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Leaving university in the 1980’s with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, a Marketing Diploma, a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), rolled up sleeves and Miami Vice shoes, I leapt into the World confident that I could teach it a thing or two.
The World very quickly replied that it had a lot more to teach me. (And to ditch the shoulder pads).
My first role in 1991 was as Export Manager for the international Obegi Group, based between an offshore office in Cyprus and regional offices in Beirut, Lebanon and Damascus and Aleppo, Syria. Here I very quickly learned the value of common sense and experience against the stark irrelevance of all the pretty theories I’d carried from my MBA. It was an easy lesson, when my very first discussions on export pricing were held in a factory bombed-out in the Lebanese civil war and my ride home tailed by a military tank.
The value of experience over academic theory is something that I hope to have carried throughout my career and into my work with our franchising clients; I.e. to get the best advice and to be the most successful, clients need to know what actually works in the real-world from advisors that have ‘walked the walk’.
In Lebanon, I was soon promoted to International Business Development Director (1994) and became responsible for the international sale of group food products from France, Hungary and the Middle East (alongside the group’s other $4bn activities in banking, FMCG distribution, textiles, detergents, chemicals and pharmaceuticals), taking me from as far and wide as Tokyo to Moscow to Los Angeles to develop new concepts, new ranges, systems, distribution, retail placement, institutional deals, restaurant supply, positioning and promotion.
Whilst in this role, I enjoyed my first experiences in franchising. I was involved with Obegi as it took on the license to manufacture, supply and distribute to McDonald’s restaurants opening in the area and in its bid to develop its existing detergent franchise with Henkel into Saudi Arabia. I also took on the systemisation, audit and documentation of the group’s manufacturing plants.
From this, my skill in writing operational manuals matured and I came to understand the difference between simply recording processes and COMMUNICATING them in ways that are more useful, work and that the right people want to read.
In 1999 I started the Global Development Network international export and franchise development business in the Middle East, Europe and Eastern and Central Europe that soon grew to exclusively focus on franchising and helped many franchisors to expand into new markets in the region. A role that included negotiating with 100’s of prospective franchisees around the World.
IN 2003, I returned to the UK and into my current role with the Franchising Centre. Here, I operate as both the leading franchise consultant in the North West and as the Manual-Writing specialist for the organisation.
I have successfully developed the franchises of well-known brands such as: Business for Breakfast, BTG Recruitment, CA Tax, Central Perk, Cleaner Air Solutions, Essential Healthcare, Finbarr’s Restaurants (Europe), Homeserve, HD Brows, Husky, Jade Logistics, Jan Pro, Little House of Science, Millar Foods, Navis Logistics, Parkhouse, PC Pal, Poundland, Red Flag, RS Components, Sam’s Food, Speedy Freight, Toronto Pizza, Velocity Sports Centers, YBS and 40 more.
As a manuals specialist, I have also systemised and written detailed operational manuals and online reference works for many clients including: BAP, Caffè Latte, Flexi-store, Holiday Inn (Europe), Husky, Intercoil (Dubai), Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Italian), Forest Holidays, Red Flag, Rushyglen, PC Pal, Sollertia, Waffle-Meister and YBS.
I have also owned and operated a franchise in the financial sector and so have a well-tuned sense and experience of our industry from both sides of the ‘fence’.
When I have spare time after all this (and negotiating with my son to get his own school work / fun balance right!), I have an allotment (complete with chickens), enjoy scuba-diving and sailing where I am following the path to RYA Yachtmaster and have a decrepit old boat, which I am slowly renovating to take this decrepit ‘young’ consultant on further adventures in the future.