Company founder Stephen Wanless
Chloe Shakesby

Northumbria gift company pivots business to expand supplier pool

A Northumbrian gift company has announced that it has invested in pivoting its business after lockdown.

Northumbrian Gifts, long term tenants of Advance Northumberland based at Ashwood Business Park, Ashington was founded to provide a shop window to the produce available in the North East region.

Once lockdown was enforced, all but six of Northumbrian Gifts’ wholesale accounts closed.

To help it navigate through the changes, the company got support from Advance Northumberland, and restructured the business to focus more on targeting individual customers. This included an update to the website as well as sourcing new stock to sell through the website.

By pivoting the business to put an emphasis on 1:1 retail rather than wholesale, Northumbrian Gifts has been able to grow its community and network of supplier companies, enabling it to stock more brands and a wider range of locally-made products.

It now stocks products from more than 50 North East based suppliers and service providers, including brewers and distillers.

Katrina Wanless, director at Northumbrian Gifts, commented: “We are extremely thankful for the support offered by Advance Northumberland and the suppliers that are working with us, this has helped us to remodel the business from being wholesale orientated to focussing on individual customers.

“It was important to us to remain open and support our suppliers and customers. The advice from the Advance Northumberland mentor has been invaluable and in the beginning of the lockdown, when it all felt a bit chaotic, it was helpful and calming to actually speak to someone and discuss ideas.

“We’ve also had to make changes to our website to support the increase of sales through it, so we have been lucky in that the excellent digital connectivity at Ashwood Business Park has been able to support this.

“The location of our site also means we can benefit from great transport links which is not only important for the rapid distribution of the products and produce, but also for public access as we have kept our shop open for business.”

Councillor Richard Wearmouth, chair of Advance Northumberland added: “It is fantastic to see how Katrina and the company have adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic while remaining true to their ethos of showcasing the fantastic range of produce that can be found in the region.”

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