Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lincolnshire’s James Oliver targets the future after £1m ‘home comforts’ boost

One of the East Midlands’ leading independent home improvement specialists is investing in its workforce of the future after securing a £1m sales boost this year.

James Oliver Conservatories, which has invested over £250,000 into its new showroom on Crofton Road in Lincoln, has taken on two new apprentices as part of a recruitment drive that has seen employee numbers rise from 35 to 50 since the end of lockdown.

Part of the Conservatory Outlet retail network, the company has taken on Lloyd and Zack as apprentice bricklayers to ensure the skills and knowledge of its skilled tradespeople is passed down to the next generation and to help its expanding fitting team cope with a rise in demand from homeowners pressing the button on improvement projects.

Interest has risen across all the firm’s product lines, including replacing conservatory roofs with solid roofs, complete living spaces, conservatories, orangeries and individual windows and doors.

“The last twelve months have been some of our busiest in our 40-year history and we’ve seen orders from all over the region, from the Lincolnshire coast across to Mansfield and parts of North Nottinghamshire,” explained Simon Ahearn, general manager of James Oliver Conservatories.

“Ramping up activity has been a nice, but difficult challenge and we’ve found we need more staff in all parts of the business to make sure we can complete existing projects and deliver new work in timescales the clients are happy with.”

He continued: “We’ve taken on a lot of experienced people, but also recognised the need to grow our own staff and this has seen us invest in Lloyd and Zack, working with Lincoln College to help deliver a mix of practical and theoretical training, boosted by an internal mentoring programme with senior colleagues.”

James Oliver started the business more than 40 years ago, using his joinery background to launch a conservatory company that is now headed up by his two sons Tom and Will Oliver.

The Lincolnshire firm has built a reputation for combining personalised service (achieved through a loyal and committed workforce) with a mix of the latest products, such as aluminium doors and the latest roofing structures.

It has also completely transformed its 17,500 sq ft showroom during lockdown to include 14 living space displays, a new specialist lighting centre and the launch of a new indoor furniture range to complement the existing external products, including sofas and dining ranges.

Simon went on to add: “Being part of the Conservatory Outlet network of retailers has been instrumental in our growth, giving us lots of external advice, help in creating a 3D walkthrough of our showroom and in industry-leading marketing support.

“The latter has been extremely useful, generating more than 2000 new leads in the last twelve months, many of which have been converted into actual sales. This has seen us move from being worried about a potential drop in orders when Covid-19 struck to trying to manage our best ever year.”

Conservatory Outlet’s CEO, Greg Kane, added his support: “James Oliver is a superb family business, delivering some of the highest quality home improvement projects in the East Midlands.

“The management team embraced our desire to be proactive during the first lockdown and are now reaping the dividends, investing in new staff and, I’m delighted to see, training the fitters of the future.

“It certainly has one eye on the next forty years, and this is reflected in its approach to creating a greener environment through the upgrading of its commercial fleet to all electric vehicles, installing a range of charging facilities at its showroom, and aiming to plant 1000 trees over the next 12 months.”

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