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Workwear firm sets ambitious target to drive £2m online growth in 2017

ByDave Stopher

Jan 8, 2017

A Teesside-based workwear company has set an ambitious growth target after seeing a 240% surge in online sales.

M.I. Supplies, based at Teesside Industrial Estate in Thornaby, has worked with Stockton e-Commerce firm Visualsoft to completely overhaul its website.

And within the first two months of launching the new site, its sales have grown from an average of £16,000 a month to more than £55,000 a month.

Managing director Alex Ingham has now set the firm an ambitious aim of achieving £2m in online sales alone over the next 12 months.

If achieved, which would be in addition to long-term supply contracts it already has in place with business clients, it would almost double M.I. Supplies’ total turnover to more than £4m in 2017.

M.I. Supplies has already taken on website developer Neil Shepherd to look after the new site, which now boasts more than 140,000 different workwear products from well-known brands such as Caterpillar and major European workwear suppliers Helly Hansen and Mascot.

Ingham said: “Our old website was averaging around 12 to 15 orders a day and £16,000-a-month in sales, but already with the new site we’re averaging around 30 to 35 orders a day, which is typically generating £55,000-a-month.

“So we’ve already increased orders by three-fold and, when you break the numbers down, I don’t think it’s unfeasible to increase that to 100 orders a day.

“Our average order is £50 and our online customers would be people like self-employed builders, joiners, plumbers and electricians from all over the UK. We only need to do an extra four orders an hour – or one extra order every 15 minutes – and when you look at it that way, I think it’s achievable.”

Ingham also says the company’s new website has played an integral part in helping to attract well-known brands.

He said: “Our old site wasn’t mobile-optimised so the customer experience wasn’t the best and the site generally wasn’t as easy to use as we wanted.

“We worked with Visualsoft over a nine-month period and now the site is much more customer friendly. We also did a lot of work around SEO, display marketing and key words and trying to keep customers engaged when they do visit the site.

“We’ve doubled the amount of orders going through mobile devices now, which is amounting to about 40% of our total online sales.

“We’ve won contracts with three major brands in the space of a few weeks – which involved 50,000 separate products– and we just weren’t able to do that before without having Neil on board and the new system in place.

“It has gone beyond our expectations so far so we’re absolutely delighted with it.”

M.I. Supplies has experienced year-on-year growth every year for the last decade and has already achieved this in 2016.

And Ingham is hoping to grow the business by taking on new employees in 2017.

He said: “I will aim to take more staff on to deal with that kind of growth.

“We currently have five staff picking and packing in the warehouse, so if we’re looking to go from 12 orders a day to 100, then clearly we’ll need to bring more in to cope with that extra workload.

“So we’re hoping the website will create new staff opportunities.”

M.I. Supplies has been supplying a wide range of workwear clothing and accessories for more than a decade after celebrating its 10th year in 2015.

The firm, which moved from 3,000 sq ft units to a new 8,000 sq ft unit at Willows Court on Teesside Industrial Estate in February 2015, signed a new three-year deal with one of the major supermarkets this year.

M.I. Supplies now has a growing client base consisting of more than 250 business customers including the fire brigade, local councils, engineering firms and charities, while more than 26,000 customers have ordered supplies from the company’s website, and brands supplied by M.I. include Sainsbury’s, Barbour, Aldi, Lidl, Royal Mail and Mercedes.