Retailer Spotlight: World of Mobility moving on up with spacious West Midlands premises
After moving to spacious new store premises in West Midlands recently Richard Hulme, Owner of World of Mobility, is excited to expand on his product range further and boost the one-to-one service it offers customers…
Family-owned mobility retailer World of Mobility moved to larger new premises in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands in March.
The store used to be located in nearby Amblecote in Stourbridge, but after 19 years it was in need of more space for the growing business, so Richard Hulme, Owner of World of Mobility, made the decision to move to new premises.
World of Mobility was established in 2003 by Richard’s uncle David Hulme and his brother-in-law, Trevor Lewis.
Richard explains: “They both had a background in the mobility sector and I remember from a young age being introduced to some of the products, like scooters. I was able to ‘try them out’ when they were brought home for demo.”
When the two men retired the business was passed to Richard and his father. In 2020, Richard’s father retired due to ill health, leaving Richard as the sole owner.
Finding new premises was quite a difficult process, explains Richard. “We needed to stay local for our loyal customers but also find somewhere large enough for expansion.
“It took approximately six months from finding a new premises to moving in including the renovation work.”
Richard adds: “The new store is more than double the size of the previous store. Customers can walk around freely and we have more space for demonstrations and stock.
“The biggest advantage is that we have our own parking at the front of the shop and the site is a prime location as an army tank close by is a local landmark.”
The new store, which is located at Unit 1a Delph Industrial Estate on Delph Road in Brierley Hill, stocks a large range of products from major suppliers including Pride, Kymco, Electric Mobility, Sunrise and TGA Mobility.
The store is best known for mobility scooters, explains Richard, both new and reconditioned, but it also has a “well stocked” shop featuring self-propelled wheelchairs, transport chairs, walkers, riser recliner chairs, stairlifts, footwear and mobility aids.
Richard adds: “We have a local supplier for many of our living aids, most of which can be collected within a few hours if we haven’t got the stock or correct item.”
With a bigger store premises, the store is able to showcase a range of riser recliner chairs for customers to demonstrate. The store stocks brands such as Regency and Repose, local British companies who supply handmade bespoke chairs to customer specifications, with a wide range of fabrics and styles to choose from.
It also stocks Pride and Cosichair, with many other brands available for the customer to order. In addition the store is able to source electric powered adjustable beds from many of the suppliers that it deals with.
A range of batteries, tyres and spares are stocked, says Richard, which can be fitted at the customer’s home or in the shop and staff are able to provide assistance in the event of a breakdown.
Stairlifts are supplied by Acorn, Brooks and Companion, and the store offers customers a free survey where one of its engineers will come to a customer’s property to measure and assesss a potential installation.
As an accredited partner of Companion, which also offers a range of bathroom solutions, the store is able to offer customers the option of spreading the cost of an installation over a set term.
A lot of repairs and maintenance are carried out in the store’s well-equipped workshop, with staff trained to complete servicing and maintenance on mobility products. The aims is to help get the customer back on the road as quickly as possible, explains Richard.
Richard says that World of Mobility has a varied customer base and he says that the typical customer is over the age of 50 and looking for help with independence.
The store also works with a local charity who help out with supplying a young person with a wheelchair or powerchair three or four times a year, in instances where perhaps a family do not have the spare cash to purchase what they need. Richard comments: “We help facilitate this by finding a young person, funding the chair through the charity then holding a presentation night where the family and fundraisers attend.”
Now that he has more store space, Richard has begun venturing into the electric bike market and he keeps a range in store for customer to demo or take away on the same day.
He believes this will provide some customers with an alternative to a mobility scooter. He adds: “It provides people with another means of healthy exersise with the benefit of electric assistance.”
As with most retailers, the COVID-19 pandemic had a “massive impact” on the business, explains Richard. “Being a family business we have no corporate backing so savings were used to keep the doors open.
“During the pandemic we helped as much as we could while keeping everyone safe. We offered a call-and-collect service so customers could get their essential items and maintained customers products to ensure they still had some independence.”
Fortunately footfall has since picked up, says Richard. “We have noticed more people coming back into store especially with the restrictions having being lifted. The biggest hurdle is getting customers back on the high street as they have become more reliant on online shopping rather than store based.
“While internet shopping has its place I still believe we need the high street shops offering one-to-one personal service, especially with some of the mobility products on sale.”
Richard says that an e-commerce website is something that he is considering and was also partly a reason for relocating, so that he has the warehouse space, but at the moment he says that his main focus is with the store and “offering the one-to-one personal service which I think is needed in this industry.”
The mobility sector still faces some challenges over the next 12 months, explains Richard. “As a country we are facing some financial challenges. The cost of importing goods is always rising and its hitting suppliers hard with price increases. This in turn has an impact of the retail prices and, in most cases, it’s a cost we cannot absorb.”
Richard thinks that the biggest challenge is in being able to offer customers competitive prices for the items they require. He says: “The cost of raw materials, components and shipping is constantly rising which has an impact on our sales.“
Despite the global challenges, Richard remains focused on keeping his business as competitive as possible and providing excellent customer service. His store offers a free local delivery service on all large products with staff available to demonstrate the item and help get it into the customer’s house.
Richard is also aiming to ensure that his business is stocking the best mobility products on the market going forward and expanding on the products that it currently supplies.
Richard believes that the biggest step forward in the mobility sector is lithium batteries, which help to make powered mobility products much easier to manage.
Aluminium chassis scooters, like the Pride Alumalite, have been selling particularly well, he says.
“We had a customer recently who could not manage any boot scooter and was in tears thinking she was losing her freedom.
“We demonstrated the Alumalite and she managed it perfectly. She was overjoyed that she was able to maintain her independence.”
Another scooter Richard has been impressed with is the Pride Endurance, which is based on the Apex Rapid, and comes with two lithium battery options.
As for the future Richard that he has “no immediate plans” for store expansions but he will be looking to employ more staff when the time is right.https://thiis.co.uk/retailer-spotlight-world-of-mobility-moving-on-up-with-spacious-west-midlands-premises/https://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/IMG_5183.jpghttps://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/IMG_5183-150x150.jpgNewsroomRetailer NewsRetailer SpotlightTrade FocusTrade Newsaccess,Business,Mobility,Retailer,Richard Hulme,store,West Midlands,World of MobilityAfter moving to spacious new store premises in West Midlands recently Richard Hulme, Owner of World of Mobility, is excited to expand on his product range further and boost the one-to-one service it offers customers… Family-owned mobility retailer World of Mobility moved to larger new premises in Brierley Hill in...Liane McIvorLiane McIvorliane@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine