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Building for the wildlife

In this issue of Products & Services Review, we are pleased to announce Riverside Woodcraft as our Specialist Wildlife Habitat Manufacturer of the Month.

Using mainly European Red Pine ‘redwood,’ Riverside Woodcraft is a Tamworth based specialist manufacturer, designer and distributor of wood products for use in wildlife, pet and garden. “All our products are handmade here in the UK. As a specialised wildlife and habitat manufacturer, we predominantly do wildlife products like bird tables and hedgehog houses but we are also looking to diversify our offering into white label products where we can build clients a bespoke range, so for example we have recently had a client come to us for some lawn mower covers which is now serving very successful,” stated Chris Leedham, Managing Director.

Riverside Woodcraft was established in 2007 by Chris’ parents Alison and Richard Leedham. From working in a fast-paced environment for a corporate company in the building industry, Richard was unfortunately made redundant and it was at that moment he took the opportunity to start a company that embodied the three things he knew he was good at. Combining his knowledge and skillset of woodwork, IT and sales, Richard realised there was a gap in the market for bespoke wildlife products to be sold within garden centres. From this moment, as a couple Richard and Alison embarked on the journey to develop the company and bring their ideas to life.

Many years later, Richard and Alison semi-retired which allowed Chris – their son, to step up into the Managing Director role and take the reins of the family business. Over the years, the company has gone from strength-to-strength diversifying its products and services to current market demands.

Of course, it is nationally known that through COVID-19, many people across the UK and even the world turned their hands to all things DIY, gardening and home renovation work, and this provided a large turnover for Riverside Woodcraft during that time.

“The pandemic for us was excellent in terms of sales and new business. At that point, we were doing really well as an online retailer and our sales almost tripled overnight. As soon as the government introduced the furlough scheme a lot of our business came from that as people had the extra time and obviously the continuous income to invest in their houses and gardens. We were extremely busy during this time and our sales were booming; however, people are now back in work and not on furlough so we have had to adapt the business to match the current market and we are now selling more direct to trade,” stated Chris.

The initial sales boom from COVID-19 not only allowed the company to invest heavily in new machinery giving it the capabilities to fulfil and take on bulk orders for much larger customers, but also to develop the business as a whole, take on new staff and expand into more sectors.

Since focussing more on the trade and its relationship with garden centres, the business has also taken on 12 new sales agents around the UK to help the company expand its range and it has built a larger presence in the sector.

“It is important that we continue making a cost-effective product for the end user that is built to last. We currently have a close relationship with The British Garden Centre and our products are stocked in 12 of their stores across the UK. Our sales agents will also be pushing for our range to reach more online retailers, department stores or anyone who has a wildlife sector as well as other large garden centre chains in the UK. Our bird tables and nest boxes are the two main products that are sold within these garden centres and we are hoping next year when it comes into season – maybe January or February 2023, that they will also begin stocking our hedgehog range,” added Chris.

Since the beginning, Riverside Woodcraft has always embodied the ethos, which is to ‘Build for the wildlife, not for the human,’ and Chris believes this makes them stand out amongst their competitors, “Many of our competitors tend to build for a price rather than for wildlife. The level of care and attention our products receive is unrivalled. Our ethos as a company is to make sure that we use as much recycled material as possible to ensure we are being as sustainable as we can. By sticking to these two main principles has allowed us to make cost-effective products for the end user that last.”

As a wildlife manufacturer supplying the trade, Riverside Woodcraft is also really keen to work further with more white label companies where it has the capabilities to build bespoke ranges of products specifically to their branding.

Its current range includes but is not limited to:

  • Hedgehog houses, shelters, water and food bowls, cat resistant tunnels, nesting material, starter kits, feeder attachments, care kits, and eco houses.
  • Squirrel, Duck, Swan, and Hedgehog food
  • Bird Table feeding stations
  • Sparrow Terrace and Owl nesting boxes
  • Bat nesting and roosting boxes
  • A range of accessories.

For more information, please see below:
T 01827 250410