75 Years of supplying the merchant trade for Owlett-Jaton

75 Years of supplying the merchant trade for Owlett-Jaton

With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations taking place in early June, the very same week also witnessed Owlett-Jaton marking its own major milestone of 75 years of successful trading.

When Mr. William May Owlett founded the business back in 1947, World War Two had only ended less than two years beforehand. Rationing would not (completely) end until 1954, which impacted food, fuel, clothing, as well as building materials, to name a few commodities.

Understandably, huge levels of building construction and materials were required over many parts of the country as a consequence of war; Owlett’s was there to serve the builders’ merchant trade.

Almost all products were manufactured in and sourced from the UK. Stock control was courtesy of a card index system, where details were hand-written, and amended every time stock came in and went out. Many products were sold in gross (quantities of 144), or alternatively ‘hundredweight’ (CWT). Dimensions were measured in imperial, including gauges, feet, and inches – right down to fractions of sixty fourths!

The Owlett catalogue from the early 1960s (and a copy still exists…!) consisted of 68 pages and included items such as 10 gallon galvanised gas boilers, painters’ cutlery, and lobster back cowls to name a few. Orders could be placed on a 5 digit telephone number, boasting 8 lines.

Over the years, Owlett premises have included a depot in the appropriately named ‘Nailsworth Works’, a church hall, railway warehouses, and an ex-brewery depot.

During 75 years of trading, changes in society, technology, and the economy have influenced how the business has developed. The late nineties saw Owlett merge with Jaton, creating today’s company, Owlett-Jaton which now lays claim to being one of the UK and Ireland’s leading wholesale supplier of fasteners, fixings, and associated products to the merchant trade.

Products are now sourced globally, meeting stringent national and international standards. Most products are sold in denominations of 100’s or 1000’s, or (still) by weight (but) in Kilograms. Metres and millimetres have, of course, replaced imperial measurements for the vast majority of products.

The Owlett-Jaton catalogue now spans over 450 pages, and the company offers in excess of 30,000 product lines – a reflection of the firm’s commitment to continually expanding its product offering.

Orders are placed by phone, e-mail, and the website – www.owlett-jaton.com – via landline, mobile phone, desktop, laptop, and tablet. And the company now has five regional sales offices spanning the UK, with the head office in Stone, Staffordshire which boasts a purpose-built 12,000 square Metre (130,000 square Feet!) warehouse.

Despite all the changes that we have (all) experienced, the firm says its core values remain as strong today as they did in the beginning and “its commitment to high levels of service and an ever-increasing range of products to support builder’s merchants remains”, including leading brands such as Unifix and Vortex. Customers can order multiple items, in small quantities, all from one supplier, designed to improve efficiency, provide cost savings, and enhance customer service levels.

Here is to the next 75 years, and the partnership between Owlett-Jaton and the builders’ merchant’s trade.

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