Bookspeed invests in new facilities after sales soar to £9m

Specialist book toy and gift supplier expands operations in Leith 

A specialist supplier of books, toys and gifts headquartered in Edinburgh says it has more than doubled its operational capacity by investing significantly in extra warehouse facilities.
Bookspeed, whose HQ is at Salamanders Yards in Leith, says its expansion into a new facility on nearby Albert Road, comes after the company exceeded growth expectations by boosting sales from around £6m in 2015 to just under £9m in 2017.
Bookspeed’s management team, from left: Managing Director Matthew Perren, Sales Director, Fiona Stout and Commercial Director Lewis Dawson.
The new premises increases family-run Bookspeed’s operational space from around 13,500sq ft to more than 25,000sq ft.
The firm, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, has carved out a niche for itself by creating bespoke ranges of books, gifts and toys to meet different retailer needs.
Its portfolio of clients range from independent businesses and multi-site national companies to heritage attractions and other specialist retail sectors. The company is also the exclusive UK distributor for a number of overseas brands behind some of the most sought-after design-led gifts and toys.
Commercial Director Lewis Dawson said: “This new facility is integral to our plans for ongoing growth. In recent years, we have invested significantly in all parts of our business including our IT infrastructure which now allows us to operate out of the two sites concurrently.
“In 2015, we set out to double our turnover and have already surpassed growth expectations three years ahead of our plans and increased our team by 20% to more than 40 staff. We have also grown our customer base and geographical reach across the UK, while continuing to work with long-term customers and trading partners.
“Our focus is to build on this success and continue to expand in the coming years as we add new ranges and exclusive non-book product lines to our portfolio.”
Among the gift and toy designers that Bookspeed is the sole UK distributor for are the Peleg Design home and gift range, Donkey Products gifts, character lamps from renowned German manufacturer Heico, and Egmont Toy’s children’s range spanning plush toys and traditional wooden toys.
The firm says the expansion reinforces its commitment to investing in Edinburgh and local employment. The company, which is an accredited Living Wage Employer, has evolved considerably over the past three decades since it was started in Edinburgh in 1986 by Lewis’ parents, Annie Rhodes and Kingsley Dawson, who both continue in the business as Board members.
The company’s senior management team also includes Managing Director Matthew Perren and Sales Director Fiona Stout.
Originally set up as a traditional wholesale business with sales agents out on the road, the first 15 years saw Bookspeed build its footprint across Scotland before eventually dominating the supply to the heritage and visitor market north of the border.
The company experienced rapid growth after capitalising on its track record and entering the English and Welsh visitor and heritage markets. Through developing the firm’s unique business model, Bookspeed also recognised the potential for applying it’s offering to the gift market across the UK – a move that proved pivotal to the company’s future success.
Over the last 15 years, the company has undergone a major evolution by transforming from a field-based to fully-digital sales operation where its sales account managers work remotely with its now 2,000-strong customer base all over the UK. This led to increased productivity and business efficiencies as well as reducing the firm’s carbon footprint.
Lewis said: “We believe the strength and longevity of Bookspeed’s business model has always been our highly-personalised and responsive service combined with the team’s industry insights and track record for being ahead of the game for up-coming trends and developing specially-tailored ranges.
“We have always maintained that the physical book has a bright future, particularly for our markets where books are purchased not just for their content, but for their design, format, colours and textures. Through adding gifts and toys to our more than 50,000-strong book range, we are substantially extending our offering.”
Despite the company’s diversification into other non-book products, it claims the majority of its growth is still coming from sales of physical books. It says that, in recent years, there has been a resurgence in demand for the printed book which has largely been led in the gift market by many of Bookspeed’s customers who have championed curated book ranges as a key part of their retail mix.
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