The high road to business partnership success

The partnership model means owner-managers see their store as their own business, and are, therefore, often very opinionated about how it should be run, but that this underlines their commitment to making their store as successful as possible.

The Highgrove Bathrooms story started 12 years ago when founder Lindsay Sinclair opened a single store selling furniture in Queensland. Soon after starting out Lindsay jumped on the explosion of interest in DIY and home renovations, fuelled to great extent by various hugely popular home makeover TV programs such as The Block and House Rules, and concentrated on bathrooms.

Lindsay’s son James, who started out in the business as a manager of one of the stores in Victoria and who now oversees the company’s accounting and finance functions from its Gold Coast head office, believes the GFC was another factor in the growth of the business.

“The GFC led to a slowdown in construction of new homes, leading to people focusing on renovating their existing houses rather than moving on,” he says.

They expanded the business nationally by creating a partnership model in which owner-managers invest in a new store, sharing the cost of the lease approximately 50:50 basis with Highrove.

Highgrove help the owner-managers find the premises, source and deliver the stock to be sold in the store – they have warehouses in Queensland and Victoria – provide the distribution network and deal with the marketing.

The owner-managers themselves are responsible for the day-to-day running of their store, including recruitment, with Highgrove offering advice in these areas.

James says this partnership model ensures real buy-in from each store’s owner-manager.

“As the owners are so invested in the success of their store,” he says,” they tend to treat the money Highgrove invest as if it were their own.” James admits that the partnership model means owner-managers see their store as their own business, and are, therefore, often very opinionated about how it should be run, but that this underlines their commitment to making their store as successful as possible – and this is a win:win situation for both the owner-manager and the company.

James says the vast majority of Highgrove’s customers are home-owners rather than tradespeople.

“Even if they are getting help with the physical aspect of the project, people renovating their homes are making their own decisions about fixtures and fittings,” he says.

Highgrove now oversee 30 stores employing over 150 staff in Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Victoria, including three new stores in Melbourne that have opened in the last few months alone.

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