Albert Harrison & Co may be able to trace its roots back almost an entire century, but it has proven no slouch adopting innovative ideas – breaking into new markets thanks largely to the ecommerce division it launched in 2006.
The company’s history is an interesting one: the business is in fact named after a man who was in a motorbike-and-sidecar accident with founder Hilda Coupe’s father (she married him, he later took over the business) and for almost one hundred years since, the wholesaler flourished from its home in Accrington.
Its client list is distinguished. They’ve worked with Welcome Break, a familiar name to all motorists, for 45 years. Others include RoadChef, Moto, Haven, Butlins, Warner Village Hotels, Center Parcs, hotels, leisure centres, prisons, independent retailers and so many more besides.
Growth in demand for the company’s 6,000-strong product line has forced a move out of Accrington for the first time, to new 28,000 sq ft premises at Shuttleworth Mead Business Park in Padiham.
Its workforce stands at 39 well-cared-for and loyal staff, in turn the company is rewarded with an average service of more than 15 years per employee.
In addition to a carefully-crafted working environment which encourages a relaxed and informal approach, staff are also encouraged to get involved with local community projects. The business is a regular donor to East Lancashire Hospice, Derian House and North West Air Ambulance, as well as sending slightly damaged toys (which often means the packaging is slightly dogeared, nothing more) to Barnardo’s children’s charity.
Albert Harrison & Co also has sponsorship deals with Accrington Stanley and Colne FC.
Aside from the fascinating history and the community involvement, it was the ecommerce aspect that caught our judges’ attentions. A multimillion operation in its own right, sales through the company’s website account for almost a third of total sales.
The KPIs are more than revenue and profit, too. HarrisonsDirect.co.uk is a smash hit with customers, earning a top ranking on major review sites. The site has earned a Feefo Trusted Merchant Award for four consecutive years – a prestigious accolade only given to businesses with a rating of 95 per cent or higher.
“Our excellent web reviews are all genuine,” says managing director Paul Sanderson. “They reflect exactly what the business is about.
“Over the past 12 months we have created a web presence that is unique in our industry, which has helped us become a one-stop-shop with a reputation for providing the very best in customer service.
“We are nearing 100 years trading and I think it’s fair to say we have undergone an impressive level of growth. The relocation of our business to Shuttleworth Mead Business Park is the culmination of a phenomenal year for us and clearly shows a company very much on the up!”
96% customer satisfaction rating – 28,000 sq ft new warehouse – 99 years in Lancashire
The Red Rose Awards judges were impressed by Albert Harrison & Co’s ability to turn a historied bricks-and-mortar operation into an online success.
“The company has embraced ecommerce with a well-executed strategic approach to bring significant new
business to their offline operation,” said our judges.
“There is a well-defined plan as to who and what is involved in driving the ecommerce platforms from a business development side and, crucially, activity and investment is clearly measured.”
Managing director Paul Sanderson said: “We are absolutely thrilled. Having been named as finalists last year and just missing out, it was such a buzz to hear our name announced as the winners!
“The success of our website has been the catalyst for our relocation to much larger premises. Winning this award is the cherry on top of what has proved to be an historic year for us.”
Paul added: “I think our success epitomises that great northern spirit: it’s very much a team effort. From the warehouse staff, all the way through each department, we all continue to strive for excellence.”
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