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Chartered Brand Whyte & Mackay Feature

Chartered Brands Management Buyout

By The Drum | Administrator

July 17, 2008 | 4 min read

Philip Craig was parachuted in at the final hour to save an MBO at Charteredbrands. With the subsequent creation of Three Sixty Brands, we caught up with Craig to discover how he intends to use his international outlook to help develop the firm.

The deal, backed by Scottish business investment and rescue specialists Symphony Corporate, would see the company change its name to Three Sixty Brands while retaining the eighteen members of staff, along with its full portfolio of FMCG brands – including cleaning products Squezy, Frish, Limelite, Glist and Filetti, White Satin London Dry Gin and firelighter brands Pow, Duraflame and Tiger Tim.

The obvious omission is Pomegrate, the healthy Pomegranate juice drink – one of Charteredbrands’ most successful brands to date – which recently left the firms stable.

The business would, however, continue to operate from its city centre headquarters in Edinburgh.

The Charteredbrands name, meanwhile, would be retained by the company’s outgoing directors – chief exec Gervais Cottam and brand director Angela Pirrie – who will launch a new venture under the existing moniker.

However, as the i’s were being dotted and the t’s were being crossed, Gribbon dropped the bombshell. He had accepted a job elsewhere. That ‘elsewhere’ has yet to be confirmed, but one thing was certain, a new MD had to be found to head the buyout. And fast.

The ensuing search by Glen Gribbon and Symphony arrived at the doorstep of Philip Craig. A former colleague of Gribbon while at Whyte and MacKay.

Vulnerable

Craig had been working with Symphony on a raft of other acquisition projects when the new opportunity arose.

“I had to make a quick decision and then move fast,” he says. “Glen had a dilemma following the job offer. And his eventual decision left the deal in a vulnerable position. That’s when I got involved.”

However, despite his last minute arrival and the current gloomy economic outlook, Craig is optimistic. In fact, he says he’s seen far worse before. Having worked through an economic collapse in South America, as well as a financial meltdown in both Russia and Eastern Europe while in previous roles, he believes that such times are the best to take a company in a new direction.

“I’ve been through economic collapses in Argentina. That was the worst I’d ever seen.

“I’ve been through it in Russia and Eastern Europe too. But I enjoy it from a business perspective. It makes you proactive and these are times when you can progress quite significantly.

“The bigger, heavier, bureaucratic machine will be under pressure because it can’t move quickly. But when you’re smaller and more entrepreneurial, this is a time when you can take advantage of any opportunity that is presented. You just need to adapt.”

He also points out that the current climate had no impact on the price Symphony paid for the business, which remains undisclosed.

Opportunities

Craig admits that while Three Sixty may look to stretch its brand specialities beyond its current FMCG focus, for the moment he wants the company to concentrate on its current assets before extending its reach.

“The intention is to grow the business but we just need to tighten up before we focus on the medium and long term plans. I have some plans which may change in a few weeks time once I fully understand the business but I can see new opportunities moving forward.

“Symphony has a view on how the business should move forward but won’t interfere as I’ve shared my ideas with them.

“I’ll get to grips with the business, get an understanding and then drive this thing forward.”

He continues: “At the moment we own FMCG brands and we need to get to grips with the current categories in which we operate and the opportunities within these categories. We have to approach any move outside our core sectors carefully. The danger is that we pull in too many brands to the business causing confusion.”

Whatever Craig’s plans, he intends to take the company forward, rather than in circles as its new name might suggest.

“I’ve looked at a number of acquisitions with Symphony, but the Charteredbrands move came at the right time.

“It’s a smaller business than I’ve run in the past, but for me this is an exciting opportunity and a long term plan.”

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