Murray Silverman has a long history with the retail landscape and CAT – he’s featured on the cover of the magazine before with his business partner Les Millman as Ace Marketing.
The success of their Bury-based business, now called Streetwize, pours cold water on the scurrilous theory that appearing on the cover of our magazine is some kind of kiss of death.
The retail landscape has changed, yes, but Silverman and Millman have adapted with the times. Murray’s son Dale has joined the business along with Dave Davies, the four of them now pushing ahead with the ‘wize’ branding which can be adapted to different sectors as needed.
One of these new avenues is Leisurewize which Murray thinks has a bright future. He’s taken on John Townsend to head that drive: “He’s got a wealth of history. We’re not going into the leisure business with people who don’t know anything about it.”
The business has been sourcing from China for 12 years now, but over recent years the biggest increases in turnover have come from online activity, says Davis. He reckons online customers stand to benefit the most from leisure products as ‘it doesn’t cost a thing to put a picture online.’
One thing that Silverman wants to underline very clearly is that the company won’t sell direct to the public. Product can creep onto the likes of eBay or Amazon – Autoglym also has this problem – but Silverman says he does his best to police it.
The array of products on display in the company’s showroom is certainly impressive. There are 2000 different products available, a 60,000 sq ft warehouse and a big delivery for TK Maxx going on the day of our visit.
Over the summer Streetwize is going to look at retailers that do well with the leisure lines and we aim to report back on how it’s helped their business.
A lot of the time, however, Silverman says he can come up against a brick wall with customers who don’t want to try something new. This is particularly true of bigger chains: “You’ve got a product you know sells week on week, month on month. You’ve got all of the stats in the world and they won’t take it.
“All of us here have been in this business years and years longer than the graduate who’s just started. We can try and convince them, but it’s very frustrating.”
Silverman also thinks garages are missing a trick by not stocking a few items: “The impulse buy is there. Any garage that’s got space could do it, get a few products in. People are there, waiting, bored, for twenty minutes.” It’s certainly a tactic that works for Wilco…