Richard Joseph, co-founder and chief executive at Joseph Joseph, speaks at our Fast Track 100 alumni dinner for entrepreneurs in London.
The dinner was co-hosted by Stuart Lisle, partner, at BDO and Andrew Clarke, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys together with Fast Track’s founder Hamish Stevenson.
Richard shared how he and his twin brother Antony have built the inventive housewares company from humble beginnings selling glass chopping boards to an international venture selling over 500 distinct products to 104 countries.
He said they took the business overseas early on in its life after they were told by John Lewis that they would stock their products once the business had grown in size sufficiently. Initially this meant approaching English-speaking wholesalers in Germany, France and Switzerland, and then looking further afield. In one three year period, Richard appointed 50 different distributors, which rapidly drove its sales from £6m to £40m and helped it feature four times on Fast Track 100. He said the business is now setting up its own subsidiaries, hiring local expertise in markets such as the US. Its sales in 2019 hit £82m, with ebitda of £18m.
Speaking to our camera, Richard reflected on how Joseph Joseph is responding to the challenging retail environment for department stores in the UK and overseas.
Asked by a guest about what is next for his company, Richard said: “We will be launching three new categories in three years – all high quality, highly functional products in areas of the home that have not had a huge amount of love; and with the tough retail environment in the UK we will be focusing on further international growth. Asia is a really exciting opportunity.”
Richard shared his insights with 35 owners and senior directors from 26 Fast Track 100 alumni companies, Crep Protect, Huel, The Office Group, and The City Pub Company.
James McMaster is chief executive of Huel, the innovative powdered and ready-to-drink meal brand that has sold more than 50m meals across 80 countries and achieved sales of £40m this year. He spoke to us about its international expansion in the US and shared his advice for other UK entrepreneurs thinking of doing the same.
Keith Pullinger is co-founder and chief executive of the light, a cinema business with 10 sites and plans to open five more in the next five years including ones in Kent and Oxfordshire. Launched in 2007, it grew sales to £24.9m in 2018, and expects to report further growth in sales and profits this year. Keith explained how he started the business and why a site on The Wirral proved to be an inspired choice for its first cinema.
A word from our sponsors
Guests enjoyed networking dinner and drinks with representatives from sponsors BDO and Charles Russell Speechlys.
Stuart Lisle, senior tax partner at BDO, welcomed guests and praised their resilience in the face of Brexit uncertainty. “Planning is difficult at present but if you look at the possible outcomes, and plan for the worst case then you know you will be ok,” he said. “Entrepreneurs such as yourselves are driving the UK economy and with your energy and passion you will see us through.”
Andrew Clarke, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, reflected on the talk by Richard Joseph, picking up on his use of an experienced chairman to help guide him and his brothers, particularly during disputes and when identifying the right people to join their teams. “Professional advisers such as ourselves can play a similarly useful role,” he said. “Thank you to everyone for coming – we advise many entrepreneurial businesses like yours and we are really pleased to be involved with Fast Track 100.”