Screwfix Live: Interview with Rhian Bartlett – commercial director, Screwfix

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  Posted by: electime      3rd October 2018

Lisa Peake, editor of Electrical Times, interviews Rhian Bartlett – commercial director, Screw fix

At the end of last week, myself and my colleague Haydon Rainsford (sales manager at Electrical Times) visited Farnborough’s impressive new exhibition hall for the latest instalment of Screwfix Live. With the new 12,500sq. m. pulling in more suppliers and visitors than ever before, Screwfix Live was an exciting mix of people from all areas of the industry.

Amidst the hustle and bustle we were lucky to have some time to chat with Rhian Bartlett, commercial director at Screwfix, to discuss the show and find out more about what’s in store for Screwfix in the near future.


“This is the sixth year that we’ve run Screwfix Live and it’s grown very impressively and steadily over that time. We have 180 brands here and it’s an amazing opportunity for our suppliers to talk directly to the end customer. And the feedback is very much two way – our trade customers really enjoy meeting the suppliers, it allows them to ask questions, see new products, view demonstrations and access useful trade talks. As you’ve seen already today, it’s a really fun, high energy event.

“We are very proud of it – it’s doing really well and the venue is amazing. Other than one year, we have always held the event at Farnborough, and the show and Farnborough have grown together.”

Haydon and I sat in on a very informative trade talk by the NICEIC regarding the 18th Edition. How do you ensure Screwfix is keeping up-to-date with all the upcoming changes in regulations?

“We always try and keep abreast of all changes to regs and legislation, whatever they might be, and we work in partnership with our supplier base to make sure we are mutually compliant at all times, so that’s one of the reasons we organised the trade talks. Over the course of the weekend we are holding several talks around different parts of legislation changes that are either relevant now or coming up in the future, as a useful service to our trades people.”

It will be Milwauke’s first time exhibiting here, following their range becoming available at Screwfix only recently. How did this partnership come about?

“We are very much led by our customers –and where they are searching for things that we don’t sell we try and source those items. Milwauke was a searched for brand that wasn’t part of our range, so we started discussions with them a few months ago and they launched with us in September in our Catalogue 135. They are the number three power tool brand in the UK, and the fastest growing, and we are the number one power tools retailer in the UK, so it seemed like a natural partnership.”

Let’s talk a little about Screwfix itself…Congratulations on celebrating the opening of Screwfix’s 600th store earlier this month. Are Screwfix still planning to expand further?

“Our aim is to be as convenient as we possibly can. Currently with 600 stores, over 90 per cent of UK households can reach a Screwfix within 15 mins, but there is still more opportunity to make it ever more convenient for that other 10 per cent. The number we have put out externally as our ultimate goal is 700 stores.”

“We are seeing more and more customer journeys start on mobile phones, so we’ve got a fantastic app and our business is completely omnichannel. We use that word really deliberately as it means you can move between channels and your basket will show up in any channel you choose to shop in, rather than multichannel in which they are run as separate silos. So, we are very well positioned to benefit from the increase in research and transactions made via smart phones.

Bartlett also identified smart homes as an important growing trend:

“The technology for smart homes has been around for a few years, but recently it’s becoming easier and easier for customers to use smart products and this is largely because there are now hubs available to help. I think this is probably why this category has really begun to take off and we are starting to see some real growth in this sector.”

“Smart products are now discreet and small, it’s not lots of things plugged in all over the home, it’s become part of the infrastructure of a home and those products are really coming through. Products like this are available in nice decorative styles as well, so its not just a big lump of white plastic that’s functional but not beautiful – you can now have both – and that’s what customers are increasingly buying into. “