*NEWS*WHO IS ……..CARTRIDGEMONKEY.COM
*NEWS*WHO IS ……..CARTRIDGEMONKEY.COM
2008-03-21 at 11:33:51 am #21819
Monkey makes jump to being ‘serious player’
Cartridge and printer supplier manages to quadruple sales with same number of staffGary Flynn’s first five years as a company director have at times proved to be a little uncomfortable. The 39-year-old managing director of web retailer Net Giant has had to contend with an industry giant peeved at how the Bolton-based firm sold generic ink cartridges at much lower prices than branded product. He has also had to contend with the dissolution of his business partnership with co-founder Keith Scott.However, the company he started from his dining room table in 2003 has prospered to the point where he expects to turn over £3.7m this year and is just about to relocate to a new 2,000 sq ft unit it has purchased at Rok Group’s Atherleigh Business Park in Westhoughton.
The company is best known for its main trading site, Cartridge Monkey, which provides ink cartridges to home users. Flynn, whose background is in large format print, said that he continued to work full time until September 2003 and only moved into proper premises in April 2004.“There was a big market in third-party manufactured products which is where we really started as a business. We could access the product easily and there wasn’t a lot of cash outlay,” he said.However, despite racking up almost £1m in sales within its first 12 months in the unit, the firm decided to diversify and offer branded cartridges.“We were a one-trick pony and at that time there was pressure coming on us from the manufacturers. They were suggesting that these cartridges infringed patents and it became clear to us that we needed to broaden our horizons.”He said the move into branded products allowed it to become “a more serious player in the consumables market”.The firm also started supplying toner to business customers and launched the Toner Giant site in November 2006. However, he and Scott disagreed on strategy so Flynn bought out his partner last March.“It was very amicable…Well, it was reasonably amicable. Keith got a sum of money he was happy with and my wife came into the company as a director. Since then, the business has changed dramatically.”The firm has since significantly altered its business model. Instead of sending out cartridges itself, it has tailored a software system which receives an order and automatically places it with a preferred supplier based on a number of factors including availability, cost price and reliability of the supplier. Once the order is placed, it is sent directly from the distributor or supplier.“We decided to concentrate on the marketing, the website, customer services and post-sales.”As a result, he argues, the firm is much more efficient — employing the same number of people now it generates run rate turnover of £4m as it did when annual sales were £1m.It has also expanded relatively painlessly into other areas. The firm has just started selling Epson, HP and Canon printers and Flynn said digital photo frames and other electrical goods will follow. He also intends to take on more staff in order to bring web design and development work in-house.He said: “We’ve used various agencies along the way and some have been great but some cost an awful lot of money. There’s no guarantee at the end of it, and you don’t gain the expertise.”A spokesman for Epson, which has carried out some joint marketing initiatives with the firm, said that Net Giant’s move into providing printers was “a logical business extension for them”.The spokesman added: “Consumers, having purchased the printer from Cartridge Monkey, may well return to the site to purchase further ink supplies.”