20 minute read 16 Sep 2020
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Real Insights Episode Two: Family and Owner-Managed Business


Multidisciplinary professional services organisation

20 minute read 16 Sep 2020

Family and owner-managed business owners share their experiences in this time of unprecedented global change.

Agility, purpose and leadership focused on the long term can give owner-managed businesses competitive advantage.

In brief:

  • Focus on cash flow is a key factor in responding effectively to recent global challenges.
  • A clear sense of purpose and an affinity with their people and culture helps a business adapt in the right ways during periods of disruption.
  • Long-term view from family business leaders on succession planning is important.

As part of our EY Private: Real Insights video series Ally Scott, UKI Managing Partner for EY Scotland, discussed the many challenges of running a privately owned business with owners of three businesses at very different stages of their growth journeys. They each reflected on how being privately owned and managed has influenced their decision making.

Three topics were discussed: cash flow, people & culture, and succession & exit.

In terms of cashflow - Ben Amanna, founder and CEO of Boxraw - a fast-growing three-year-old clothing apparel e-commerce business - set out “to be the reason the world got into boxing”. The business took some robust cash flow planning choices as the UK entered lockdown, but quick decision making and a refocus on core objectives meant the company recorded record results.

“We, as a team, focused on what mattered, and I think that was the biggest and the best thing that happened to us. We focused on the products we thought the market wanted and in four months or so, we did the whole of 2019 revenue.”

On people and culture, Iain and Douglas Anderson, joint MDs and second-generation family member within GAP Group - a plant hire company for the construction industry that has scaled to £200 million in revenue - highlighted how being a family business helps maintain an openness to their culture.

“The staff can pick up the phone to Douglas, myself or any of the board members or senior management team and speak to us. We've got a clear vision on where we’re going, so the culture is one of openness. If anybody wants to know how well we're doing or how badly we're doing, we'll tell them.” – Iain Anderson

Regarding succession and exit, Poonam Gupta, founder and CEO of PG Paper - a 17-year-old paper trading company now operating in 60 markets and reaching £56 million in revenue - is keeping her options open.

“Succession planning is something that we've been putting together during the last two years. But still a lot of work needs to go in. Part of succession planning is also to see how we diversify the business further to ensure everybody who wants to be part of the business has a role to play.”

Read the full video transcript.

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Our Real Insights series invites inspirational leaders of privately owned businesses to share their experiences. In this episode we discuss the challenges of running privately owned businesses.  

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Multidisciplinary professional services organisation