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Rob Halliday-Stein: Low prices and great supplier relationships

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Name: 

Rob Halliday-Stein

Role and company: 

Founder and MD of BullionByPost

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric): 

Last year (2011/12) audited £55m turnover, profit £1.5m.

Employee numbers: 

13

Growth forecast for the next three years: 

This year (12/13) – £80m, 13/14 – £120m, 14/15 – £200m

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

I founded BullionByPost, the UK’s leading online bullion dealer, in 2008 with a £10,000 investment. It was the first in the industry to offer low pricing based on live metal prices, excellent customer service, and the ability to order online and have bullion delivered next day.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Our vision is to be the most respected bullion dealer by customers, suppliers and colleagues. We plan to achieve this by continuing to offer low prices, and through our great supplier relationships and our unrivalled, award winning customer service.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

At the moment international orders are a small part of our business. But we have got plans to expand into Europe over the next three years, and we envisage that that this will eventually be bigger than the UK side of the business.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

Earlier in my career I applied for a job I really wanted with an entrepreneurial company. I felt that I was well-qualified and the interview went well, but I didn’t get the job. I was initially quite annoyed, but it made me realise that I was capable of setting up and running my own business – so although I didn’t get the job, it set me on the path to founding my own business.

What makes you mad in business today?

I don’t have an issue with paying corporation tax but the way that you initially pay a very small amount and then have to pay almost two years’ worth within the space of three months is crazy. The way that it hits small, rapidly growing businesses is not right, as it’s a lot of cash to suddenly find. I’m not against paying it, but I think the way that payments are spread out needs to be improved.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

I think gold ownership will become much more common over the next three years, as awareness of investing in bullion in the UK continues to grow. This will grow from the current, relatively small base, when compared to other countries such as Germany, and more people will consider buying gold as part of their investments.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

We have been very lucky to have been able to grow organically from our own cash-flow, and didn’t need to raise finance. The bank has been very supportive to us but obviously it’s easier for them to be supportive when you have a very strong balance sheet. As it’s not been a problem for us, it’s difficult to expand on how things can be improved.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Hands on, enthusiastic and passionate.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Cars!

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

I actually think the UK is already quite a good place to do business. I would tell the prime minister that it is vital that we have a clear strategy of how to ensure the UK is a world leader in online business.

We already have many of the skills and languages that should make the UK a global leader in e-commerce. It’s a real pity to see Google, Apple, Amazon and Ebay dominating.

We need to look at everything; from the quality of IT and business teaching in schools and universities, to sorting out the ridiculously unfair taxation of foreign owned online businesses.

This is a massive opportunity for the UK, and the government needs to be very strategic and think well beyond the next election in helping the UK to achieve this.

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