This online stationery company was set up in 2002 with a mere £10,000 investment by the three co-founders. “We also all took a salary holiday for the first year,” says MD Alan Sames. Phase Office supplies everything and anything that people require in terms of office consumables. Sames says the company “couldn’t survive” without online trading, which accounts for 75 to 80 per cent of turnover. He believes there are two key factors that set the company apart from other online stationers: “We’re dedicated to customer service, which, in our industry, is something that is so frequently talked about but so seldom delivered. Second, we are going a step further than our competitors to provide eco-friendly products." Aside from its paper, which carries the highest environmental certification possible, Phase makes sure that no hard wood is involved in its office furniture supplies and it delivers its products in reusable tote boxes using electric vehicles. "Being green is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it’s become an essential." The strategy is paying off: sales are now £8.5m, up from £2.2m four years ago. www.phaseoffice.co.uk
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