Every night store managers at DX Communications report their daily sales to chief executive Richard Emanuel via his pager, which he monitors obsessively. He then phones the managers of the best performing stores at their homes to congratulate them, and the worst to find out about any problems. It may seem overly controlling, but then again, Emanuel has always been very hands-on. In 1991, he got the mobile communications company up and running by peddling cellular phones and other related equipment door-to-door in Glasgow. At 23, Emanuel used just £1,300 in savings and a £3,000 bank overdraft to fund his start-up. Not surprisingly, cash flow proved a weekly worry. In 1996, he sold a 26% stake to Cellnet – fuelling store expansion but potentially threatening relationships with other major cellular networks, whose services DX continued to sell. A year later, with 40 stores in Scotland, DX made a deal with Powerhouse, the electrical supplies chain, for 50 in-house concessions in England. By October 1998, the £21m company operated a total of 80 stores. Enamoured of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Emanuel calls the entrepreneurial legend’s book, Made in America, the company “Bible” and encourages all managers to read it. One of his fiercest competitors is Carphone Warehouse.
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