Craft Business: Tell us the history of your company?
Graham Aldous: Peak Dale Products was founded in 1997,but between the 5 members of the extended Aldous family who work here and the rest of our team, we have more than 150 years of experience in retail and wholesale craft business. Peak Dale Products, the wholesaler and manufacturing company, became independent five years ago and sells to retailers across the UK.
We’ve always been keen on providing shops with whatever their customers need. Sometimes we get asked for specific things, which we can source and sell via our website. We’ve also become an expert on spotting craft trends, creating kits and even entire product lines. For example, we’ve recently revamped our entire range of candle-making kits and developed eight new ones, which has seen sales rocket. Recently we’ve started working directly with designer-makers to develop kit ideas and this is proving to be really successful too. We’ve recently worked with Caroline Buchwald of Pewter Concepts and developed pewter and copper embossing kits.
CB: Who is your target audience?
GA: Our target audience is definitely shops. We are set up to supply retailers and we love to service and support craft shops, whether they are bricks-and-mortar or online only, we work closely with them all. Both types of retailer differ in terms of the quantities they need, the frequency of orders and the speed of delivery, but as a small business we are set up to be very flexible in our order and delivery services.
Because we work hard to get great prices and really good quality, bulk buyers often approach us to supply schools. We also get asked to supply large quantities of single items, from feathers to wooden balls, for specific business needs from shop-fitting to special events.
CB: What do you offer your customers?
GA: We supply over 3500 craft and hobby products, in over 30 different hobby or material ‘collections’, so there aren’t many products we don’t stock! Our focus is on hobbies, so most of our stock relates to a specific hobby or is a material that we know sells well. For example, we sell thousands of pieces of balsa wood each month, in various lengths, thickness and shapes. We sell large amounts of copper, pewter and brass in various thicknesses of sheet and sizes too. These are materials that we sell a lot of and always have in stock.
We sell a number of kits based on a variety of hobbies, plus the separate components of the kits and products connected with the hobby too. An example would be candle making, where we have several kits, plus hundreds of moulds, waxes, wicks, dyes, scents and accessories that may not be part of one of our kits but are associated with the hobby.
Recently we’ve started to develop a range of products for metal embossing, which is a new hobby to us. It fits in well because we already sell the metal sheets. We’ve designed some tools and had them made, and also some kits so that crafters can try the hobby using our materials and designs.
We find that being a UK company, shops appreciate that we work hard to design and develop our products and they like the fact they can talk to us before and after sales, rather than simply importing and not being sure what they are going to get.
CB: You recently launched a new website, tell us more, what do you hope to achieve?
GA: Wow what a job that was! Transferring hundreds of customers and thousands of products over from the old site to the new one. The main purpose of making the change was to enable us to receive orders automatically into our accounting system – previously they were manually typed in – massively speeding up the process of picking and packing orders. Now customers get their orders more quickly. In the process we have significantly upgraded the look and feel of the site, increased security to modern standards and added some useful marketing functions.
We plan to introduce more enhancements, including specialist websites, over the next two years.
CB: To what do you attribute your success?
GA: We feel that being a champion for shops is the right strategy for us. Shops, especially high street stores, have many challenges, especially competition from online sellers with their lower overheads. Also, we’ve found that a lot of wholesalers or manufacturers sell directly to the consumer through an Amazon or eBay shop that gives them additional margin, but effectively undercuts their shop customers. We’ve taken the decision not to do this and therefore we only sell online through our trade website. There is a simple, but effective, sign-up process to ensure we only create accounts for business customers.
One recent success has been the introduction of the Craft Panel – a group of retailers, business users andcrafters who comment on our products, test new kits and feed us ideas. It’s a great way of getting market information.
CB: What are your business plans for the future?
GA: We’ve recently confirmed our strategy for the years ahead – focusing on shops and making sure that as many of them as possible know about Peak Dale Products. We’ll keep sourcing, making and selling good-quality versions of everyday craft materials at competitive prices. We’ll also constantly look at developing new kits and with the help of our craft panel, keep an eye on future trends.
Telephone: 01298 78447