I am the new(ish) Managing Director at Out of Eden.
I joined the company in August 2015 to enable our owners Janet and Ian Hartley to gradually start taking a little more time out of the business. And well deserved too, having formed Out of Eden over 24 years ago and dedicating their lives to supplying hoteliers and accommodation owners with quality products.
I came from another great local family owned business: Lakeland, the kitchenware retailer, and after 22 happy years working there, I was very proud to be offered the opportunity to join the Out of Eden team.
I see my role here very much along the lines of helping ensure Out of Eden continue meeting the needs of its customers in the years ahead and provide the exceptional levels of service that it has been built upon.
As I complete my first full year as MD here at Out of Eden, I have to say that it really has been a year of surprises!
Brexit, I’m sure, caught pretty much all of us off guard. We probably did expect the England football team to flop at Euro 2016; but did we honestly imagine them losing to Iceland, a nation with fewer people than Coventry?
Personally, I’m still pinching myself to be sure that Donald Trump really did win the race for the White House; and who’d have thought that 2016 would even see many of the Out of Eden team venturing into space? Extra work space, I should add!
Our continuing growth means there are now 74 of us on site at our offices and warehouse in the Eden Valley and the whole place was getting very close to bursting at the seams. The picking area and packing room were really struggling for space, particularly during the peak Easter and summer months when all our customers tend to be at their busiest, and we needed to act in order to make sure our ability to fulfil all your orders remained as fast and efficient as ever.
So we kicked off 2016 by building an entire new mezzanine level into the warehouse to double the available space, which means we can now accommodate a staggering 2,500 products in our picking hall and packing area.
The team did an admirable job of putting up with the dust and noise and general mayhem during the work, yet still keeping up with the constant flow of customer orders. And the builders also deserve credit for getting the whole project completed in just two weeks!
We were fast running out of office space too, and in February we asked our incredibly friendly and helpful, Customer Services and Business Development teams, to relocate to a newly refurbished office area in what used to be part of the working farm many years before.
I’m thrilled with the way we’ve managed to make such good use of our space to improve our efficiency as a business, as well as the work environment for our team. As for me, well there’s a rather nice looking under-stairs cupboard which I’ve got my eye on…
The arrival of Easter brought a real test of our alterations as the business hit its first flat-out operational period of the year, and everyone was really pleased with how smoothly everything worked. In June, ready for the summer rush of orders, we introduced a ‘twilight shift’ to help eradicate any delays to customers with orders going into the weekends.
It’s a tall order achieving the turn-around times that our customers rely on, and at the same time giving our staff the weekends off to have a rest; but this new shift has really delivered the goods (if you’ll pardon the pun!) July saw us shipping parcels in record numbers, and it was very impressive to see how the whole team here understand that when our customers need something, they need it now and they need it in perfect condition, and our job is to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
Summer soon drifted into autumn, and we’ve remained busy which is great news because it means our customers have too. Some knock-on effects of Brexit like the exchange rate have affected us, but the worst of the doom mongers’ predictions have thankfully not come true.
And so we start to look ahead to 2017. We know there’ll be challenges aplenty, but we also know that working hard and doing our best for our customers will make it another good year, and we wish the same for each and every one of you.
We’re nothing without our loyal customers, and we appreciate how much trust you place in us to help you deliver great hospitality, year in, year out.
So from all of the team at Out of Eden, thank you very much for your continued custom during 2016, and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
With best wishes, Mike and the Out of Eden team