Maunder & Sons

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Maunder & Sons's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Maunder & Sons is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

CEO Jason Thorns
Family origins
Maunder and Sons is a family-owned business with a
history that stretches back over a century. Based in
Launceston, Cornwall, it was initially focused on the
manufacture and supply of rope to agricultural customers.
Gradually, it acquired retail premises and larger sites as the
business grew and it now supplies over 10,000 products
suited to the agricultural sector. CEO Jason Thorns tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about the company’s progress
and diversification.
Today, our business is centred upon a main retail store and warehouse. We are
open to both trade and the public six days a week and own several delivery vehicles
that provide goods to customers within a 25-mile radius daily. On any given day
we might supply animal feed to farmers, pet foods to the public and tools and
materials to builders. In our rural community there are many customers who also
have part-time smallholdings with chicken, sheep and horses, so our aim is to keep
them supplied with anything they need – whatever the challenge may be.
Core values remain strong
While the business has grown steadily from humble beginnings, we have not lost
sight of our core values. As a family business we have always remained close to
the daily operations and challenges faced by our staff. We have retained a core of
employees with priceless knowledge and expertise which is highly valued by our
customers. We have done this by investing time and effort into our staff who in
many ways become part of the family.
»CEO: Jason Thorns
»Established in 1880
»Based in Launceston, Cornwall
»Services: Agricultural retail
»No. of employees: 22
Maunder & Sons
Highlighting best practice
Treating people with respect and
giving employees the security of
knowing they will always be supported
pays dividends. This culture is then
manifested in how our employees deal
with their customers and in the high
level of service we always strive for.
Indeed, most of our customers are
personally known and often are second
or third generations of local families
that we have been doing business with
for many years.
As a small business we have always
had to compete against other larger
corporations, many of which are
successfully run, and we have had
to develop strategies to maximise
our own strengths and minimise
our weaknesses. By focusing on
customer service and expertise, we
have managed to consistently grow
the business without sacrificing
profitability. We utilise independent
trade organisations and small
business groups, and this allows us
to maintain a competitive buying and
selling strategy that minimises our
competitors’ advantages of scale.
We always listen to our customers
and ensure that we are meeting or
exceeding their expectations – listen
hard enough and you will hear if you
are not.
Managing change without
losing focus
One of the business’s greatest
challenges has been to manage the
changes it has needed to make in
order to grow without losing focus of
its customers’ needs. When I joined
the business 17 years ago, the systems
used were primarily paper based with
little employment of technology. It
was clear that in order to remain
competitive we needed to embrace
new systems. By incorporating
them gradually, after testing and
demonstrating their advantages, it was
possible to bring staff and customers
alike on board with the change. We
now have more robust and capable
systems than many of our larger
competitors – we believe size need not
be a disadvantage in this area.
We also undertook a major land
development project to rebuild all
the buildings on our site between
2013 and 2016. These buildings,
while fondly regarded by many
customers, were in a poor condition
as a result of their age and they
were restricting our growth. A major
aim during the development was to
minimise disruption to our day-to-day
trading. This is not easy for a small
business with limited management
New beginnings
Development in progress
We always
listen to our
capacity. We are proud to say that,
by carefully managing the movement
of our premises from each completed
building, the process was carried out
without having to close the retail store
for even a single day. It was a lot of
hard work, though, and now that we
have three new buildings, we have
no wish to repeat the process in the
immediate future.
An additional benefit of this investment
is that we now have increased revenue
streams from rental income and have
added a restaurant for greater diversity
of the services we can provide. We
believe that diversification in certain
areas gives the business added
resilience for the future.
Embracing our potential
Our main challenge for the future is
one that affects all traditional retail
businesses, which is to correctly
harness the strengths and potential of
the internet and new technology. It
plays a major role in our sector, and we
intend to incorporate the advantages it
can give a business in our future plans.
As a business operating in the
agricultural sector, we are often
affected by the same market difficulties
faced by farmers. In the last decade
we have seen increased volatility in
farm gate prices and more careful
bank-to-business lending. One of the
ways we have had to respond to these
challenges is by refining and improving
our credit control systems.
We do not foresee these areas
improving in the short term and with
the added uncertainty surrounding
the potential effects of Brexit, it may
be some time before a clear picture
emerges. We are confident, however,
that by remaining true to our values
of strong customer service we can
continue to thrive.
As a smaller business we rely on being
able to react quickly when change
occurs and customer needs alter.
By maintaining our traditions while
embracing new technologies, we hope
to continue to welcome customers
both new and old for many years
Development complete

This article was sponsored by Maunder & Sons. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster