The wholesale veteran embraces the new to stay ahead of the game and is unafraid of making the most of the opportunities diversification provides.
JW Filshill has been in the wholesale game for more than 140 years, supplying retailers across Scotland. It is also the firm behind the successful Keystore fascia, which services 168 stores. To survive, the company has had to change with the times, diversify and stay ahead of the technology curve.
Last year, Filshill recorded pre-tax profits of around £900,000, and this year, it won the award for Best Delivered Operation (retail) at the Scottish Wholesale Achievers Awards. Continued innovation remains at the heart of this family business, according to MD Simon Hannah.
February saw the launch of Filshill’s redesigned ecommerce website, offering an uncluttered design and a fresher, more contemporary look and feel. By simplifying ordering, the company aims to save retailers time. The website allows customers to refine searches based on pack sizes, brands and pricemarking. There is also a dedicated Pound Zone.
“The website is much more customer-friendly, with the focus on rich content to highlight promotions and new products. It also lists products a customer usually orders but has not ordered recently, while new functionality allows the retailer to view their last orders with options to re-order,” explains Hannah.
Filshill has introduced a click & collect option for customers in-depot, in direct response to demand from those who wish to come to pick up their orders. Pickers wear headsets and use ride-on cage pallet lifters to maximise productivity.
Technology has been an important driver of the business for several years and there will be even greater focus on it this year, including further installations of ReScan, the wholesaler’s bespoke electronic point-of-sale system for retailers, and data analysis in partnership with suppliers.
There are also plans to further develop digital platforms such as apps to help retailers engage with their customers.
Filshill claims to have a strong understanding of the challenges faced by its retail customers, who are, by and large, also family businesses.
“Like our customers, we are passionate about providing the best possible service, and we are always looking to improve and be better – the best – at what we do,” says Hannah. “Our customers are proud of their businesses and we are proud of ours.”
Filshill will focus even more on these core principles this year. “How we work together with our customers, our staff, our suppliers and our communities will benefit everyone,” Hannah adds.
This year will also see Filshill roll out a new symbol fascia called KeyStore More. Details of the design and concept are tightly under wraps, but it is expected by autumn.
To help its existing stores, 18 months ago Filshill launched a community campaign called ‘We’ll Support You Ever More’ that was designed to help communities while, at the same time, strengthening awareness of the KeyStore brand.
The wholesaler initially joined forces with Education Scotland to provide KeyStore neighbourhoods with a range of benefits, including free sports strips for schools or local clubs, and a holiday feeding programme to help the most vulnerable children.
“This year, we plan to ramp up our charitable support as a company and also in local communities, using the We’ll Support You Ever More marketing campaign to help our retailers get closer to the people who shop in their stores every day,” says Hannah.
Growth and diversification
Sustainable growth is very much the way forward for Filshill and the company has continued to look at new business opportunities and diversification. Over the past year, it has developed its international business, working with the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, an international export platform which showcases the best of Scottish craft brewers.