VP R&D Health and Hull Site Lead at Reckitt
B Batch Group was established in 1946 by Bernard Batch, father to the current Managing Director, Tristan Batch. A carpenter by trade, Bernard Batch saw a niche in the market in providing a complete service for fitting out new retail units. Hence, the small shop-fitting company B Batch was formed; offering joinery, plumbing, electrical and decorating services to local small contracts. It wasn’t until 1957 that B Batch Shopfitters were awarded a large contract with Fletchers Bakery to complete the fit out of their shops.
B Batch Group are based in Hull’s Spring Bank area and have been since 1946 but operate as a fully bespoke, luxury and commercial interior shop fit out, design and manufacturing company all over the world. B Batch Group continue to provide a ‘full package’ service, encompassing high specification design, project management and bespoke product manufacturing. To this day, B Batch Group remains a family run business. In 1981 Tristan Batch was appointed as Managing Director and his daughter, Lucy Batch, has been with the firm for over 10 years and is now Marketing & Sales Director at B Batch.
The Group not only provide a bespoke full range of services but they deliver within excellent timescales, Commercial Director, Leon McQuade said; “We generally fast-track fit-outs, we have coordinated our programmes to reduce timescales for our clients. Kurt Geiger anticipated 6 weeks for a fit out, and we completed one in 2.5 weeks for our client to ensure the store was open and trading. We think differently to our competitors, and in how we manufacture now, as opposed to 5 years ago, we can manufacture all our bespoke units at our Hull facility, rather than at the proposed retail site. Our manufacturing capabilities are extensive; we’ve come a long way to bridge the gap between bespoke joinery, design and installation.”
What makes B Batch Group so remarkable is their hugely successful story of diversification and growth. What began as a small team fitting out traditional bakeries in Hull has expanded to include names such as; 3.1 Philip Lim, Tory Burch, Alexander McQueen, Larsson & Jennings, Whistles, Versace, Selfridges and Cath Kidston on their extensive client portfolio. As well as the retail sector, B Batch Group also provide tailored manufacturing and interior fit-out services to businesses in the office, industrial, hotelier, bar and restaurant industries.
It is in the world of commercial and luxury retail fit-outs, however, that B Batch Group have become an industry leader in their own right. The Group are a triumph to what can be achieved when a business strives for success by becoming leaders in a single, niche industry. In recent years, B Batch Group have fitted-out 15 stores for the luxury iconic fashion label, 3.1 Philip Lim, in global capitals such as; Milan, New York, Copenhagen, Boston, as well as Harrods and Selfridges in London, with part of the fit-out including bespoke marble display plinths and garment rails dipped in gold, echoing the elegance and opulence of the collections.
As a company, B Batch Group have slipped quietly under the radar, despite being one of East Yorkshire’s biggest success stories of our decade, with an international reach that stretches as far as Europe, America and the UAE. Beyond its immediate marketplace, in London and internationally, few business people within the Humber have heard of B Batch Group.
Managing Director, Tristan Batch, explains how B Batch have achieved this continuous growth; “We have invested heavily in new machinery, equipment and in our team, and we have also been fortunate to have worked closely with UKTI, who have provided expert trade advice and funding to help us grow further internationally, particularly in the UAE.”
Cath Kidston’s flagship store, which opened late 2013 in London’s Piccadilly, is one of B Batch Group’s largest project to date and a contract worth over £1m. B Batch Group provided a high quality specification fit-out that created a visually exciting retail space, comprising of three retail floors, craft workshops and a Cath’s Café, emulating the quirky Englishness of the Cath Kidston brand.
Continued growth and success can be attributed to the company’s founding principles, which include; high levels of customer service, quality and a focus on the future. As competitors have invested in marketing or advertising, B Batch Group has invested in customer service. Marketing & Sales Director, Lucy Batch said; “Not many British manufacturing companies can say they are on price-point with China but we are, as well as being hand-made and with a quicker lead-time, we have close client-collaboration and are extremely proud of our high levels of repeat business. We never forget the main reason we exist and that is because of our customers.”
B Batch Group has incredible in-house expertise, including specialist CAD technicians, production managers, project managers, skilled joiners as well as site and contract managers. Although now a fast growing business, company culture remains at the heart of B Batch Group and their incredibly low staff turnover can be attributed to the ‘grow-your-own’ workforce strategy they have adopted. In fact, 4 out of 8 members of the senior management team joined the company as apprentices. Leon McQuade, now 34 and Commercial Director at B Batch Group, joined the firm as an apprentice joiner from Hull College in 1996 and has risen through the ranks to the position he holds today.
B Batch Group has embraced new technology, enabling them to make on-site changes directly via 3D CAD modelling, they are also utilising solid works which has huge benefits to their clients on the build of stores, offices, hotels, and bars. Technology has enabled them to communicate quicker, improve on costs and productivity, make on-site decisions and be available 24 hours for any local, national or international client.
The company has remained in Hull due to family ties but also benefitting from great local connectivity. B Batch Group’s central location and being in close proximity to the Humber ports allows them to have clients all over the world, whilst maintaining a highly competitive pricing structure. Trustworthy suppliers are worth their weight in gold and all B Batch Group’s suppliers, from freight forwarding, metal fabricators and air conditioning contractors, are all within a 30mile radius.
The team at B Batch Group are all local and are passionate ambassadors for Hull and the surrounding areas, yet do little business locally, although, this is something they are keen to change. Marketing & Sales Director, Lucy Batch concluded; “We are immensely proud of our luxury high-end client portfolio, particularly that they have chosen to work with us in a continual capacity but we do also have, and highly value each and every client from blue chip national retailers like EE, JD Sports Group, Xercise4less, Waterstones to more local work for O-So Fresh, an East Hull working man’s fruit store. We are in Hull, made in Hull and want to work in the Hull and Humber area.”
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