What are the deciding factors for merchants when choosing which fastener brand to stock? Torque asks Gemma Cap, Owner of Morgans Group, for the stockist perspective.

Headquartered in Oswestry, Shropshire, family business Morgans Builders Merchants has been in the merchanting business for over 60 years. The agricultural, DIY and builders merchant stocks everything from construction supplies to bespoke sheds across its five branches, at Oswestry,  Aberystwyth, Deeside, Newtown & Ruthin.

Each of those branches has recently taken on the UNIFIX range from Owlett-Jaton. Featuring the fresh packaging solution launched by the firm last year, the UNIFIX branded range covers popular products and sizes from a wide selection of fasteners and fixings and ironmongery. The ‘trade bag’ packaging is robust, re-sealable, drop-proof, water resistant and an ideal size to carry. The ‘retail’ bags follow a similar offering to the trade bag range, conveniently packed in small packed quantities. The ‘ironmongery’ range covers a comprehensive selection, including door, gate and lock furniture, and accessories. What’s more, all of the packaging has been designed so that customers can quickly see what’s inside before they even read the label.

So what are the factors influencing merchants and stockists when they are choosing which fastener, fixing, and ironmongery brands to take on?

“Because fasteners, fixings, and ironmongery are a fairly generic product offering, the decision really is made fundamentally on the level of service provided by brand, its perceived brand strength and how the supplier displays their product to the market,” explains Morgans Owner Gemma Cap to Torque Magazine. “There doesn’t seem to be a huge price differential, but easy and quick accessibility of the product is also a deal-maker and breaker.”

And it seems Owlett-Jaton and its UNIFIX branded range of products fitted the bill. In fact, Morgans is no stranger to UNIFIX, having stocked the brand years ago. Cap takes up the story: “Recently, I picked up the phone to Tony Williams [Owlett-Jaton Sales Director] who I’ve known for over many years, and we had some really productive discussions. I was really impressed with the UNIFIX livery and as a result, all of our branches have been fully kitted out with the brand and we are pleased to be doing even more business with Owlett-Jaton. I must say the service so far has been very efficient and Owlett-Jaton is keen to offer its support wherever possible.

“As all five Morgans branches have a similar customer clientele that require fasteners, fixings, and ironmongery, we have listened to what our  customers require and have put in place the most desired product range and replicated it from branch-to-branch. If something slightly more obscure is required, we liaise with Owlett-Jaton to arrange this.”

Every inch a shop floor has to pay its way

Every inch of a merchants’ shop floor has to pay its way, and significant range changes can be off-putting for business owners keen not to have any selling space off limits while stock is being transitioned in. Happily, disruption was kept to a minimum, as Gemma Cap explains: “It happened in a flash in all honesty. The decisions were made between myself and Tony and shortly afterwards the team were liaising with us about dates to rebrand and kit out the branches. It took a couple of days per branch and we were kept abreast of progress the whole way through. It has been a very smooth transition and headache-free! There is a lot to be said for efficiency and managing customer expectations, and I would say Tony and his team have executed it perfectly so far. We have a complete range of screws, nails and bolts instore, and the display is nothing short of high-impact.”

For Morgans, the benefits of stocking the UNIFIX range are simple: “In essence, it is a one-stop-shop for us that offers next day delivery, which is great customer service for us that we can in turn pass on to our customers. Also, the uniformity of the packaging looks great.”

The introduction of UNIFIX has been timely. Thanks to eye catching packaging and a quick turnaround on enquiries from Owlett-Jaton, the range is well suited to modern customer expectations.

“Most customers now want everything yesterday, if not immediately. We live in a digital world now where access to goods is at the click of a button. Of course this means more price comparisons are more readily available too.

“Working with Owlett-Jaton though has been great for us – queries from us get answered straight away and we can get next day delivery on products, which, if something obscure is being requested, is ideal and most customers are happy with a 24 hour turnaround!

“The UNIFIX packaging is impressive and high impact and they take into account that builders and joiners no longer require 25kg boxes as they are deemed wasteful – the 1kg resealable trade bags are great for all fixings.”

Now all the branches have their UNIFIX ranges in place, what’s next for Morgans?

“We very much aspire to provide the best level of customer service so that remains focal to our approach in 2018. We have just overhauled our website www.morgansltd.com and in turn are working hard on our marketing approach which is exciting for us.

“Our Morgans of Newtown branch is relocating this year to a bigger, brand new premises and we hope to see large developments at Morgans of Aberystwyth too, whilst our Deeside branch has expanded this year as well with the introduction of a Joinery Department.

“We want to ensure that all growth is organic and in a timely-manner so that it is sustainable and that the customer remains at the forefront of everything we do.”

Contact Owlett-Jaton today, to find out more about the comprehensive range of UNIFIX branded products.

This article was originally published in the April edition of Torque Magazine

There's more on UNIFIX in our digital magazine from August 2017.