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Expansion for independent merchant

Independent merchant Williams & Co recently opened a new branch in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the latest development in its ongoing expansion.

Despite the recent economic difficulties, the company has continued to grow its business, managing director Ray Stafford told H&V News.

The number of branches has increased from 14 at the beginning of 2009 to 22, with its latest opening.

“There are another four branches planned before the year is out, and the company expects to double in size again by 2016,” said Mr Stafford.

 “Keeping money in the bank yields tiny interest rates, and with the commercial property market depressed and competitors shedding staff, it has been a good time to expand.

“Retail may be suffering, but our key RMI trade customers are still looking for their favourite brands at rock-bottom prices. We keep delivering that, so they keep coming to us,” he said.

The company has also recently announced a new training facility at its Portsmouth premises.

It has also established in partnership with Portsmouth training business The Gas Safe Corporation, which will provide courses for gas engineers, including Gas Foundation and ACS assessments.

“We have tried to make the courses as flexible as possible for them, for example having early 7am starts, so they can cover more in a day and therefore take fewer days to do the assessments,” said Mr Stafford.

Delegates will also benefit from free product training on Main boilers and cylinders donated by the manufacturer to the training facility.

Sean Barrett, who partners wife Karen in The Gas Safe Corporation, said: “We can also assist with their practical portfolio to help them on the road to becoming Gas Safe registered engineers. In addition we can provide water and electrical training.”