14th Feb 2019 • CLAIRE HARPER
I was delighted to be invited to deliver a marketing keynote speech this week for Square Mile Research. Square Mile is an independent investment research business that works in partnership with regulated professional financial services firms. They help advisors to develop informed investment recommendations so that, with their support, their clients can make decisions that are right for them. Focusing first and foremost on in-depth, qualitative fund research, they provide tailored support and investment services for financial advisors and institutions.
The afternoon kicked off with a panel of financial advisors discussing asset management marketing followed by a number of industry experts discussing branding through a merger at Aberdeen Standard Investments, digital innovation at Aviva Investors and lessons learnt along the way during a major change project at Schroders. The benefits of influencer relationship marketing was then presented followed by my keynote on building a brand in an alternative way.
I shared my experience working with some of the UK's leading retail brands, including Argos, Ocado, Sainsbury's and Mamas & Papas. I spoke with passion about my own journey from corporate marketer to fledging entrepreneur and shared my valuable learning's gleaned from implementing innovation and cultural change in progressive brands.
It was a very successful event with positive engagement and feedback.
"Thank you for all your efforts in the lead up to yesterday's event. The entire conference went really well, and Claire was absolutely brilliant. She really engaged with the audience, scored a home run on the content and was a great addition to the agenda. I do hope our paths cross again soon". Sophie Salome, Speaker Engagement, Speakers in Partnership.
In January 2019 I was appointed as a Non-Executive Director for Blue Diamond Garden Centre Group. Blue Diamond is a very exciting and successful retail business recently acquiring 9 sites from Wyevale. Blue Diamond will soon become the second largest garden centre group in the UK and Channel Islands and is continuing to grow. I flew to Guernsey recently and attended my first Board Meeting. As recently reported in GardenForum.co.uk Blue Diamond has bought in total 11 garden centres in 12 months, bringing the the number of garden centres in the group to 30. The initial focus was on East Bridgford which opened in March. The new build achieved £10m sales in 10 months making it number 1 in the group and giving it an annualised turnover of £11.5m. This had been its year 3 target. In May, Blue Diamond bought Orchard Park in Dorset before buying 9 Wyevale garden centres in the Summer. 2019 will be all about the integration of the 9 Wyevale garden centres. Customers are flocking back to the Wyevale centres and the Wyevale colleagues have really taken ownership of their garden centres, they have been given the tools to succeed and they are stepping up to the plate and embracing the positive changes taking place. Significant investment will take place over the next 3 years and Bicester, Nailsworth and Cadbury will be the first to get the Blue Diamond treatment. Priority is currently being given to Bicester. The footprint is being extended with a new customer flow. There will be 3 restaurants themed as a Book Cafe, Eat and Play for Children and the main Cafe theatre restaurant, similar to those at Redfields and East Bridgford. Other exciting features will include a new canopied area that will fill the gap between the garden centre and the concessions building and a new gin distillery making Blue diamond gin. It is a very positive time to be working with the Board and supporting a clear vision and strategy to create a very exciting brand and customer experience.
© 2022 Claire Harper