Usually the ‘Little Acorns’ column might turn its attention on a fledgling business, venturing into the industry for the first time. But John Shooter has been in the game for a few years now with a successful online retail outlet specialising in handmade accessories for hunting, riding and fishing, as well as traditional leather luggage. Now the company is setting its sights on wholesale, with the help of a familiar face.
“The wholesale side of the business has been around for two to three years, but we’ve only started taking it seriously these past few months,” says managing director Sunny Chand. “We wanted to push the business forward, but to be honest, we weren’t sure whether we wanted to push it forward in terms of wholesale or retail. It was only by chance that my business partner came across a friend of a friend who said he was looking for company he could represent in the wholesale market.”
That friend of a friend was Jon Workman, formerly of Edgar Brothers, who has been more recently seen working under the Country Sports Wholesale banner.
“It’s a bit of a strange one really, but obviously we thought it was a good opportunity to push it into wholesale. We’ve been doing retail for quite a few years now, so we thought we’d see how it goes.”
And Sunny seems to think it’s going well under Jon’s experienced guidance since he joined the team in the late summer of this year: “Jon has brought in quite a few orders. We had a meeting with him at the end of last month, and he said that we should be aiming for around 50-70 accounts in the UK. So far he’s brought in eight or nine accounts, they’ve all placed good orders and coming into the season now we’re hoping to just get a few more big orders.”
John Shooter’s wholesale portfolio so far consists of shotgun slips and cartridges bags, as well as loader’s bags and other accessories such as butt extenders and bolt holders. “Our products are very traditional compared to a lot of the things that you see now,” says Sunny. “I’ve come across quite a few that are cheap-looking, with cheap leather, but we offer 100 per cent genuine leather. The products are all handmade. We have around six or seven different types of leather – that’s one of the things that stands out most.” He adds: “Quite a few of our gun slips have a lambswool lining. They’re well padded and for the price it’s brilliant value for money – a standard gun slip retails at £159.”
And, as with any growing business, new products are on the horizon for John Shooter: “We’ve got a gun cleaning kit coming to us in the next three weeks, a traditional type, in-keeping with the brand of our company. It’s a roll, made of 2-3mm leather with big brass buckles on it. We’re hoping these will be big sellers for us towards the end of the year.”
So with a strong range of products behind them and a few months in to their more focused wholesale venture, how is Sunny finding it compared to retail? “Coming into wholesale has proven a bit more difficult. Obviously there’s a lot more work to do. With retail we’re 100 per cent online, so with that side of things it’s just about making sure that the end user gets our product in front of them on their screen. But the wholesale side of things is a bit trickier. These guys in the gunrooms, they’re serious guys, they don’t want to be putting any old stuff in their shops. So you’ve got to make sure that what you’re putting in there is correct and up to standard, you’re supplying them with all the marketing gear, and that they are happy.
“We want to get across that we are a family business, so we make sure our customer service is 100 per cent. That’s what we aim to do first and foremost. Secondly, our priority is the product itself. We try to keep the product standard really high. Those two things are really important to us.”
Looking forward, Sunny says that John Shooter is planning to have a presence at IWA 2016 in Germany, accompanied by Jon Workman. “I’m not going to be pushing it too much,” he says. “It’s just to get a feel of it, meet a few people and see where it goes from there.”
For more information on John Shooter’s range of products, go to www.johnshooter.com.