NMBS member PHC Parts is taking a leaf out of Sir Alan Sugar’s book when it comes to motivating and rewarding staff.

The independent spare parts distributor, which has branches in Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Swansea, Swindon and Weston-super-Mare, has been staging its own version of the hit TV show, The Apprentice.

As part of the initiative, no one is hired or worse still, fired, but staff are rewarded for displaying an entrepreneurial flair.

PHC Parts: the Apprentice was the brainchild of company managing director, Daniel O’Hara. He explained: “PHC Parts: the Apprentice reflects our progressive approach as a business and also as an employer.

“It enables staff to gain a unique appreciation of what it takes to successfully source, market and sell a product. This experience can prove invaluable further into their careers if they find themselves promoted to a management role. The winner of each round of the competition also receives a number of financial rewards.”

PHC Parts staged the competition for the first time in 2015. Two non-managerial members of the team were chosen and given a budget of £3,000 each to order new products at the NMBS Exhibition. The products chosen had to be new to the spare parts distributor.

Both contenders were then given the same resources in terms of marketing support to promote their products across the PHC Parts branch network. They also enjoyed access to the same promotional tools such as flyers, email campaigns, in-branch TV advertising and SMS marketing.

As an additional element to the challenge, contenders were expected to set prices for their products, as well as determine stock levels for each PHC Parts branch.

The ultimate winner was the person whose new product achieved the highest profits within a set promotional period. Both contenders received £50 in M&S vouchers for their efforts, while the overall winner also pocketed 20% commission on the total gross profit earned from sales of the winning product.

The two contenders chosen for 2015 were Steven Batten, from PHC Parts’ Bristol sales office, and Kevin Hall, from the company’s Cardiff sales office.

Mr Batten emerged as the eventual winner with the greatest profits stemming from sales of BIG WIPES industrial cleaning wipes, Telescopic Ladders and Dickies Safety Boots. As part of his winning approach, Mr Batten enlisted a fellow branch member, Andy Slade (trade counter supervisor), to dress up and promote BIG WIPES at a trade event in Bristol. This was such a success that BIG WIPES subsequently posted a photo of Mr Slade on its website.

PHC Parts plans to stage its version of The Apprentice again in 2016. Two contenders for the year have already been chosen - James Trotham, assistant branch manager from PHC Parts’ Weston-super-Mare branch and Joe Whitehouse from the company’s Cardiff branch. However, this time, both parties will be able to benefit from promoting their products through the new PHC Parts website, in tandem with support from the new marketing department.

Concluding, Mr O’Hara added: “PHC Parts: The Apprentice was such a success last year that we’ve decided to run the initiative again in 2016. Good luck to both James and Joe. May the best budding entrepreneur win.”