Bringing comfort after pregnancy and baby loss
Aching Arms is a baby loss charity run by a group of bereaved parents who have experienced the pain and emptiness of leaving hospital without their baby. Our aim is to raise awareness of the impact of pregnancy and baby loss and bring some comfort to bereaved parents and their families after the loss of a baby.
Aching Arms was registered as a charity in 2013 and now just over 100 hospitals in the UK offer Aching Arms comfort bears to parents whose baby has died. The leaflet provided with the bear signposts parents to our website and to the range of helpline and support services which other baby charities provide.
We donate Aching Arms comfort bears to hospitals, hospices and funeral directors to offer to parents in their care. We also reach out to bereaved families who contact us via our website, email, Facebook or Twitter and post dedicated bears directly.
Anne has significant NHS experience. She was an Accident and emergency nurse specialist for 14 years and NHS manager with 4 years spent in project management .
She has worked in the acute hospital seating and community sector as a health visitor and manager of a children’s services team . Anne has also worked as a family planning nurse. She has significant experience in working with women and families especially in the arena of perinatal mental health . Latterly Anne has been working as a quality improvement trainer and coach.
In addition Anne has a background as an Active birth teacher, yoga for pregnancy teacher , breastfeeding educator and teaches The Wise Hippo blueprint for birth and early parenting programme.
Anne coaches 1:1 in person or via Skype/Zoom. She also coaches small groups and provides VIP days .
Anne’s extensive NHS experience means there is very little she has not seen or heard and which can knock her off kilter .
Ardleigh Green is Havering’s local supplier in quality. Discount cleaning materials and equipment for both the domestic and commercial industries. We welcome both trade customers and the public with a vast product range offering to suit all types of customer needs. We are also introducing to the local market place innovation in the form of chemical free cleaning, eco-friendly paper products and award winning floor signage.
Growth over the last twelve months in revenue, sales profit and market share
At Ardleigh Green we measure growth in several aspects of the business. Based on comparisons from the financial year 2014 to 2015, from 2015 to 2016 and from 2016 to 2017 (2017 gathered data is as accurate to the date of entry or predicted figures calculated from current data)
- Customer numbers have risen by 29.9% 2014 to 2015, by 26.4% 2015 to 2016 and 13.9% 2016 to 2017 (figure being based on data correct as of date of entry)
- The average spend of the customers through the front door has also increased year on year, to date in 2017 the average spend has gone up by 9%
- Revenue has increased year on year, 314% 2014 to 2015, 33% 2015 to 2016, 13.3% 2016 to 2017 (figure based on predicted figures for 2017)
- Purchase of chemicals/products has grown by an average of 30% over each of the years
- Gross profit has risen by 216% 2014 to 2015, 53% 2015 to 2016, 21% 2016 to 2017 (figure based on predicted figures for 2017)
- Value of stock held increased significantly, as a result we have had to take over further accommodation on the existing site to cover the need.
- Shareholder funds have significantly increased, however, rather than taking the funds these have been reinvested into the business during 2017 for marketing
(Please note that all percentages are calculated year on year, therefore, the percentages are harder to achieve)
When looking at market share, the marketplace of janitorial supplies is vast and to measure us at present we would only represent a small percentage. However, given the sudden increases across all aspects of our company, it is safe to say our market share is increasing.
Growth in personnel / strategic partners
Since opening in September 2014, Ardleigh Green has increased its’ staffing levels by having one person managing and maintaining the shop, a dedicated warehouse/delivery driver and a dedicated engineer that handles all assessments and repairs on vacuums. In 2016 we had plans for us to extend our opening times and open on Saturdays, in 2017 this was achieved and we are now open on a Saturday morning 9am to 1pm, staffing has expanded to cater for these additional hours. To further support the growth within personnel, we have just recruited and awaiting the start of an IT guru who will be responsible in developing our social media foot print and raise the awareness/presence of Ardleigh Green on the internet. In addition to the IT aspect of the business, we expect to soon be looking to recruit a sales and marketing specialist to further boost our brand bringing old-fashioned values back to the market place and combining web experience and face to face interaction creating a balance of opportunities.
In regards to strategic partners, all of our existing suppliers have now given us trade accounts and we are no longer paying on a pro-forma invoice basis with them, in some cases the suppliers have increased our credit limits due to the need to hold more stock. We have also seen quicker delivery times from suppliers as stock turnover increases. There has been a need to increase the number of suppliers which have given access to a bigger range of products that we can offer, this means we buy direct from the main producers rather than buying products through a third party, enabling us to provide products a more cost effective price. We now offer products that are Chemical Free and Alcohol free, therefore, being more environmentally friendly and increasing the clientele base, meeting the social awareness and need to demonstrate our commitment to protecting the future for everyone.
