‘It’s nuts!’: Retailer hires more staff after COVID surge
QUEENSLAND specialist retailer TradeTools has employed 27 new staff over the past month to cater for unprecedented growth.
Founder Greg Ford, who established the business in 1987, runs a chain of 18 company-owned stores stretching from Tweed Heads to Cairns.
There is also an outlet in Vanuatu and another Australian store opens in Browns Plains later this year.
"We're a little bit reluctant to admit it but we have had a massive increase in turnover," the English-born businessman said, acknowledging that not everyone in the retail sector have fared as well.
"We had one quiet week when COVID hit and then it went whoosh and it has never stopped.
"We went berserk in June. And then it just went powering on. It's nuts.
"Every store has gone up and our figures are currently 60 per cent above what they were this time last year."
He said the company was mainly a trade supplier and he could not explain why growth had been so strong.
"It is not like there has been a huge upsurge in the building trade," he said, although he noted that retailers like Nick Scali and Bunnings and others exposed to the homewares and build trading have all done well in recent months.
"I think we just drained all the money out of tourism … because no one is going anywhere," he said.
"If we manage to average our current turnover through the rest of the year, we are going to be looking at $160m, $170m turnover." About 10-12 per cent of turnover comes from online.
Mr Ford said having enough trained workers and keeping stock on the shelves were two of the biggest challenges.
TradeTools now has 250 on its payroll including Mr Ford's daughter Rachel who is marketing manager.
"We have taken on 27 extra staff in the last four weeks," he said, adding that it takes a couple of years to fully train staff.
"They need quite extensive training to be able to work well in this environment. It is a specialised service."
But there is no problem retaining employees thanks to weekly commissions on turnover and the opportunity to become a shareholder after 10 years of service. The company has 51 shareholders.
Mr Ford said sales could have been even higher if he had more stock to sell.
That problem should be alleviated this month with 76 containers from overseas due to be unloaded at the TradeTools head office at Stapylton on the Gold Coast.
The company also manufactures its own range of air compressors in Queensland.
"Sales for air compressors is also going flat out. We are basically selling them while the paint is still wet," he joked.
Originally published as 'It's nuts!': Retailer hires more staff after COVID surge