Knowing when to Exit

Knowing when to sell your company is a crucial business decision. It is one of the most important business decisions an owner will ever make.

I founded “Just Sheepskin” and over a 10 year period I led the growth of Just Sheepskin into a leading sheepskin footwear brand. We supplied the brand to blue chip retailers including John Lewis, House of Fraser, Next, Selfridges and Debenhams amongst others.

Just Sheepskin grew into a successful and cash generating company. As a result of this, we were approached by many companies for acquisition purposes.

We were aware that, UGG, a global sheepskin footwear brand with turnover exceeding USD 1 Billion, was aggressively establishing itself in the UK market.

While it is critical to have your finger on the pulse in your own company, it is also vital to understand the marketplace in which you are competing.

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, says “I frequently visited the stores of competitors because it is important to understand your competition and know what they are doing”.

We received an offer from a large US fashion accessory company, to buy Just Sheepskin. With the aggressive expansion by UGG in the marketplace, we decided it was the right commercial decision to sell Just Sheepskin to Totes Isotoner Corporation.

There can be many reasons for wanting to sell your company.

What is critical is to get the timing right. To achieve this, you need to not only have a clear understanding of your own company, but also the marketplace in which you are competing.

Part of this is being objective about when to sell, and not to be too emotional about this. This is not easy to achieve because of all the hard work, dedication and perseverance required to build a company.

However, as Lloyd Dorfman, the founder of Travelex, says: “My father always taught me to never become married to your business”.

He is so right.

About the author

This was written by Richard Wertheim, a Chartered Accountant, who has wide business experience, most recently in the construction industry. He has first hand experience in building a successful company.

Richard founded “Just Sheepskin” in London and successfully led and built this company from scratch, establishing the brand and supplying blue chip retailers including John Lewis, House of Fraser, Next and Selfridges. After growing the company over a 10 year period, Richard sold Just Sheepskin to a large US fashion accessory company.

Richard is a member of FD4, which is a network of experienced commercial Finance Directors that are passionate about adding value to Companies. They are engaged Part Time (on an hourly or daily basis) to do the work of a full time Finance Director, but at a fraction of the cost. They specialise in Exit Planning; Cash Generation and Performance Improvement, see more at www.fd4.co.uk