Sustaining significant on-going growth
At Ardleigh Green we continuously review ways in which we can sustain continued growth. We aim to ensure that the Ardleigh Green brand continues to develop within the increasing marketplace. We have identified the following as areas for development:
- New product ranges – sourcing from new and existing suppliers, ensuring high quality is maintained and where possible customer requirements are satisfied. Bringing in innovative products and also creating opportunities for existing products to be presented and sold in a different format, microfibre ‘swiss rolls’. These can be seen in appendix 1.
- Equipment evolution – identifying how equipment can improve productivity
- Investment in the premises including revamp of the shop and making the customer journey from the thoroughfare enlightening by way of offerings
- Staff training – developing knowledge base of new and existing staff members.
- Uniforms – revamp of the current uniform to bring the brand association in line with company expectations.
- Delivery vehicles – we are looking at switching over to electric vans to facilitate involvement in reducing environmental impact. At present due to the range the vans are able to cover this does not yet enable us to transfer over but the directors are monitoring this and a change in delivery fleet will be made as soon as the vans are able to complete a full delivery round for us
- Service levels – ensuring that all customers, whether trade or domestic or new or old, will receive the same excellent service levels at all times
- Variety of additional services – including safety data sheets and risk assessments to ensure customer compliance. Bespoke services can also be arranged, an example being, infection control procedures implemented at a local doctor’s surgery to assist in their compliance with their CQC inspections. In 2017, we have worked with a local prestigious school, to ensure that only Chemcial Free Cleaning Materials are used when the pupils are in attendance, thus reducing the potential risk of allergic reactions. Making a company stand on the sale of items such as Acids and Blades, the company reserves the right not to sell such products.
- Savings to customers – we don’t have “flashy” brochures to advertise our goods or services, this enables us to keep our costs down and pass these savings on to our customers. Promotions are regularly run in store as additional savings to customers. Please see appendix 8 for an innovative way of producing our price lists and the sale of existing products.
Funding through profit re-investment to maintain and secure growth
Both owners of the business are dedicated to ensuring that there is adequate funding in place so that the company doesn’t stagger into development but is supported adequately. This is to ensure that the company grows at a sustainable level to safeguard the balance of services, customer care and support. The owners are consistently looking at opportunities to increase our market share, including the purchase of additional complimentary businesses. Our pricing mark ups range from 30% – 300% dependant on the product thus assisting in maintaining and increasing revenue.
One other way we look to maintain significant growth is by ordering complete pallets of items, as opposed to mixed pallets. This way our suppliers are able to offer us larger discounts therefore resulting in increases in profits to maintain the funding and facilitate the growth, whilst also maintaining prices to customers ensuring they still receive good, competitive prices.
During 2017, Ardleigh has invested its shareholder funds to increase marketing, this has included being an exhibitor at the Cleaning Show in February 2017, Radio Advertising (please see script in appendix 10 and 11, attending the show case at the Queens Theatre in October 2017 which was run by the Havering Chamber of Commerce and an innovative way to produce prices lists, this has been demonstrated in the section above.
Ardleigh Green has also identified that the although it has the use of Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter and other online platforms such as the website, Ebay, Amazon etc to promote our products and services it is currently not producing the level of results we have identified that is possible. Therefore, Ardleigh Green has invested some of the funds mentioned to employ someone on a part time basis with the knowledge of how to ‘play’ these platforms to increase our profile and attract customers that we would not normally have been able to reach.
Changes that will be required within our business to manage the increased growth
We understanding our business model needs to review and adapt to assist in increased growth ie offers and methods of promotion need to change, this is displayed in all the appendices. Any changes within the business needs to be introduced in a manner that will not affect business growth. Thus our plans involve all parties within the business to offer input for discussions, planning and potential implementation.
As with any company, we have short and long term plans. Our short term plans include expanding our staffing to compliment the increase in growth we have seen, particularly from the past twelve months. Currently we have one dedicated warehouse/delivery driver, but this will need to increase to a second person who does deliveries so the warehouse person has time to concentrate on stock and orders. Our shop staffing will see an expansion to cope with the walk in customers. Our medium to long term plans include increasing stock levels, whether this is in quantities or variations, although this has significantly increased since we started, there is still further innovative stock that can be promoted to both our domestic and trade customers. There are also plans to increase our vehicle fleet to facilitate demands. We aim to purchase vehicles will be electronic in a bid to be in line with being a responsible retailer in looking after our environment.
