A happy workplace is a productive workplace and Unicorn Ingredients’ head office in Epsom, Surrey is both those things.
Unicorn Ingredients is not a company which just pays lip service to good employee relations. The company has seen so little staff turnover in its first ten years that the joint founders, Nicola Divers and Frank Horan, can only think of a handful of people who have left. Most have stayed for the whole ten years.
The whole ethos of the company is geared towards making it the sort of business that everyone enjoys working in, and that customers enjoy working with.
When Unicorn was founded in 2008, the vibrant Epsom High Street in Surrey was selected as base, instead of a dreary industrial estate. With coffee shops and all sorts of local facilities on the doorstep, the location also offers excellent links to London, Heathrow and Gatwick airports and the motorways.
Unicorn has expanded over its ten-year history to take over two floors of the office building which was chosen as headquarters. Spare capacity is available, future proofing it for its next ten years of growth. Some 20 staff are now based out of the Epsom office, of the 30 which Unicorn employs around the world, in its satellite sales offices in China, India and Germany.
All business functions are carried out from the UK, with logistics, shipping, technical and accounts departments all on site in Epsom. Unicorn also has an office in Germany, opened in 2016, which it plans to scale up in future, as it expands its business in the EU.
With Brexit on the horizon, operating an office in the EU may prove useful, although the Epsom office will see “business as usual,” Frank says. Business as usual means the empowerment and development of staff to help the company continue its ten-year trajectory of continuous growth and steady expansion.
Unicorn’s company policy is to recruit and train staff from within, encouraging employees to move up through the ranks and to follow their interests within the business. This culture reflects into Unicorn’s customer service practices. Customers are treated with a personal touch, for example emails are answered or acknowledged within 24 hours.
Customer satisfaction is the main way that the company chooses to benchmark itself, and the approach pays dividends from a business point of view, Nikki says. “We measure ourselves weekly on “on time in-full” deliveries and on any complaints received. That has helped us along the way to do what we need to do to improve the figures. We are always trying to improve our base and make sure that we focus on keeping the customers happy.” Many issues are avoided because the company has built strong teams to tackle them straight away.
The company has a lively social life. Regular team lunches and events are organised for staff to get together socially. Frank comments: “We have Christmas parties and summer parties, we sing happy birthday to everyone on their birthday. We believe in bringing people together and that is part of creating a strong team, people seem to enjoy it too.”
After all there is plenty to celebrate as the company sees year on year of steady growth.