Speaker in the Spotlight

Session: Selling your business

When: Monday 25 February at 3.20pm

With: Director from a multinational brand owner/manufacturer; Judy Naake, Founder of St Tropez.



So, how did you originally come to be involved with St Tropez?

Well it's quite a long story. You could say that I was in business for twenty odd years, and St Tropez was one of the products that was offered to me.

In 1995 you are turning over £17m with 140 staff, you’ve gone into retail and you’re very profitable. When and why did you decide to sell the business?

I decided to sell in 2002, in large part because I was diagnosed with breast cancer, twice. I also felt that I had taken the business as far as I could, given the circumstances. It was instinctive; I knew we had competition coming, and we’d reached our saturation point. So that, along with the deterioration of my health meant for me to carry the product right through Europe was a big ask.

How did you know the time was right to sell? Did you always intend to sell at a certain point, or did you get an offer out of the blue?

We were approached by a firm of accountants who made it clear that if we ever intended to sell, they wanted to be the first to know. And of course your bank manager sees how well you’re doing and tips off a few friends!

What was your selling strategy? How did you select your professional advisors and what lessons did you learn?

Our accountant Steve Oaks approached us on the behalf on Cooper Parry and we appointed the solicitors Browne Jacobson. The key lesson I learnt is that it’s a long and arduous process. You need to be able to get on very well with your advisors because you end up virtually living with them.

Did you have to groom the company for sale, and what impact did the prospective sale have on the day-to-day running of the business?

Prospective buyers want to scrutinize and understand your figures to an incredible level of detail, so we recruited the same accountant, Steve Oaks, who did all of our accounts. We took him on full time as Managing Director in order to get our books into the format that the buyer required. So, yes, in that respect we did have to groom the company for sale. The day-to-day running of the business did change as a result. The difficult thing is not letting your staff know you’re up for sale.

Why did you decide to sell to LDC (Lloyds Capital) and are you happy with what they have added to the business?

LDC gave us the best offer when the chips were down. They were very keen. What they added to the business is debatable. I wasn’t happy in the first two years as they managed to halve the company’s turnover. Now they’ve sold out again and under new management, I believe they are doing much better.

Did you find it hard giving away your baby? Have you stayed involved with the business following the sale?

Not really because the baby had got too big for me. So many things happened, and circumstances arose that really I just wanted out. Life isn’t a rehearsal. And in terms of staying involved with the business following the sale – I didn’t really. It’s difficult to stay involved; they want to do it their way and of course they think they know better.

Have you started any other businesses since?

Yes, several! I’m a shareholder in premature baby clothing company, Teddy & Me; high value skincare and hair product company, Mellor & Russell; bespoke perfumery, The Perfume Studio and a television production company. And of course I help my son with Airbase.

What can we expect from your session?

Hopefully you can expect an interesting talk! I’m very happy to answer any questions about my experience. Selling your business is not an easy thing to do but I will answer honestly, and of course give an insight into what it’s like and how you go about it.

What discussions do you hope to provoke with your talk?

I’d like to talk about the accountancy side of selling your business, and get across that it’s all about your profitability. When you come to sell your business, the buyer wants total transparency and clarity. Because you’ve worked on it and are so close with it, you have all the mental records but they require every single figure on paper.

What are you most looking forward to at the convention?

I’m most looking forward to meeting with old colleagues in the beauty industry, because that is something I’ve really missed.

Join Judy speaking alongside some of the top beauty and spa industry experts this February.

Book your delegate place here