Skidmores

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Skidmores'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 Skidmores 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

www.skidmoresltd.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
44 | S NICHOLSON & SONS
that many of them have now started
their own small businesses in the
local area and I stay in touch with all
of them to offer advice and support
whenrequired.
Raby Estates
One of our earliest successes was
winning a contract with Raby Estates,
where we undertook a variety of
interior and exterior projects on small
homes and outbuildings across the
Teesdale area.
We soon won a contract decorating
the magnificent 14th-century Raby
Castle – home of Lord Barnard and
the jewel in the estate’s crown.
Some of the properties within the
Raby portfolio are listed buildings,
and therefore any renovations must
match the specifications of the
initialconstruction.
The Raby Estates project exposed us to
a variety of “new traditional” working
practices using materials which are not
only unique but also environmentally
friendly. This is where I first gained
experience working with lime and
clay-based paints alongside other
decorating materials and techniques
with the aim of preserving the existing
features of each building.
This project only allowed the business
to develop further; since completing
it, we have won a variety of similar
heritage contracts for the restoration
of various churches within the Diocese
of Durham. These have ranged from
small interior refurbishments through
to larger-scale property overhauls.
Keeping the business in the
family
Of course, these projects do not simply
come around on a daily basis and as
such, our current project portfolio
includes hotels, local and national
businesses and individual homeowners.
No job is too big or small for us and
this continues to be a central part of
our ethos.
Going forward, we would like to
train more of our own staff and bring
employees through that way. There is
a skills shortage in our sector – as there
is across British industry as a whole
– and educating more leaders and
skilled workers is something I feel very
passionately about. This does not solely
cover external apprentices – I want my
own children to learn, develop and join
the business in due time.
The name of the business is S
Nicholson & Sons – being a father,
my goal has developed and shifted to
ensure that my children have the best
start in life that they possibly can. I am
grateful for the childhood I had and
would not change a thing. One day,
this business will be theirs, but only if
they work for it in a way that suits our
vision – I want them to ensure that the
values and ethics that underpin our
work only continue to do so.
The business
wouldn’t be in
the position
that it
currently is
without our
excellent
team
We work with everyone
from private individuals
to national housebuilding
companies and local
authorities, and provide
the same outstanding
level of service every time
45SKIDMORES |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Director Brian Skidmore
Skidmores in 2019
Based in Worle in Weston-super-Mare, Skidmores
have become an integral part of the local community.
Established in 1919 by Edward James Skidmore, they
have expanded and adapted as their local area has changed.
Originally focusing on household wares and workers’ tools, they
have expanded their range to include carpeting and flooring. As
a small company, they pride themselves on the service they are
able to offer and have attracted and retained customers across
multiple generations. Director Brian Skidmore is the fourth
generation of his family to work in the business and explains
how the business has evolved over its 100-year history.
Our business was established by my great-grandfather, Edward James Skidmore, in
1919 as a small retail shop. Edward’s youngest son Stanley Hugh had been shot in
WW1 and was sent to Weston-super-Mare to convalesce. Liking the location and
seeing an opportunity there, Edward bought the premises and established a shop
selling household wares, workers’ tools and trade equipment for the construction
industry. The business became ingrained into the local community. Stanley took
over from his father in 1928, with his twin sons, Bill and Bert, taking over when he
died in 1947.
In the 1950s, as the construction industry was booming, they saw an opportunity
to begin to provide furniture, carpeting and flooring. In the 1960s, the business
began to work with Schreiber, stocking kitchen units and expanding their range. In
1965, we acquired a piece of land behind the shop and constructed a warehouse to
hold our carpet stocks. As Weston-super-Mare was one the fastest-growing areas in
FACTS ABOUT
SKIDMORES
»Director: Brian Skidmore
»Established in 1919
»Based in Weston-super-Mare ,
Somerset
»Services: Flooring and
furniture provision
»No. of employees: 9
Skidmores
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | SKIDMORES
the southwest in the 1970s, we were
able to establish a reputation for our
flooring products. I have been working
in the business since 1980, focusing on
the flooring side of the business, with my
uncle Bert focusing on our furniture sales.
