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Browns Books opens new chapter in growth story with move to Melton West

Educational supplier Browns Books is opening a new chapter in the history of the business by relocating to developer Wykeland Group’s Melton West business park.

The business, which supplies libraries, schools, colleges and universities across the UK and abroad, is moving to a new, purpose-built head office and distribution centre at the growing East Yorkshire business location.

Browns Books has outgrown its current premises in Hull city centre and is investing in a freehold three-acre site at Melton West. Construction is well advanced, with the Browns Books team expected to be operating from their new home by June.

The two-storey, 44,000 sq ft building provides the space and purpose-designed facilities needed to support the company’s continued growth, as well as immediate access to the A63 and onward to the national motorway network for distribution. The site has parking for 120 cars and room for further expansion.

The family owned and run business is one of the UK’s leading supplier of books, ebooks and DVDs to libraries and educational establishments. The company applies coverings and labels to orders on site to support library management; has its own “VleBooks” ebook platform with more than 1.4m titles; provides market-leading IT integrations with library software; and has a UK-wide sales team. 

Although currently off the road due to the Covid pandemic, Browns Books even has a double decker bus which has more than 4,000 titles on board and travels the country as the company’s mobile educational showroom, engaging with students in their schools and communities.

Browns Books’ current building in George Street, Hull city centre, has been its home for 40 years and is where the vast majority of the company’s staff of more than 80 are based.

Despite the scale of its activities today, Browns Books is still best known by many local people for its much-loved independent book shop, which traded for decades from the George Street site. The shop closed in 2008 as the company focused on its growing library and educational supply business along with its online ordering website www.brownsbfs.co.uk where individuals, parents and teachers can purchase books and educational resources to be delivered to any address.

Yvette Stafford, owner and Managing Director of Browns Books, said: “Our ethos is to promote literacy and support education providers with the largest range of content to deliver reading programmes. We’re really all about encouraging children to love reading.

“Our current building has served us very well over the years and holds lots of great memories, for our family and our staff.

“I’m sure there will be a few tears when we leave, but we’ve simply outgrown the building. This is a very exciting and much-needed investment and we’re delighted to have found the right location locally only a few miles from our home of so many years.

“All our locally-based staff are moving with us to our new site, which will allow us to handle more books and open up opportunities to create more jobs locally.”  

Yvette’s daughter, Ashley Stafford, who is the Commercial Director and is project managing the move, said: “We’re excited to be moving to a fit-for-purpose building in an excellent location, which has great accessibility for deliveries and despatches that will allow us to grow and take on larger contracts as they become available.

“We’re also planning to have a showroom at the front of the building for visiting librarians, which could also potentially be open to the public.

“We have a fantastic team who have worked so hard during this very difficult past year, despite the challenges of Covid, to ensure schools, educators and students have received the books and ebooks they need.

“This move will provide the business with the capacity and location we need to continue to grow and our staff with the high-quality, purpose-designed facilities they deserve.”

Browns Books is the latest business to invest at the 200-acre Melton West business park to enable growth, secure local employment and create new jobs.

To date Hull-based Wykeland Group, owner and developer of the business park, has developed almost 800,000 sq ft of office, warehouse, distribution and manufacturing space at Melton West, with leading businesses on site including Heron Foods, generator manufacturer Allam Marine and shower maker Kohler Mira.

As well as the Browns Books building, construction is under way on an 110,000 sq ft new command and control centre for Humberside Police, which will also complete in 2021.

Wykeland has worked closely with the Browns Books team to develop a building to meet the needs of the business now and into the future.

Wykeland Property Director David Donkin said: “We’re delighted to be working with Browns Books to develop a new head office and distribution centre which will provide a platform for further growth and secure the position of the business as a sector leader.

“We’re both locally owned and managed businesses that are passionately committed to local employment and supporting the growth of the region’s economy, so this is an ideal partnership.

“Many of the other businesses at Melton West are locally owned and have invested on site to ensure their competitiveness and accelerate their growth. Browns Books will join them in benefiting from the excellent location, room to grow, development opportunities and established infrastructure that Melton West offers.”

Hessle-based PDR Construction is the main contractor for the scheme.

PDR Managing Director Paul Dransfield said: “Everyone who has grown up in Hull knows Browns Books and we’re really appreciative of being entrusted with building their new head office at Melton West.

“We’re working closely with both the Browns and Wykeland teams to create a building that will begin a new chapter for the institution that is Browns Books.”

As Browns Books prepares to relocate, the company’s existing building is for sale and attracting significant interest.

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