Nisbets founder reveals secrets of success

Making it easy for customers to source products and constantly re-evaluating the “basics” of its strategy are the secret of Nisbets’ ascent to the top of the catering supplies market, according to the man who started the £180m business from the boot of his car.

Andrew Nisbet, who today serves as chairman of the Bristol-based outfit, established Nisbets 30 years ago this month after spotting an opportunity to provide catering college students with chefs’ uniforms and utensils at a time when there was no central place for them to purchase the items they needed.

Within four years he launched Nisbets’ first mail order catalogue, which quickly became the bedrock of the company and still remains an important route to market today, even with the explosion of website sales.

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The operation now employs 600 people, boasts offices across the world and despatches more than 5,000 items every day.

Nisbet told Catering Insight that the realisation it could offer customers all they needed in one place and through the medium they deem most convenient has allowed the business to grow throughout the past three decades.

“I think that by becoming a one-stop shop for our customers we have helped to ensure that no matter what equipment they are searching for, Nisbets is the first place they turn to,” he said. “We have also made it easy for our customers to find us. Whether they prefer to order via the web, via the phone or to turn up in person at one of our shops, Nisbets is extremely accessible.”

Nisbet suggests that this approach is all underpinned by what he calls a “constant re-evaluation of the basics”.

“It is for exactly this reason that we now offer telephone ordering on a Sunday and an even later cut-off time for next day delivery of 5pm,” he explained. “We also ensure that our brands are continually innovating, so that we have the very latest equipment developments at a price that our customers can afford. By remaining at the heart of the catering industry, Nisbets is able to ensure that it continues to offer the highest quality products that are key to making a caterer’s life easier.”

The full interview with Andrew Nisbet can be read here.

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