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dicksons

Dicksons is a family butchers based in South Tyneside that was founded by the current MD’s father in 1953. The founder died suddenly, leaving his widow to run the business with the help of her two teenage children. Since then the business has grown steadily and now has 20 shops across the north east, employing over 200 people.

“Succession planning is very important to us, and is a point where so many businesses fail, says Michael Dickson, managing director of Dicksons.

“It’s always been important for us to preserve our traditional values and focus of the business through the continuation of Dicksons in family hands.”

“Dicksons is a very good business and if we did nothing it would carry on operating successfully. But it has the potential to do much more,” said Michael.

Michael was introduced to the Alchemists by Sintons Law Firm, in Newcastle, who have worked with Dicksons for 12 years.

In 2007 Michael Dickson began working with The Alchemists, with chief executive Lucy Armstrong and alchemist Haydn Biddle, chief executive of George Bateman & Son Brewers, who with extensive retail and wholesale experience, including 8 years as managing director of Newcastle Breweries Ltd.

Elena Dickson, Michael’s daughter, looks back:

The Alchemists led us to think through our strategy. What do we want and why and how do we get there?

Lucy Armstrong, chief executive of The Alchemists, was very valuable to have on board to help us develop the family council and look at how we structured the board and the business. Haydn Biddle was very valuable for his operational business and brand experience.

Haydn and Lucy worked together to help us set up a family council. Elena Dickson is one of the MD’s four children. The quarterly family council meetings helps to keep the siblings up to date with what is happening in the business, allows them to make a contribution to the business and to make up their own mind about the future for the business and the family. Their shares in the business are their inheritance. The family council has provided a way of discussing succession plans and how to manage the business with the remaining family members.

Another key area The Alchemists helped with was helping the family to work together in a business. Elena’s father had never had to report to anyone before, so working with Haydn was very important while we introduced new processes and systems. Haydn set him some specific tasks which enabled Elena’s father to prioritise what the business should be doing. This process has enabled him to delegate more effectively now. As a result, the company has also invested in new IT and financial accounting systems to manage the day to day operations of the business. Elena believes that this means that the business is in a better position to be pro-active and will be able to move forward more quickly than they would have been.

Haydn Biddle really helped the family think about planning for the future. One brother is a pharmacist so he has some understanding of the retail world, but he was the only one with relevant experience.

Elena Dickson has only recently moved into a marketing role and Haydn has been giving her further mentoring advice and support.

It was an opportunity to take creative decisions about the company with the help of Haydn Biddle, our Alchemist. He was invaluable in helping in all the meetings, encouraging us to think about the look, the style and the staff of our stores. He gave us a process and structure for looking at our ‘brand’.

Last August we began the first store rebrand, together with a series of mini ‘refits’. These have been successful and led to the hoped for increase in sales. We are now in the process of rolling out the new brand across all 20 stores in the north of England.

People didn’t really understand what a butcher does or how to shop in a traditional butcher so what we’ve done with the rebrand is to modernise the feel and look and add a self-help counter. However, we have been in business since 1953 and do have a loyal customer base, so we have balanced the modernity with our heritage by adding ‘pride’ to our strapline.

And the results have been encouraging. We are holding our own overall in this receccsion but business has increased in those stores where we have had a refit.

www.midickson.com

 

Tasty solution

dicksons

Dicksons is a family butchers based in South Tyneside that was founded by the current MD’s father in 1953. The founder died suddenly, leaving his widow to run the business with the help of her two teenage children. Since then the business has grown steadily and now has 20 shops across the north east, employing over 200 people.

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