I remember reading the story of a husband and wife team from Yorkshire who had taken their love of sausages and turned it into a multi-million pound business.
The success hadn’t come overnight and the couple had battled tirelessly to secure listings until they were bought by a larger company who assisted with their vision to see their sausages on the shelves in all major superstores throughout the country.
This blog should now end with a happy ever after however that is not the case – as I found out today when reading the Yorkshire Business Insider.
The couple in question are Debbie and Andrew Keeble and as Ben Pindar explains in his article they found that as a result of selling their business to a larger corporation they lost control of their values. Ultimately they were left holding an ‘ugly baby’ not the bundle of joy they had nurtured for years and invested their time and money in to.
You see Debbie and Andrew saw an opportunity to grow their business, taking it to the next level but in doing so found that they were working in an environment with people who did not hold their brand as dear to their hearts, nor its values which underpin the product and in particular where the raw materials are sourced from, as closely as they did.
Debbie and Andrew wanted to maintain their messaging of ‘real people, real food’ and ‘British is best’ which was impossible under the instruction of a Dutch owned business. This led to an eventual fall out and irreconcilable differences leaving the Keebles to face the prospect of competing with their own product and a brand they developed.
I have to admit that when I read this story today my heart really did go out to the Keebles – although there is little doubt they have made a significant amount of money from the Debbie and Andrews sausage range – this wouldn’t diminish the loss that would be felt if someone took away the values of your business and something that you truly believed in.
When we launched Open Communications we spent a lot of time defining the values of the business and our messaging to ensure that everything we did was true to our beliefs and allowed us to run the business as we felt it should be.
We are a straight talking PR agency, which develops creative and realistic campaigns that meet with our clients’ objectives. In a nut shell that is what we do and it hasn’t changed. If someone came in and bought the business, allowing us to continue to run the team as directors but wanting us to change the way we do things, then the answer would have to be no.
We, like Debbie and Andrew, have invested a great deal of time in defining what we are – and are not – in order to offer a professional and unique service, to change that simply wouldn’t work. Not only would our clients lose something that they have bought in to but we would have no underpinning personality that makes our agency different – we would be another PR agency doing the same things the same way.
I hope that Debbie and Andrew find a way to build up their new business and to make it a success which rivals their former product. Perhaps the fact that they are engaging with the media suggests that they have picked themselves up, brushed themselves down and decided to take the bull (or pig in this instance) by the horns.
At the very least they know they can create a successful business and should have the contacts of the buyers they need to speak to in order for them to make it happen a second time around. Hats off to them – they certainly have a true Yorkshire spirit and determination to have another go. When the time is right I’ll have a fry up to celebrate that!