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Welcome to MX Wholesale!

How the UK's Leading Online Wholesaler came to be

In late 2000 my mother Linda Vassallo was a retailer of gifts and novelty items. Often looking for new and interesting products to sell she found herself travelling a lot around the country to find and buy them from various importers and wholesalers. She found herself travelling to the same destinations quite frequently where many wholesalers were (Manchester, London and Birmingham). On one of these buying trips she had a near miss on the motorway when a tyre from the car in front flew off and past her vehicle missing it by only a few inches.  At that point she began to wonder if it was all worth it, and why she was travelling so much to buy items that were so cheap. Why was there no local wholesalers to her in Southampton, or even Hampshire. Discussing this with my father (her husband) Mario, they decided this lack of suppliers in the south should be addressed and they began looking for a warehouse premises.

At the time I was in my second year of college and near to completing my A-levels, working as hard as I could in any time I had available as the assistant manager in a large retail chain. Excited by the concept I gave them my input on design ideas and potential business avenues and the idea and between us the business plan quickly grew.    

A suitable premises was found only a couple of months later next to Southampton’s old Auction house on Millbank Street. It was an empty shell that required quite a bit of work to get it up to scratch but with the help of some tradespersons new toilets were installed and a mezzanine floor added to give some extra storage.

We all visited Linda’s previous suppliers as well as finding some new ones and made our first purchases of stock for the new business. Whilst awaiting the arrival of the products I set about designing some flyers to tell all the local shops businesses and market traders about MX Wholesale. We took out an advert in the yellow pages, I designed some pricelists with product images on and then we opened our doors in May 2002.

Within the first six months we each would spend 1 day per week distributing the flyers and talking to new potential customers, quickly picking up new business along the way, before long we did not have time to do this and wanted to find other faster ways to tell potential customers about us. I had quite a bit of experience with computers and had experimented building a website before so using my limited knowledge of html I bought the domain name mxwholesale.co.uk and built our first website.

At the time websites were quite a ‘new thing’ especially within the wholesale industry, I think we were one of the first wholesale companies to actually have a presence online. Before long due to this new website we were getting customers from all over the country call, and come to visit and buy our products. Going back to Linda’s original problem of travelling long distances for supply we realised that we had had now added to that same issue and clients were now visiting our wholesale company from all over the UK and Europe so we had to come up with a solution.

We were already doing a few telephone orders for some of these customers who had visited us so we had couriers setup and were used to sending items but it was hard to explain exactly what the new item was over the phone and very time consuming when you have 100s of items and change the stock on an almost daily basis.

E-commerce was our solution, so I started looking at how we could implement it. I found a website called Paypal, who at the time were a relatively new and had only been running for approx 3 years. They had a snippet of code you could configure which would add a ‘buy now’ button to your website so I signed up for an account and began building hundreds of new web pages with each of the items on and the option for customer to buy online and have their ordered delivered.

After a lot of testing we finally put the new website live on Thursday the 6th February 2003 with no idea on how it would be received, we hoped for the best and that I had not spent the last month wasting my time.

The next day I arrived into the warehouse checked the computer and found there were 2 orders placed online overnight. Then by Monday there were several more!

Retailers in even the most remote parts of the country could now buy from a wholesaler online without leaving their home or shop. Excited that we had solved the problem we put more and more effort into it and the website quickly grew and within the next 4 years sales over took all other channels, we expanded the business premises my sister Kelly Vassallo had joined the business and was instrumental in moving us onto a new website platform and reducing the companies costs and we had also employed another new staff member.

The whole time we still actively marketed in trade magazines, online and with flyers. Always trying to improve the design of our logo, website and business cards to reflect us as a company.

We then opened a showroom on the first floor, re-invsted in a new inventory software and grew the business further employing more staff as we did.

Eventually the exit plan was imagined and an investor offered to purchase MX Wholesale from us in 2014, it took till March 2015 to finalise the sale of the company but it is now owned by Mr Navid Rezaei.

I (Ryan Vassallo) was employed as the general manager and consultant for the business for a minimum of 1 year from the sale but now over 2 years on I am still there and we are still expanding.

With a lot more competition online now for wholesalers and the ever increasing product costs, salary and running costs as well as the latest dip in the £ value against the $ it has made things a bit harder but we still endeavour to offer retailers the best value products at the cheapest possible prices and with minimum effort to them in regards to making a purchase.  

I would personally like to thank all of our fantastic customers that have purchased from MX Wholesale over the years.