[Indie Interview] David Hanney, CEO & CoFounder. Alpkit
What started out as a straight forward interview with CEO and Co-Founder David, of Alpkit about the opening of their tenth store, ending up being a very different conversation.
Born out of a love for the outdoors, a belief in nature and not accepting the high cost of outdoor gear, Alpkit is a d2c brand selling performance kit to adventure enthusiasts – those that like to run, hike, climb, camp, swim or bike. The business employs around 200 people.
What we really learnt is that Alpkit are a people first business that are serious about the planet, care about their community and are an organisation driven by purpose. Their ethos is simple and when you get to know them, brilliant; Go nice places, do good things.
David, what is your background?
I started out my career as an accountant for E&Y. I then spent some time at the BBC and Thorntons and a further 6 great years at Go Outdoors. In 2014, I joined the team here at Alpkit and I have to say, I feel lucky to have been involved in this amazing brand so far.
What makes Alpkit special?
Firstly, products built with customers in mind…
We are an outdoor brand that design and develop our own products and, it is our love of the outdoors and belief in nature that drives us, it’s our guide.
For our customers, there is a big emotional connection with the product and so when we are designing kit, having the end customer in mind is important to us – as is their feedback.
Everything we do comes from a desire to make great product and build a great business. Plus, we have an incredible team of product designers which helps.
Next, connecting with People…
Since day one, customer service has been second only to making the very best products, it’s so important to us that we look after our customers and we try to offer the very best service which despite having grown, still includes handwritten notes in every order!
We also ensure that we have knowledgeable and friendly staff. With the store opening in Inverness next week, our product designers are taking out the customer service and store staff to the hills to try out the kit. It’s a fun and hands on way of making sure everyone really understands why a pocket is designed the way it is, or why a certain fabric has been chosen, or how different configurations might work etcetera.
We also encourage our customers to meet up. We invite them to spend time with us online and outdoors. We arrange walks, swims, and courses and overall, we find that customers buy into our ethos and values, and so do our people. It’s something special.
Tell me something you’re really proud of…
Sustainability has been something we’ve really tried to get right from the very beginning, it’s hardwired into our DNA. We are one of few UK technical outdoor and bike brand to be a certified B Corp. As part of this ethos, we have two initiatives I’m immensely proud of.
Firstly, our repair stations. Almost all our stores have a repair station which was set up to make gear last longer. So far, we have given over 10,000 products a new lease of life. We repair any brand and have done since 2004.
We also find new homes for old outdoor gear. We take back any brand of used outdoor clothing or equipment including bikes and pass it on to someone that needs it through a number of charity partners. We have also been able to find new homes for around 5 tons of outdoor kit with Continuum which we’re immensely proud of.
Secondly, the Foundation, which is focused on helping people to enjoy the outdoors more. We support grass-roots direct action projects that encourage inclusion in the outdoors, participation, education, conservation and protection of our natural environment, health and well-being. We have now donated and given back to over 2,000 projects. That is something to be incredibly proud of.
You get into the outdoors because you love wild places and nature. Working at Alpkit has afforded me that and I’m very grateful for that.
Clearly Alpkit is a purpose-led business. How do you maintain this?
When it comes to our principles, we like to keep it uncomplicated and believe that it’s not just what we do that makes Alpkit special, or necessarily why we do it, but rather how we do it is important.
Our values are clear: We celebrate the outdoors. We make great product. We are sustainable. We give back. We empower our people to be the best they can be.
This means we act responsibly, respect humans, animals, and the environment, compete fairly and care about health and wellbeing. It’s powerful and it’s a choice.
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