Firm's remarkable success story during pandemic
By David Wood | 6th July 2021
A Gloucester office solutions firm which expected business to plummet during lockdown has defied the odds and just recorded its best-ever year.
Elmrep Office Solutions Ltd expected to see a 50 per cent reduction in turnover during the pandemic but ended up seeing turnover rise by more than 15 per cent on the previous year.
The company, based in Eastern Avenue, has been supplying photocopiers, printers and scanners throughout Gloucestershire and beyond since 1984.
Ten years ago Lee Summers - who joined Elmrep as a 16-year-old YTS trainee way back in 1993 - bought the company and has since seen it flourish.
Lee told Punchline: "I have been there, done it and got the t-shirt! I still make the tea to this day! I bought the company in 2011 as the old owner was looking to move on. All our competitors had previously sold out to the national "big boys" - whereas I wanted to keep things local as our customers like this approach. We have also been partnered to the manufacturer SHARP for all that time too.
"Lockdown raised massive concerns for us as our main revenue stream is from customers using the printers we have provided them but unfortunately the majority of businesses went home on March 23rd 2020! April's usage figures (our revenue) for pages used plummeted by over 66% - two-thirds literally disappeared overnight.
"We have slowly seen an increase in these volumes including dips again at new lockdowns etc. However, even now we are still only at 90% of where we were in February 2020.
"Home working has helped a lot of companies realise where they can use digital documents. Document scanning and document workflow is also a key product and service we provide. We provide clients with ways of reducing their printing, yet increasing their office efficiency.
"Our success of 2021 was purely down to finding new customers and considering we don't have a salesforce (apart from me), this has been a fantastic achievement.
"Two well-known local Gloucestershire photocopier firms have recently sold out to the nationals. One was within the last couple of years and the other was literally the last couple of months. This has seen many Gloucestershire businesses left disappointed with the service levels as they are no longer based down the road and neither are they as flexible as before.
"The Gloucestershire business community are a loyal bunch, they stick together and always look to go local if they can. We have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of many enquiries from local firms to see if we can help them save money and also give them back the service they always have been used to...or better it!"
Examples of Elmrep's new customers are Langley Wellingtons Solicitors, Barnwood Construction, Gloucester Glass, St Mary's Primary School and Emmaus Charity, to name a few. They all joined the existing customer base including the likes of the Gillmans Group, Warners Group, Randall & Payne and the Yankee Candle Group based out of Avonmouth.
Lee added: "From expecting the pandemic to hit us hard and originally looking at 50% reduction in turnover we actually had our best year ever and we grew by more than 15% on the previous year.
"The recent connections with local businesses has been fantastic this year and long may it continue. We're looking forward to less restrictions after July 19th which will see more people returning to the offices and starting to print again.
"So with our new customer base and our old customers getting back in the saddle, we should really start to see the fruits of our labour as everyone starts turning their machines back on for print."
For more information on Elmrep, visit elmrep.co.uk
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