Thursday, December 14, 2017

5 Minutes With Matt Hopkins, Founder, The Great British Exchange

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The Great British Exchange is a unique kind of ecommerce platform.

Founded by Matt Hopkins just three years ago, its team members seek the best British designers, makers, craftspeople and manufacturers – also known as “producers” – and invite them to join the organisation for free. 

In return, the Great British Exchange helps them with any element of their business from pricing to imagery to ensure that they are retail-ready when they go live on the platform.

The Great British Exchange only takes a 15 per cent margin on sales and once that producer makes over £500, only then do they pay a membership fee of £20 a month.

The Retail Gazette spoke to Hopkins to find out more.


Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before the Great British Exchange

At 18, I began door-to-door selling to retailers around the north of England before I joined Yorkshire-based manufacturer P&L Systems Ltd. From there, I worked my way up until I was 28 and became the national sales manager.

One of biggest career highlights was when I was head hunted by Merison Retail, an international brand licensing company, where I became managing director of the UK division within just 12 months. I was responsible for product development and multimillion pound retail sales for brands such as Jamie Oliver and Laura Ashley. 

It was from here, and through travelling that I realised there was a gap in the market for a “hub” for great British produce.

What got you into the retail sector in the first place?

I got into the retail sector originally because it‘s constantly changing, and I love that it can be really fast paced and the products can be so varied. 

To be honest, although retailing products are really important, for me it‘s the creativity and back story behind each product which really intrigues me.

Describe your responsibilities as founder of the Great British Exchange

My main responsibility is working with my team to ensure that we give the best advice for each British producer. As we have a variety of producers, it is really important that we tailor our approach to them individually in order to achieve them the best possible success by getting them on retailers‘ shelves.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Working for different retailers has given me a real understanding and appreciation for consumer behaviour, which has made me understand how they operate. One of the main things I learnt was that the attitude to what people want has changed, and constantly changes. Instead of mass-produced items, consumers now want British made products and retailers want to offer their customers well-made, good quality produce. 


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How is the Great British Exchange different to other ecommerce platforms?

We are a one stop shop and we don‘t add so much in terms of cost, either. My team and I help seek the best British designers, makers, craftspeople and manufacturers so they can be placed on our website. 

From there, their products are accessible to a range of over 1200 retailers (including John Lewis) who can then order these products to be sold in their store.

What made you decide to start up the business?

I wanted to change the retail landscape from the semi-disposal world we currently live in and give consumers more choice in products. I also wanted people to feel like each product bought has a story behind it.

The Great British Exchange has only been aroundthree years but it already seems to be a success.

My team is amazing. Obviously