Ken Rodgers and Andy Humphries experienced furniture makers with over 100 years experience between t
Anna Addison

Member Article

Teesside entrepreneur offers businesses a boost

A well-known Teesside entrepreneur is helping other businesses remain profitable and assisting new businesses by restructuring his own company, which had been forced with closure.

Earlier this year, Jason Hadlow, form Yarm had to shut down his ailing furniture store in Leeming Bar. However, thanks to unusually high customer demand during a closing-down sale- in part brought on by the bad weather- Jason re-opened Simply Dutch in July.

Since that time, Jason has been approached by several businesses struggling to survive in the current harsh trading conditions asking how he managed to revive his company. As a result, and in an attempt not to have to close down Simply Dutch in the future, Jason has restructured his business so it is run more like a cooperative.

Businesses can now operate from rooms inside Simply Dutch and Jason is also providing space for new start-ups. Jason explained: “I was gutted to have to close Simply Dutch and I don’t want to see other creative, unusual companies forced out of business. Like me, many put their heart and soul into what they do. So, I’ve set up a cooperative style of working- they can come and operate out of Simply Dutch or I can sell on their behalf. It’s a win-win situation and it seems to be working well. At the moment we’ve got a carpet shop, a mosaic designer and artisan kitchen manufacturer all under one roof.”

The business set-up works with independent traders either paying a small amount of rent or, alternatively, where goods are sold on their behalf, a commission is payable to Simply Dutch.

At the start of September, Jason also opened a 3,500 square feet auction hall at Simply Dutch for monthly auctions in another attempt to boost his business. The first was an overwhelming success with over 400 lots sold and auction receipts of over £20,000.

Simply Dutch has a 20 year reputation in the area and is famous for selling unusual furniture, homewares and antiques.

When the store ran into difficult times and was operating at a loss earlier this year, Jason started a huge closing down sale reducing products by more than 50%. The sale resulted in a backlash from hundreds of customers who flocked to the store expressing their anger and disappointment at Jason’s closing down plans and, in less than 4 weeks, the business’s turnover reached £250,000.

As a result, Jason has re-opened Simply Dutch and restructured the business slightly in response to customer demand for more oak furniture and unusual home-wares and less outdoor furniture because of the erratic weather.

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Editor’s Notes

Jason Hadlow took over Simply Dutch in 2004 and quickly pushed the business’s turnover to well in excess of £1 million annually. The Teesside-based entrepreneur re-located his family from London to Yarm when he bought Simply Dutch, after visiting the store by chance and meeting its former owner, Alfie Gilmour, who was retiring.

Jason, who established Gigis Espresso Bar in London in 1999 which he later sold to contract catering firm Compass Group, kept all of the original staff on and has recruited several more over the years.

Under Jason’s ownership, Simply Dutch has had a colourful history, often attracting unwanted attention.

In April 2010, Jason had a four feet penis-shaped garden ornament confiscated by North Yorkshire Police after it caused a string of complaints. He was issued with a public order offence for displaying the stone phallus in his shop window and ordered to pay an £80 fine. The public showed Jason huge support and set up a global ‘Free Willy’ campaign with over 2000 members joining the Facebook group in under a week, a dedicated website set up in its honour and posters and stickers being emblazoned around North Yorkshire. Jason even hit the headlines in Australia, America and around Europe.

And in 2009, Jason had a life-sized dinosaur impounded when disembarking a ferry at Hull. Police used sniffer-dogs to search the dinosaur- and Jason- believing drugs could have been hidden inside the fibre glass animal.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anna Addison .

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