Knees of Wiltshire
“We’re not just a family business, our business is a family.” (Marcus Holbrow, MD and great-grandson of founder).
Alongside Wiltshire’s magnificent history, unique shops and family-run eateries, you’ll find Knees Home & Electrical – one of Euronics’ oldest stores. Since 1879, this independent family business has gone from strength to strength, but one thing has never changed – Knees remains at the heart of its community, and always puts customers first.
In the 21st century, the customer-company relationship is more important than ever before. Knees are ahead of their game (and have been for a long time), so we wanted to find out more.
Luckily, we had the opportunity to chat with some of their team, including MD Marcus and Communications Guru Josie!
Family Focused and Independent
So, where did it all start? How did Knees become what it is today? The founder’s great-grandson, Marcus, has worked at Knees since he was 14 years old:
“My great-grandfather Henry founded the business in 1879, and after him, it was run by his son and grandsons. We are really proud of our heritage – it has created the business we are today, and defined what we offer our customers, staff and the local community.”
Another of Henry’s great-grandsons (also Henry), along with one of his great-great grandsons (Richard) are also directors. It really is clear that a sense of closeness and family has always been important at Knees:
“Knees has always embraced its family values. We’re not just a family business, our business is a family. Relationships are central to everything we do – with each other, with our customers and with our local community. We always go that extra mile to help our customers.”
If you’re looking for a different experience to national chains, then Knees is the place to go. As it has been family-run and independent since day one, they offer a more personal service than larger chain stores:
“We believe that independents offer a personal customer experience, unlike larger retailers. This covers the whole shopping experience – from talking to customers and helping them choose the right product, to delivering it and making sure it’s in the right place for them. We like to think this makes a difference.”
We wanted to hear more about what Knees’ customers really thought. Here’s a glance at one valued shopper’s experience:
“I just want to thank Ross for superb customer service last week. Ross managed to get my NEFF oven ordered and installed in less than 5 days. And the fitter I was recommended (Gary) was brilliant too. I am a very satisfied customer. Many thanks again.” (Norman Swanney)
It comes across that Knees staff are passionate, and this helps to give customers the shopping experience they deserve.
Driven to Deliver
Priding themselves on excellent service, Knees are especially proud of their deliveries. For 138 years, they’ve given their all to ensure every delivery reaches the customer, no matter how difficult it may be. Marcus says:
“I came to appreciate the importance of personal contact from a very early age. Delivery is the customer’s very last point of contact with us, and I feel strongly that customers should have a positive experience from start to finish.”
Marcus and Josie had quite a few challenging delivery stories to share with us too! One of our favourites was the delivery of a large range oven to a small first floor flat:
“We had to carry it through a pub car park, down a public footpath and through the back garden – which involved removing the gate. Then, we had to navigate the range over some railings and up a tricky staircase. Once we were actually in the flat, the range was a doddle to fit – and we did get a well-deserved cup of tea!”
Other stories even include removing doors and windows to deliver large fridge freezers. With all these difficulties in mind, you can see how Knees go above and beyond for every customer.
A Modern Company
While remaining a key part of the Wiltshire community, Knees has also kept up with modern developments. The introduction of online selling has added new ways to serve customers, and being a member of the Euronics group brings many advantages:
“Being a Euronics agent has many benefits. We get better buying prices, which we can then pass on to our customers.
It also gives us access to people at every stage of the manufacturing and sales process. For the customer, this means that we can quickly find a solution to any issues.”
As a result, their store has a large chain’s buying power and contacts, with the personal approach you’d expect from a family business.
One of our favourite things about Knees is the education and entertainment they add to customers’ shopping experiences.
Holding their first store event in the early 50s, with demonstrations of vacuum cleaners and washing machines, they now hold regular events like cooking demos:
“We now focus on cooking demos with high profile chefs, either nationally or locally. We find that events are great for increasing customer knowledge of products and cooking, and supporting our ethos of community involvement.”
And, you might even spot a celebrity or two at these events, most recently Italian whiz Gino came to demonstrate:
“Our most exciting event was with Gino D’Acampo. Our store manager got an unexpected – but very welcome hug and kiss. I think it’s safe to say our customers appreciated his unique blend of energy and humour. I’m not sure how much they learnt about the recipes but they certainly had a lot of fun!”
It’s clear that Knees hold these events to offer their customers an engaging experience with a personal twist. Shopping is so much more than a transactional experience – it’s a sensory experience where you can learn, interact, and most importantly, have fun!
Knees don’t just invite TV stars to demo their products – they’ve been on the screen a few times themselves, featuring in an episode of That’s Life and one of the Carlsberg ads.
Josie told us about a local family who hand-reared a bull calf and kept it as a pet. In 1983 That’s Life decided to investigate, and the Knees’ store was used as a scene for the episode:
“The calf was quite domesticated and did all sorts of unusual things, like shopping and going to the hairdressers. Cameras were set up in the shop and the calf came in with its owner for a browse around.”
However, it turns out that calves aren’t the best shopping companions – this little chap lost his way and crashed into one of the rickety displays!
In 1990, Knees were also contacted by Carlsberg, who asked to feature one of their vans in an advert (starring British comedy actor Mark Heap):
“Our appearance in the Carlsberg ad came about as our removal vans were branded in green and white at the time, the same colours as Carlsberg’s branding.”
Take a look at the advert below:
Keep a look out on the TV – you never know where you might spot Knees today! Or if you’re on the celeb autograph hunt, why not plan a visit to the Trowbridge or Malmesbury store soon?
Home-grown, Community-Focused Talent
So, who is the longest serving member of the Knees team? Josie tells us about Marcus the MD, and his passion for service:
“Marcus has been involved with Knees for 50 years. When he was 14, he started helping out in the shop and with deliveries, worked his way up through the ranks, and got to know the various aspects of the business. Since 2005, he’s been the Managing Director.”
And, Marcus isn’t the only one who’s built a long career at Knees. A number of other team members started selling with the company some years before they reached the higher ranks:
“Good examples are our Retail Director, Ian Vidler, and our Malmesbury Store Manager, Pete Drake. Ian’s worked here for almost 30 years, and Pete for just under 20. Both started their careers as electrical salesmen in our Trowbridge store.”
This wealth of knowledge shows that Knees staff can give the best advice to their customers – with smiles on their faces too! In fact, giving something back is also common at Knees:
“Many people think of Knees as an integral part of the community. We have sponsored local sports teams, as well as members of staff who play in local teams. We regularly contribute prizes for local charity fundraising, and we feel it’s an important part of what we do.”
It’s clear that the Wiltshire community relies on Knees, just as Knees rely on the community. One doesn’t function so well without the other – which is why we value our independent retailers.
The Next 100 Years
Over a century on, this family-run business still cares deeply about the Wiltshire community. We asked them what the future holds – and even though they take a modern approach to retail, they will stay true to their core values:
“We will spend as much time with the customer as they need, to make sure they always have help at hand. On delivery, we will go above and beyond other retailers, and if there’s a problem, we will do our best to resolve it. Offering a personal service is something we have always done, and will continue to do. We are very proud of it.”
Well said, Ian. We look forward to seeing Knees trading for the next 100 years and beyond!
Knees Home & Electrical is one of Euronics’ oldest stores and we are proud of their excellent customer service. They offer a wide range of appliances and electricals, so why not find your nearest store here? Or, if you prefer to shop from the comfort of your home, we have a great range of products online too!