The Screwfix story is impressive. The firm, owned by Kingfisher, is the UK’s largest direct and online supplier of trade tools, accessories and hardware products. The company has opened an average of one store every week for the past seven years – and expects to hit more than 600 stores in the next couple of years. They’re clearly not ready to slow down yet, so what lies behind their astonishing success?
1. KEEP GROWING CONSISTENTLY
Screwfix has doubled in size over the last ten years and shows no sign of slowing down. Andrew Livingston, Screwfix CEO puts it like this:
“We have probably done the reverse of other retailers; starting as an online business and then moved into stores… Quite a lot of people kept on turning up to buy goods at our warehouse in Yeovil at the time. It didn’t take us long to work out we had a business opportunity on our hands.”
Following the opening of the first bricks and mortar Screwfix store in Yeovil in 2005, the estate now consists of over 470 stores around the UK and 11 in Germany. The business expects to hit more than 600 stores in the next couple of years. That kind of impressive growth helps to create a buzz – and people love to work, and shop, with a company that’s growing fast and expanding.
2. CREATE SOMEWHERE PEOPLE LOVE TO WORK
Measuring overall employee satisfaction used to be a tricky business. But in recent years that’s all changed, with the rise of employee ratings sites such as glassdoor.com. While for many businesses the unedited views of their current and previous staff have included some unpleasant surprises, Screwfix has done particularly well. They boast the 13th highest rated CEO in the UK and they also rate in the top five UK employers for work/ life balance by Glassdoor.
Liz Bell, Screwfix’s HR Director, explains why how they have created a great working environment:
“We are really committed to developing our people and ensuring that every new store we open has experienced staff to lead it. Each store runs as a tight team where everyone knows each other and… we aim to have fun in store with lots of recognition for teams.”
3. PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
Part of this engaging company culture involves investing in training and development for staff. The business has built in a range of training and development initiatives to develop talent. High potential retail staff are developed on the 1st Steps, Fast Track to Branch Manager and Fast Track to Assistant Manager programmes.
According to Liz Bell, “Offering externally accredited training is probably unique amongst retailers – you gain a qualification on completion of the relevant programmes. We believe that it really helps demonstrate we view working in retail as a professional career.”
The programmes have had excellent feedback from the awarding and auditing bodies too. But most importantly, the approach has shown real results. Over 60% of Screwfix managers are now developed from within the business. And that means moving high potential people from the contact centre into key head office roles, as well as graduating from the shop floor to assistant and branch manager.
4. DEVELOP AN AWARD-WINNING MENTALITY
While awards aren’t everything, they do indicate a business with a winning mindset. And Screwfix has added plenty of them to its trophy cabinet in the last couple of years, including a ‘Great Workplace’ award from Gallup in 2015, Supply chain team of the year, 2015 Retail Week awards and ‘Employer of the Year’
and ‘Multichannel Retailer of the Year’ at the 2016 Retail Week Awards. One of the key reasons behind their success as employer of the year was the culture of empowerment they have created, which brings us on nicely to reason number 5…
5. LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE
One of the key retail secrets that Screwfix makes use of is continuously integrating staff feedback into decision making. The business is well aware that the people who have the best idea of what customers want are the ones working in its own stores. Through “Your Screwfix, Your Say” all staff (not just retail) submit over half a million pieces of feedback a year into the business, helping to give the firm an unrivalled overview of customer trends and desires. This culture of feedback runs through every part of the business – not only the store network. A regular staff survey pulls valuable information and insights from head office and the contact centre, as well as the retail network.
6. DON’T LOSE YOUR LOCAL ROOTS
Although it now has a physical and online presence in Europe, as well as across the UK, Screwfix remains very much a Yeovil-based firm. And staff and customers alike seem to value the friendliness and down to earth approach that comes from living and working in Somerset. It’s something that CEO Andrew Livingston readily accepts: ‘Part of our success is due to location. It gives people the opportunity for a different lifestyle. People want the kind of lifestyle that Somerset offers.”
7. CREATE A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC EXPERIENCE
Screwfix tends to consistently get the kind of good reviews that other companies would kill for. As for the reason why? It could be that a customer-journey-focused mindset was embedded during the company’s online origins. Or more
likely it’s down to the relentless feedback gathering effort designed to make every detail of the Screwfix experience work for customers. It’s not just in-store either – the firm’s highly experienced e-commerce team is pioneering new digital developments designed to boost customer satisfaction even further. And the dedicated contact centre ensures that the customer experience remains seamless. In fact, 9 out of 10 Screwfix customers would recommend the firm to a friend, so they must be doing something right.
8. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Or perhaps simplicity is the key to Screwfix’s popularity? HR Director Liz Bell explains:
“We really aim to keep things simple so that it is easy for new colleagues to be successful. We have tried very hard to retain the culture that we had when we were much smaller. That means we can make decisions quickly and our colleagues are empowered to do the right thing for the customer. And when we use technology, we aim to use it to help people to get the job done so they can focus on talking to our customers or colleagues.”
For an example look no further than the Screwfix click and collect technology which is the envy of the industry. For Screwfix customers, this means being able to pick up their goods from a store just five minutes after ordering. The technology that drives this and other initiatives like it is driven from within the business. As a result, a vast array of exciting job opportunities have opened up over the last few years in areas like supply chain and digital.
9. GIVE SOMETHING BACK
The Screwfix Foundation was set up to support charity projects that fix, maintain, repair and improve community or charitable facilities across the UK. To date, it has supported hundreds of charities local to Screwfix stores in addition to providing national charities, Barnardo’s and Macmillan. Recently, the Foundation passed the £1,000,000 milestone – an impressive tally since its launch in 2012. Unusually, Screwfix customers are key in contributing to the Foundation’s success. They get directly involved in helping community projects through their donations and participation in a variety of charity fundraising events. The recent ‘Tour de Screwfix’ saw over 900 Screwfix employees getting on their bikes to take part in a 6,100 mile national cycle relay between all of the stores. The event raised £81,000 for charity, which was then matched by Screwfix, taking the total to an enormous £162,000.
10.AIM TO RECRUIT AND DEVELOP THE BEST
When your track record is this impressive, you become a destination for talented people from every background. Screwfix is a business of doers and achievers. It’s a place where obstacles to doing a good job and developing your career have been systematically removed. A thriving business based on trust and empowerment, where every individual with a can-do attitude has the opportunity to develop and grow.
If this has whetted your appetite, then why not find out more? You’ll discover a range of opportunities in retail, digital, supply chain, management and more, all listed on screwfixcareers
“We have probably done the reverse of other retailers; starting as an online businessand then moving into stores”
ANDREW L IVINGSTON, CEO
“We have tried very hard to retain the culture that we had when we were much smaller.”
LIZ BELL, SCREWFIX HR DIRECTOR