2021: It’s been 30 years since brother and sister Arthur and Simone Hindmarch and Alastair de Q Adams founded the Commercial Group in a one-room office behind a sausage factory. The company has now grown to become the largest independently-owned business services group in the UK, with turnover topping £88 million ($121 million) and is ever expanding with a Facilities, PPE and Workwear Division becoming the ninth separate section of the group in 2020.
For more than 15 years, Commercial has put sustainability front and centre of its operations. “It’s not something we say or do, it is simply who we are, it’s part of our DNA,” says co-founder and Managing Director Simone Hindmarch. Commercial is proud to be aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and became a member of both the UN Global Compact and the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) in the past 12 months. The group is pushing itself to go further than the SBTi’s desire to create a zero-carbon world by 2030, by stating its ambition to become completely carbon net-zero two years earlier, in 2028.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw the company react with a steely determination to assist clients and suppliers in new and creative ways. An early, decisive decision made by Commercial to not furlough any of its sales team ensured a proactive, real-time service remained for customers. Similarly, with a technology-first focus, the dealer quickly extended its Smart Technologies range with more than 300 new products, including smart vending.
Commercial helped support businesses in keeping the doors open and lights on through a company-wide campaign to support agile working which was created, presented and delivered to clients within the first six months of lockdown. “Given the immediacy and uncertainty of lockdown, both in terms of its duration and long-term effect on organisations, we pivoted our business model almost overnight,” says Simone.
“We knew that current spend would reduce significantly, so we aimed to remain a trusted partner to our clients, supporting them with whatever they needed, whenever they needed it, quickly and efficiently. We also challenged ourselves to double our base.”
Early 2021 saw Commercial launch another campaign, this time focused on supporting companies to ‘build back better’ in the wake of coronavirus, not only to the benefit of their bottom line but for the planet, its people and the wider environment too.
The summer has seen the formal launch of Products with Purpose, a range of hand-picked office essentials with quantifiable and measurable positive social, ethical or environmental impact. Further innovative and creative initiatives to put sustainability front and centre are planned for the future.
Simone says: “Globally, we have come together with a new-found appreciation for our natural world and the place we have within it. I have long since believed that business should play a key part in solving the sustainability issue, and we have worked with many inspiring organisations to that end.
“Now, I hope, that in much the same way as we came together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic, we can join forces to have a truly significant impact on reversing the negative effect humankind has had on the environment.”
2019: Founded in 1991 in a one-room office by brother and sister Arthur and Simone Hindmarch, along with Arthur’s long-standing university friend Alastair de Q Adams, the Commercial Group is a well-deserved new entry into the Top 100.
The business is now a £60 million+ ($74 million) entity and, according to Simone, this year has been great in terms of building revenues and new clients across all its divisions. The company also welcomed office products veteran Andrew Stacey as Head of Purchasing. With his extensive contacts across the EU wholesaler and contract stationery market, Commercial sees Stacey’s appointment as a boost to its relationships with suppliers as it looks to further develop its product range.
Since its inception, the core of Commercial’s culture has been about responsible business, which has matured into a purposeful and progressive approach that embraces environmental and social responsibility. Indeed, what sets the reseller apart is its ‘Commercial by Nature’ ethos, which is “about understanding our customers’ vision so well that we provide the products that allow them to come into work and get on with the sales and marketing of their own business,” says Simone.
This principle prevails throughout the organisation, right down to its range of products which are carefully selected. Currently high on the agenda is the elimination of single-use plastic (SUP). The firm is launching new items that are SUP free, ie no SUP in either the products or the packaging. This year has already seen the reseller win a Lotus Award for Culture for its outstanding CSR and sustainability practices; it is also on the shortlist for a BOSS Sustainable Leadership 2019 accolade.
Commercial’s main priority going forward is to continue to advise clients from an environmental, social, ethical and financial point of view. The introduction of its Smart Technology division is a prime example of this, offering a solution that will drive efficiencies and potentially bring new revenue streams for clients. “We see this as a major growth area and are already looking at projects with some of the biggest names in the retail and entertainment sectors. We provide a full service, enabling us to easily maintain all that equipment through our Network Operations Centre,” says Simone.
June 2020 will see the company host its next CSR Day, which is a vital platform for Commercial to talk about its journey and promote the importance of sustainability to suppliers.