Hull-based online B2B office products retailer Frillo recently expanded its operations by purchasing Claughtons Stationery & Supplies. Founder Gerard Toplass told PITR that Frillo’s first acquisition would not be its last
and that the company had bold plans to make further acquisitions in the future.
The acquisition of Claughtons Stationery & Supplies, which was completed on November 1, will enable Frillo, an online retailer of office supplies, IT and technology, to expand its customer base in Hull and East Yorkshire, helped by Claughtons’ existing team and loyal customer base. Commenting on the rationale behind the acquisition, Frillo founder and CEO Gerard Toplass said: “Claughtons is a well-regarded supplier within the office products market and its values are aligned to Frillo’s perfectly. Claughtons offers a very good product range and its customer base is strong and loyal.”
Entrepreneur Toplass doesn’t intend to grow Frillo purely through the acquisition of complementary businesses. He added that the success of the Frillo proposition – offering products and services to businesses at cost, with no hidden charges or mark-ups – had inspired him to expand the range of products and services it supplies, with the intention of turning Frillo into a one-stop-shop for business customers. Or, as he puts it, an ‘Amazon for Business’.
“Amazon is an online retailer that offers products and content for the B2C market, and at Frillo we want to be the goto place where the B2B market and public sector organisations buy their products and services – Tippex, insurance or advice on your tax return: you name it, we supply it,” he said.
“With this acquisition, we now have one of the best, most established teams in this sector and this area to help us expand our unique Amazon for Business proposition.”
No hidden charges or mark-ups
Expanding on the benefits of this proposition and the Frillo business model generally, Toplass said: “Frillo makes its money by charging a transaction fee, not on the product itself. And if there’s a commodity our customers want, we will supply it.
“When purchasing office supplies from somewhere like Amazon, businesses and schools may have to pay several different carriage costs. With our model, customers can have everything delivered in one convenient package, while only paying the price we pay our suppliers. We do not charge a mark-up on the goods we sell; we simply charge a small transaction fee to save them time and money.
“With over 100,000 products and services, Frillo offers more than any other supplier in the area, so this move is a massive opportunity to give existing and new customers access to more choice when they’re buying their products and choosing their services,” he said.
The established team at Claughtons is now operating under the Frillo name, headed up by Sales Account Manager Karen Turner. She said that operating as part of Frillo was an opportunity to offer customers a better, more convenient way to buy all the products they need in one place.
“We’ve contacted our existing customers about the changeover to Frillo, reassuring them that the team they’ve been dealing with for over two years will be exactly the same and we’ll be giving the same excellent levels of customer service we’re well known for. The feedback we’ve had from our customers about the Frillo changeover has been extremely positive,” she said.
Toplass is equally excited by the future and is looking forward to growing the Claughtons side of the business and creating more jobs in the area. “We’re really looking forward to expanding the team, growing our business and building on our customer base in Hull and East Yorkshire,” he said.
However, Toplass doesn’t plan to stop there. Next year, Frillo will be introducing other interesting new initiatives and targeting new market segments.
“Throughout 2015, we aim to build on our success to date,” he said. “We are just about to launch our service to schools, which some people are calling ‘Amazon for Education’. Our new service will allow schools to benefit from our costsaving model and purchase EU-compliant products from one single supplier. We also intend to continue expanding our product portfolio for SMEs with the introduction of more services.”