More than a half century of service under its belt, Jim’s Carpets in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, has grown into a significant player in the U.K.’s flooring market. The multigenerational company services clients across the U.K. through four retail showrooms in Cross Green, Kirkstall, Leeds and Wakefield—operating as Jim’s Carpets and The Floorstore—as well as an online shop, BestatFlooring.co.uk.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with the company’s second-generation front man, Steve Walker, who owns and manages the business with his brother, Chris. Walker has been with the company founded by his father, Jim, since its inception in 1961, helping guide the business through the many changes in how customers shop over the last 50 years.
By creating a multi-brand approach, Walker says the company has been able to create a clear definition between the brands and the service levels they offer.
“Floorstore is all about tailoring the service and product to our customers’ needs and requirements, offering full service from store to installation,” Walker said. “BestatFlooring is about supplying quality product at affordable prices across the U.K. This is for the customer who knows what they want and don’t require the full service.”
The ability to adapt throughout its tenure has helped this company become a leader in both its online and brick and mortar showrooms. As a full service, stocking dealer in its retail showcases, Walker says the focus has been and always will be “ensuring the customer always gets the best advice and guidance for their requirements.”
Since 2013, building a strong online presence has been a key strategy. The online store, BestatFlooring.co.uk, offers a full line of products, even allowing for clients to pick up the product directly from its land-based counterpart, but Walker notes installation is up to the consumer.
Instead of sourcing installers all over the U.K., the company refers its virtual clients to services like checkatrade.com to aid in their search for local tradesmen. Plans are underway, however, to expand into providing a complete service package for its online customers.
“We are still continuing to grow and it is all going in the right direction with our main aim to do better than our direct competitors,” Walker said. “We want to set the benchmark for everyone to compete against.”
The internet has also provided a great tool for the company to keep a keen eye on consumer preferences. The companies works with vendors and agency partners to support its marketing efforts. In addition to search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) programs—where Walker says competition is very high because most businesses are utilizing those means—the firm takes advantage of varied efforts where the success is specifically dependent upon the channel.
“Social media is a great way to connect with your customer and keep in with the current trends,” Walker said. “My favorite media platforms, at the moment, are Pinterest and Twitter. There is a great balance of connecting with complementary professions within the home renovations industry and the everyday consumer.”
Social media has also aided the companies in controlling inventory when necessary. The company stocks inventory valued at around £1 million (approximately $1.3 million).
“Dependent on stock, we always run different promotions and competitions every couple of months on social media,” he explains.
In addition to those venues, Walker’s businesses are involved in various community efforts to stay top of mind. Those efforts include sponsoring local sports teams and working with industry resources to provide a cradle to grave solution for carpet products.
Another positive for the company according to our entrepreneur has been a strong focus on re-investment. Recent highlights include a new distribution warehouse and online offices. “These have allowed us to not only work in a nice environment, but to also grow the company and hire new staff more easily,” Walker said.
The companies are currently staffed with 35 employees, and Walker said he looks as staff as family in order to keep them on board and create a long-term career. “As the business grows, we want the staff to grow with us so we actively look to promote within the company,” he said.
Company Founded: 1961 as Jim’s Carpets
Total Stores: 4 (3 Brick & Mortar, 1 Online)
Banners: Jim’s Carpets, Floorstore, BestatFlooring.co.uk
Product Mix: Laminate, LVT, Engineered Wood, Hardwood, Area Rugs
Stocked Inventory: over £1 million Approx. $1.3 million
Installation Teams: Subcontracted for Jim’s Carpets and Floorstore. Installation services not provided through BestatFlooring.co.uk