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‘We have to move with the times’

Created on 25/04/2018 @ 15:20
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A Welshpool businesswomen says that tough market conditions have prompted her to make some dynamic decisions to change the face of her long-standing family business.

Kaye Derwas said that rising business rates, growing competition and other economic factors have changed the nature of trading, and is fighting back by undergoing a major restructure of her showroom at the Dragon Works, Henfaes Lane, even if it may have concerned some long-standing customers.

“We are having a restructure and getting rid of all the hardware and tools so it’s exciting,” said Kaye, whose father started the business on Berriew Street in 1961. “It’s exciting! Business is tough these days, but we just have to adapt and fight harder.

“Some people are saying how it’s really sad that Derwas will no longer be the Aladdin’s Cave that it was previously but we will still be here, just not like Arkwright’s!

“We are redesigning the showroom over the summer with lots of new working fires and displays.

“I suppose it was a lot to do with the internet and people changing buying habits, plus my rates are £12,000 per year and there are all the other costs, so we needed to sell a hell of a lot of nuts and bolts to cover that!

“We are just going to concentrate on what we are good at, we have an excellent fitting team and lots of space to keep the flue pipe and accessories. I just say we are still going to be an Aladdin’s Cave – but just for anything to do with cooking and heating.”

Kaye made a shrewd business move recently by sharing her floor space with Welshpool Kitchen Company and Grahams Flooring.

“When Yvonne and Gareth from WKC joined us last year and Wayne Spooner from Graham Flooring, it just fitted with my vision of becoming a one stop home centre,” Kaye added. “I like working with other family businesses as we work well together and can offer a good service as well as have a beautiful showroom.

“It also makes business sense to share the costs and capitalise on the footfall generated from each other’s business.

“We have already done joint products for people. Especially people with holiday homes at the coast who want reputable local companies. So Wayne does the flooring, WKC does the kitchens and we do the fires. It works well.

“We are one of the biggest heating showrooms in Wales already and cover from Aberystwyth to Telford and Llandod and Wrexham fitting stoves so have earned a good reputation.

“Having the other two shops in Mach and Shrewsbury means we can cover a huge area but we aren’t moving away from Dad’s original values of good honest service and fair prices.

“We are going to have lots more lifestyle settings and working displays of gas fires and stoves, electric fires, wood pellet stoves and eco-friendly woodburners.

“We will be having regular cookery demonstrations and ‘master class’ type cooking events. Also educational events, stove schools and so on.

“If other businesses want to join us we are happy to discuss with small family businesses who could complement what we are doing. We already have a local garden landscaping company who are joining us as their base and a furniture company.”

Kaye said she apologies to customers for any disturbances whilst the work is taking place but added that there is a 50% sale to clear the tools and make space for the new extended home centre.

“We have to move with the times,” she said.

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