Retailer of the Month: PC-PartX

We speak to owner Paul Middleton to ask him why he swapped the motorcycle trade for the PC industry, why he focuses on refurbished stock and why he’s got a Nintendo 64 on display that’s not for sale.

Tell us about your background…
My background is from the motorcycle industry. I worked in it for about 17 years – I started off as a mechanic and finished as a regional operations manager.

Cutting a long story short, I started my own bike shop. Then we had a big economic crash in 2000, so that didn’t work and unfortunately I ended up with depression. Eventually, I went back to university to retrain myself before doing some plumbing and electrical jobs.

And then a chap rung me up – he had some unfortunate news. His brother, who had a computer shop, had died, and his dad was looking after it. He said: “Do you want a computer shop?”

So that’s how it started, just a phone call from an acquaintance. It’s the shop I’m in now – it was next door to where I was before. So I took over that business in 2010, I built it up, and then we bought the whole building in October 2014 – then I moved sideways into a bigger shop.

What products and services does PC-Part X offer?
We’re a typical medium-sized computer shop. So we have about 40 laptops and 10 to 15 towers on show, then we also do repairs and servicing. Then we have another company called Gadget Tech, which focuses on iPads and phones.

You have some used games consoles on display in your shop, including a Nintendo 64. Tell us about that side of the business…
In my glass cabinets I’ve got a few museum pieces that I got out of my loft. It’s a talking point if anything, it’s a way into sales I suppose. People have wanted to buy it but it’s not for sale. We also have a load of old cameras – ancient cameras like Brownies and things like that. It just creates a talking point.

How’s business?
We are doing alright, I think we probably differ from a lot of other stores.

I try to get a lot of refurbished equipment rather than new – because I can’t get good deals on new stock.

All the big distributors talk to me but I’m not putting £500 into something to get £50 back. So I search and get some quality refurb stock with six months’ warranty. And we probably make £100 on it rather than £50, and it cost half the price.

In the motorcycle trade, we made a decent 33 per cent margin, and I try to stick to that with this shop too. And I think that’s why we have done so well.

Do you sell any cloud services or software?
No. We mostly sell home products. I’ve got to believe in it myself if I’m to sell it. I prefer to sell something like a USB pen and make more money on it. I should be selling it, but Google Drive is free. I looked at LogicNow at PCR Boot Camp North, and I think I will go down that line.

The one thing we do that works quite well is with all our anti-virus customers, a month before their renewal is due, we ring them all up and let them know. We get quite a good retention from that rather than them pressing a button and buying it online.

What’s next for PC-PartX?
We’re looking at opening another shop in Doncaster – that would be our second store. We currently have a load of space upstairs in our current shop and I’m just waiting for the valuation office to give us the go-ahead to use it commercially.

And then we’ve got opportunities to do more business here. I’d love to look at recovery media and stuff like that – hard drive recoveries and data recovery. But for one bit of equipment you’re looking at £6,000 or so. We went to a place in Sheffield and those services start from about £280, and it’s not labour intensive.

Year established: 2009
Number of outlets: 1
Contact name and address: Paul Middleton, Flat 77, Bawtry Rd, Bramley, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S66 2TN
Telephone: 01709 701200

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