From beginnings in a bedroom to £8m turnover

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A business which started life operating out of a Sheffield bedroom is celebrating its tenth anniversary and reaching a record turnover of £8m.

Universal Office Products (UOP) Ltd is the fastest growing office supplies company in the UK for the second year running according to Vow, a leading wholesaler of business products in the UK and Ireland.

UOP was established by Steve Manley and Mark Broadbent in Steve’s mum and dad’s spare room in Worrall on November 16 2002 with just one computer and patio-style office furniture.

Steve and Mark quickly outgrew their temporary base. The firm’s head office is now in Trippet Lane, Sheffield city centre, employing 19 staff.

UOP joint managing director Steve, who also sits on Sheffield Chamber of Commerce council, said: “We are so pleased to be reaching our tenth birthday and seeing the company continuing to thrive.

“Despite tough economic times we have continued to develop year on year and our turnover has grown from £2.6m in 2010 to £4.4m in 2011 and £8m this year.”

Steve said he and co-managing director Mark initially started developing the company from cold calling, networking and hard work and, after its second year of trading, UOP had reached the £1m turnover mark. The business now offers a 22,000 strong product range including stationery, computer and machine supplies, IT storage, business gifts and interiors for medium sized, corporate companies.

Steve, a former Loxley College pupil who now acts as a Young Enterprise mentor, said he believes UOP has survived and grown in the past 10 years due to its unique approach.

He added: “Creating and maintaining strong relationships is key to a successful business and this is paramount at UOP.

“Every one of our clients is assigned a dedicated account manager, has a dedicated internal helpdesk contact and we even deliver a chocolate bar every Friday to all our customers! This unique approach has ensured we have a 99 per cent account retention rate. We even offer free ‘health checks’ to companies looking to save on their office supply bills.”

Steve and Mark, who have 36 years of office supplies experience between them, have also expanded the business to serve the B2C, small office and home office market with a purely online subsidiary -

Mark, from Wakefield, added: “When we started the business we could only dream of reaching such a milestone, so we are very happy to have arrived at this point.

“We are now looking ahead to our collaboration with Amazon and where our products can now be purchased and we have just launched a new updated site for our existing customers so they can buy their products with even more ease.”