An interview with the Founder and Director of Creative Shop Retail Shopfitting
Brandon Williams is the founder and Director of the Creative Shop Retail Shopfitting group.
We sat down with him to understand why the shopfitting industry would make excellent reality TV material.
Confessions of a serial shopfitter -the inside story of the Creative Shop Retail Shopfitting company
What does Creative Shop retail shopfitting do, exactly?
Brandon: Basically, we’re the guys that build the interior of shops you shop in, and the restaurants you eat in. Most good shop fitters offer retailers and businesses a “turn key solution”. This basically means if you want to open a shop or restaurant or revamp any sort of business premises interior, we will handle every aspect of the project – from design conceptualisation, to fabrication all the way through to final installation – for you.
How long have you been in the shopfitting industry?
Brandon: I have over twenty years of experience in the shopfitting industry, nine of which been running Creative Shop. I started my career as a retail group merchandiser, focusing on the visual merchandising for a hardware and motor spares store. From there I got involved with the shop fitting environment, in both design and project management roles. I’ve pretty much been personally involved in all the critical areas within a shop fitting set up.
When did you establish the Creative Shop retail shopftting company?
Brandon: Creative Shop was established during the worst possible economic time – mid 2008 – at the start of the global recession. My employer at that stage had to clamp down on their companies growth campaign, and I ended up amongst a group of 30 people in my department who received a retrenchment package – which I used to finance the set up of Creative Shop… In hind site, getting retrenched was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start my own business.
Well you know what they say… If your start from the lowest possible point you can only go up!
“Today Creative Shop is a thriving business that employs over 60 South Africans”
What is the most pressured project you’ve worked on?
Brandon: Fitting out two very different shops, under a very tight deadline, to be ready for the opening of the Mall of Africa – the biggest mall in Africa. The mall was still being built around us as we fitted-out the shops!
What is the strangest thing customers asked you to do?
Brandon: A common, irregular request is “I want the best, international-quality fit out for my shop - but I need you to find a way do it for half the price that this other guy quoted me.” I still don’t really understand that sort of request. As they say in Afrikaans: “Goed koop is duur koop”.
What’s the craziest thing an employee has ever done on your time?
Brandon: Ha Ha… So many stories. Everything from staff making furniture to take home for their own personal usage – in my factory, using my stock, on my time – to current employees sneakily trying to moonlight… by pitching themselves, in their personal capacity, as competition to Creative Shop… to our existing, loyal customers! (They never quite get away with it though!)
What is the hardest part of running a shopfitting business?
Brandon: You need to be a really, really good juggler – and have nerves of steal – to succeed in this industry. We’re always managing multiple, complex projects that each have tight deadlines and unforeseen challenges to overcome. Without the correct procedures in place the wheel will just not turn. That’s why we focus aggressively on our procedures, every year, to ensure that our systems are on path with our company’s growth
“It’s been great to see how our long-time customers’ businesses have grown along side our own company.”
Why do you still choose to be in the shopfitting industry over every other business you could be in?
Brandon: I enjoy the day to day challenges that this industry offers. The relationships that are built over the years and the opportunities that are offered to myself and my team by our valued clientele. It’s been great to see how our long-time customers’ businesses have grown along side our own company. Take the Brow Bar franchise for instance – when we first met the owners, they were working out of a home-based salon. Now, just a few years on, we’ve fitted out mall kiosks and salons for them all over South Africa – and growing fast. That’s why I do this. It all just feels right!
To get in touch with Brandon, drop him an email here.