Richard Walters left school when he was 15 and got a sales assistant job at his local motor accessories store. He now owns the shop and four others, so how has he done it?
“I worked my way up to store manager at High Wycombe, learnt the trade, and when Richard Wos retired he encouraged me to buy him out,” he says. “My wife Julia is an accountant and together we went to see the local bank manager ” he knew the business and was happy to help.
“I had been running the store day-to-day for five years by then, so I knew what I was doing. We demonstrated our business model at High Wycombe and it has grown from there. I bought Abingdon 12 years ago when Peter Tothills retired, Henley about five years ago when the brothers who ran it retired, and picked up Witney and Tring just over three years ago when a company went into liquidation. You take a chance and away you go it is very much a case of getting your head down and getting on with it.
“We are a pure retailer. The trouble with trade is most of the big towns have factors with big warehouses. I am not going up against them. Six or seven years ago we were doing a lot of audio, wheels and performance stuff. It is not as big as it was, but we still do it. We use Wheelrite and do audio and alarms.
“Recently we have gone back to being more of a traditional service shop, doing DIY parts and accessories, chemicals, oils, seat covers, wheel trims etc. We have a workshop facility at High Wycombe for fitting audio equipment and things like wiper blades and bulbs.
“We are well known in the local area, but there is no doubting that times are tough. To make things worse a drunk driver smashed through the wall of the High Wycombe shop, so we have had a complete refurbishment to contend with. It is all very well being insured but I cannot afford for people to think we have shut, so we have had to work through it.
“I am an A1 member but I also deal directly with most of the suppliers. Lucas Oil has a great following and they recently launched a new loyalty card, which gives customers a five percent discount. Anything like that which generates interest is to be welcomed.
“This time of year we sell fireworks and have been doing so for five years. It is another string to our bow and a way of attracting new customers. I am also praying for another bad winter as we have invested quite heavily in shovels, sledges, battery chargers, jump leads, snow chains and shoes.
â€œThere is too much doom and gloom in this industry and we have to stick to our game plan and remain positive. I have a real advantage in that my shortest serving member of staff has been here for four years, most of them a lot longer. They have great experience and we stock what customers want at reasonable prices. That will see us through.â€
Interpart – vital stats
OWNERS: Richard and Julia Walters
ESTABLISHED: Under current owners since 1993
LOCATIONS: High Wycombe, Abingdon, Henley-on-Thames, Witney and Tring
SUPPLIERS: A1, Auto Glym, Lucas, Streetwize, Ring, Tetrosyl, Draper and Martin Cox
TEL: 01494 436191
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