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Cover feature: Business lesson gives Bryan Brothers focus

In its 2004-2005 financial year Bryan Brothers lost £284,000. The following year the Bristol-based group lost almost £200,000. It wasn’t an auspicious start to new managing director Richard Bryan’s reign.

The fourth generation Bryan to head a business started in 1913 by his great grandfather James Bryan, he faced a number of issues, not least sizeable turnover of around £80m that was delivering tiny margins thanks to the cash-absorbing Iveco truck operation.

Bryan sold that in 2002 together with a Fiat/Alfa Romeo dealership, releasing cashflow into the business. But that was just the start of the action required to put the group back in the black.

Buoyed by completing a two-year business programme at Cranfield University in 2005, Bryan put together a three-year strategy plan for 2006-2008. He also bought back control of the group from two trusts and now holds 85% of the shares.

The impact has been impressive. In the 2006-2007 financial year, Bryan Brothers is on target to make a profit of £200,000 on turnover of £27m, a 0.74% return.

“My thoughts were that this is not all about turnover, it’s about profit,” Bryan says. “The business plan gives the focus the business needs and stops us from wasting time and resource. It gives the management vision and focus.”

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