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Gary Favell speaks out about his days as MFI CEO

Former MFI chief executive Gary Favell has revealed more details to kbbreview of the company’s 2008 collapse and urged KBB companies to learn from its mistakes.

Speaking at this year’s kbbreview Kitchen Conference at the Warwick Arts Centre near Coventry, Favell admitted the company had been “too slow” to spend some of the £100 million cash fund at its disposal and had instead “let emotion rule the business”.

Now CEO of retail giant Bathstore, Favell told delegates: “We should have spent some of the money. We should have made tough decisions more quickly than we did. We were slow to close loss-makers and slow to invest in the web.

“People ask me how MFI failed when they gave me £100m to spend. But in the background there was somebody called Howdens, and MFI was a thorn in their side. Howdens has got a fantastic low-cost model.”

Favell also blamed the banks and “a lack of support from various cash providers” for MFI’s demise and told businesses with similar issues to “take the pain and forget about emotion” and to “invest and communicate clearly and let the numbers make the decisions”.

Favell, who has also had a 16-year spell at Magnet, was recruited to run Bathstore by parent company Endless LLP back in June 2012. In the first year under his leadership, the company had a 56% turnover of staff but sales were up 10%. He also revealed a 45% rise in online sales during the period.

“The most important advice [for retailers] is to embrace change and don’t keep waiting,” he continued. “You need more inspiration. It’s not about holograms, it’s about products and keeping the communication going online. We jumped in the deep end and it’s worked. Business is up a bit, but the heydays are a long way off.

“We’ve learnt our lessons. You need to be strong in-store, online and on mobile devices. We decided to be number one. We are the bathroom experts. It sounds jargony, but if you don’t get a hook in the organisation, people don’t know what they’re there for. You need to act as an expert. Ask whether your people fit the brand. Do you inspire? Does it work on mobile? Are your products easy to shop for? The world’s changing. You’ve got to get on the bus or it’ll go without you.”

Source :

16 September 2013
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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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