GOOD customer service and “offering something different” has helped a Bolton firm achieve a milestone anniversary.

HSCL, based at Firwood Industrial Estate, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

After starting life in 1962, supplying washing machine parts, from a shop in Blackburn Road, the firm has now evolved into a business employing 40 people with access to more than a million products for five million different models of household equipment.

It supplies parts and accessories for home appliances and catering equipment.

HSCL’s founder, Douglas Farnworth, had worked for vacuum cleaner company, Hoover, but wanted to branch out on his own.

He launched Washing Machines Lancashire (WML) Ltd and gradually concentrated on repairs rather than shop sales.

The firm grew quickly and became Hoover’s spare parts distributor.

Mr Farnworth later ended the Hoover contract to let the business expand, even though Hoover work accounted for half of all his trade.

The business was later renamed Homespares Centres Ltd and moved to Boundary Industrial Estate in 1980 and then to Firwood in 2007.

Mr Farnworth, now aged 72, was replaced by his son, John, as managing director in 2000. In 2007, Dutchman Jeroen van Drunen was made managing director and the firm was rebranded HSCL.

John Farnworth now works at group level.

Today, HSCL has 35 Bolton staff plus five agents across the UK.

It has more than 13,000 items in stock and deals with 35,000 shipments a year.

HSCL is the largest of three companies in familyowned WML Industrial Holdings Group.

Mr van Drunen, aged 42, said: “We have developed our range to include accessories and consumables for floor care, gardens, DIY, hi-fi and audio-visual equipment, kitchen, laundry and personal care.

“Many are sold under our Unifit and Homespare brands, but also under other well-known brands.”

He said HSCL had traditionally served tradesmen and smaller retailers, but that small electrical shops cannot compete with supermarket prices so must offer something different.

Mr van Drunen said: “Good retailers are service providers. Younger ones understand the importance of good shop windows, merchandising and marketing. They’re more professional now than in the past.”

HSCL has a deal with coffee firm Melitta which has given it access to big chains like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op and Waitrose.