Hair straighteners are just one of the products GHI Computers repairs – honestly – while the firm also has plans to offer a localised drop-off service for customers. Jade Burke asks director Gavin Holder for more about the business…
How did GHI Computers first begin?
We first started working from home selling inks and then eventually progressed onto computer sales. Me and Kevin Stevenson made the plunge, left our full-time jobs, and opened our first store in 2001.
What products and services do you offer?
We offer different brands such as Apple, AMD and Epson, and we repair tablets, mobile phones, Apple products, hair straighteners and headsets.
We also sell manufactured branded laptops, but we don’t make any ourselves. We offer build-to-order PCs, so everything is bespoke.
How can indie retailers make a name for themselves against larger retail chains?
We always pride ourselves on offering an independent service whilst competing with the nationals. I think we still have that quality that you expect but at a local price. We’ve had the same staff now for the best part of 10 years, so we have a strong relationship with customers, they know that they can come in and see a familiar face and get an honest answer.
What’s your best-selling product in-store?
Our best selling products are still USB pen drives in terms of volume. In terms of margin, we are staring to see an uptake in gaming PCs and high-end peripherals. Generally, people are purchasing on quality now, right down to accessories like mice and keyboards.
They all want to pay £40 or £50 for one. So, although you sell less, the margins are still there, it’s swings and roundabouts and it benefits us.
Will you be stocking any new products this year?
I am looking at wearable technology. I don’t think there is any market for it this year, but once the B-brands start to get on board and flood the market, that’s when it’s time to start stocking them.
I would like to see 3D printers come to the consumer market, but on a level playing field so that they’re all using the same consumables so you don’t have to buy that specific brand. I will also probably expand our gaming range. Currently we offer Razer and Cooler Master, so we could possibly take on another.
Will the new small business rates help your business on the High Street?
I pay more in business rates than I do in rent, for each store it’s roughly £1,200 a month. So generally it will benefit us.
How important is your online presence to you?
We don’t have e-commerce, and we’ve looked at it and believe that it’s pointless having an e-commerce website, unless you are unique and have cornered a part of the market. I feel that if you have an e-commerce website you’re competing with the big boys and you will never compete with the big boys.
I believe that because we’re a local company, people will use it as a point of reference and then come into the store and buy it anyway, rather than pay a delivery charge.
Where do you see your business going?
I’m planning on offering a national but localised drop-off, like a myHermes parcel set up so that we partner with people all around the country. This would act as a drop-off centre, where people could send items to us, actually making us a national repairer.