Craft Focus - Page number 77 - October/November 2021 (Issue 87)

77 PROFILE 55 years of trading! Rebecca Lester, Marketing Coordinator at Groves talks company expansion, their promise to reduce single-use and plastic waste packaging from its ranges, and all things craft! Tell us a little bit about the company’s history. Where are you based? When did the company start? Groves started out 55 years ago in 1966, as a small family business operating from Rodney and Marlene Groves’ home in the small market town of Thame in Oxfordshire. The company has grown to become one of the UK and Europe’s leading distributors of sewing and soft craft products. Over the years, the company moved several times into larger premises as it grew in size. In 2015- 2016 it made a move to a purpose-built 130,000sqft warehouse and offices located in Thame, for our now 60,000+ product range. How has the company evolved? The company is constantly evolving. It’s so important to us that we’re always offering the best level of service and customer experience. This has been at the heart of the company’s philosophy since the very beginning. Since the early ’80s, there’s been a regular series of investments into good IT infrastructure and the investment increases every year as IT becomes ever more vital to a company’s continued success. The team at Groves are always looking at how they can improve the current system; from changes behind the scenes, such as changing the shift patterns in our warehouse, enabling us to not only keep on top of demand, but also to keep our staff safer during the Covid pandemic, through to adding helpful features to our website to make ordering, finding and understanding our products easier. What brands are you proud to own? 2016 was a big year for us at Groves. We were celebrating 50 years of trading and announced that we’d acquired ownership of the iconic worldwide brand, Milward. With such a rich British history, we were excited to add Milward to the ever increasing family of well-known Groves brands such as Hemline, Sew Easy, Hobby Gift and Purelite. Originally created by a needle manufacturer in the UK back in 1730, the Milward name quickly became a known for its reliability and durability, not only as a household name but for industry too. This is something we always keep in mind as we continue to build on its strong foundations and rich haberdashery history. Another Groves brand, Trimits, also continues to go from strength to strength. Over the past few years our New Product Development team have worked tirelessly to establish Trimits within the crafting world. By adding modern well-designed kits at affordable prices, allowing a wide range of consumers to try popular crafts such as punch needle, felting and cross stitch. Trimits continues its reputation as a high quality product range, packaged free from plastic and priced for everyone. Talk us through the current products you’re particularly excited about. Not so much a product but more of a big high-profile project! It’s something we started a while back but partly due to the Covid pandemic, only announced at the start of 2021: reducing single use and plastic waste packaging from our ranges. So far, we’ve eliminated plastic from more than 6,500 lines and counting. Recently, we launched Hemline Gold, an exclusive new range with a timeless design. This is the first of, hopefully, many ranges where our fantastic New Product Development team were able to remove all plastic waste! The entire range is stylishly presented in recyclable kraft paper packaging, which has been customised to each item to provide adequate protection, while ensuring that we minimise consumption of raw materials. Furthermore, we’ve used materials that are easier to recycle or encourage the consumer to re-use them. The hand needles, pins, and safety pins, come in a small glass jar with a recyclable plastic brushed gold lid, which can be reused for years to come. In addition to this, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our customers to make a greener choice. This is why we’ve introduced the use of a second logo, which is purple, indicating that the product has 