Change is inevitable in every business. When you’ve been around since 1875 like we have, you get used to it! Over the years, Fenns has constantly moved forward to stay ahead of the curve on the latest innovations.
While we’re not the biggest, we’re one of the most impressive and agile. This mindset enables us to punch well above our weight when servicing large household name accounts! We caught up with our Managing Director, Louise Harris, to learn more about the history of Fenns and how we became the leading supplier to some of the UK’s biggest brands.
Back in the day…
Fenns started out regionally, much like the Woolworths of Stoke, supplying stationery to local businesses. It grew to be one of the largest employers in the area at the time and soon diversified into having a print arm too.
Flashforward over a century to 1985 and we’d grown to be the first business supplies company to have national distribution capability and electronic data import. Diversification of our services ensured continued growth as we offered silk screening on vans from our print division until this arm of the business was sold in 2007.
Since becoming Managing Director in 2013, Louise has continued to make changes and innovate at Fenns to ensure growth. Some of the most notable include modernising the back office systems to become a technologically advanced business, changing wholesaler and moving locations. All changes enable Fenns to deliver great service in a flexible way to all clients - putting their needs at the centre.
In the last three years, workwear has been a product category that Fenns began taking seriously - with a vision to elevate the service level across the industry. Business supplies industry is used to the fast pace with order, pick, pack and delivery the next day. The workwear industry was nothing like this so Fenns noticed an opportunity to lead the way.
Trailblazing through the pandemic
Supplying specialist sectors, one being care, turned out to be a breakthrough move as during the pandemic the service was well and truly pressure tested. Through strong relationships with suppliers and a resourceful approach, Fenns was able to deliver when it mattered most! The workwear and PPE category meant that Fenns came out of 2020 with minimal losses as it replaced much of the revenue lost from office supplies.
What keeps Fenns in a strong position to carry on innovating into another decade is the team’s mindset that anything is possible. Trying new approaches is important and having a culture where it is okay to fail and learn enables the best ideas to come to the forefront of the business. With a truly resilient approach, we’ve stood the test of time and are looking forward to the future!