David is the business writer for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post.

Mobel Group scores two wins at business awards

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Winners: David Littlewood and Adam Hazlett from Modern Office and Office Furniture Warehouse with Cooney Lees Morgan's Mary Hill at the Westpac Tauranga awards. Photo/Andrew Warner
Winners: David Littlewood and Adam Hazlett from Modern Office and Office Furniture Warehouse with Cooney Lees Morgan's Mary Hill at the Westpac Tauranga awards. Photo/Andrew Warner

An eye for online sales and marketing opportunities helped Mobel Group's Modern Office and Office Furniture Warehouse win two category awards in the Westpac Tauranga Business Awards.

As well as being finalists for the overall award, the companies won the Manufacturing and/or Logistics Award and the Business Innovation Award.

Founded a decade ago by Adam Hazlett and David Littlewood, the companies picked up an emerging business award in 2008, and were runners-up in the business growth category in 2011.

"We thought it was time to step back in and go through the process again," said Mr Hazlett.

"It was a good chance for us to step back and look at what things we're doing well, and what things we need to work and focus on to make sure we are continuing to build a robust business. It's nice to step back and look at the business as a whole and meet the judges and get their feedback.

And they generally asked a few curly questions and put us on the spot."

The group's two brands are distinct. Modern Office provides commercial furniture and office design services in the upper North Island, while Office Furniture Warehouse is an online store delivering value-for-money furniture nationwide and in the Pacific Islands.

The judges said Mobel Group had established a solid growth plan, which it was achieving, and had expanded its operations to include new physical premises in Auckland and Hamilton, along with warehousing locally and was continuing to grow its online business.

The group provided genuine delivery of its internal customer service mantra "always give people more than they expect to receive" and had a solid business strategy and capacity to manage growth, alongside sound financial performance, the judges said.

"They have a detailed use of technology in the overall management and development of their business."

The retail and online businesses target different and distinct markets, using search engine optimisation. Mobel has also moved to the cloud and was in the process of integrating its customer relationship management software with the inventory system, allowing the companies to deliver better customer service and enhance the growth of the business, the judges said.

Mr Hazlett said the companies' adoption of the digital space had been a big advantage, particularly with the online business.

"Tauranga is only so big and there's only so much going on in the commercial furniture world and we get our fair share of business here," he said. However, the internal digital platform allowed Modern Office to be really efficient in the way it operated, and to turn quotes around quickly.

"In addition, we've invested heavily in a good online shop for the Office Furniture Warehouse and a good digital marketing strategy to support that and drive business to the shop. On the back of that, we've got our own suppliers of unique brands. The digital strategy had really driven our success."

Westpac Tauranga Business Awards 2016 - Modern Office & Office Furniture Warehouse (Mobel Group)
-Winner - Cooney Lees Morgan Manufacturing &/or Logistics Award

-Winner - Ballance Agri-Nutrients Business Innovation Award

-Finalist - Tauranga Business of the Year

- Bay of Plenty Times

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