15 Year Birthday for rugbystore.co.uk
This year, rugbystore.co.uk, celebrates its 15th Birthday. As part of this celebration not only are we passing on a 15% discount during the weekend of 13th to 15th of June to our loyal customers, we are looking back at what has made rugbystore.co.uk the dependable name in rugby it is today. In terms of Internet history, we were there just after ‘the big bang’ in 1999, a year after Google was founded. Since then rugbystore has become a world leader in supplying all things rugby. Despite this being our 15th Anniversary however, we can trace our history of quality sporting goods to 1975.
Established by Kate and Ron Murray with Valerie and John Gray, the foundations of what would become rugbystore began as a Sports Equipment Store, Sportswise, in 1975, Galashiels Scotland. It was a small establishment with the offices operating out of a small flat above the shop, a far cry from our bespoke office and warehouse today. Our long serving Director, Kenny Oliver, joined shortly after the company’s outset in 1977 and became the Store manager for the second Sportswise in Kelso.
With Kenny on board and a deal signed with the buying group Intersport, who we continue to be members of to this day, Sportswise Borders Ltd grew to 7 stores across the Borders and Northern England. The stores were re-branded Intersport due to the relationship with the buying group which provided many benefits to Sportswise as it does rugbystore today.
In 1988, the original four directors sold the company to Kenny and Paul Graham, who had previously been a supplier to the Intersport stores. Together they would build rugbystore into what it is today but not without some big challenges.
The growth seen throughout the 80s did not continue. Problems besieged the stores. The stores would be hit hard by the recession of 89’ and early 90s. The Intersport stores run by Sportswise were made to cut back to just 3 stores and took careful measures to ensure they were only buying essential stock. It was very bad timing for the new owners and yet the bricks and mortar company survived.
By focussing and providing a quality service that is still a hallmark at rugbystore today, Intersport stores survived when many others went out of business completely. This was also due to Intersport and later rugbystore, keeping up with technology.
Rugbystore was ahead of the curve in regards to online retail. This was not unfounded, the Intersport stores were quick of the mark to provide a successful mail order service. The success of the mail order service would provide the confidence and customers for the pair to take pioneering steps in online retail.
A Website is Born
The rugbystore.co.uk domain was registered in 1999. It seems so essential today for any business to have an online presence, it’s hard to imagine how at the time this venture could be seen as a risk or even waste of time and resources. However both Paul and Kenny could see the potential. They registered for rugbystore as they accurately identified a gap in the rugby specialist area. Not only that but specialising would allow them to serve customers’ needs to an even greater extent with the best quality products.
Their first client, a Latvian rugby enthusiast and buyer, was made aware of the website through the mail order service. It was immediately clear that the website would allow him to order what he wanted and with less hassle. And so it was for the rest of their rapidly expanding online clientèle. However, running the website even in those early days was not without hurdles.
As with many early websites, rugbystore.co.uk did not always have an efficient design. From stock issues to a nearly broken website it was a problematic road to the now smooth and streamlined service rugbystore can offer today. There were significant issues trying to ensure products sold online did not sell out in the stores complicated further by the fact our products were spread at one point between four warehouses. These logistical problems proved we needed to change and incentivised the building of our new office and warehouse today.
Sadly, in 2012, Managing Director, Paul Graham passed away after a long struggle with cancer. He had been with the company in its various states for over twenty years and had helped lead the company through some of its most difficult times. Paul was greatly respected and sorely missed by those who worked with him. He was survived by his partner and children who still play an active role in the company.
What pulled Intersport through its problems and a recession and rugbystore though some difficult years and another recession, has always been down to the people. rugbystore.co.uk and the Intersport stores before them have always had a good relationship with their employees some of which have been working with us for twenty years. Below, some of our long serving and hard-working team share their thoughts and memories from their time here:
Name: Karen Hogg
Job Title: Accounts/HR Manager
When did you start working at rugbystore.co.uk or the Intersport store? June 2010
What was your first day like? It was good. Everyone was friendly, but I was aware I had a lot to learn about the business and the accounts, and realised I knew nothing about Rugby!
