2020 was a difficult and polarising year not just for businesses but more importantly for our personal lives. Some people have faced tremendous challenges dealing with a worldwide pandemic which are rarely seen twice in a lifetime. The business community has been generally well supported with government initiatives and although Xbite has not required the support, it has been very much welcomed for the broader benefit of our supply chains and partners.
It is humbling to see our dedicated work-family pull together in times of uncertainty to ensure we protect jobs and livelihoods. Our values are an important element for guiding our future growth as we seek to play the infinite game’ rather than one of the quick wins.
Highlights for the year include record turnover and employee headcount of 200 at the Xmas peak trading, the installation of 280+ solar panels that will materially reduce our carbon footprint, and a step up in our Distribution Centre to a new unit. Achieving our 70th apprenticeships is also a proud moment not to mention the birth of 4 gorgeous babies!
The creation of the ‘Step Into Employment’ initiative to assist work-ready homeless people back into employment (and society) and onboarding the local councils such as North East Derbyshire District Council and local charity, Pathways (Chesterfield) has been a significant moment during the year and we hope to extend the impact further by reaching out to fellow businesses to get onboard. (check out http://www.stepin.org.uk)
Starting an office fit-out and doubling the space is really exciting and we have great plans for 2021/22 to further enhance our work facilities at both our headquarters and Distribution facility.
It’s been a relentless year which we have taken it in our stride. As we enter 2021, we look forward to exploring opportunities for the business and supporting careers along the way but most importantly, let’s find the fun in what we do.
As you are all aware, our usual Christmas treats, games and party cannot take place this year due to Covid restrictions. A decision was made that a small percentage of the budget allocated for our festivities would be used to bring a little Christmas cheer to some local children who in all probability will not be getting a visit from Santa this year. This year more than ever has been so difficult for so many families and the difficulties will continue well into the new year, so hopefully, our gift bags will go a little way towards helping those families.
It was decided that the New Hope Food Bank at Killamarsh, obviously a local charity, which operates on referrals by GP’s, Social Services, Midwives, etc. would be able to make good use of our donation.
New Hope was delighted when we dropped 50 bags of Christmas treats off and assured us that the bags would be distributed quickly to local needy families who would be delighted to receive them. They have also said that they will keep in touch and let us know how the treats were received.
Fingers crossed that we will all be able to have a gathering of some sort later in the year when Covid 19 has been knocked out of the park!
Kieran Taylor (21) from Clowne became the latest apprentice to join the firm, which has been running a successful apprenticeship programme for seven years.
Its proven track record of growing and developing people and offering career progression has seen apprentices graduate to become buyers, marketing experts, accountants, software developers, and even managers of departments at the company, which now employs 170 people at its HQ offices and warehouse at Barlborough.
Digital marketing apprentice Kieran said: “This apprenticeship has given my life direction. I was stuck in a rut and didn’t know what I wanted to do. It has changed my life around. Now my creativity is fuelled and I have found a new focus. I am learning so many skills and getting paid for what I love doing.
“This is such an amazing company. The management are friendly, supportive and so helpful. They are really forward thinking and adapt to staff needs constantly.
“I have found the first proper job I have ever wanted to do and take pride in. I have made a proper commitment to a job and have found a career. It is the best move I have ever made. I would highly recommend an apprenticeship at Xbite.”
HR advisor Marcy White who was once an apprentice herself, oversees Xbite’s apprenticeship scheme which takes on employees between 16 – 25 in roles across the company. Xbite works with Chesterfield College, Sheffield College, Baltic Training, Yorkshire Training Provider and Chambers of Commerce to guide its apprentices who mainly come from Chesterfield and Sheffield.
Nick Whitehead, managing director at Xbite, said: “We are so proud to have Kieran as our 70th apprentice at Xbite.
“We are a growing company and it is difficult to be commercially successful whilst delivering a good, and relevant apprenticeship programme, but we have the right ingredients to do it including the best work environment and people at all levels supporting our Xbite rookies.
“Apprenticeship schemes are a really good source of talent. They can be ingrained in the fabric of the business. We have a lot of people in middle management roles that have come through that route and succeeded.
“There are so many success stories here across all ages, even people taking a step backward from their previous career path to be trained up and who now enjoy a better future.
“Xbite rookies have turned into buyers, marketing experts, accountants, software developers, and even managers of departments. Making 70 is such a proud moment for our history and its also really important to us to support local people. Our retention rate for apprentices is 95 percent – we put the effort in with staff and they give us commitment and loyalty back.”
