Domestic appliance specialist boosts profits through growing online presence

Qualtex HQ in Denton
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A family business which manufactures and supplies spare parts for domestic appliances has seen a rise in annual underlying pre-tax profits, despite a fall in revenues.

Qualtex Global, based in Denton, is also investing £400,000 in technology so its Denton warehouse can go completely paperless.

The firm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, sells original and compatible spare parts for appliances such as vacuum cleaners, fridges, freezer, washing machines and driers. It supplies retailers, engineers, repair shops, builders’ merchants and independent traders. It also sells directly to consumers via Amazon, eBay and other internet outlets.

Qualtex is led by husband and wife duo Philip and Caroline Hulme as chief executive and managing director, respectively. The company has been in the family since its inception in 1961.

The group, which has operations in the US and Ireland as well as the UK, increased underlying pre-tax profits by 60% in 2020 to £2.4m, on revenues of £27m, compared with £29m the previous year.

Finance director Chris Gibbons hailed the group’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic and said its showing has been boosted by a sharp rise in ecommerce sales and a tendency for householders to repair, rather than replace, appliances.

Ecommerce sales now account for 50% of revenues.

Qualtex has accelerated its investment programme with a new warehouse picking system, enabling it to more than double the number of items despatched each day to 7,000. The company is now implementing a further boost to its operations by investing £400,000 in technology to go paperless at its Denton warehouse.

Chris said the project would reduce paper usage at the firm by one million sheets a year.

Following its 2017 acquisition of the JEGS garden and DIY business, Qualtex also supplies hoses, tools and other equipment to hardware stores.

In total, Qualtex stocks more than 250 brands and exports to in excess of 40 countries. In the UK, the group operates from a 90,000 sq ft office, warehouse and distribution hub in Denton, and has teams in Kent and Essex. It has a trade counter, warehouse and sales team in Dublin. Its US business 4YourHome is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Staff numbers across the group total 85.

Chris Gibbons said: “Last year was a great 12 months for Qualtex and we will use this platform to build upon and improve our operational efficiencies, through investment in our people and in new technologies.”

The group has appointed accountancy firm Hurst to provide financial and strategic advice as it plots its next phase of growth.

John Glover, a partner in the business services team at Hurst, said: “Over the past 18 months, Qualtex has invested heavily to improve its operations and efficiencies, which has allowed the business to respond effectively and decisively to the impact of and challenges presented by COVID-19.

“These programmes are bearing fruit with growing profits in what has been a difficult period for all. With a number of other developments in the pipeline, the company can look forward to the future with confidence and we are thrilled to be working with the management team to advise and guide them on their growth strategy while providing ongoing compliance support.”

Chris Gibbons said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Hurst. We have all learned the importance of supporting local businesses during the pandemic, and we are looking forward to working alongside the team in the years to come.”

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