Lords was established in 1985 with the opening of its first shop in Gerrards Cross providing DIY and garden products. A further branch opened in 1987 trading from Westbourne Grove.
Gradually the company changed its focus from DIY to light side building supplies. A major opportunity to diversify the business into more heavy side trade came along in 1994 when one of the branches began a partnership with a local builders' merchant, Lee & Sons. Lords obtained the trade orders and Lee's sourced and delivered the goods. This relationship proved so successful that by 2000 Lords was accounting for over 40% of Lee & Sons turnover. In 2000 the owner of Lee & Sons decided to retire and so the decision to acquire the business was made. Lords Builders Merchants was created in 2001.
Shanker Patel – Lords CEO "The location of the business was poor, in a primarily residential area making it very difficult to get deliveries in and out. We temporarily relocated the business while we were negotiating the lease on our current premises." In July 2001 Lords Builders Merchants relocated to its current address a 13,000 sq ft warehouse in Park Royal, NW10.
Lords Builders Merchants is primarily a heavy side merchant. It has the capacity to distribute aggregates, bricks, and blocks in bulk quantity and specialises in brick matching for extensions or new house builds.
"Lords is a value merchant giving a high level of service at a competitive price. We are a very open business and are happy to talk to our customers at any time. We keep our service promises in terms of delivering on time, calling customers and providing the correct information."
As the company grew its systems came under increasing strain. "We had a very good paper based system, but as we got busier it was taking up more and more of my time just to do produce, check and send invoices to customers."
Shanker was finding that he had little time to concentrate on other areas of the business. "Our philosophy is to get it right first time; we had to be sure that any new system we put in place would meet our own high standards."
After carrying out an evaluation project, Lords decided to implement CounterAct from Border Merchant Systems.
A number of the management team at Lords had experience with other computer systems but had found them overly complex.
"We had to get a system that was easy to learn as well as being user friendly. We can't afford to spend thousands of £'s on training. We wanted all the basic functions as well as being able to keep tight control our margins. The system also had to be stable and robust so to minimise the risk of system downtime for the business."
"Since installation our margins have improved by an average of 2%. We keep better records and we know our customers are happy with their prices. We give our salesman a lot of flexibility to negotiate on price but they are expected to hit a benchmark margin. CounterAct has allowed us to control this but allowed us to retain an element of flexibility. Lords is very much focused on margin rather than turnover."
"Getting it right first time saves time and money and also has the added benefit that customers are much more likely to pay on time. CounterAct has saved me 3 to 4 hours per day."
Lords are upgrading their branches in Notting Hill to CounterAct as well as linking CounterAct to their web trading business.