Bedroom to boardroom
For 20 years we’ve been obsessed with saving people money and world-class service. It all started when teenage brothers Chris and Conor Martin launched the online retail business from their bedroom, dreaming up the quirky name with the belief that actions speak louder than words.
Thanks to relentless hard-work and dedication to excellence, we have received numerous awards and recognition, including being named one of today’s fastest-growing companies many years in a row by prestigious organisations like Deloitte and the Financial Times.
Chris started his entrepreneurial journey from an early age while growing up in working-class Belfast. Even at 11 years old, he was already working part-time jobs and running a shop from his school locker. With a keen interest in computers and the internet, he expanded his hobby from the locker-room to retailing games and hardware on eBay. It wasn’t long before he found a lucrative niche market: Australians who could save money by purchasing these products online from overseas.
Chris put his savings of a few thousand pounds into action by investing in a few ideas. While studying at Queen’s University Belfast, he ran the limited company from his bedroom. Chris’ plan was simple: reinvest profits into new brands, products, technology, and ideas without being extravagant. The business was successful from the start, and his brother Conor soon joined him to help with the growing demands of the venture.
“Principles of hard work, honesty and frugality are ingrained within us,” explains Chris. “We had very little growing up and were raised by our mum to avoid debt at all costs. We naturally applied these same values to our hobby and business, not spending unnecessarily or taking-on debt.”
The UK is now our largest market, but we started by retailing to Australia and came up with the name to stand-out from the crowd; the ‘oz’ derived from the abbreviation of Australia, and ‘aroo’ from the country’s national symbol, the kangaroo.
Growth & sacrifice
Sales and daily responsibilities skyrocketed faster than the brothers could handle, leaving no room for work-life balance. To cope with the growing demands, they asked their mum Brenda to leave her job and join the business. Though hesitant to take on overheads, they eventually overcame their reluctance and moved to a small unit in a nearby business park.
With no loans or grants to rely on, the limited funds available made it challenging to secure sufficient space to accommodate the ever-increasing range of products. After outgrowing their first five premises, the Martin brothers finally upgraded to our current state-of-the-art distribution centre, resulting in the creation of numerous new job opportunities in county Antrim.
Chris reflects on the journey of starting the business while studying at university, saying, “It feels surreal to now be able to support so many local people and serve a large number of customers. It’s truly a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
And the rest is history! Our unique, world-class service and value for money continue to deliver success at an award-winning pace year after year.