For 15 years, White Stores Limited of Essex has been at the forefront of the garden furniture industry, bringing exclusive and innovative designs to their customers as well as top level customer service in the form of free deliveries and 14-day money back guarantees.
White Stores were already leading their market with their product innovation and best in class service, and an increased focus on the home during recent lockdowns only bolstered their growth. With both their turnover and profit having increased consistently over the last five years, White Stores confirmed a record sales year in 2020, with an increase of 88% to over £23 million. Their explosion of growth in the outdoor living sector may not come as a surprise,but it hasn’t always been a walk in the park.
James Whiteley, Director and owner of White Stores, explains, “In 2008 we were treading water. We’ve always made money, but when you’re an entrepreneur without banks and non-executive directors, you have to learn your market inside and out to know where to make your bets.”
A true entrepreneur at heart, he took on a significant project, studying a variety of companies over a number of years. His objective was to monitor what business leaders were doing, not just from a numbers perspective, but to interrogate what changes they made to their business model to achieve their financial results.
At the beginning of this process, however, he was looking up companies individually through Companies House, which was laborious and time consuming. It was then an industry friend introduced him to the Plimsoll Analysis. “The data is out there, but the Plimsoll platform pulls it together to make it simpler. It’s now my reference point to understand what people are doing to enable me to then go do my own in-depth research and fully understand what’s happening. I use Plimsoll to understand how to analyse companies I admire and what lessons I can learn.”
On the heels of this project, White Stores continued to grow. One of the keys to White Stores’ success over the years has been “a constant reinvestment of capital”. In a cash intensive, front loaded business, Whiteley and Managing Director Tom Roffey have successfully navigated a year fraught with challenges – from shipping delays, courier challenges, and increased expenses – by maintaining this principle and managing their cash position.
Over the last year, White Stores have not only grown their sales and profits, but have also increased staff from 40 to over 100. They now operate an ecommerce site as well as retail stores, and are looking to grow even further in the next 3-5 years. “As a market leader, we don’t want to be looking behind us, we want to be looking in front of us. We’re going to be looking at a number of acquisitions, and Plimsoll will assist us in that process”, Whiteley explains.
White Stores’ achievements have earned them a Plimsoll Outstanding Company Award in the UK garden furniture industry. These awards are presented to a select number of companies, across a range of industry sectors, who have improved their overall financial performance. This is measured on overall performance as well as solid sales growth, something White Stores have shown on a year-on-year basis.
Whiteley explains, “I now pretty much know my market inside out, so aligning myself with data you provide is key to me to understand who’s doing what, and how, and why – and how I can then use that to my benefit.”
Check out their website www.whitestores.co.uk for more information.
Founder and Owner of White Stores Ltd.
Managing Director of White Stores Ltd.