New parents Ian and Nicola Lloyd started their business Precious Little One more than 13 years ago from home. The business has since grown to become one of the largest independent nursery stores in the country with a successful online store and premises on the London Road Industrial Estate. Ian tells the Journal how the business got started and about the journey so far.
When did Precious Little One start and what was the idea behind it?
PreciousLittleOne.com started as a project in our spare bedroom in 2003. We had recently become parents ourselves and, with a background in computing, we wanted to develop our computing skills whilst, at the same time, putting them to a productive use. Given our position as new parents, we chose the nursery sector as it was something we were very familiar with!
Did the company find success at first or did it take some time to grow?
It took some time to grow. The nursery sector was already well established when we joined and it took time and effort to develop our position within the market. The e-commerce aspect of nursery was still very much in its infancy (pardon the pun) when we launched and so it took time for customers to realise they they could purchase their pushchair or highchair online, rather than having to buy them exclusively in a ‘bricks and mortar’ store. However, we also quickly realised that having a physical presence where customers could try out the product they were interested in prior to purchasing was also extremely important, which resulted in the opening of our showroom in 2007.
Does the company offer anything different to other firms in the same market?
We hope that we are perceived as an innovative company with a strong ethos to provide excellent customer support. We have always tried to put our customers at the centre of our business and we employ the latest developments in technology to achieve improvements in all areas of our business, from the initial contact with our customers to post-sales communication.
I understand the company has expanded recently. In what way?
We have been fortunate enough to have developed strong associations with Tesco, Amazon and Groupon in recent years and we also have strong partnerships with leaders within the nursery sector such as Bounty and Emma’s Diary. These have all helped us to develop our brand, to widen our exposure to our key demographic and to provide strong, organic growth to our business.
How many people do you employ and what range of goods to you sell?
We currently employ 50 people who work within our showroom and internet distribution facility. We focus on pre-school products, from birth to approximately five years. We have recently expanded our range of toys and are also investigating the possibility of ranging later-stage products for children.
Does the company have any objectives for the future/further plans to expand?
We would like to think that we remain an ambitious and agile company and would hope that we can continue on our current growth strategy. The next few years bring with them an element of uncertainty in the wider economy, but it is a challenge that we hope will bring exciting opportunities with it.
The Precious Little One showroom can be found at London Road Industrial Estate in Grantham and online at www.preciouslittleone.com