There could hardly be a better birthday present than a Mayor’s Business Award for Lynn retailer Cooper and Elms which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.
The shop in Lynn’s Tower Street was awarded the accolade of Independent Retailer of the Year, an achievement of which director Ian Cooper and his team are immensely proud.
“It was the first time we have ever entered the awards and it was a privilege just to have been shortlisted, so to have won was a great honour. It was very humbling and recognition for all the hard work by the whole team,” said Ian.
It was his late father, Richard, and business partner Peter Elms who set up the business in 1984 as a Tandy dealership selling electronic and electrical goods and components.
Cooper and Elms grew its range to include TV and hi-fi and became the authorised dealer of several major brands for whom they were service agents with its own repair workshop. In 1995 Richard took sole ownership of the business and his wife, Elaine – who is a director and still helps in the shop and with paperwork – and Ian took on more active roles.
With the business growing, it became a limited company in 2002 and the property was extended a year later to increase showroom space and a larger workshop. By 2009 the shop was stocking a range of laundry and refrigeration products having joined Euronics, Europe’s largest independent electrical buying group, the previous year.
“Euronics is a co-operative and as a member we can offer all the top brands at competitive prices. It gives us buying power to keep prices down. Its website will point people to their local independent retailer to where the goods will be delivered.”
Outside the shop, the business logo sums up what has made it so successful: “We deliver, we install, we care.” For all purchases over £100, delivery, installation and removal of an old appliance is standard.
“One of the main reasons behind our success is the personal service which we give,” said Ian. “A customer who buys a light bulb for 99p is as important to us as one who buys a TV for £1,000.”
His team, consisting of service engineer Giles Thorlby, sales and installation specialists Steve Hancock and Paul Darrow, have a wealth of experience and ability which have played a major part in the business’s achievements.
“It’s a very competitive market out there with the internet, but it’s all about service. We have a loyal base of customers who come down the generations. They may refer to their parents or grandparents using the shop in the past. We are getting a bigger spread of age groups than ever before.”
With success behind them, there’s plans for even greater things ahead. “Our turnover was up last year on the previous one and the business has enjoyed a steady, healthy growth over recent years. In the future we would like to increase the size of the store and we have the advantage of owning our own property so we could extend,” said Ian.
For two years running the shop has won prizes from manufacturers for showcasing their products in window display competitions and investment has been made in store with new display stands for built-in domestic appliances due to their increased popularity.
n Sponsors of the Independent Retailer Award was Mapus-Smith and Lemon LLP.