These companies will feel they have stagnated or find that there are deeply entrenched positions or politics in play. They have lost their entrepreneurial flavour when it is needed most.
Often called upon by the Chairman, CEO or Corprate Development Director our role is to cut through the haze and creatively identify new opportunities that your team can work with to make lasting change. This can range from brand extension, licensing to new product development. If required we can manage the implementation alongside the senior executives and day to day managers leaving them owning the new opportunity and making it a reality for many years to come.
Below is a selection of case studies we have chosen that illustrate the work that BSF, its founders and staff have completed. Browsing these will give you an insight into the type of work BSF can successfully undertake. You will see that none of our projects are run-of-the-mill - indeed, they are always characterised by a bold yet proven entrepreneurial methodology during challenging and turbulent times.
So if our approach resonates with you, please contact us to discuss how we can help to solve your problems and take the business to a new level. We are entrepreneurial and flexible on fee arrangements, always looking for a performance related upside.
Corporate Case Studies
Chairman of Unilever, Niall Fitzgerald, approached us to investigate opportunities for Unilever to invest and nurture start-ups. The Board of Unilever felt that it had real expertise in growth through acquisition - acquiring other companies in related fields and merging them with existing operations. It had been unsuccessful at nurturing grass roots start-ups and jealously eyed the success of Virgin and companies like the Body Shop. The answer lay in Unilever Ventures, one of the UK's first incubators. We recommended and ultimately implemented a Virgin type approach to the start-up sector. Unilever entrepreneurs were taken out of their day to day jobs, where there was no economic incentive to create start-ups, and placed in an environment where they could succeed or fail on their own. This required a completely separate company with absolute autonomy to grow and prosper, and because the companies needed funding, Unilever Ventures was established. Executives in Unilever (or else where) could submit business plans to Unilever Ventures for funding and if successful, the executives devoted 100 per cent of their efforts to making the new business work as a stand-alone venture. This meant cutting all ties with Unilever. The financial rewards were significant for the successful entrepreneurs. Unilever invested through Unilever Ventures and could, if it so choose, buy the businesses back into Unilever and use its considerable resources to grow the businesses. To establish Unilever Ventures, business plans were created, full time management recruited, and then a funding process was undertaken. Unilever Ventures start-ups were initially backed to the tune of 40 million by Unilever and other investors and the investments have been a huge success. Unilever Ventures continues today and has seeded and assisted a number of successful start-ups to attract further investment.
We were privileged to work directly for Virgin's founder, Sir Richard Branson, within his inner sanctum. We developed new start-ups for Virgin at what was a pivotal time for the business, as it embarked on an aggressive campaign to enter new industries. Analysis and research allowed the targeting of new industries where the Virgin brand would be most potent by taking clear advantage of its consumer champion status. The next stage was to develop compelling customer propositions that fitted with the brand that was seen by consumers as innovative different and special. From there the rubber hit the road, beginning with the recruitment of world class management teams including agreeing their remuneration and equity schemes, establishing business plans and organising funding when required. In some ventures partners were required which meant extensive discussions and shareholder agreements negotiated. Once this was achieved, launch plans that included distribution, pricing, PR, marketing and sales were devised. Post-launch it was necessary to be on hand for on-going trouble shooting, whilst the next venture was being planned. This period saw the launch of, amongst others, Virgin Active, Virgin Direct, Virgin Vie, Virgin Brides and V2. It was one of the most active and successful periods in Virgin's history.
Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, Chairman of Kingfisher, engaged us to examine ways to significantly grow the retail conglomerate. Detailed work was undertaken reviewing existing businesses and growth opportunities, both organically and by acquisition. In the end it was decided to further develop acquisition strategies for Comet. Extensive business modelling identifying synergies with various European and US companies was undertaken and Darty, a French electrical retailer, was targeted. Savings found included increased buying power, management savings and overheads. Further work was undertaken to completely understand the post merger synergies. Negotiations followed, which meant consolidated cash flows, understanding the resulting management shuffling and clear sales and marketing plans. The result was a successful merger between Comet of Kingfisher and Darty, a very large and significant transaction.
Landis and Gyr
We were engaged by the Chairman of the parent company to review and improve the loss-making UK operations. This was a classic turnaround situation in which getting results was time critical, so we swung into action. The industry segment was analysed, models built and a complete overhaul of operations began. Cost reductions were recommended and implemented and careful analysis showed that slippage in company contracts was significantly eroding margins. In extreme cases this meant that some jobs were unprofitable. The slippage was eradicated and new systems implemented. Once margins were at an acceptable level growing revenue became the key driver. Marketing plans were established but the critical driver was the success rate on customer pitches. Significant time and effort to update pitches and train sales team members led to a dramatic increase in conversion, and this led the UK operations back into profit in record time.
Corporate Events and training
BSF founders and staff have been heavily involved in corporate events and training. All events have been entrepreneurial in nature and range from organizing and sitting on the global judging panel for new innovative ideas for the Unilever Group, to speaking at growth and innovation days for Rio Tinto to assisting with corporate and brand extension discussions. All have had a common theme of understanding how to take advantage of new and entrepreneurial ways to grow. Training has encompassed a wide variety of subjects from quick and efficient cost cutting, innovation, communication, personal branding through Social media to negotiation. All training has been part of the client's longer growth plans and uses the Harvard approach to learning through case studies and group participation.