Eighteen months after a fire has consumed company’s buildings and £3 million of stock, Jegs’ staff, its suppliers, customers and trade press gathered outside its shining new HQ in Leigh on Sea, Essex, to witness the official reopening of the company by David Amess, MP for Southend West. Mr Amess praised Jegs’ staff and management for their dedication and tremendous effort which made it possible for Jegs to start trading again five weeks after the fire.
However, it took a year and half to rebuild the company and its infrastructure, after the fire of 22 December 2007 destroyed the offices and the warehouse of Jegs. “We are back on the site where we belong,” said Martin Gibbons, chief executive of Jegs, at the opening of the reconstructed site and its new 40,000-square foot warehouse.
“It is an opportunity for me to thank everybody for what was an enormous team effort to keep the company going – the staff who worked tremendously hard, but also our suppliers, local customers and to mark the new beginning for the company,” added Mr Gibbons.
In an interview for IER he also described the plans of the company and Jegs’ strategy and operational principles: “Our next major investment is the new IBM computer system. It will not only manage and control all of the company’s stock but also the rest of our operations. For example, our reps will be linked to our stock system and will be able to instantly tell the customer what’s in stock and what needs to be ordered. The IBM system will also address the current limitations of our web ordering system.
“I have built my business on four principles which are essential for a good distributor’s business: One – I would not sell substandard products, regardless of the amount of profit I could make on them. Poor quality products are returned to the stores and to us, and returns are very expensive for all parties concerned. Two is good service. Third is price. Fourth – is range. Nowadays the independent doesn’t have time to deal with a multitude of suppliers, therefore a distributor has to carry a wide range to cater for all their needs – from cables and lamps to major appliances.
“Therefore our principal distinguishing feature is our range. Multiplies, and now also supermarkets, are taking a huge chunk of our business. The independent cannot compete with the likes of Tesco and their prices. However they can compete on service and product range. Many of these large retailers have a very narrow range of products, and this creates opportunities for independent stores. Therefore we built our range up to include ten and half thousand of products.
“We also do some very aggressive pricing because we are a major importer but never at the expense of quality. We have direct distributorships with Italy, France, and Germany and, of course, with China.”