Movers & Shakers Q&A with Andrew Livingston, CEO of Screwfix


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Andrew Livingston, CEO, Screwfix

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Our growth programme provides the greatest opportunity to expand our offering. Screwfix currently has a store network of over 300, with 60 new openings planned for 2014. We are also building our EU shipping service and will assess the success of our trials in Germany to investigate our next moves across the pond.

2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Our biggest challenge is ensuring we give our customers what they need. Recently technology has empowered the customer, changing the way they shop. For example, 70% of all our customers’ orders made via a mobile phone are Click & Collect where they place an order by phone and then pick it up in-store. We have invested heavily in developing our mobile offering to ensure we meet demand.

3. What is the future of the physical store?

Screwfix started out as a catalogue-based company, but our customers started to turn up at our warehouse as they needed the goods fast, which led to us opening our first store. Our customer base is always on the move and needs to be able to pop in to a Screwfix store and collect goods quickly in between jobs. Time is money for a tradesman so by having a large network of stores we are making it as convenient as possible for them to meet their business needs. Our store network expansion programme is continuing into 2014 so the future remains bright for the physical store.

4. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?

Mobile visitors make up 22% of all visits to our website and that number is rapidly increasing. In addition to our website, we have developed a range of apps for Android and Apple phones. Currently we have: a Screwfix catalogue app to enable customers to download the latest catalogues and deals whilst on the move; a Shopping app providing an enhanced mobile shopping experience; and a Toolbox app, which is a range of handy tools to help tradesmen to estimate projects to get the job done at the most competitive price. We do believe shopping via a mobile will become even more important, but for our customers, popping into a physical store while out and about on a job will always be their top concern as they simply don’t have the time to wait for deliveries to be posted.

5. What other retail business do you admire?

Apple. Its products are iconic (iPhone and iPad), it has a clear proposition, and it is one of the most well-known brands in the world.

6. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?

I grew up in a small family business in Dublin manufacturing and distributing clothing. Our family discussions were all about business and I never considered doing anything else.

7. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?

At the high end. The businesses I have been involved with and led have done well, but there is always room to improve.