Colin Stevens: “Better service, better prices”

Name:

Colin Stevens

Role and company: 

Founder of Better Bathrooms

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric): 

We are tracking £42m this year.

Employee numbers: 

Nearly 200

Growth forecast for the next three years: 

We expect to reach a turnover of £100m in the next three years.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace: 

We pride ourselves in delivering exactly what our company motto states, ‘Better Service, Better Prices, Better Bathrooms’. With customer satisfaction placed at the heart of our company, our entire business model is built to achieve a top class service, with the best quality products and the best value prices.

What’s the big vision for your business?

We currently operate from three stores, two 80,000 sq ft warehouses, two offices and a trade counter. With an integral growth plan in place, however, we aim to take the Better Bathrooms brand to the next level. A focus on offering the best value within our industry has proved to be a key driving force for our customers, helping us to reach more potential buyers every day. Starting out as an online venture has also given us the web mentality needed to survive the current downturn of the high street, with a multi-channel approach now firmly rooted in the business.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

We do have some very exciting prospects coming up for international business but this is all still in the pipeline so you will have to wait and see.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

The first setback was in our supply chain as originally we only had one or two suppliers. As Better Bathrooms grew, these suppliers didn’t manage well and ended up going bankrupt. The lesson we learnt was not to put all your eggs in one basket and depend on one supplier.

What makes you mad in business today?

The one thing that I can’t stand is people lying. I believe being open is the best way to find real solutions and it’s counterproductive when people hide things.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

In three years time there will be four to five big bathroom retailers who will take market shares from bigger retailers such as B&Q. I also think smaller independents will struggle to keep overpriced which will become a bigger issue as they then won’t be able to stock everything.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

The businesses that are performing well do, but those who are struggling will find it more difficult and this is when they flounder. I definitely believe more should be done to help them.

How would others describe your leadership style?

They would probably say that I am straight talking, open and honest. All of our leadership schemes are based around the customers and decisions are made depending on whether it’s the right thing to do for the customer.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

This would probably be my car, which is and R8 Spider.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

I would ask him to reduce the tax implications to allow businesses to reinvest in the first couple of years. This would make growth so much easier when a business is starting out.

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