How a private, Yorkshire business goes from local to global
Yorkshire is full of opportunity. From the industrial roots of Sheffield “The Steel City”, to its surrounding region, it is bustling with business-minded people who take small ideas and make them big realities. The late Sir Ken Morrison, for example, built the supermarket giant that is Morrison’s from the humble beginnings of a Bradford market stall.
Pricecheck was founded in 1978 by the Lythe family as a modest toiletry wholesale business. Fast forward nearly 40 years and Pricecheck International Brand Trading is a well-established distributor of a huge range of discount branded FMCG products, to over 75 countries worldwide under the Joint Managing Directorship of brother and sister Mark Lythe and Debbie Harrison.
It’s not just the product range and customer base that has increased either, the company now employs 100+ staff members and has recently moved to a state-of-the-art premises, with a 115,000 square foot warehouse. Without the constraints of previous premises, turnover has increased by 25% in the past year alone and the company is on track for a £54million turnover by the end of this year – 39% of which is exports. The growth in our overseas trading has also been recognised through receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2015.
So how has being a private business allowed Pricecheck to become the international wholesale operation it is today?
Being private means more flexibility and adaptability to change, which is invaluable when it comes to often volatile foreign markets. The speed at which one can react to change is a huge advantage for any international business, meaning growth need not be stunted by sudden industry fluctuations, such as currency instability or recent uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
There is also flexibility in choosing product categories, having recently expanded into food, drink and pet care, the business can “test the waters” for what works well. Another benefit is the ability to focus on certain market sectors, or target specific countries for export.
In contrast to many public companies, we are able to focus on long-term growth and take the time to see plans come to fruition, with a stable senior management team who will follow through long-held plans. However, Pricecheck ensures new concepts are always brought to the table through the recruitment of bright young graduates with innovative ideas.
Owning a private company comes with the complete authority over decisions and activities. This has allowed the business to thrive but still hold true to its family values and ethos. Even with 100+ staff members, Pricecheck is still able to maintain the family feel throughout all areas of the business, something which has always been of vital importance, and will continue to be as we grow further.
Being private does not come without risks, however. There is not the investment of shareholders to fall back on, meaning the need to succeed is often greater and can come with additional pressures, whereby all decisions affect senior management personally. Yet risk-taking is probably the very root of the business’ success.
Looking forward, now that Pricecheck has broken the £50 million barrier, the next target is to double turnover to £100 million within the next five years, meaning continued growth in all areas of the business, via recruitment, export and the addition of new product categories. It’s an exciting time to be a private company and indeed a Yorkshire business with global ambitions.