Wade Harris, who joined Xbite as an apprentice in buying admin five years ago and is now Head of In-house Brand, said: “Going to university was not for me and a chance meeting at a family party brought me to Xbite. I started working and studying for an NVQ in digital marketing, then became junior buyer, product sourcing manager for three years and then from senior manager to Head of In-house Brand.
“The advantages of being on an apprenticeship is you gain experience from day one, train and get paid, have a guaranteed job at the end, and can take advantage of other opportunities in the company and pathways to different job roles in an environment you have already got to know really well. If you are driven here, the opportunities are yours to take. It’s a great business and I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Xbite also operates a successful graduate recruitment programme with Sheffield City Region’s RISE and has taken on four graduates this year.
Over the coming 2 years, we will be expanding our office space and recruiting new office roles in addition to roles for our warehouse and logistics departments.
Xbite is committed to the constant improvement of the work environment to support our work family and to make work more enjoyable. We have partnered with The DL Company who will carry out the work for the evolution of our headquarters over the next 2 years as we look to recruit like-minded people that align with our values and want a long term career to share in our success. We are a small company with big aspirations as we relentlessly pursue our aims and objectives but hopefully find the fun along the way. If you are looking to join a company like ours please get in touch (we have been known to create roles just to get the right people to join our work family).
Xbite is committing to a project worth £74,000 to power its operations and reduce its carbon footprint.
It has been awarded a maximum value £20,000 low-carbon energy grant to help install over 270 solar panels at its HQ offices in Barlborough.
The grant was made available through the DE-Carbonise project, a collaboration between the University of Derby, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council which offers help to SMEs
seeking to lower their carbon emissions and will contribute to the total project investment of £74,000.
Chesterfield based Custom Solar, which has completed many high-profile installations across the UK, will complete the fit out, creating energy savings equivalent to supplying eight average UK
homes with electricity for one year.
Xbite managing director Nick Whitehead said: “As part of our values to innovate and invest today for tomorrow, we are investing heavily to install solar panels at our Barlborough HQ.
“This installation means we can look to decrease our environmental impact, with beneficial gains towards operational performance, therefore improving our overall economic performance.
“The DE-Carbonise Team took all the hassle away from applying for the grant and were great to work with.
“Solar panels will help us reduce our CO2 emissions by 20,731kg per year, and generate 74,760 kWh per year of electricity, some of which we will be able to sell back to the National Grid.”
Ade Agbonyin, project officer at De-Carbonise, said: “Through our guidance, Xbite saw the chance to radically improve the company's energy and environmental efficiency and make the shift to more
sustainable business practices.”
Gary Sucharewycz, development director at Custom Solar added: “We are delighted to be working with Xbite. Whilst we are a national developer and provider of solar systems it is great to support
local projects such as this. Investing in sustainability and renewable energy projects is majorly important to the environment, good for our communities, and great for businesses wanting to make
an impact by generating their own power on site which in turn makes significant savings on their power expenditure.”
WARNING EXCITING UPDATE!!!!
We would like to share with you some exciting news, possibly the biggest and most exciting project Xbite has ever undertaken!! We are exploring the possibility of relocating our warehouse operation to a modern 102,515 sq ft unit located 10 minutes down the road, just off J29a of the M1 at Markham Vale.
We have outgrown our much loved 45,000 sq ft unit at Barlborough and now need a Warehouse that has the space and setup required to deliver our current and future objectives. We also feel that this unit will enable us to deliver a better work environment for all our warehouse operatives, not only will we have the space needed to deliver better performance, there is enough space to ensure that social distancing is easier for everyone to adhere to, which we expect to be around for a while yet.
We don’t have the full details at the moment as we haven't signed anything as yet, but as soon as we have something to share with you we will.
I hope you will join us in the spirit that this is an amazing opportunity for the future of the business and everyone that works for us.
We are now proud to announce that we have partnered and built a trusted relationship with Pathways in Chesterfield to create the Step Up Project.
The aim of the project is to break down the barriers and provide support to vulnerable and in-need individuals who are ready to get into the workforce, this gives them the much needed step up to integrate back into society.
We can’t make this possible without the support from our people to make the individual feel part of the Xbite family and help them to integrate and feel valued.
We are delighted to announce that we have found a suitable candidate who will start on Monday 4th May 2020.