Obstacles have you faced in developing your business and how have you overcome them
In the early stages of the business development our main obstacles were suppliers. They didn’t know us and we didn’t know them, so it has taken a committed effort to work closely with the suppliers to encourage them to support our business model. We are pleased that all of the suppliers we work with are fully committed to our journey.
With regards to staffing, we have been extremely fortunate to locate the correct staff, although we have found the interview process a challenge as it has not always been the most successful medium. One other challenge we have encountered is educating the staff that have little or no knowledge within the cleaning industry and janitorial supplies, this has been overcome by investing in external supplier training programmes, educational software and in-house training. Retaining existing staff is a common issue in most industries, we have implemented a profit sharing scheme to help boost morale and to keep the staff interested and challenging themselves.
Other obstacles we have faced since opening are:
- Persuading companies to change from their existing janitorial suppliers to us; we have overcome this by looking at what services we can offer that make us unique. i.e. free safety data sheets, free delivery with no minimum order, free advice regarding method statements and risk assessments, free equipment assessments, maintaining low prices and showing money saving advantage.
- Getting customers to walk down the driveway into our shop – we are set back from the road and customers initially appear daunted. We have renovated the front of our premises to appear more inviting and appealing to customers, including the general public, who at first were not sure we would sell to them. We have also created a car park sign, that has offers on it, to show that there is a large driveway in front of the shop, showing customers that parking is easy and assists them being a customer.
- Advertising to the general public – annually, we hold a Christmas event to welcome the public into our shop and to introduce ourselves and give a little something back to the local community. Christmas 2015 our event was held to raise £600.00 for the Mayor of Havering’s chosen charities in conjunction with Tesco, other local businesses and the local police. We also invited craft stallholders to join us to help promote their businesses. Stallholders were not charged any pitch fees, no admission fees were necessary and children were able to see Father Christmas for free. Raffle prizes were all donated by businesses within Ardleigh Green and Hornchurch and all money raised from the sale of raffle tickets was donated directly to the Mayor’s Charities. We welcomed over 250 visitors during this event and all feedback provided was greatly received. Christmas 2016 chose the Ardleigh Green Family Centre as the charity to benefit from the event. The Ardleigh Green Family Centre kindly let us use their facilities on the day, we again had assistance from Tesco, Time FM and many of the local companies donating raffle prizes etc, we had Olaf in attendance, Elsa and Anna performed and Father Christmas saw over 100 children with over 300 visitors. We raised £750.00 which was present to the centre to assist in them remaining open. Over the last year we have been more involved with the Family Centre and they are again the chosen charity for this Christmas Event. We are pleased to say that we have same companies involved, as they have been in the past 2 years, in fact, this year they have approached us to help rather than us go to them. At the point of entering the business awards, we already have 36 children booked in to see Father Christmas. Entry to the event is free, to see Father Christmas is free and every child gets a free present. We have a singer all day and we also have James Phelan who will be doing close up magic tricks for the adults and children.
Although this Christmas event is Ardleigh Green giving back to the communitys, it is an excellent way to promote our business, as we do not know who could be attending with their child, this could give us a single or multiple opportunity to expand our business further.
It is pleasantly surprising how rapidly we have managed to grow the business and in such a dramatic way and seeing the fruits of our labour flourish in these ways.
We are passionate about what we do and have the pleasure of working closely with gifted designers, architects and project managers with whom we share a vision of transforming bulk timber into durable, beautiful structures.
Our saw mill can produce timber to clients specification, for construction purposes, landscaping, bridges, gates, fencing, and decking. Alternatively, we can machine clients own timbers arising from tree felling, demolition, sea defences etc.
We have in stock approximately 1,000 cubic meters of reclaimed hardwood and softwood timber salvaged from landfill sites, demolition jobs, lock gates, sea defences and tree felling. We also have reclaimed hardwood and softwood railway sleepers (treated and untreated), telegraph poles, tree trunks up to 1.5m diameter and large constructional timbers, up to 400×400.
We have a zero waste policy; ensuring every part of the reclaimed timber has a second use. Larger sections go back to the shores to help rebuild the coastal infrastructure and the smaller sections are used by Architects and Designers, as mentioned above.