£40m-plus business 'that nobody has heard of' launches new head office & distribution centre

Martyn Bright, Managing Director, and Mike McKenna, Chief Executive, of Poole Bay Holdings Limited which they co-founded 22 years ago. Picture: Dorset Biz News.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: May 30, 2022 | Updated: 31st May 2022

“You probably qualify as the biggest company in Poole that nobody has ever heard of.”

The words of Cllr Vikki Slade, of BCP Council, as she officially opened the new head office and distribution centre for Poole Bay Holdings Limited.

The business, founded by Martyn Bright and Mike McKenna 22 years ago, has grown into a group of companies employing more than 200 people with a £40 million-plus annual turnover.

One of the UK’s leading online and catalogue marketers and manufacturers of business products, the group is better known through its multiple brands and websites.

They include JustGloves, FirstAid4Less, SafetySigns4Less, NBB Outdoors and Koolpak.

The latter, alone, sells around 4.5 million ice packs a year.

In total, more than 30,000 products are stocked, ranging from bicycle shelters to picnic tables, first aid supplies to medical kit.

Some of the goods are manufactured in Dorset.

The group owns a number of factories including screen and digital printing, metal fabrication powder coating, garment embroidery and recycled plastic furniture.

It is part of the Made in Britain organisation, which brings together the British manufacturing community.

In an exceptional year, annual sales grew by 54 per cent to £47.5 million in the 12 months to March 31, 2021, as demand soared for some of its products during the pandemic, including disposable gloves, wet wipes and hand gel.

The group’s new head office and distribution centre at Fleets Corner Business Park in Poole comprises 67,019 sq ft of newly refurbished warehouse and office space.

It’s split between 60,658 sq ft of warehousing and 6,361 sq ft of office space on the first floor of Fleetsbridge House, pictured left, and is part of a £1m investment over the next two years.

The warehouse is connected to the offices by a first-floor bridge.

Addressing guests at the official opening, Mike McKenna, who is Chief Executive, said the group had come a long way since 2000.

At that time the sales office was on a farm in Oxfordshire while its ‘warehouse’ was actually about 300 sq ft on the third floor of a warehouse in Poole.

He said: “In the last ten years, alone, our business has grown by over 300 per cent and, hopefully, the next ten years will bring more of the same.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re still very much a family business and one of Poole’s largest employers with over 200 wonderful employees without whom none of this would be possible.

“It’s fantastic to be here today in our shiny new offices and distribution centre.”

Speaking to Dorset Biz News, Mike, pictured left, said it was a “very proud day” for himself, his wife Fiona, who is Sales Director, and Co-Founder Martyn, the group’s Managing Director.

Other members of the family involved in the business include daughters Sian Gomersall (Group Projects Director) and Beth McKenna (Customer Experience Manager), son Fin (Trainee Production Manager) and son-in-law Jon (Group Facilities & Compliance Manager).

Meanwhile Martyn’s son, William Bright, will be joining the business in August as a Group Director.

Mike said: “In my forecasts I used to say in one year we’ll be doing 1,000 orders a month or in five years we’ll be doing some other number….and it kept coming true.

“Most recently the pandemic hit and our business went crazy because of the nature of the products we’re selling.

“I always expected us to be this successful because our strategy was not bound by a single business unit.

“We’ve had our failures.

“We’ve launched business after business after business.

“Some worked, some didn’t but we kept going.

“The family side is important but I’m not keen to over-estimate it.

“There’s a lot of people here today who started with us at the lowest levels.

“Wayne Stone [now Group Operations and Systems Manager] who is very instrumental in this place started as the guy in the 300 sq ft ‘warehouse’ humping stuff up and down.

“We started with about six or seven in Poole and three of those are still here.

“Family are important but’s also important to know that people are promoted on merit rather than by association with family.

“The vast majority of our managers aren’t family and a significant number of those managers have worked their way up the ranks.”

Picture: Sarah Colbert.

Cllr Slade, who cut two separate ribbons for the opening of the new offices and distribution centre, said: “If you talk to local people they would say: ‘What’s Poole Bay Holdings?

“And you do so much amazing stuff, I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

“What an incredible journey and thank you for coming from Oxfordshire down to Poole.

“It’s really great to have such a company here and I’m really excited that you’re growing.

“Congratulations, long may it continue and here’s to the future.”

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