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IoD Open House: From Grassroots to Global

09 Feb 2018

How you can you expand your enterprise while staying true to your vision? From notes on napkins to flourishing SMEs, Grassroots to Global will examine the challenges of business growth whilst offering insight and advice.

Our guest speaker is Henry Dimbleby, the co-founder of Leon Restaurants. Dimbleby is one of several entrepreneurs appearing at IoD Open House who successfully managed to scale up. Here we provide a short history of their stories along with a few nuggets of business advice…

Nigel Dimbleby, Leon Restaurants

The story so far...

Whenever Dimbleby was out of the office and looking for a snack, the options were limited to a sandwich or another sandwich. He wanted to open a restaurant that could deliver good food fast. He also noted that people associated Mediterranean food with fresh and heathy. The ‘naturally fast food’ chain has grown from one restaurant in 2004 to its current total of 72, including two in America.

How he did it

Dimbleby and his business partner, John Vincent, spent a month working for and observing Burger King at close quarters to understand how a fast food chain operates. But instead of selling cheap burgers, Dimbleby believed there was a demand for ‘something nice that also makes you feel good.’ Leon was careful not to expand too fast to quickly and maintain its commitment to quality whilst also bringing in expertise to different areas to help the business grow.

In his own words

We wanted to learn from Burger King because one of the key ingredients for Leon was always scaleability.

We would never put scrambled egg on a menu – too many variables, too hard to make. The whole menu is made up of things we can consistently deliver.

You have to make a lot of business mistakes. But don’t try and make the same mistake twice. Try and surround yourself with people who are more experienced.

Henry Dimbleby will be the guest speaker for Grassroots to global on Monday, 12 March at 2pm

Logan Plant, Beavertown

The story so far...

Logan used to make home brew in his kitchen (while his dad, Robert, was busy making rock and roll history with Led Zeppelin) and turned his passion into a business. Since it was founded in 2011, Beavertown Brewery has moved premises three times to meet with the growing demand. Its current site in Tottenham can produce up to 50,000 hectolitres of beer a year.

How he did it

Plant fell in love with craft beer when he was touring America with his own band, Sons of Albion. When he returned home, Logan opened a beer and barbecue joint in East London, albeit after a lengthy quest to find a bank that would back him. He ploughed all his profits back into improving his award-winning beers which come in distinctively designed cans to give the brand a unique identity.

In his own words

Dad dragged me around the pubs when I was a kid and now we love a beer together. In the Black Country the pub is an extension of the home.

Investing in people to support your vision is really important. I was lucky to be surrounded by people who were enthused about our journey.

Logan Plant will be taking part in a panel discussion on Business Growth for SMEs on Tuesday, 13 March at 12.15pm

Paul Lindley, Ella’s Kitchen

The story so far...

Paul Lindley launched organic baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen from his own kitchen table in 2004. Nine years later he sold the business to US giant Hain Celestial but he is still the company’s CEO.

Ella’s Kitchen products are now sold in 40 countries and have delivered double digit growth for nine years in a row against a sector average of one per cent.

Lindley has won a string of awards and last year he was crowned IoD International Director of the Year.

How he did it

Lindley had spent nine years at kids’ TV channel Nickelodeon. He noted that TV was often to blame for kids not eating healthiy or doing enough exercise. By the time his range of products were ready to go to market he struck a profit-sharing deal with Nickelodeon which immediately got Ella’s Kitchen exposure inside millions of homes. Lindley also wasted no time in approaching the big supermarkets to stock the Ella’s Kitchen range.

In his own words

Always build a good story. Stories matter – they influence everybody from investors through to the consumer. Ella’s Kitchen is an emotional brand and we built a story around us as a family, thinking it would resonate with people at the most emotional stage of their lives, having just had a child.

I don’t think the UK supports the idea of a ‘British Dream’. If we want companies to be global, they have to look beyond our shores in their mindset right from the start. Like the American Dream, having the audacity to think bigger is something we can improve.

Paul Lindley will be the guest speaker for Disrupting the System on Wednesday, 14 March at 2pm

This unique three-day festival of business will be held at the IoD’s headquarters at 116 Pall Mall.

Learn from, meet and network with some of the most influential, inspirational and forward-thinking business figures in Britain today!

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