FIRST it was book stores and record shops, then it was grocers and electrical retailers.
Now a restoration firm is becoming the latest business to head online by selling its “heritage” windows and doors over the internet.
Holyrood Contracts – an Edinburgh-based builder that helped restore Archerfield House in East Lothian, the Dome in the capital and Glasgow’s Blythswood Square Hotel – was bought out of administration less than three years ago.
Now the firm is seeking a new lease of life by targeting a UK-wide audience with custom-designed software that will allow clients to choose their windows online.
The firm expects turnover to double to £2 million next year after drafting in Leith-based digital agency Crush to help with its internet strategy.
Not only has Holyrood revamped its website and invested in digital marketing, it has also commissioned Crush to build it a system that will allow customers to input measurements and receive quotes online.
David Gill, who led the management buyout of the company with business partner Kevin Bunyan, said the niche nature of the business meant its services should be in demand far and wide.
“Ours is a very specialist trade,” he said. “There are less than a handful of companies in Scotland that have the tooling and skills necessary to replicate Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian heritage properties almost identically.
“The vast majority of our customers, whether trade or retail, now come to us online but our industry has not been particularly strong in this regard.”
The group’s website has already been transformed and its software should be in place this summer.
The move marks a new phase in the turnaround of Holyrood, which fell into administration in 2009 after several of its clients went out of business.
The restructured company cut its staff from 20 to 11, sold its Musselburgh machine shop and consolidated its business at its current head office at Duddingston.
As well as manufacturing heritage and modern doors and windows, the firm also makes balustrades and conservatories and orangeries, as well as carrying out historic building restoration.
Rafael Cueto, managing director of Crush, said his business was partnering with more and more companies such as Holyrood that see the value not just of trading online but of using a web-based business model to take some of the “legwork” out of dealing with customers.
“Things that before were time-consuming and maybe needed a meeting can be done automatically online,” Cueto added.
Cueto said companies were increasingly opting to have their software designed for them, giving them ownership, which was ultimately cheaper than leasing agreements offered with “off-the-shelf” products.