The events of 2020 have forced a radical change in how businesses worldwide serve their customers. Without warning, we’ve all had to embrace the principles of social distancing, and bring sharp focus to personal and workplace hygiene. As we move into August, with the benefit of 5 months’ experience of this new normal, for many the initial panic has subsided into a general acceptance of this new way of life. At G E Tools, our initial response was to ringfence as much critical stock for our regular customers as possible. Our strong relationships with the product manufacturers (Honeywell Safety, Polyco Gloves, Oxyline Masks etc.) enabled us to secure very significant stocks of essential PPE and hygiene products, so that we could support those of our customers who operate in the front line against Covid 19. We certainly encountered some challenges during the early weeks and months, but we’ve always relished a challenge!! In the main, our resilience and determination ensured that our customers were not unduly impacted by product shortages. We are currently rebuilding those stocks in preparation for the much prophesised “second wave”.

This challenging period prompted us to look at how the safety of customers visiting our Big Green Shed (the tool shop on Wood Road) in Rhyl could be assured, and it quickly became clear that a redesign of the layout would be necessary (yes, another one)! After a brief period of closure (which regrettably saw the team at Rhyl being furloughed), with all modifications complete, we took the decision to relocate Andy Evans from our Deeside team to the tool shop in Rhyl. This enabled us to operate the shop on a reduced hours basis, and not diminish the customer service to our B2B customers. After a couple of weeks, it became clear that a partial reopening wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy the demand of our local tradespeople, and so a plan was drawn up to fully reopen the tool shop. Today, we are back to our normal trading hours 8:00 – 5:00 Monday to Friday, and a brand new click and collect website is available outside of these hours. In the coming months, the stock profile on this all-new website will be increased to closely match the stock available within the physical shop itself.

While all this was going on, our Gedore Tools website experienced an unexpected upturn in orders from our international customers. Traditionally, our customer services team, based in Deeside, have processed all orders from the Gedore Tools site. It became clear that having relocated Andy Evans to Rhyl, depleting the customer services team, this was going to be another area of our business that would need to be re-thought! Thankfully, we had a ready made solution on our furlough list. Michelle Johnson has many years of experience supporting our international customers, and has now resumed that roll from her desk in Rhyl. Already she has been in contact with customers from across Europe, as well as the USA, New Zealand, Dubai, Australia, and South Africa. This area of our business has continued to grow throughout 2020, and now has the benefit of a totally revamped web site.

As we move into August, not only does our Rhyl tool shop look very different, it also has the benefit of Andy Evans’ technical product knowledge. Our international customers now have a  new point of contact in Michelle Johnson operating from the Rhyl shop. The team in Rhyl is completed by Joe Armstrong who supports both Andy and Michelle, and also looks after the physical logistics of running a tool shop.

It looks like local tradespeople in Rhyl are appreciating the change, tool shop sales for the month of July have set a new all-time record – well done team Rhyl!!