A NEW 'one-stop' shop supermarket-style wholesale operation has opened in the south west.
The Coolstation in Bridgwater, Somerset, is the brainchild of former SWM owner Ron Lloyd. While not a new concept in the industry, the Coolstation brings the supermarket idea up to date, with a large trade counter situated on the aisled sales floor where the complete stock is displayed.
The Coolstation is the latest manifestation of The Air Conditioning Group, Ron Lloyd's company that he formed from the ashes of his former SWM business, dragged under when parent company Gasco collapsed in 2008. A couple of moves down the line and the business finds itself in a much larger 12,000ft2 location on the Bridgwater Industrial Park
The range of equipment is extensive, from cable trays and trunking, through tools, gauges, gas, insulation and copper to components and end products. Air conditioning products include Samsung, Toshiba and Carrier and these have recently been supplemented by the addition of Bitzer compressors and condensing units.
Ron Lloyd said: 'Stock levels are key. We want to make sure that we can fulfil the customer's requirements. We have a supermarket mentality, so it will be rare if we are out of stock of important items like gas, copper and insulation.'
While the facility operates on self-service principles, there is an abundance of staff to offer help and advice. All have worked with Ron for many years and offer well over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge.
Many would see this as a bold move in the current economic climate, an observation that is not lost on Ron Lloyd: 'Coincidentally I started SWM in a similar recessionary period,' he remembers, 'but you need to be positive and look forward at times like these. The trade counter has never been busier and we are making a profit so the signs are very good for when the market does pick up.'
So positive is he that plans are in hand to extend the operation next year with two new branches - one to serve the midlands/north and one in the east.