Stuart Garner: Heritage is everything

What persuaded you to take on the iconic, but under-performing, Norton brand?

answer is really in the question!!  When do you get the opportunity to purchase a global brand that has been left to under-perform!

You worked in the fireworks sector when it was threatened with government regulation; you’ve taken on a high-profile but struggling brand. What attracts you to such challenges, and what are the main business skills you bring to them?

These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that don’t come along very often. Experience has taught me people and partnership skills, and how to take a balanced view of risk-reward. Creativity and commercial forward-thinking are two attributes that I seem to have worked out from a very early age!

Is it possible, in your experience, to recreate the spirit and energy of a start-up in an established, medium-sized business? (To be a re-start-up?). If so, what does it take?

Yes it is possible, but it takes a very committed leader to push through their energy and passion across the existing workforce and company ethos. Such leaders are generally, but not always, owner-managers and somewhat non-corporate in their approach.

How valuable is heritage in a brand? Can it be over-rated?

Heritage is everything. In today’s market, where vintage-retro is highly prized, brands with history stand above the crowd.

The theme of this year’s Real Business Entrepreneurs’ Summit is “the growth challenge”. How confident or otherwise are you that in, say, five years’ time, we will have a rebalanced UK economy, built around a larger proportion of SME businesses with IP ownership and international expansion at their core?

We have a great opportunity in the present climate to export our manufacturing and brand values into emerging economies from which we’ve traditionally bought our low-cost consumable items. These emerging economies have an aspiring middle-class consumer boom. These new brand-conscious consumers are looking for western brand values, which the UK is perfectly placed to deliver.

Stuart Garner will be speaking at the Entrepreneurs’ Summit, held in association with Investec and supported by the CBI, Land Rover and Spring Law, on June 13 at the London InterContinental, Park Lane. 

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