From hardware, ironmongery and decorating accessories to plumbing solutions, tapes, adhesives and signs and labels, Centurion is one of the UK’s leading wholesale suppliers and every day ships thousands of products to customers nationwide from its warehouse in South Yorkshire.
With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Denise McGillivray recently joined the business to work specifically with builders’ merchants and buying groups.
Denise McGillivray, Business Development Manager (Builders’ Merchants).
Q How did you get into the industry and to your current position?
A Whilst working in B&Q (my first job), a sales representative told me he was leaving. I called his boss and asked if I could be interviewed for the job. I got it and have not looked back. Over the years, my knowledge and experience in building products grew — and so did my career, taking me into roles working closely with builders’ merchants.
Q How do you feel the industry has changed in recent years?
A As the large DIY retailers started offering trade options, builders’ merchants opened their doors to the domestic consumer for DIY making the industry extremely competitive.
The way these businesses now sell is changing, as well as the way they buy. Online purchasing is now becoming the preferred way both for the merchant and consumer, along with quick delivery or easy click and collect options.
Q What has the particular impact of Covid-19 been on the business, and what (permanent?) changes have been implemented?
A The way we interact with our merchant customers has been impacted significantly by Covid-19. With many policies and procedures in place to control the spread of the virus, we have seen many meetings replaced with ‘virtual meetings’ and more flyers, brochures etc uploaded onto online portals.
I love nothing more than being customer facing, and the current restrictions have had an impact on not only building relationships in person but also restricting the fundamental purpose of a salesperson — branch visits. A crucial part of our job, there is only so much you can achieve on a virtual meeting.
Similarly, sourcing materials and managing the spiralling cost increases from both Brexit and Covid-19 are a key challenge.
Q And what of the other issues impacting upon the sector, for example the growing debate surrounding sustainability?
A This is an issue that is going to gain more momentum as the governments tackle climate change and younger generations are becoming more educated on the importance. From the manufacturers, brands through to the merchants and the end trades, all have to face issues around sustainability.
For our business we constantly review our materials, work closely with our manufacturers and 100% of our waste recyclable material does not reach landfill.
Q Which individual has influenced you most in your career?
A That would be my Dad. He was in sales since he was a teenager, and I was lucky enough to work with him for many years when he launched his own business in the grocery sector. I learned so much from his experience.
Q Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
A Continuing to build strong relationships with merchant customers and helping them to see what Centurion can offer them. And wondering where on earth has 30 years gone!
For more information on Centurion’s range of products and merchant support services go to: https://www.centurioneurope.co.uk/