Goodlife Case Study
GoodLife Foods Limited is one of the UK’s leading innovators in vegetarian food. Formed in 1989, its own brand vegetarian sausages, burgers, Kievs, falafels and readymade meals are favourites with health-conscious shoppers in supermarkets such as Waitrose and Morrisons.
Nick Hamlett worked with Goodlife Foods for over two decades, serving as Managing Director for fifteen years.
Prior to Goodlife’s recent successful acquisition by Dutch food manufacturer Izico Food, Nick partnered closely with ValueMaker for a number of years - helping Goodlife to put in place the internal structure and working processes to make it an attractive organisation for sale, management buy out or long-term investment.
Goodlife Foods was already a thriving family business when you first approached ValueMaker. What was it that made you want to work with the ValueMaker team?
We had some big ambitions for Goodlife. These included a new focus on our own branded products over ‘own label’ products and a desire to get the company ready for a sale or management buyout.
I’d heard that ValueMaker were experts at taking ideas and objectives and formulating them into concrete plans and then assisting you in executing those plans. After meeting with Zoe Tibell and Ian Beswetherick, I was impressed by how quickly they understood what we wanted to do and I saw how they could assist us in getting to where we wanted to be.
Crucially, they helped us understand not just what was good for the business, but what was good for us as leaders and owners of the company. Together, we put the systems in place to get us moving in our journey.
What did ValueMaker identify or make you think about that you hadn’t thought about before?
ValueMaker instilled a discipline that made sure we always prioritised the things that took us closer to our goals.
When running a business, you’ve got so much to do, you can get bogged down by the day-to-day tasks and take your eye off what you want to achieve. You’ve got twenty or thirty things you need to do. It’s so easy to do those urgent things and not get to the things you need to do to hit your targets.
ValueMaker brought clarity, driving home the point that we had to continually make key decisions and we had to make them quickly.
Can you give an example of how they helped in this area?
Our brand was very important to us and we were keen to nurture it. At the time we were working with an external sales team. They were very good, but they were not particularly brand focused.
ValueMaker could see that the sales team weren’t the right fit if we wanted to grow the brand and made us re-evaluate the relationship objectively. We had worked with the sales team for over twenty years, so it was a tough decision to move on and build our own sales team internally. Ultimately it was the right decision and we wouldn’t have made it without ValueMaker. That outsider viewpoint they brought gave us the motivation we needed to make better business decisions.
Did ValueMaker help with developing an internal sales team?
Yes, they helped us to recruit a Head of Sales. Clare Goodrham was closely involved in both the recruitment and interview process.
With ValueMaker’s help we appointed Gregg Goldsworthy. We wanted someone with a branded background and who knew how to sell, which is a difficult combination to find. The results were immediate and within a few months our Goodlife branded products were in major outlets like Iceland, Morrisons and Sainsburys.
ValueMaker kept asking questions about our team. Did we have the right team? Where did we need to bring in people and strengthen? Did we have the head count we needed? They have the experience in this area to make a rapid, but positive impact. With their guidance we soon made other internal hires that kept pushing us forward towards our objectives.
How did ValueMaker help in the long-term?
The main contribution they made was in getting the business plan in place. With their help we got a three-year plan created. They helped us to concentrate on the resources we required to make things happen.
In business making a plan is only part of what it takes to succeed, you also need to think about all the logistics and structure you need to get you to your end goal. ValueMaker know instinctively what the potential issues or shortcomings you face are and the strategies to overcome them.
Can you talk about how ValueMaker helped on the leadership side of things?
The entire ValueMaker team spent quality time with our senior leadership in one-to-one coaching sessions and Gareth Coombs ran some fantastic team facilitation sessions. All of these things enabled us to solve challenges we were facing and also think differently about leadership itself.
One major cultural change ValueMaker implemented was having the senior leaders think of business problems as a collective group, rather than as something that only impacted one department or team.
So instead each head of department solely solving their own challenges, it was actually saying these are joint business problems we are facing. Let’s all work as a team together and solve things together. Not as a blame culture, but as a way of making the business work better. It was a massive change for the better.
And in terms of board meetings, ValueMaker sat in with us and exerted pressure on us to make decisions and get critical things done. It brought a stronger structure to what we did and ensured all departments were doing what they promised to do in meetings.
Can you talk about the results you saw from working with ValueMaker?
The growth of the brand was fantastic. Our branded sales soon became 50% of total turnover – up from 10%. They also helped to put in place a formal business plan that got us in front of private equity and other funding companies. ValueMaker open up an impressive network that you can tap into.
What was the big takeaway from working with ValueMaker?
When things are difficult, sometimes as a managing director you don’t have anyone to talk to, all the pressure is on your shoulders. Things can seem worse than they are. ValueMaker can give you some much needed perspective. They can look at it from the outside and help you understand what the problem really is and how to resolve it.
They’ve been there many times before and got results. Above all, that’s why I would recommend them to other organisations looking to grow in value.
To find our how ValueMaker can work with you to achieve your organisation’s objectives, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.