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Collection of Reflections to end week 10 of Lockdown


Smart works is a great charity that aims to link women who are attending job interviews with brand new outfits, a style mentor and a confidence mentor. High impact and immediate. I was just about to  sign up as a confidence mentor for LEEDS when Lockdown happened. I can wait and will pick it up Autumn I imagine.

Meantime I signed in for this virtual workshop “Fashion Club” yesterday to see what’s-what. It was with Josh Wood world-wide high impact hair colourist. Nice offering, reasonable price to sign in. It was less about the hair and more about hearing this man’s journey to a world-wide career. In the latter sense, a great booking as it spoke of humility and self believe driving ambition forward. As well as a fair amount of talent.



Alison and I had the chance to talk to a fast paced, young bright, high impact business this week whose policies and practices with reagrd to their employees was best in class, truly impressive.

One of the things we spoke about was mental health and LEXIT anxiety. All three of us on the call wondered where the numbers would land as in terms of the working population of the UK who were:

1] Happy to be back in the office

2] Nervous at first but adapting

3] Extremely anxious.

In my professional practice I’ve seen most things roughly land as a third a third a third, but with this who knows?

This engaing firm shared they were providing mental health support for returnees which was so welcome to hear. In addition they had already surveyed their teams and had a rough idea of how many people would be wanting to work from home longer term. Some anxiety based but others had really appreciated the chance to work from home and vary their engagement

My guess is that many firms will follow Facebook and twitter in offering the freedom to choose. I hear this morning of a finance firm [Richard Dunbar of Aberdeen Standard Investment on BBC 5 Wake-up-to-Money] whose firm are requiring  home-working till the end of 2020. One would imagine they are a] not alone in finance 2] will choose to continue the practice.


I am vry excited to be mentoring the live and emergent research process of a young Yorkshire based woman who, using her impeccable connections is researching the BAME specific impact of COVID. It is pleasure to support this research theme and this woman whose energy side swipes me on every call. Fabulous.


CEO of Waterstones the Bookseller was speaking about store re-opening on 15th June. He shared many interesting and helpful insights but I tuned in to his firm’s noticing of the return to old familiar novels during Lockdown. Seemingly we have all reached for our well thumbed friends for reassurance in a book.  I did Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. What can I say, I’m on trend.

He also pointed out that without instore inspiration via promotions and staff advice, people were not trying new authors or latest publications. So…..scroll forward….this does re enforce the belief that the purpose of the high street is not the purchase but the engagement. Dual channel: online selling high street telling.



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Leaders & Entrepreneurs Build for the 2020s

Dr Phyl Hughes

If the previous decade’s ECONOMIC GROWTH was symbolised buy a Bull Market and overinflated IPOs with vaulting valuations, the next will be about the turn toward the kindnesseconomy and sustainability. Recession is coming yes, but we still need our business builders our leaders and pioneering brave entrepreneurs to GROW UK PLC. There will be a skill shift, here’s a few ‘rethinks’ to consider.

  1. From fast track to valuation toward sustainability via profitability. Nothing about the years ahead with be about quick wins, slow growth is highly likely and that needs profit and slack in the system to invest. Good profit hunters will prosper focusing on the right strategies with the right people, leadership etc. to find and sustain value. If it’s not core it’s not happening. And costs, they as well as sales will be central.
  2. Less ME more US: entrepreneurs as stewards and enablers not charismatic outliers. As wisdom, restraint and humility all fit growth that’s steady as she goes, there are likely to be less ego dizzying mavericks about. Capital will undoubtedly chase meaningful missions and their steady leaders. Leadership is far more likely to be distributed than person-centric.
  3. Advoates of triple bottom line, kindnesseconomy, and social responsibility will be the star turns of the 2020s. People, Planet, Profit is needed to meet complex and maturing stakeholder needs and expectations. Customers buy from business they buy-into and so socioeconomic status matters. Leaders who know what they value, can articulate that in troubled times and can inspire and lead value-driven business will thrive. This is by default multi-dimensional and not at all unitary; not just the entrepreneur and their idea but the health and sustained wealth of the business.
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LEXIT: Which business are you?

Have you got your Strategy Thought Through?


As we move into June and the country is tentatively opening for business, it is a crucial time to reflect where our businesses are and who needs which kind[s] of support and leadership.

Different journeys that different businesses have been on leaves them and their wider industries facing some shared, some overlapping and some different challenges.

Common to all has been governmental business support to enable continued trade where possible through March April and May 2020.

  • Furloughing of staff
  • Access to Self-employment support
  • Easy access capital

Each of these being phased out over the next months will see a repositioning of the UK economy in a ways that have not been seen in living memory.

In the business community our hope is to pump prime and deliver a V shaped recovery but recession looms, Brexit is back and costs across the board are set to rise. However, there are opportunities as well as threats. Our suggestion is map your business into the UK landscape. Where do you sit, who is in a similar place, who is in your potential network, where to you need to connect and how?

  • Pause
  • Think through a focused plan
  • Give yourself a V shaped hope.




These are the businesses who have been in the right place at the right time with the right product [s] to market.

Supermarkets being the obvious example. But others would include Glaxo, Astra Zeneca, NETFLIX, AMAZON, APPLE, VODAFONE etc

The issue has been meeting the customer demand that shot through the roof overnight. The challenge for thrivers is clear, sustain the performance but doing so in a balanced way.

The customer needs to feel supported going forward not taken for granted during a phase when there was no option from whom to buy.

Innovations introduced during the lockdown period need to be sustained and leveraged asap while the sensitivity / malleability of the customer is at receptive levels. For example, a strong push toward cashless payment in the supermarket seems doable and a cost saver seeing head count reduction.

These businesses need to attend to staffing as do all businesses as there will undoubtedly be head count reduction. But the fortunate position of healthy cashflows ought to trigger not just dividend payments but also 2030 innovation linked investment.



These are our favourite stocks, the healthy blue chips that have strong businesses, have had a loss of turnover but anticipate fully recovery by 2023. It is a case of using cash reserves [usually a debt ratio of 30% or less] to ride out the storm.

Examples would be BP, Shell, Whitbread, Vodafone, Easyjet

Whitbread for example launched a rights issue that was well taken up in late May and placed them in a strong position to capitalise on market recovery and or boost [staycations drive demand in the UK market] as it emerges.




The biggest question marks hang over these firms. They will no doubt thrive or dive. They are the firms whose faces fitted during lockdown such as Pelton the high end [previous derided] exercise cycle, e-gamers such as Fanatic and even the BBC. The latter had seen a big uptick in figures but with no additional source of income and cuts demanded, rapid turnaround innovation will be needed to retain anything like a similar footprint by 2025.

The challenge here is to not confuse a market driven by temporal demand with one that truly reflects the sustained customer base required to drive into a challenging decade.

Three issues will be ditching a pivot at the right time, rapid innovation and liquidity. It may be that high degrees of collaboration are sought amongst this strategic group.


Nose Divers

These are the businesses that were on borrowed time or cash or both and the lockdown has simply brought forward their demise.

The high street being the obvious location as well as the hospitality sector.


Laura Ashley



In many instances, it was the debt from multiple private equity rotations that killed the business.


LEXIT means breathe, re-group and power forward across UK plc. It is a question of keep the faith, hold your nerve and enable the V shaped recovery we all so desire.