School dropout turned entrepreneur makes £2.5m in matter of months

A school dropout who wants to create the next Amazon is set to make £2.5m in a matter of months.

Jack Lear “took a gamble” when the country went into lockdown and created a new business selling discounted consumer goods.

The 27-year-old already owned a fancy dress website and had just ordered 200,000 costumes ready for Halloween when his market began to shrink by the day,

He told Wales Online : “I had already committed to the 200,000 costumes and signed contracts.

“I realised I’d dug myself into a pretty big hole with no market to sell them. I could try and weather the storm, which is what most people have done, or I could gamble and start a new business.”

After reading a report on how Amazon had taken on nearly 10,000 workers during the pandemic, Jack realised he could make some serious money.

He decided to invest £500,000 to launch, and his first product to take off was beard trimmers – mainly because barbers and hairdressers had to shut up shop during lockdown.

He has now expanded the range to more than 50,000 different products across everything from household goods to baby products to sport and leisure gear.

Jack sums up his typical customer type as a bargain hunter. “They don’t mind a damaged box – they are interested in what is inside and that they are getting it at a heavily discounted price,” he says.

He said: “It’s mind-blowing how big the range is,” he says, stood in his original costume warehouse at the family home. “I look at Amazon and I guess that’s what we’re trying to aspire to.”

He’s also quadrupled his staff members to 35 and is looking to take on 12 more in the run up to Christmas.

The house he was building has also stalled while all of his resources are ploughed into the business. He has far from “made it” but he is well on his way, he adds.

“It was a bigger risk to do nothing at all. I would rather fail trying than sit back and watch the business die.

“We haven’t weathered the storm yet – we’re still in the middle of it.”

BargainFox draws on much of the experience he has gained from running Bodysocks but its reach is much more ambitious – while the fancy dress goods market worldwide is worth billions consumer and household goods is worth trillions.

“We are taking inspiration from Amazon, one of the best warehousing companies in the world.”

BargainFox has contracts with retailers to take customer returns and liquidation stock – items that are new or “as new” but sometimes with damaged packaging. On average the thousands of items are discounted by 40 per cent from the recommended retail price.

Jack has always been interested in running his own business and started out buying and selling on eBay when he was just a schoolboy.

As soon as he started making enough money he quit his A-levels, though his decision didn’t go down well with his mum.

By his 20s Jack was drawing up designs for fancy dress costumes on Clip Art and sending them to be made a factory in China.

Reflecting on his earlier business, Jack said: “I didn’t have the ability to invent a new product but I hit on fancy dress because the costumes are quite basic, the design element is quite straightforward and simplistic.

But now the process has become a little more sophisticated and some of hes designs have even been copyrighted around the world.

Halloween costumes account for nearly half of his entire yearly sales and 35 per cent of his business goes to America. While the UK market has stalled sales in the US are on course to match last year, which he says he will take as a “small victory” given the circumstances.

In July 2019 he bought the contents of a Manchester based warehouse fro a failed party goods company and suddenly found out he owned more than 20,000 products.

He said: “There were 200,000 products in that warehouse with 15,000 different product codes. We had to update our software to manage that level of stock,’’ he says.

“That gave us the skill to process tens of thousands of products and to be able to locate each of those individually in a warehouse.’’

BargainFox is now running smoothly and each item is individually checked, photographed and uploaded to the website by a team.

There are also pickers who collect the items from the floor-to-ceiling shelving with two electric order pickers that have sufficient elevation to reach the top shelf, packers to prepare orders, and a restocking team.

His team is mostly a “young squad” and he took on locals looking for work during a summer hit by lockdown.

“Lots of people were looking for work,” he says. “I managed to take on the RNLI lifeguards who couldn’t work as usual.”

All items have a 45-day quality guarantee, there is a 10 per cent cashback offering on the first order available as a cash balance on a customer’s account, and there is no delivery charge on orders over the value of £20.

There is also a click and collect service from the warehouse in London Road, Pembroke Dock.