What’s the best thing about working here? Working for a successful business and being able to contribute in my own way with regard to HR and accounts etc. Having “ownership” of my own department and being allowed to manage it effectively. I love having such a diverse role and appreciate being appreciated!
Finish this sentence: In another 15 years rugbystore.co.uk will be…a forward-thinking profitable Rugbywear and sportswear business, and the main internet retailer to buy from all over the world. It will continue to develop and branch out successfully and will have a fantastic website, and will always keep up with the latest technology.
Name: Chris Mack-Riddell
Job Title:General Manager, Head of Graphics, IT and Project Development
When did you start working at rugbystore.co.uk or the Intersport store? 3rd October 2000
What was your first day like? Lots of heavy lifting. I was only supposed to be here for a few weeks, to help Kenny move the warehouse stock from the old shop in Berwick to the new shop in Gala.
What’s the best thing about working here? Being at the pointy end of all the new development and playing a part in shaping the way the company has evolved.
Finish this sentence: In another 15 years rugbystore.co.uk will be… Still working to the same ethos that got us to where we are now; finding the best products, from the best suppliers and working hard to give our Customers the best service.
Name: Lindsay Dods
Job Title: Assistant Buyer
When did you start working at rugbystore.co.uk or the Intersport store? January 2005 in Customer Service, moved to doing the Buying later on that year (I think)
What was your first day like? I don’t remember my first day but I do remember very early on being plonked in the printing office at the shop in Gala answering the same email over and over again, ‘When will my Lions Shirt arrive?’ That was horrible!
What’s the best thing about working here? I like the Christmas parties, the last day of work before Christmas, the Bake Offs and of course, Kenny’s BBQ’s! Nah seriously, we have a tight knit staff here and we all help each other out. We all love having a laugh but we knuckle down at the same time. Fraser and Kenny are fab bosses to work for and are always willing to offer you support no matter what you need.
Finish this sentence: In another 15 years rugbystore.co.uk will be… Apart from the obvious, 30?……… Rugbystore.co.uk will be huge (both globally and in size), we will have taken over Cavalry Park as we would need to build loads and loads of warehouses to stock all the ranges, sorry Michael!
Name Michael Oliver
Job Title: Warehouse Manager
When did you start working at rugbystore.co.uk or the Intersport store? I started working full time at the Intersport store in Kelso in 1996. Before moving on to run the Berwick-upon-Tweed and Galashiels shops and finally moving up to Peebles to take control of the warehouse.
What was your first day like? My First day of work was in the cellar at the Kelso shop where I engraved some sports medals for a local rugby tournament.
What’s the best thing about working here: The people: Everyone gets along, we work hard and play hard.
Finish this sentence: In another 15 years rugbystore.co.uk will be… Still the biggest and best rugby online retailer IN THE WORLD.
In time rugbystore.co.uk became such a significant portion of the business that the final store was closed and we became online only in 2008. Since then we have grown and now have customers from all corners of the world and supply rugby gear from the biggest and best brands. Current Managing Director, Fraser Patterson joined us in 2009 and has helped rugbystore.co.uk lead an increasingly crowded market whilst maintaining our standards for quality. The Sports Retail Market has changed so much since we began but rugbystore.co.uk continues to strive to be the best at what we do.
This week we celebrated our 15th Birthday with our partners and our staff past and present. As well as being a marvellous evening, the night was a testament to the relationships rugbystore has built with it’s staff and indeed the industry. Scottish Rugby legend, Iain ‘The Bear’ Milne spoke of his glory days and reminded us that the ours lie ahead of us as rugby becomes more and more popular across the world.
15 years is a long time in terms of internet history and yet rugbystore.co.uk is just getting started. The next fifteen years will bring as many challenges as the last but we hope to continue to provide a dedicated service to rugby players and fans the world over. We’ll be celebrating the birthday of our company with all our staff and partners this June and are happy to celebrate with our customers too, with our 15% discount across our website. With the World Cup in England just around the corner, rugbystore.co.uk will continue to be Everything Rugby.