“It is immensely rewarding to contribute to a board and really make a difference. You can only do that if you establish strong working relationships around a common goal.”
I spend a lot of my time with the management teams of our investees, helping them with their plans for growth. In 17 years at Livingbridge I have managed well over 30 investments.
We have enjoyed a lot of successes, but perhaps the most rewarding experiences are when things don’t come easily. I remember our investment in nursery operator kidsunlimited in particular. It was a long seven-year hold and we really struggled to transform a great customer proposition into a scalable and profitable business model. We reinvested every pound of surplus cash flow in growth, built up the capabilities of the business, and in the end made an excellent investment return. Another great experience was On the Beach, which we sold in 2013. Everything was thrown at the business during our investment (the global financial crisis, airline failures, ash clouds, regulatory upheaval) but we just knuckled down and focused on the customer and on improving our technology. The rewards came late, with profit growing fourfold in the last two years of our investment, but we emerged from a crowded marketplace as demonstrably the best beach specialist on line travel agent.
My background is that after graduating with a history degree I spent a couple of years in the London insurance market before joining Deloitte to qualify as an accountant. After ten years there working across corporate finance, business restructuring and insolvency, I moved into private equity, deciding from the outset that I wanted to focus on working with management teams and value creation.
I am very active outside work, including road cycling, fell running and climbing mountains. I love the Scottish Highlands and Islands and have climbed all 284 Monros (mountains over 3,000 ft). The Isle of Harris is the best kept secret in the UK – mountains, lochs and sandy beaches – and we have a cottage there which is a great escape from the rat race.
“When Livingbridge invested we had no in-house IT, no senior team and only basic systems and management information. We...