Responding to customer
demand
In the 1990s, the business changed
again, switching from patterned carpet
to plain carpet, responding to our
customers’ demand for greater choice.
We are always reinventing ourselves
and our offering, changing our product
range to meet these customer demands.
Weston-super-Mare continued to
develop, and, as multinationals entered
the area, business became more
competitive. Partly because of this influx,
we considered moving to an industrial
park to reduce overheads. We rejected
this idea, however, as we felt that we
would lose our identity and place in our
local community. This decision has been
validated in the last 20 years, as our links
with the local community have seen
our business sustained.
We became part of the Associated
Independent Stores group in 2000.
As part of a buying group comprising
400 shops, our buying power has
been increased, and we are now able
to source products from all over the
world. This also reduces shipping costs:
if we buy furniture in China, we can
combine the products we are ordering
with other shops in the group to
reduce the amount we have to pay for
containers. This decision also enabled
us to become more professional in the
way we market ourselves. In 2001,
I was invited to join the strategic
committee for flooring for AIS. We
visited America to study what they
were doing in the area and returned
with new ideas and innovations.
In the US, flooring contractors buy
from three or four major suppliers.
We felt that this would happen in the
Skidmores throughout
the ages: the 1920s,
1950s, 1970s and 2000
We are always
reinventing
ourselves
47SKIDMORES |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
UK and have prepared accordingly.
Since that time, this prediction has
been realised, and the UK has seen a
significant reduction in the number
ofmanufacturers.
Building links with the
community
Our involvement in the community,
and our presence on the high street,
is a central part of our success and
around 90 per cent of our customers
live within a three-mile radius. Many
of our clients are gained from word of
mouth or through recommendations.
As technology has advanced, we
have moved toward direct marketing.
We still, however, retain a focus on
developing generational customers and
keeping our name present in the minds
of local residents.
Closely related to this is our focus on
service. If we are to compete with
bigger suppliers, we have to provide a
full service. In practice, this means that
we visit the houses of our customers,
taking away their old products and
installing the new versions. This means
that we are able to offer more than
national companies can. We try to
show what we will be able to do for
each customer and then ensure that
we deliver on these promises.
As well as innovating our product
range, we have also focused on
improving our infrastructure. In 1999,
we bought the premises next door and
constructed an extension, bringing
everything into one linked space. We
incorporated the warehouse into this so
that customers could view everything
in one shop and one destination.
Planning for the future
As our customer base is predominantly
over the age of 60, we have to plan
accordingly. In order to continue
to thrive in the future, we must
work on how to attract the younger
generations. To achieve this, we
study the latest stylistic trends and
respond accordingly. For instance,
industrial-looking furniture has
become increasingly popular, so
we have expanded our product
range to accommodate this. We
are always looking to upgrade our
premises and ensure that our prices
remaincompetitive.
One of the biggest challenges we
face is expanding our presence on
social media. As everything is now at
the client’s fingertips, we have to be
involved to ensure that we remain
relevant. This new way of trading is
something that requires adaptation.
Similarly, we must remain aware of
all developing trends and adapt our
provision to meet them. As tiling
has replaced carpets, we have had
to reassess the quantities we stock.
Beyond this, luxury vinyl tile installation
takes far longer than carpet, and this
means that our margins are becoming
increasingly squeezed.
Despite this, we are confident that we
can continue to thrive, sustaining the
legacy my great-grandfather began
100 years ago. By responding to
the latest trends and developing our
reputation in the local community, we
are sure that we will remain a fixture in
Worle for years to come.
