Smart50 Awards 2018

33 Tentworld

Revenue

$42.8 million

Growth

114.7%

Founders

Alex Burrell (63), Barbara Burrell (59), Jon Burrell (32)

Head Office

Toowoomba, Queensland

Employees

95

Industry

Retail and consumer products

Website

tentworld.com.au

A proud family business running since 1968, this is Tentworld’s second year on the Smart50 list, dropping back a few spaces to come in at number 35 on this year’s list.

Unsurprisingly, Tentworld makes its business in the world of camping goods, running an online store and bricks-and-mortar camping stores across Australia. Tentworld saw $42.8 million in revenue last year and a three-year growth rate of 114%.

But when the business first started, tents were nowhere to be found, with the Burrell family making its first forays into business through earthmoving, caravan sales and machinery sales and repairs. In the 80s, a range of camping goods were added to the business to complement the caravan side, and began to outstrip other parts of the business in terms of sales.

Today, run by father-mother-son trio Alex, Barbara and Jon, Tentworld has stayed true to its roots and its name, refusing to branch out into other complementary areas such as fishing or boating.

This has seen the business succeed in an industry where its competitors are failing, with Sydney tent store chain Kangaroo Tent City collapsing recently and Rays Outdoors also performing poorly. Tentworld has also seen a number of its suppliers collapse, or be bought out by private equity groups.

While the business’ growth has led it to success, it hasn’t been without challenge.

“One of the most difficult challenges in the business has been managing the online sales growth. Originally operating from the Toowoomba shop, and warehouse at over 100% per annum growth for several years, we had quickly outgrown the facility and were operating inefficiently,” the founders say.

“Managing this growth, and improving efficiency was a steep learning curve that has seen us develop into distribution specialists.”

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