Robert Dyas grows with focus on logistics

Amendments to the Robert Dyas supply chain have played significant role in the high street retailer's sales improvement under the new ownership of Theo Paphitis.

The company was acquired by the ex-Dragons' Den star last summer in a deal worth around £10 million, and Essential Retail has learnt that some straightforward operational changes have helped put the company on a route to growth.

Robert Dyas has 96 stores situated across London and the south of England, and since the arrival of Paphitis these outlets are now receiving anything between two to five deliveries a week, compared to just one under previous management. Back office IT improvements have also helped join up the store network and provide a platform for shops to pick and restock products on a more individual basis.

Stores are no longer frequently waiting a week without certain product ranges, which inevitably means goods can get to the customers at a faster speed. The new management team views this as an example of how it is working smarter to speed up the business's logistical processes.

In the year to 30 March 2013 operating profit at Robert Dyas grew from £1.1 million to £4.89 million, while like-for-like sales jumped by 11.2% and turnover increased by 8% to £114.37 million.

"To get those extra sales we had to work through the whole process," explained Paphitis.

"That started with getting the team motivated and excited again and to trust in me that I was going to be with them for the long term. We then moved on to our investment in stock with better buying not only making available to our customers the stock they really wanted but also improving the margins.

"Finally, a better warehousing and logistics system got those products into our customers' hands much faster and more efficiently."

Investments are currently being made in the company's online operations, and when these changes have been completed that will provide another avenue for the company to grow sales in the future. Due to the retailer's southern-centric position, there is also plenty of potential to expand its store footprint throughout northern England and into Wales and Scotland.

Maintaining IT efficiency across its stores will give Robert Dyas the best possible chance to expand in this direction, but so too will its multichannel approach to marketing which ramped up a gear in the spring.

Paphitis commented: "The launch of the Robert Dyas catalogue in May 2013 is receiving a positive and very exciting response, allowing us to reach new regions across the UK – not only for the online business now but also for potential bricks and mortar sites in the future."