A corner shop that is one of the foundations of Hessle Road has undergone a growth explosion resulting in them turning over almost £1m a month.
Maltby’s Stores, which has been running for 115 years, might look like an unassuming traditional corner shop from the outside, but in actual fact is a multi-million pound success story.
The pet supply store has had a boom 18 months, partly due to the impact of Covid, where online shopping has become an essential habit for the UK population.
Back in 2008, when its fortunes were looking bleak, co-owner Paul Maltby made the brave decision to move products online as well as selling from their west Hull premises, in a last-ditch attempt to boost sales before shutting the shop down.
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It was a gamble that paid off.
Since Covid, when stores around the UK were forced to close their doors, Maltby’s has seen an explosion in sales which has swelled their workforce from 19 two years ago, to 27 today. And annual turnover is now over £10million.
Paul, who is the sixth generation of the family and great-great-grandson of founder Thomas Maltby, said it was “probably the best decision of his life” when he took the business online.
“We started off selling some stock off via eBay, but we were getting close to liquidating the business at that time. There weren’t many specialist shops still left, and there are even fewer now.
“Now, we constantly find new products which we research, market, and sell to customers online.
“Covid has had a massive impact for us. We regularly come in to 5,000 orders on a Monday morning.
“You feel a bit guilty as friends’ businesses have really struggled during Covid, but because shops and garden centres had to close in lockdowns, we’ve been busier than ever, especially in the first 12 weeks of lockdown last March.”
Paul, who co-owns the business now with sister Kathryn Barrett, said the younger members of the Maltby family are now making their way in the business, his two sons and two daughters, and Kathryn’s son.
“Years ago I would have discouraged my children from joining the firm as they would have been dead-end jobs,” he said. “But now all the children and their partners work for the business. They’re all university-educated but choose to work here for the family business.
“But the future is looking bright for Maltby’s now, and hopefully this business will still be here for their retirement, not just mine.”
Paul said he would never get complacent about the current success however.
“You don’t want to get too cocky in business, you might be doing amazingly one year and then in five years’ time it could all be very different. You only need to look at Debenhams, Comet and Toys R Us to see that.
“You can’t rest on your laurels, but that’s what’s exciting about business, and you can never take it for granted.”
The business’s Chief Executive Jeff Maltby said: “We never intended to set out to be a million pound business, it was just a small shop with one person to start with.
“Now the younger generation are making their mark on it, which is fantastic.”
It was the ‘younger’ generation who opened the dog spa above their existing shop in 2017, which is doing “amazingly well.”
But instead of standing still, there are now plans to totally revamp the store, which hasn’t been touched since it re-located there in 1952, from its former base just further down the road.
It will close on June 19 for roughly four weeks, but customers are being assured that they will still be able to shop there with a ‘click and collect’ service running.
The new-look store will be unveiled in July, which Jeff says will be more suited to the new generation of the family and will “see them through”.
And despite their phenomenal success, the business has lost none of its community-minded spirit.
Instead of sending it back to the suppliers, they donate all their ripped or damaged bags of Royal Canine pet food to local charities Oakwood Dog Rescue, Cats Protection League, and Hull Animal Welfare, who visit the warehouse to collect it weekly, saving money on food costs for the rescued animals.
For Jeff, it’s a nice way to support the community-based charities.
He said he is now the oldest family member to still work at the business, adding: “I’ve come out of retirement to help and support them. It’s amazing how the business is doing, and to think it all started from just a small corner shop.”