Mark Harper is a man who is open to new challenges. After discovering a passion for cycling just 18 months ago, he is currently in training for a 500km charity cycle from London to Paris to raise funds for Cure Leukaemia.
And it has been with similar vigour that Harper has taken up the challenge of modernising his business to embrace e-commerce. “Developing and relaunching our online presence has resulted in not only a considerable growth in web sales but increased sales in store from customers who browsed online,” says the fourth-generation retailer, whose stores in Hereford are the modern doors of a family business that dates back to 1870s Bristol.
Harper, whose wife has recently joined him in the business, says that the success of his investment in online retail has given him a fresh confidence when it comes to analysing other areas of the business. “We will identify other areas of growth and not be afraid to pursue these,” he promises.
This gung-ho attitude to life and retail that Harper is embracing right now is exactly why we find ourselves at this hilly section of the countryside for his Hot 100 shoot. “It’s the summit of a particularly difficult training ride for the London to Paris,” explains Harper. “It encapsulates an ability to meet challenges head on and never give up.”
With a pioneering spirit and a new-found taste for experimentation within the business, it looks set to be an exciting time for Pleasance & Harper, so long as its leader manages the return trip from Paris in one piece.