Find out more about Pathways and the great work they do visit https://www.pathwaysofchesterfield.co.uk/
Today we dropped by The UK Careers Fair the Novotel in Sheffield!
This gave us the opportunity to speak to lots of wonderful people and spread the word about the awesome opportunities we have available at Xbite.
If you would like to know more about the opportunities we have visit the careers page.
If a job isn’t advertised and you would like to work for us please send us your cv through a general submission! We're always on the lookout for Awesome people!
''2019 has been another year of significant change for the business. The progression of employees has been great to see and with a large number of internal promotions into new and existing roles. I look forward to working with all employees to continue in further developing the business.
Xbite achieved a 20% growth in sales during the year to £36m and continued to invest in each area of the business including a number of in-house IT systems. We have expanded our facilities to create a great working environment and we are looking forward to enhancing these facilities in the coming years.
Thanks again to the 110+, dedicated people making this happen.'' - Nick
“Thank you to the fantastic team at Xbite for their generosity in supporting the Chesterfield Foodbank, who help local people in a crisis.
I am proud to see the team caring for the community”. - Nick Whitehead
If you would like to donate to your local food bank and do your bit this Christmas visit https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ to find your closest food bank.
IT'S THE END OF AN ERA! Through the tireless efforts of absolutely everyone in the company, Xbite has successfully launched their new IT system powering the eCommerce and wholesale business. It has been a long time coming and certainly been a lot of hard work, but our efforts have paid off and we are ready and prepared to take on the peak trading period. The new system will bring improved efficiencies and new processes to the company and increase profitability. Now... let's party!
Any excuse for an ice cream truck! And a pizza over... and a cake... not that we need an excuse beause here at Xbite were celebrating 15 years of success!
This month we have completed the build on our warehouse extension which will more than double the operating space. Our dedicated site totals 45,000 sq ft with further expansion capacity for the future.
This new space may last 18-24 months, will create new jobs and opportunities for existing staff and meets our objectives of growth and investment in infrastructure.
There is a lot of negative news coming from our industry in recent months with Grainger Games, Gameseek and now Games Centre not being able to make things work. I am conscious that this will have an adverse affect on existing companies in the industry so I want to talk about my company and our current position.
Xbite has been on a growth curve since 2004, and today we employ over 90 people and have significantly diversified our business into 10 categories. We used to be 100% reliant on video games but today that represents just under 50% of our income. Last year our turnover reached £38m and this year it will be slightly less but with a significant increase in margin.
How are we achieving this growth? When broken down into key areas its nothing special. We apply hardwork, focused attention on detail, run small projects that either have direct commercial gain or builds infrastructure for future growth and are also now benefiting from the investments made 6 years ago in IT systems and our dedicated 4 acre site. The business works hard in every department including the non-core commercial areas such as HR, physical infrastructure, employee working environments and the various in-house IT systems.
To give an insight of the projects we are working on today:
We started a £1m warehouse extension in January 2018 of 21,000 sqft on our dedicated 4 acre site. We hope to fill the facility in 2-3 yearsWe have been running our apprenticeship scheme for over 6 years and successfully retained the majority, some who have gone onto high profile roles in the business. See the previous post below which includes a video.Recently moved into a custom built, open office environment which is modern and fresh. Due to our growth we need to further expand the office space by an additional 2,000 sqft totalling 8,000 sqft by September 2018.Continue our product diversification projects. We are seeing great success in a number of areas and find these items help sell our core video games offering on 365games.co.ukOur UK income has generally flat lined during April and May and we feel disappointed with this result given we are working at 100 mph to make progress. Given the recent negative events we are clearly outperforming the market.In the last 6 years we have invested £1.5m on our in-house IT systems and even today we are working on IT projects that will help us sell more, be more efficient and maximise our margin where possible.Although this is easily said, we enjoy great relationships with our suppliers. We are easy to work with we have seen a number of accounts grow significantly.
I feel Xbite will experience our best peak period in our history in Q4 2018 as we are poised to take advantage of the investments we have made to date. It's easy to focus on the negative news which is dominating the press in general retailing, but Xbite continues to invest and see growth in a number of areas and is not experiencing the significant issues other companies are facing. - Nick
Here at Xbite we thrive off supporting ambitious young people as they embark into their career and work life. We recently had the pleasure of working with East Midlands Chamber to do a behind the scenes mini documentary on Apprenticeships in a Workplace and what it means to us at Xbite' Looking for an apprenticeship? Check out our Careers page!