From a humble sawmill to a network of successful trade hardware outlets, Clennett’s Mitre 10 is a proud family business built out of passion and foresight.
Clennett’s Mitre 10 is a significant trade player in the Southern Tasmanian market, being synonymous with timber, building supplies and service excellence in Tasmania for over a century. In fact, the Clennett family’s involvement in the industry extends well back over a hundred years to the establishmentof a timber mill by William Longstaff Clennett in 1885 at Stanmore near Dover.
Current Clennett’s general manager Will Clennett is the great, great grandson of William Longstaff Clennett, and is proud to carry on his family’s history – one built on knowledge, passion and a clear vision to add value back to its local community.
“The family business has evolved, but certainly our association with timber and building products has continued for well over a century,” he says. “It’s a nice thing, and is why the current business – while not a sawmill any more but a hardware and timber retailer – still has such a strong trade and timber focus.”
Clennett’s currently operates out of three high-profile Mitre 10 sites at Mornington, Kingston and Huonville, as well as another newly acquired site in Glenorchy that will be relocated to a new purpose build trade centre – and rebranded under the Mitre 10 banner – by the year’s end.
The Glenorchy site follows the Clennett family’s purchase of the trade division of iconic Tasmanian business Kemp & Denning Limited (K&D Trade) in June 2017, an undertaking that closely aligns to the company’s growth plans to expand its footprint in the Hobart region and develop an integrated “whole of house” offer to service the trade customer.
“Two of our sites are purely trade centres, so they’re primarily focused in servicing the commercial building sector, but the sites have a very heavy DIY appeal,” Clennett says. “So for a DIYer who has a big project, those stores certainly appeal to them because we’ve got the right products, we’ve got a team that understand the market, and we can add value back to the customer.
“Outside of that we still have two large retail trade sites, so while 80 percent of what we do in the business would be trade, we still have a pretty strong retailing capability.”
The business has seen increasing competition from Bunnings with heavy investment in the Tasmanian market over the last 10 years, but with the successful purchase of K&D Trade, Clennett’s has managed to differentiate itself while effectively doubling the size of its trade business. Diversifying and adapting to changing times is a key reason for Clennett’s resilient reputation.
“We are also in the process of renovating the Kingston store at the moment into what we call a Sapphire store, which is a national transformation program by the Mitre 10 Group that really looks at the store of the future – that will differentiate it from competitors,” Clennett says. “I guess the best way to explain it is that we’ve looked at the retail categories that have a strong trade-adjacency, and we’ve also looked at the categories that have performed well, so internally we talk about being hyper-focused in some categories in retail. And the four categories that we’re hyper-focused on are kitchens and bathrooms, paint, garden and power tools.”
The new store will be refitted and launched in December this year and will be very clearly differentiated.
“It’s not a big box retail environment,” says Clennett. “It’s a higher specification and it’s really based around the categories that require extra service and extra product knowledge. Anything that requires a more specialist focused, they’re the areas that we have really invested in.
“Retail is not dead for us. While our vision is to be the best timber and building products company, we very much want to have strong retail capability where we believe we can be competitive.”
Clennett and his team have a can-do attitude and have been in instrumental in assisting with the pilot of a number of new Mitre 10 growth initiatives to enhance the trade customer offer. This includes a new delivery management solution for their trade customers called Truck Tracker.
“It’s all about being ‘mighty helpful’ in every sense of the word,” Clennett says. “We don’t just say that we’re mighty helpful – it’s really important that we are mighty helpful and that the experience that the customer has with our business, that they get something different.”
The business remains committed to continual growth and development, and is currently in the process of relocating the Glenorchy store into a new facility, which will be a 10,000sqm Mitre 10 trade centre – one of the largest trade centres in Australia. Two new distribution centres will also come on line by February/March next year to drive greater inventory efficiencies across the Clennett trade network.
“So rather than having four sites that participate in the delivery of materials, we’ll have two distribution centres that will have the capacity for much greater scale than we have now,” Clennett explains.
“Strategically, over the next few years, we need to look at where we need an infill site within the market. Also, we’re conveniently located, and by having a bigger network than our competitors that makes us even more convenient. That will be supported from a capacity point of view by the creation of the two new distribution centres – it will give us greater scope to look at a low-cost trade centre model that will complement the network from a convenience point of view.”
Clennett’s also strives to maintain an environment which reflects the best parts of a true family-run business, committed to giving back to the community that supports it so well.
“I certainly have great respect for our family heritage,” Clennett says. “It’s important that the business conducts itself in a manner that’s going to be true and in-keeping with the reputation of the family.”
With five generations of family commitment, there is little doubt of the company’s enviable reputation in trade excellence and long lasting partnerships with its extensive customer base.
We’re sure that great, great, grandfather Clennett would be proud.
For more information go to clennettsmitre10.com.au