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Industry Interview with Sarah Meredith, Managing Director of BES Ltd.

Sarah Meredith is Managing Director of BES Ltd, one of the UK’s largest distributors of workplace components using doorstep and timed deliveries. We spoke to Sarah, who has worked for BES Ltd for nearly 20 years and for the last 3 years in the post of Managing Director, about how the company has evolved and changed during that time.

• BES is one of the UK’s largest distributors of workplace components using doorstep and timed deliveries, how do you think this market has grown over say the last five years
o I have watched the sales grow over the years as BES has increased the number of ranges and lines, moving from being predominantly gas into new markets such as oil, refrigeration and more recently renewable. Because of our growth we have moved premises 3 times, needing more office and warehouse space. For the past 2 years we have invested in a new modern website, responsive to mobile and tablets, which has recently been launched to encourage a wider audience and to include photographic imagery. Our web sales are currently just over a third of our total sales and it is an area that can be grown.

• Where do you think it will be in another five years?
o My expectation is that this now will increase over the next year or so. We have a wide range of customers from many different markets, from the large cooker installation companies to the individual installers, and from caravan parks to merchants. We have quantity break prices over a huge range of products to encourage those who wish to buy in bulk at a premium price.

• How do you think customer behaviour has changed over the last few years and how does BES accommodate those changes?
o With an ever increasingly competitive market, customers have less time to spend picking up installation equipment and waiting in for deliveries. We introduced a shift system several years ago to cater for our customer’s longer working hours, so the installer can finish work and then go home and place an order for a next day delivery up to 7.00pm and later. We have built up a great relationship with our carriers who pick up the last orders as late as 9.00pm with a 99.98% success rate for a next day delivery, and with the option of delivering to a local UPS access points our customers do not even have to wait in for their deliveries. It is all about providing the best possible service at a competitive price which I know we do.

• Is there any way you can develop doorstep deliveries in line with other customer services?
o We are looking at the possibility of introducing deliveries to a secure lock box/in boot service. This service involves the carrier delivering over night to a secure van or lockbox so that engineers have their goods by 7.00 the following morning. This is following demands from larger customers and is at present in its early stages, but we are always ready to react to our customer’s requirements to give the best possible service.

• BES is renowned for its friendly and helpful staff, where do you see your role in continuing to enhance those qualities?
o Via customer feedback we are always being applauded for the quality of our technical advice. We have carefully selected our technical team who are all ex fitters and are extremely knowledgeable with over 80 years of experience.

• If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you prefer to be doing?
o Actually I really enjoy what I do, but I do like the occasional beach holiday to re-charge the batteries.