Piper War Stories

“The bigger your organisation,
the more complex the systems and so
the potential for systems failure increases.”

Piper War Stories

Over the past 25+ years Piper has worked with a broad
range of highly successful and talented managers and entrepreneurs. We are proud to have them as part of our
network, and to have been able to ask them to share their
war stories about the journeys they have been on.

don’t read profit
and loss accounts”

Julian Granville & Johnnie Boden

Boden has grown into one of Britain’s most successful and influential clothing brands with a turnover in excess of £250m.
But it’s not been plain sailing.
In 1995, with the business on the brink of collapse, founder and chairman Johnnie Boden recruited Julian Granville as finance director.

Slowly, the company began turning a profit. Piper led investments in 1999 and 2003 helping establish Boden as a premium mailorder only brand. It exited in 2007, delivering a 30x multiple on its investment.

“Know your own style and stick with it!”

Charles Dunstone

In the beginning everything is a hurdle because you don’t know anything. You’re doing everything – from incorporating a company and filing accounts to dealing with suppliers and opening shops – for the first time. It’s all new but you just force yourself to do it. Believe me, we all make plenty of mistakes along the way but the next time it’s a bit easier.

As an entrepreneur you can feel pretty insecure and that gets worse the bigger the company becomes. In my experience, that’s when the outside advice starts rolling in. Everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to tell you what needs to be done. Some of it will be worth listening to, of course, but my advice would be to disregard most of it.

“Appreciate diversity...”

Ian Cheshire

There are three main things I’ve taken away from a variety of experiences. The first I learned at Piper when we advised Asda.

We knew that the supermarket chain had an issue with its fresh food – simply because it had been putting clothing and other things first. The team had lots of research telling them their fresh food was ranked below Morrisons and Tesco but nobody listened.

When they were challenged about it, the fresh food guy would say: ‘Well it’s all of these supply chain issues and it’s all very difficult.’

So we brought a fruit buyer along to meet a number of Yorkshire housewives. For 20 minutes these wonderful women kept telling this guy how crap his apples were. For the first 10 minutes he said: ‘Ah but, no but…’ Then he listened. He went back to Asda saying the apples were crap.