Premier boss in retirement U-turn

Iain Forsythe, founder of Peterborough-based KBB retail network Premier, has put his retirement plans on hold and is to continue running the business full-time alongside son Shane.

Speaking to kbbreview back in September 2016, Forsythe, 54, revealed he would step down from the business in April 2017. However, he has since reconsidered and decided to stay on to help drive further growth.

“At first, I thought I’ve got my life back and that’s really good for me,” he said. “But then I thought about what we’ve got and where we’re going and where we could go. Shane said he couldn’t imagine running the business without me and he’d rather have me in for the ride than out.

“So my retirement is on hold. The opportunity it afforded was for someone to take over. But Shane has been happy to shake hands and say we’re trading partners and we’ll continue to expand the business.

“If I retired, I’d only end up doing something to excess that I shouldn’t be – too much sun, restaurants and champagne – so I thought, no, I’ll stay and we’ll do it together and we’ll grow it.”

Premier operates through stores in Bedford, Cambridge, Lincoln, Northampton, Peterborough and Wellingborough, with net turnover of around £10 million.

Forsythe says the decision to remain on board was made shortly after his “supposed retirement”.

“It got to the stage where I wasn’t as effective in the business as I was,” he explained. “But now I’ve got my feet back under the table, I’ve got my PA started again, I’ve got two director designates in waiting to strengthen the board and it’s all business as usual.”

However, he also intimated that he may be willing to sell the business when the time was right. “One day, someone will perhaps come along and say Premier is a brand they like and they’d like to grow it internationally, nationally… whatever they want to do,” he revealed.

But for now, new plans include the relaunch of online trading business Premier Appliance World.

“We’ve almost made it dormant, but we’re now ready to relaunch it,” he said. “We’ve just tried a new distribution method, our factory manager is coming on and our contracts manager is working well. There are more people joining the party who can afford to carry more of the weight.”

In his interview with kbbreview in September 2016, Forsythe described Brexit as “just a bump in the road” that “hadn’t affected the business in the short term”. But he admitted his view had now changed.

“If people were truthful, they’d say the market is challenging,” he said. “There are still are lot of, dare I say, bull******s saying they’re really flying, but it’s challenging, because you’ve got a situation where nobody really understands what’s going on. You’ve got a husband and wife in a buying transaction and one of them has got the perfect excuse to say ‘let’s see what happens with Brexit’, so they park the project.”

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