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“Beige is becoming the new white – and green,” declares Tim Bench, managing director and second generation co-owner of the family firm whose hygienic essentials have also had their moment as props in shows such as Corrie and Big Brother.
Based in Coventry, the company grew from a garage start-up distributor in 1970 and is renowned today for consistency and flexibility on all fronts from delivery and payment to order size.
Customers are served throughout the UK and a £6 million turnover is forecast for next year thanks to an expanding 15,500 client list.
GP and dentist surgeries, nursing homes, vets’ practices, the Royal Marines, fish farms and film sets have more recently been joined by home shoppers.
“We were one of the early adopters of web sales and the first we believe to offer unedited live customer reviews in the cleaning and hygiene industry,” says Bench.
“We offer quality brands, sourcing the best in that niche with great prices and exemplary customer service. We’re happy to do smaller amounts and mixed ones so five different things in one order.
“Clients can check, get free samples and advice. We create specific websites to help purchasing. All this has won us great loyalty and enabled us to grow.”
Paper hand towels and toilet rolls remain the big sellers, “but we’re seeing increased demand for eco-friendly products such as our recycled cleaning rags which come from hotels’ discarded towels – people cleaning up after floods have found them very useful,” adds Bench.
“This was why we developed our own Panda Soft brand with plastic-free packaging. The rolls are competitively priced, made from certified sustainable bamboo in southern China and suitable for sensitive skin.
“Our Havana range will be out in the next couple of months. The quality of recycled brown paper has improved enormously, it’s very soft and smooth now. Availability has come as a result of the online increase in deliveries in boxes. Recycling the waste cardboard into a recyclable new range creates the green circle.”
Galleon’s foresight in purchasing a derelict distribution site a decade ago was a turning point. “With our own headquarters we can source full lorries and store, buy in advance, not be constrained by shortages and still have capacity to expand,” Bench explains.
“With our organization and structure we’re very robust and can process, pick, pack and deliver whenever the need while some competitors have crumbled. Having live stock has been invaluable during Covid, we’ve grown 50 per cent.”
While the company does have three customers overseas it has been goodbye to the EU. “Brexit admin charges and the shambles of trying to get goods over the border cost us £250,000. We refocused on home markets,” he says.
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The company has 12 staff and taken on its first apprentice as it prepares to introduce a new competitive disposable gloves range, a market where prices have shot up over 200 per cent. More eco-friendly and specific ranges are also planned.
Automating processes has helped Galleon’s productivity. “But it can never replace experience, so when you look at figures you can sense change,” adds Bench.
“We tapped into the national obsession with toilet rolls that resulted in subscription boxes which have been hugely successful and made us known to a new market.
“Spread sales over thousands of customers, not just a large few, has been one of our guiding principles, and why we aren’t a flash in the pan.”
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