1985, Mr and Mrs Ghekiere-Alliet acquired a piece of land along the Chaussée de Tournai to set up the first DIY shop in the Ath region. Shortly afterwards, the earthworks were started, quickly followed by the construction of a 1000 m2 building with a storage area of 250 m2. "The real challenge only began when the building was completed," says Bernard Ghekiere. "It was the practical organisation and interior design that required a lot of time and thought, because we wanted our products to be presented in a clear and attractive way".
In August 1986, the doors of the new DIY shop were solemnly opened. And very quickly, private individuals, whether beginners, amateurs or experienced people from the region and surroundings, find their way to Stock Ath. The start was so quick that the need to hire staff soon became a real necessity. Since then, staff occupancy has grown steadily with the expansion of the assortment, which at that time consisted of only one thirtieth of the products available today. Every year, 2 to 3 new employees were taken on. Today, there are around 50 of them.
1990, "the gradual expansion of our offer and our staff obliged us to double our sales area, always keeping 250m² for storage" explains Bernard Ghekiere: "Indeed, and this is important, our strategy is based on stock, because buying in large quantities enables us to keep our prices very tight. It is these attractive prices, combined with an excellent geographical location and a wide choice of products that, taken together, have been the factors of our success".
The computerised Ath Stock 1994, as our assortment grew, the need for a high-performance computer system became apparent. Christine Alliet: "we decided to computerise all our checkouts, electronic reading using bar codes enables us to identify each product very quickly and to speed up the passage of customers at the checkout". In 1995, we wanted above all to avoid traffic jams at the checkouts and long queues. For this reason, we installed five new checkouts. "We can open an additional checkout at any time if necessary," says Christine Alliet. This is due to the fact that our employees are all very versatile and that each of them is constantly looking out for customer comfort.
1996: Stock Ath celebrates its 10th anniversary! In 1996, the Stock Ath is in its third expansion. The end of the conversion work coincides with the celebrations of the shop's tenth anniversary. Bernard Ghekiere: "This third extension in ten years was to allow us to further extend our assortment but above all to increase customer comfort by giving the shop a new look so that they feel even more comfortable in our shop". Wider aisles between the shelves, better definition and clearer presentation of the product categories in the renovated Stock Ath achieve the desired objective. The entrance is equipped with a large information counter that welcomes anyone who wants to obtain information about any of the products or one of the shop's many services. Service and customer care are indeed the key words of Stock Ath
2000: the year of the fire. Our entire region was plunged into turmoil by the devastating fire that hit our shop. The fire was quickly contained and the damage was kept to a minimum thanks to the quick and efficient action of the fire services, who were present in large numbers. However, our staff did not lose their temper, they managed to evacuate the customers quickly and fortunately no one was injured. Bernard Ghekiere: "I don't want to experience that again! In the space of just a few minutes, we saw the work of all these years go up in flames". However, the Ghekiere-Alliet couple did not remain seated lamenting and, as soon as the fire was out, a great sweep was started.
They tell us: "Thanks to the collaboration of friends, family, suppliers and staff, the town and the Ath fire brigade we were already able to be at your service 36 hours after the fire! And just 6 months later, the construction of the new buildings was completed. But it was at the end of this event, which marked us forever, that we fully realised the meaning of the words Solidarity and Friendship". 2002: the success of the drive-in had become so great that two cash desks were installed. Finally in 2003, new offices were set up on the floor above the shop entrance.