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- Mapes Of Millport
Serving the Isle of Cumbrae since 1946 with cycle hire, toys and games. Although the original Mapes family moved on a few years ago, this is still an independent, family business with a proud reputation. Part of their business relies on seasonal tourism, while the other part is facing all the turmoil affecting retailers at the moment. It can’t be easy. But I like what they’re doing on social media, they’ve made the smart decision to invest in their brand and we can see the beginnings of an e-commerce business starting to evolve. Learn from them not because they’re perfect, but because they’re making it work, under their own steam, in a tough environment.
- John Menzies
One of my favourite businesses. From a small bookstall on Princes Street, Edinburgh to a multinational aviation behemoth, this Scottish business has never stood still and never shirks from tough decisions. Most recently, they’ve sold off their distribution business to concentrate solely on aviation. In 1998, while other were investing in retail, Menzies was selling out, correctly anticipating the rise of Amazon and the decline of high street retail. That move netted them millions and left WH Smith with an almighty mess. The Menzies story is packed with business lessons.
‘Get Busy With The Fizzy’ was the 80s slogan and there was one in just about every kitchen. The gimmick was brilliant; the taste, not so much, and my friends and I would avoid going round to the house of anyone we knew who’s mum or dad insisted on serving Sodastream cola instead of ‘The Real Thing’. By the time Bros were enjoying their first No.1, the mums and dads were agreeing with the kids and the Sodastream was booted out the kitchen. Owners Cadbury Schweppes struggled on for a few years before quietly offloading it. Since then, it’s enjoyed something of a re-birth. The taste has improved dramatically and the whole concept fits nicely with increased climate change awareness and growing opposition to all things plastic. Last year, Pepsi completed a very smart piece of business when they acquired Sodastream for more than 3 billon dollars. No plastic bottles? No problem for Pepsi.
Another family business, founded in Italy in 1961. Quickly became a worldwide phenomenon and now enjoying a resurgence thanks to smart licensing and marketing deals alongside a tactical decision to appeal to adults reliving their youth, as well as today’s generation of kids. This book tells the whole story and it’s jammed with business lessons for us all.
- Auchrannie Resort
To get anywhere in business you need a vision. And what is now Auchrannie resort began with a simple desire for a swimming pool on the Isle of Arran. But when the right people come together and work hard and make smart decisions, sometimes amazing things can happen. What impresses me most about Auchrannie, and I’m sure it’s a big reason for its success, is the commitment to excellent customer service and the emphasis the owners have always put on looking after the staff. As such, the future of the business is now secure as it is majority employee owned.