INTERVIEW: IronmongeryDirect on 45 years in the business and growing market share

IronmongeryDirect started out as a traditional bricks and mortar shop over four decades ago. Now the business has grown to become a hugely important player in the sector, stocking 15,500 products, available through its catalogue and online, and now says it is the UK’s largest supplier of ironmongery products to the trade. tells Torque how IronmongeryDirect got to where it is today and what’s next for the stockist…

How’s business?
Business is going well. We’ve spent a lot of time with our customers to ensure our offering is at its best and that is reflected in our growth over the years.

IronmongeryDirect started out as a traditional hardware shop – how did that lead to becoming the major supplier the firm is today?
IronmongeryDirect has been in the business of supplying architectural ironmongery to the building trade for over 45 years. The customer is at the core of our proposition and we listen to their needs, so every year we have grown as more and more customers trust our brand and know
they can rely on us. Our live contact centre, which is open seven days a week, is testament to our success, as customers can reach knowledgeable team members around the clock and place orders as late as 8pm for next day delivery.

Since 2013 we have been part of the Manutan Group, a leader in the supply of industrial, commercial and office equipment to business for over 40 years. We are a group of 25 subsidiaries, across 18 countries, who work closely together to be able to offer the highest quality products at the lowest prices.

How big is the product range now? Has that expanded in recent years?
We have over 15,500 quality products in our range now, all of which are in stock ready for next day delivery as standard. In addition to our own brand range, we offer a wide range  of products from established brands such as GripIt, Yale, Briton and Blum.

The customer is at the forefront of everything we do so we’re reactive to what they want and proactive to what we think is coming up. We’ve just recently added a new range of period-style door hardware to our collection to keep up with industry trends and appeal to our customers working on
traditional projects.

Does one particular sector dominate the range you stock, eg. screws & fixings or door furniture?
Door Furniture, Door Closers and Controls, and Bolts and Stops are some of our largest ranges. However we pride ourselves on our extensive range, which caters for all of our customers’ needs.

Are you always looking out for new suppliers? And product innovations?
Our product range grows year-on-year through our commitment to creating new supplier relationships and introducing the best and most relevant products to our customers.

We have a skilled category management team that focuses on building strong supplier relationships and gaining an excellent understanding of our customers’ needs so we can be as responsive as possible, and ensure we can deliver our promises on quality and delivery.

Is the majority of your business done in the UK?
Yes, we deliver all across the UK.

How have customer expectations changed in recent years – next day delivery seems to be getting more important?
It’s really important that our customers get the products they need quickly and easily as they depend on us to help get their jobs done. Slow delivery of products and building supplies can hold up projects and could potentially hit them where it hurts – in the pocket. That’s why ease of purchase and a fast, reliable delivery service are our top priorities.

We offer various channels for customers to make a  purchase. Orders can be placed quickly and easily via the IronmongeryDirect website, on our mobile app or by calling the customer contact centre, which is open from 7am to 8pm, seven days a week. Our customers are becoming more tech savvy so it’s important to provide a multi-channel offering so they can order products on the move at a time that suits them.

To ensure that tradespeople get the products they need when they need them, we introduced guaranteed morning delivery from just £2.50. Orders can be placed as late as 8pm for fast next working day delivery, and by 3pm on Saturday and Sunday for next day delivery.

What are the key advantages IronmongeryDirect offers to customers?
We position ourselves as being ‘Masters of our trade’ to reflect the values and expertise of the company. As well as offering the UK’s largest range of ironmongery products, we ensure low prices and product quality guaranteed. We offer a minimum five-year guarantee on all ironmongery products so that customers can be ultra confident that products purchased have been tried and tested for quality and durability.

We are also proud of our excellent customer service experience, which enables busy tradesmen, builders, contractors, shop fitters and joiners to shop in the most convenient way possible, at the time that is most convenient to them. Over the last few years we have improved many areas of our service offering including a “No quibble 30-day money back guarantee”, free next day delivery, and offering Sunday delivery for orders placed before 3pm on Saturdays.

What are the biggest challenges ahead?
It’s always a challenge to operate in a crowded market, so we have to be on the ball and do things differently to attract and retain customers. Over the next year, our focus will be on ensuring we stand out from the competition in terms of our product quality, customer service and attentionto detail.

What does the future hold for IronmongeryDirect?
We are aiming to increase our product offering further, and in turn increase our market share. It’s about making sure we continue to thrive as a business, as well as maintaining a high level of service for our customers and to give them what they want, when they want it. That applies to technological advances, how we operate, making sure the infrastructure is there and continuing to deliver our USPs and service promises to our customers.

This article originally appeared in the February edition of Torque Magazine. Read the magazine in our archive and subscribe for free here