The Smith family’s business has been a growing concern for more than 80 years but the last 16 months has been one of the most challenging periods in its history.
Peter H Smith supplies flowers and plants, sourced from near, and far to florists and supermarkets in the North of England.
The company, one of the largest independent wholesalers of its kind in the UK, has had to overcome the double impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit on its operations.
Led by husband-and-wife team Nick and Diane, it has overcome those challenges and is emerging from the pandemic strongly and with confidence in the future.
Nick says: “We are a proud, third generation British family company. We believe in the business and we believe in what we are doing.”
Peter H Smith can trace its origins back to a market garden in Tarleton, which was started by Nick’s grandfather.
His father Michael then developed this into the current wholesale business on the original Preston Market and it has grown and expanded into state-of-the-art premises in Ashton-on-Ribble.
Today the wholesaler supplies flowers and plants from across the world, as well as nearer home in the UK. Every day it receives colourful blooms from places as far away as Africa, and South America.
A team of workers creates bouquets destined for sale in well-known supermarkets and stores and the business operates its own fleet of delivery vehicles.
Nick recalls the immediate impact of the first lockdown on the business. From being a 24-hour well-oiled operation with 48 staff, the company found itself closing the doors to its premises and sending everyone home.
Only Nick, Diane and one member of staff remained as a ‘click and collect’ service was set up. As the pandemic continued the business also increased its online sales presence.
Nick says: “We did whatever we could. It has been difficult, and we’ve received no financial support. Sales disappeared but the bills didn’t.”
The company has slowly brought its workers back and Diane says sales are now at pre-Covid levels.
Brexit has been another challenge. The cost of flowers has risen as a result of the UK leaving the single market. However, Nick says that it has worked closely with importers to minimise the impact of extra paperwork on the operation.
Nick and Diane are looking ahead to the easing of all restrictions and the return of events such as weddings and corporate gatherings, which will provide a major boost for their sector.
Nick says: “Our staff have been really supportive and have stuck by us. We’ve had to change the way we work, and they have responded really well to those changes. It has been a real learning curve for all of us.”
There has been investment in a new computer system as the company looks to the future.
Nick says he is also grateful for the advice and support received from WNJ during the pandemic.
He says: “We’ve a long relationship with WNJ and they have been there for us throughout the pandemic. As well as their valuable advice, when needed they are also a friendly ear on the end of the phone!”
Peter H Smith is based on Chain Caul Way, near Preston’s docklands. For more information on its services call 01772 333000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org