and Goods Distribution Manager Adam Talbot fixes anything mechanical on site and even helps staff with car troubles. Purchase Clarke Amanda Cutt comes in early every morning to help the pickers on the depot floor. “People like Adam and Amanda make Hughson Brothers,” says Carl proudly.

A £300,000 Investment

The team has seen major changes at Hughson Brothers over the years. The wholesaler’s fleet now comprises of three trucks including a 26 tonne vehicle and four vans – an impressive set-up for Shetland.

Developments also reflect an increasingly progressive approach to technology. “We’ve invested in state-of-the-art CCTV systems in our warehouse, we're currently developing

our website and looking into updating our computer system,” Carl says. “We’ll be adding online ordering too. But this new technology has to be right for our business and, most importantly, our customers.”

Retail Club Promotions

So what keeps Hughson’s loyal customers coming back time after time? “Regular deals and Today’s 3 weekly promotions are hugely popular, our retailers love them as they know deals encourage customers into stores,” explains Carl.

“Today’s core range advice is vital to help retailers get their stock right,” says Carl. He describes Today’s Plan for Profit now with a mobile app - as “invaluable to retailers.” Retailers are also keen to make the most of face-to-face meetings with Hughson Brother’s Business Development Managers and enjoy the personal service they receive from Hughson’s Pickers. “My picking team will call a customer if a product is not in stock,” comments Carl, “they’ll offer them an alternative product or even order in from the mainland to keep our customers happy.”

Checkout Mania Event Days

The Today’s Event Days have been very popular. “Our customers rush to these days to pick up unbeatable, one-off deals,” says Carl. The evidence is in the figures with turnover rising on event days in the last three years, from £100,000 to £125,000 and then £132,000 at Hughson’s most recent Checkout Mania Event Day. “There were at least sixteen new faces through the door who had never attended one of our trade event days,” says Carl, “of these at least three have transferred their allegiance to us full time.” Proof, if needed, that great deals and great service are a winning combination in wholesaling as well as retailing. “More and more suppliers offer promotions to our retailers – a fantastic idea, and it’s great to partner with such forward thinking companies.”

The Future of Wholesaling

With so many changes in 2015, how does Carl feel the traditional wholesaling market will fare in the coming year?" Currently there’s too much red tape,” says Carl, “the wholesaling community agree with all the upcoming government changes, initiatives like the Alcohol Wholesaler’s Registration Scheme are vital to the industry, but the timing of the registration process (during the run up to Christmas) could ultimately impact on business.” While Carl is confident the changes will be for the better, he’s feels the industry is stretched by this type of legislation.

Posted on 8th July 2015

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Hughson Brothers
Gremista Industrial Estate
Shetland ZE1 0PX

Tel: 01595 693150
Fax: 01595 695320
Email: info@hughsonbros.co.uk

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