Scientific Laboratory Supplies – Supporting Tomorrow’s Science
Scientific Laboratory Supplies plays a prime role in making sure laboratories perform to the best of their ability, using the right equipment and tools.
UK-based Scientific Laboratory Supplies (SLS), established in 1991, has grown to become the UK’s largest independent supplier of laboratory equipment, chemicals, and consumables, providing precisely what laboratories need, exactly when they need it. From pipettes and Petri dishes to the latest in laboratory instrumentation and equipping the whole laboratory, the company prides itself on the quality of products and the service it provides.
As part of France-based Dominique Dutscher Group, SLS is headquartered in Nottingham and employs some 250 people who work across its locations in the UK and Ireland. The company also serves several international territories, specifically in east Africa, where it also has a physical presence.
“We are the UK’s leading independent supplier of laboratory products, serving a variety of markets from the research sector and academia to manufacturing and government facilities. Wherever there’s a laboratory, we have the kind of products to meet that specific customer’s needs,” says Managing Director Ian Roulstone.
He explains that SLS has its own portfolio of products, but is primarily a brand-led company, working closely with leading international industry brands; the company’s offering includes more than half a million different products from the simplest tubes to very technical items which require a lot of customer support.
“A lot of our clients demand certain brands or products that they’re keen to use because they fit into their standard procedures. We have the ability to supply the right products at the right time, both for those preferring market-leading brands and those who are not brand-focused but require good-quality products at reasonable prices.”
He points out that the business has been growing rapidly over the last few years and demand continues to increase. This, of course, is not without its challenges – specifically in terms of getting the right people to support the growth, but Mr Roulstone insists that the company has been very proactive in getting the talent it needs, as well as in retaining them, which is perhaps even more important.
“We work really, really hard on employee engagement, to make sure that people are happy working for us, and we seem to be doing well. Each year, we run an employee satisfaction survey, and the results have been most encouraging, well in excess of eight out of 10, which is great to see in a really crowded, turbulent market.”
The people element is also a factor that differentiates the company from its big, process-driven competitors.
“We provide a very personalised service: for customers that require something a little bit different, or a more personal touch, or to have personal relationships that they can rely on. That’s where we score incredibly highly, and that’s where we are differentiated from the large companies that tend to operate in a more automated manner.”
Environmental Sustainability at the Core
As for any company these days, environmental protection has become an integral part and the absolute core of everything SLS does, be it having more sustainable products or offsetting its own carbon footprint, says Mr Roulstone. From its supply chain to its in-house practices, the company aims to be the most sustainable and environmentally friendly distributor to the laboratory market.
“We have a continuous commitment to offering sustainable products that offer the highest levels of build quality and performance, the longest lifespan and the lowest running costs. Through our dedicated sustainability team, we continuously review our range whilst ensuring our own practices meet the highest environmental standards.”
He points out that the products that are now being developed are themselves increasingly environmentally friendly, with an increasing number being biodegradable or recyclable as well as less energy demanding. Internally, the company has adopted numerous environmental measures including the installation of solar panels, implementation of a paperless warehouse management system, introduction of waste and energy management schemes, using green gas for its vehicles, and others.
Mr Roulstone says that in 2022, SLS will have planted 2.500 trees offsetting activities with a carbon footprint. “We have committed to carbon net zero by 2045. Because of the business we are in, we can’t afford to not be at the forefront of sustainable practice. Our customers are demanding really high sustainability initiatives and standards of performance and we are also working closely with them to help them achieve their own sustainability targets.”
SLS’s business success is built on growth, both organic and developmental, he further affirms. Earlier this year, the company enhanced its competence by acquiring Gem Scientific, a laboratory equipment distributor whose portfolio includes hygiene testing devices and consumables for the food and beverage industry; and Northern Balance, a provider of weighing solutions focusing on calibration, servicing, and maintenance.
“Acquisition of these two companies will enable SLS to serve more customers with a broader range of products and first-class service. This was an important milestone for the SLS Group, a milestone that has set us on a course of growing our business way beyond what we could have ever hoped to do organically.”
“They signal the start of a long-term growth period for SLS, which plans further acquisitions and recruitment to broaden its portfolio into a wider geographical area, including the UK, Ireland, east Africa and beyond, and add more value for its customers,” says Mr Roulstone.
The company will be well-placed to accommodate that growth, as it will soon move into a brand-new, purpose-built facility expected to be completed in late 2023.
“That’s really exciting for me as well as the team based here in Nottingham. After 15 years in the company and 2 years in my current role, it is really rewarding to see the company moving forward so successfully – the result of a great team that has the energy and the enthusiasm to make it happen,” he concludes.