Carrying on with Collingwood’s Q&A blog series, Chris Barker caught up with Chris Jones, previously of FGX International.
FGX are a leading supplier of glasses to leading UK and International retail multiples such as Boots, Superdrug and the Supermarkets. During his time with the business, he grew the business from £5m to £34m by developing the larger accounts, developing new products and opening new International markets for the business.
With Chris Jones being a successful FMCG Director, Chris Barker was keen to understand how he achieves growth in a business, the culture he likes to develop in his teams and the leadership style he portrays.
Chris Barker: What foundations do you see as critical to helping an FMCG business grow?
Chris Jones: The foundations that I put in place to help my business grow are both strategic and financial. Building a three-year vision with key milestones may be 'old hat', but for me, it underpins having realistic yet stretching business financial goals with short term and longer term objectives. Strategic pillars around customer targets, category penetration, long- term customer / supplier contracts and building a strong trading relationship network have been the key enablers for the growth achieved.
Chris Barker: What tips and advice would you have for businesses looking to expand Internationally?
Chris Jones: When looking to expand internationally it is imperative that thorough market analysis is undertaken. Who are the winners in the market? How can my company add incremental revenue to those key customers? Do I have the right human resource on the ground and a network of reliable and financially sound distributor / regulatory and legal networks? These questions all need answers before embarking on international growth plans. Furthermore expanding in export markets takes a little patience, time, persistence and resilience; so a good new business team needs to be in-situ and in-place ready to support the growth when it comes.
Chris Barker: What are the key leadership characteristics you have in order to motivate your teams?
Chris Jones: Leadership style is obviously down to the individual. My style is collaborative, open, yet pragmatic. I always lead with passion and a desire to succeed. I like to think my leadership style is charismatic and people want to be part of the team as a result.
Chris Barker: What characteristics and fit do you look for when recruiting a team and how would you describe the culture of businesses you develop?
Chris Jones: In my opinion fit and chemistry is more important than technical ability. The latter can be developed. I like my team to have the same passion and drive and will to succeed as I possess. Bags of enthusiasm channelled through a culture of ' who dares wins' philosophy. You can’t criticise a person for trying that’s for sure. I like honesty and trust in my teams and I like a culture of winning ' together' as in my opinion a team works better when encouraged and rewarded over whip and a size ten!
Chris Barker: In the future, what do you see as the major drivers of growth in Retail Accounts?
Chris Jones: The major growth drivers in retail accounts I see in the future are those suppliers who can add significant value for consumers. Therefore, consumer insight will help drive growth. It is imperative that a firm knowledge of buying behaviours are analysed and opportunities for new innovative products brought to market. Another growth catalyst in retail will be the partnership between supplier and retailer. If clear, concise joint business plans can be agreed at senior level with financial goals for both retailer and supplier this will ensure that plans and events are agreed upon to reach the growth aspirations. Visibility of offer and in-store execution is imperative now and will continue to be in the future. With so much going on and few seconds of consumer recognition, it is important that simple consumer offers can be seen and always available.
Chris Barker: Finally, how do you see technology and consumer behaviours changing in the future?
Chris Jones: In the advent of mobile internet shopping, and the ease of PPC, I believe this will be both an opportunity and a risk for suppliers and retailers. The risk is obvious; if you don’t play in this arena then you could be left behind. Therefore, to have a strong e-commerce and on-line strategy is really important for continued growth. I would recruit the best web designers, the best developers and strong social marketers that are experts in our world of technology. The financial growth projections will be huge if product placement and high SEO ranking can be achieved. One thing is for sure, consumer buying patterns and the way we shop are changing and we have to adapt our trading and marketing strategies to compete.
To find out more about Chris Jones background, view his linkedIn profile here.
Since 2005 Collingwood has worked in partnership with FMCG businesses to design and execute talent identification and pipeline strategies, as well as leadership development, organisational change and engagement programmes, at a board and business critical level. If you would be interested in finding out how Collingwood can assist your business please get in contact on +44 1829 732374