We’ve always been really proud to partner with some of the most prominent change agents in the market knowledge. A few years ago we interviewed someone who was leading the way from a people change perspective to talk about the latest trends, innovations and transformations. It’s still very current so we wanted to re-share.
The interview focused on the resurgence of M&A activity and what you can do to get it right. Liz Phillips from the FTSE250, restaurant and pubs business, Mitchells & Butlers shared her insights, knowledge and experiences with us. We talked to her about the process of buying and integrating the Orchid Pub Group and what made the project a success!
Talking Acquisition Integration with Liz Phillips, Director of Resourcing & Employee Relations, from M&B.
“Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) acquired the majority of The Orchid Group – comprising of 173 pubs and a fully operational Head Office – in June 2014, for £266m. The deal expanded the M&B share of the growing pub and restaurant market in line with its strategy. The aim was to convert the majority of sites, such as Harvester, Toby Carvery, Ember, Miller & Carter and Castle and Vintage Inns, to M&B brands and formats over a two year period. The average weekly take of M&B brands was £22.7k, compared to £15.3k in The Orchid Group. The expected savings and synergies from rationalisation and support functions were c.£6m per annum – definitely worth it!
A Board of Directors were appointed to lead the Company; Operations, Finance, HR and Programme Planning. This was a senior leadership team with clear accountability for all aspects of operating the business successfully and the integration. The team had not previously worked together but quickly established a strong rapport recognising each other’s roles, responsibilities and areas of strength.
“The priority was to ensure effective and ongoing communication with all 4,000 employees throughout the business from day one.” Liz explained.
The aim was to explain the wider business context and plans and provide regular updates throughout the period of integration. It was important to understand the cultural differences and psychological impact of change on all people within the business, particularly in closing the Head Office, to keep the business running effectively in the medium term.
“The people were amazing, supportive and open with us. Whilst we did everything we could to involve, reward and communicate, we really couldn’t have done it successfully without them. There have been ongoing 121s, briefings, newsletters, weekly updates, roadshows, training courses, match making for roles and conferences. We recognised aspects of the way they did business which we admired, particularly certain aspects of operational practices which knew we could learn from and have introduced into M&B.”
In terms of leading HR, the emphasis was to continue to recruit, develop and retain people to run the businesses in a rapidly changing environment. We closed the office early in 2015 affecting c.100 people. There were a number of redundancies, however, the focus has been on deployment and employability to enhance people’s skills and experiences for their future employment.
“The plan has now been delivered and performance is looking good from an employee engagement, scorecard and ROI perspective!”
A huge thank you to Liz for sharing her experiences of leading an acquisition programme and the challenges they encountered. We hope you found it useful.
To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.