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Angus & Robertson Albany – Newsxpress Albany - ACCI GWN7 Award for Best Franchise Business

Hamish Cameron outside Paperbark Merchants where you are sure to be pleasantly surprised A lot has changed in the past six months for the winner of the GWN7 Award for Best Franchise Business in the 2011 Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Awards.

Not the least of which is a change of name of the business from Angus & Robertson Albany – Newsxpress to Paperbark Merchants – and the fact they are no longer part of a franchise.

After the collapse of Angus & Robertson, Hamish Cameron said their family-owned business had no choice but to make a new start. The dilemma was whether to join another book seller franchise or become an independent trader.

"The situation was an opportunity for us to take a good look at our business and decide how we wanted to move into the future," he said. "I think people are looking for a shopping experience and being an independent gives us the opportunity to be more flexible and cater for this retailing demand."

"I don’t see us having a huge internet sales presence because we can’t compete on an international level. We are committed to bricks and mortar and creating an interesting place for people to come in and spend time to find out what we are offering."

"We have an emphasis on local marketing, and have done a lot of work on becoming part of the community - we believe in being involved in the place where we live."

Hamish said entering the ACCI awards had emphasised the importance of having a business plan. "You have to keep adapting and changing your business plan – you can’t afford to stay the same," he said.

Hamish said Paperbark Merchants was now in a consolidation phase.

"I am mindful that when we do anything that we do it right – you can’t afford to make mistakes, especially in challenging retail conditions," he said.

He said they wanted to get the small things right like their choice of business name, branding and business cards.

Hamish said the name Paperbark Merchants reflected the business perfectly.

"Paperbark trees are found on the family farm – so they are local and natural, and we chose a dog as an image because a tree would have been too obvious. Using the word merchant also covers what we do and is a historic reference."

With retailing currently facing some challenges, Hamish said Paperbark Merchants was committed to creating a welcoming and interesting environment in the store.

Paperbark Merchants has become renowned for its amazing window displays.

"We recognise the shop window is the soul into the business. I also believe that presentation, people and products are the keys to a successful business," Hamish said.

"Our focus is also that the business has to be sustainable and finding savings where possible such as putting in a 10kW solar system to save money on power costs.

"That means we can maintain our staff levels and therefore our customer service levels. Paperbark Merchants is open more than we are shut. It is important for us to be open seven days as we are on the main street and we know our customers appreciate our longer trading hours."

Return to 2011 Award Winners