One of the
biggest
challenges we
face is
expanding our
presence on
social media
Our first day of January
sale
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | SKIDMORES
the southwest in the 1970s, we were
able to establish a reputation for our
flooring products. I have been working
in the business since 1980, focusing on
the flooring side of the business, with my
uncle Bert focusing on our furniture sales.
Responding to customer
demand
In the 1990s, the business changed
again, switching from patterned carpet
to plain carpet, responding to our
customers’ demand for greater choice.
We are always reinventing ourselves
and our offering, changing our product
range to meet these customer demands.
Weston-super-Mare continued to
develop, and, as multinationals entered
the area, business became more
competitive. Partly because of this influx,
we considered moving to an industrial
park to reduce overheads. We rejected
this idea, however, as we felt that we
would lose our identity and place in our
local community. This decision has been
validated in the last 20 years, as our links
with the local community have seen
our business sustained.
We became part of the Associated
Independent Stores group in 2000.
As part of a buying group comprising
400 shops, our buying power has
been increased, and we are now able
to source products from all over the
world. This also reduces shipping costs:
if we buy furniture in China, we can
combine the products we are ordering
with other shops in the group to
reduce the amount we have to pay for
containers. This decision also enabled
us to become more professional in the
way we market ourselves. In 2001,
I was invited to join the strategic
committee for flooring for AIS. We
visited America to study what they
were doing in the area and returned
with new ideas and innovations.
In the US, flooring contractors buy
from three or four major suppliers.
We felt that this would happen in the
Skidmores throughout
the ages: the 1920s,
1950s, 1970s and 2000
We are always
reinventing
ourselves
47SKIDMORES |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
UK and have prepared accordingly.
Since that time, this prediction has
been realised, and the UK has seen a
significant reduction in the number
ofmanufacturers.
Building links with the
community
Our involvement in the community,
and our presence on the high street,
is a central part of our success and
around 90 per cent of our customers
live within a three-mile radius. Many
of our clients are gained from word of
mouth or through recommendations.
As technology has advanced, we
have moved toward direct marketing.
We still, however, retain a focus on
developing generational customers and
keeping our name present in the minds
of local residents.
Closely related to this is our focus on
service. If we are to compete with
bigger suppliers, we have to provide a
full service. In practice, this means that
we visit the houses of our customers,
taking away their old products and
installing the new versions. This means
that we are able to offer more than
national companies can. We try to
show what we will be able to do for
each customer and then ensure that
we deliver on these promises.
As well as innovating our product
range, we have also focused on
improving our infrastructure. In 1999,
we bought the premises next door and
constructed an extension, bringing
everything into one linked space. We
incorporated the warehouse into this so
that customers could view everything
in one shop and one destination.
Planning for the future
As our customer base is predominantly
over the age of 60, we have to plan
accordingly. In order to continue
to thrive in the future, we must
work on how to attract the younger
generations. To achieve this, we
study the latest stylistic trends and
respond accordingly. For instance,
industrial-looking furniture has
become increasingly popular, so
we have expanded our product
range to accommodate this. We
are always looking to upgrade our
premises and ensure that our prices
remaincompetitive.
One of the biggest challenges we
face is expanding our presence on
social media. As everything is now at
the client’s fingertips, we have to be
involved to ensure that we remain
relevant. This new way of trading is
something that requires adaptation.
Similarly, we must remain aware of
all developing trends and adapt our
provision to meet them. As tiling
has replaced carpets, we have had
to reassess the quantities we stock.
Beyond this, luxury vinyl tile installation
takes far longer than carpet, and this
means that our margins are becoming
increasingly squeezed.
Despite this, we are confident that we
can continue to thrive, sustaining the
legacy my great-grandfather began
100 years ago. By responding to
the latest trends and developing our
reputation in the local community, we
are sure that we will remain a fixture in
Worle for years to come.
One of the
biggest
challenges we
face is
expanding our
presence on
social media
Our first day of January
sale

www.skidmoresltd.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Skidmores. 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