Buying group aids Merchant after tragic fire

Sirius Buying Group, major buying group of electrical appliance and kitchen retail solutions, offer its Approved Members improved margins and new opportunities to increase profitability through specially negotiated terms with its Approved Suppliers. With a promise to get ‘you ahead of the competition’, Sirius has a collective trade purchasing power of more than £100 million+ and comprises of 169 members and ever-increasing 250 retail outlets.

This month, the group shine a light on one of its devoted Approved Members, Knowsley Domestic Supplies.

“You’ve maybe heard the old saying that it’s not what happens to you in life that matters, but how you react to it? Well that’s certainly true of Approved Member to Sirius Kevin Soo, proprietor of Merseyside electrical business Knowsley Domestics who we have supported since the devastating fire to his store, has fought back defiantly after the shocking events of September 30, 2016 when his entire showroom was tragically destroyed in a fire” explains Steve Jones, Commercial Director at Sirius Buying Group.

“It’s been tough – very tough,” Soo admits as he describes the massive impact the blaze had on the Kirkby-based company he’s since successfully rebuilt. “It was hard to take having spent a large proportion of your life building a business that’s survived a recession, a couple of premises moves, another recession, aggressive internet companies – then come out the other side with a showroom to be proud of.”

The fire completely destroyed the retail and kitchen side of Soo’s business along with all the stock, fixtures and fittings. Personal and family belongings were also lost. “We’d spent countless hours of graft getting the showroom to what it was,” he says, “and very sadly it cost people their jobs which was very upsetting” explains Soo.

However, Soo insists his recovery has been aided in no small measure by the unwavering support of Sirius Buying Group, particularly since the fire. Membership entitles him to a competitive pricing structure, a first-rate product portfolio and an aftercare service via the Sirius Buying Group’s comprehensive Approved Supplier Network. Members are also provided with improved margins, access to exclusive trade shows and conferences, improved terms with leading suppliers and exclusive products and promotions.

Immediately after the fire, the company was able to trade without a premises until it regained its feet and rented a small building big enough to hold stock for its contractual work. Luckily, that side hadn’t been affected by the blaze and has kept the business trading. And the good news is, that Soo is now in the process of fitting out a brand new showroom built on the same site, but this time on a smaller scale with fewer brands and suppliers.

Steve Jones, continues to say “Kevin’s story is one of terrific resiliance in the face of an unprecedented crisis and underlines the huge benefits of being a member of our group. We were there to help and support his company when it really mattered, ensuring that business carried on as normal against all the odds. It proves that no matter what life throws at you and your business it comes down to how the individual faces up to adversity and who you look to for support.”

So what’s the history of the Knowsley Domestic Supplies and how has Soo tackled the many other market challenges he’s faced over the years?

Born and bred in the Kirkby area, he set the company up in 2004 after becoming disillusioned with electrical contracting and tired of doing work outside his local area. Initially the business was based in a small building selling mainly graded washing machines, but space was restricted so they moved to a bigger premises in 2007 selling appliances and spare parts and offering a repair service. The customer base gradually grew to include several contracts with the local authorities, builders and new build projects.

“After a few more years we looked into kitchen sales because we noticed a steady decline in appliance sales as the internet threatened our survival,” Soo admits. “In 2011 we had an opportunity to move into a big two-storey former fireplace and tile showroom. It was a massive gamble but one I felt was worth the risk. We continued our appliance sales and contractual work from a section of the ground floor and with the profits developed the rest of the building – kitting it out into what was a stunning showroom displaying over 20 kitchens.”

“In 2013 we stepped things up again by employing a specialist in-house kitchen designer, such was the demand for higher-spec kitchens as people traveled from further afield. Business was very good and 2016 was our best year – but then disaster!”

So what are the main lessons Kevin Soo has learnt from his experiences and what advice would he offer other KBB retailers?

Don’t become complacent when you think things are running smoothly,” Soo warns. “Stand back and take a look at what you’ve got, and what you have in place – like when was the last time you looked at the terms of your lease and does it need updating? And are your accounts neat and tidy and up to date?”

Soo also urges retailers to take control of their stockholding and to have enough insurance in place to cover stock if the worst happens. In particular, he suggests dealers should look into “after the event insurance” – a policy that will pay the fees of experts you may need to appoint to fight your corner. Soo actually enlisted an Approved Supplier to Sirius, Stackhouse Poland and subsequently, is unable to fault the service they’ve provided him and how efficiently they handled his business insurance claim.

“And finally,” he concludes, “have you or your landlord got a schematic diagram of the fire alarm set up in your premises and when was the last time it was serviced? Do you know where the nearest fire hydrant is to your building? And if you use sub-contractors, are they fully compliant and do you have copies of their insurance?”

Having restored his UK showroom with the support of leading Approved Suppliers to Sirius, Soo is nearly ready to open his doors and start trading again. “We are especially excited to see his new kitchen display area supported by Symphony through Sirius and the results Kev will see moving forward” concludes JonesKnowsley Domestic HR2 Knowsley Domestic HR3.

About Elizabeth Jordan

I'm the Assistant Editor on BMJ. If you have any product or people information, or some news you'd like to share, please feel free to email me.

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