Distribution the Westcoast way

Founded in 1984 by one of the UK’s most successful technology entrepreneurs, Joe Hemani, Westcoast began life following the decision to purchase 10,000 Canon laser printers on the west coast of the United States and facilitate their distribution across Europe. One year on, Joe became the first person to secure distribution contract with HP for work outside of its home country. With this, the business would embark on a growth trajectory that has seen it become the UK’s leading distributor for IT brands including HPE, Microsoft, Lenovo, Apple and many others to a wide range of resellers, vendors, retailers and office product dealers.

Consistently ranked within the Sunday Times Top Track 100 of the largest privately-owned UK companies, Westcoast has experienced remarkable growth in its more recent history, going from being a £100 million business some 15 years ago, to one that in 2018 recorded revenues reaching £2.5 billion. “Being a privately-owned company, our sole shareholder has given us the instruction of growing the business and that is what we are committed to doing, however, in order to be able to do so dramatically, you have to have the necessary passion, determination and ambition,” explains Managing Director, Alex Tatham. “We also benefit greatly from having a narrow decision making structure within an outstanding management team. This provides us with a great deal of freedom and flexibility, and means that we can react quickly to opportunities presented to us by both existing and new customers, thus stealing a march on our competitors.”

With more than 1300 people employed across a number of locations in the UK, Ireland and Europe, Westcoast is able to offer its range of customers a winning combination of supreme product expertise and highly competitive pricing. While resellers are able to rely on it for availability of stock, speed of service and total reliability, vendors are provided with the opportunity to extend their market reach and amplify the power of their commercial initiatives. The latter is achieved by Westcoast being able to handle all of their warehousing, logistics and distribution needs, as well as all the necessary financing.

“One trait of Westcoast that all of our customers – large or small – appreciate is our ability to bend our capabilities to their needs,” states Operations Director, Andy Newberry. “We have a multi-channel approach to distribution, and this covers everything from our wholesale B2B business, where we ship goods to anyone of our thousands of customers on a next day basis, to our fulfilment activities, where we ship to our customers’ actual end users, and our retail operation, where we exist as the partner of choice for the delivery of IT goods to nearly every major chain in the UK. Then, the final part of this multi-channel strategy is that we are able to drop ship goods from a wide range of products we hold for certain retailers. These can be computing and IT goods, right through to those you wouldn’t typically associate with Westcoast, including Yankee Candles and USN Protein products.”

As previously stated, the mission that Alex, Andy and the rest of the Westcoast team have been tasked with delivering is continued, rapid growth, the likes of which allows it to compete with its pan-European and global competitors. In April 2019, the company finalised a deal that goes a long way to meeting this aim, announcing the expansion of its operational capacity with the lease of a new 340,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility in Andover, Hampshire. This facility will effectively double its UK warehouse space, and provide it with further room to provide more logistics services to its customers.

“The new facility will be moving to Westcoast’s new warehouse management system, and we will be bringing across a number of innovative automation procedures that we presently operate, such as handheld devices for picking and mobile work stations for printing dispatch notes and labels,” Andy adds. “In the months to come, we will also be looking at the introduction of further automation in the form of advanced weight stations and sortation gates. We will, however, ensure that we remain a careful and considered adopter of new technology, while also continuing to work closely with vendors on the better utilisation of their own IT in order to promote greater levels of integration.”

Turning the conversation to the next phase of Westcoast’s development, Alex and Andy are both keen to highlight the opportunities that await the company. “We are currently riding upon a super growth curve, and we do not see this changing anytime soon. The IT industry has helped to define the world over the last 30 years, and the great thing is that it will continue to do so for the next 30 as well,” Alex proclaims.

“With all of the distribution channels we have at our disposal, what we have in front of us is the opportunity to do not only more of the same things that have got us to where we are today, but also lots of new, exciting things too, all with the aim of taking costs out of the supply chain for the benefit of our customers,” Andy adds. “I think the majority of people out there with experience of the market recognise that the distribution supply chain is too long at present, with too many touchpoints. What we see is huge potential to establish Westcoast as a single touchpoint for vendors, resellers and other customers, and we look forward to working towards realising this aim as we continue to grow in the years to come.”

The UK’s leading IT distributor for key IT brands
Revenues of £2.5 billion in 2018
Celebrating its 35th birthday in 2019