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Leicestershire business brought back from the brink

Client: Mulberry Square Marketing Services

Business Turnaround Project

“Tony engaged with us at an extremely challenging time for the business. Despite the challenge that lay ahead of him he committed wholeheartedly to the Mulberry Square cause, building trust and creating a rapport with all of our team. He helped us to develop key measures and to set performance targets, to focus on eliminating waste and to identify and actions for specific improvement objectives; he ensured that we maintained focus on what the business needed. His extensive experience on leading business turnarounds has helped us to make a real difference to our business fortunes.” Craig Johnstone, Mulberry Square Marketing Services

Established in 2003, Mulberry Square is one of the UK’s leading marketing services providers. At the start of 2013, as a consequence of recessionary pressures two of Mulberry Square’s major clients put a stop on all work at short notice and two others delayed the commencement of large web development projects. Mulberry Square’s sales were immediately impacted and turnover dropped by over 50%; with a team of highly qualified staff, this led to major cash flow difficulties so that a significant downsizing of the workforce was necessary.

D’Accord Management Services was engaged to identify if and how the business could be stabilised and then turned around. The short-term objective was to establish a stable cash position and maintain operations; the longer-term objective is to grow the business and to reduce its sensitivity to changes in the market.

As in any business improvement challenge, the first task was to work with the senior decision maker in this case it was Craig Johnstone, the Managing Director, in order to clearly identify the key success factors for the business. The process included analysis of product line margins, client profitability values and service level expectations.

Four top-level Key Performance Indicators (kpi’s) were agreed, of which month-end cash reserves is paramount; Qualitin’s ICG methodology was instrumental in defining, detailing and using these kpi’s.

A strategic objective is to enable the MD to spend more time doing business development; a key business imperative is to significantly increase the productivity of the remaining team members. A set of training needs has therefore been identified and processes have been mapped to highlight wasteful activities and opportunities for errors; actions to change processes are ongoing.

A strategic review of recruitment needs has been completed and is being actioned.

A monthly financial plan has been developed, it highlights objectives and actions required to reach financial goals by the year-end.

Monthly kpi reviews are being chaired by D’Accord Management Services. At these reviews any required actions are agreed, assigned and scheduled; feedback on the status and effectiveness of previous actions is also reviewed and acted upon where necessary.

Results so far
There remains much to do to build momentum for change and to engrain the right habits across the business. Improvements after the first four months however are impressive, sales are significantly ahead of plan but, importantly, cash reserves are more than 5 times higher than forecast and profit is over 3 times higher than forecast, and there has been no increase in staffing levels.

Ongoing Campaign
Initial results using the Qualitin ICG approach backed by D’Accord’s extensive business improvement experience are extremely encouraging; further plans to automate project and workflow management and invoicing processes will further reduce non-value-added waste, whilst targeted training will reduce the amount of management input required to achieve on-time, at-cost, at-quality sales.

Recruitment plans have been identified to support operational improvement and customer focus by relieving technically trained staff of administrative tasks so that they spend more time on revenue earning activities.

The ongoing management of kpi’s using the Qualitin approach will continue to empower all employees and to ensure that they achieve their assigned goals in order to maintain the rate of improvement. From being on the brink of closure in June 2013, Mulberry Square is heading for a record profitability and cash flow performance; not bad for 4 months work!

Products and services we provide to Mulberry Square Marketing Services

Further involvement from The GB Group
Other members of The GB Group are also supporting Mulberry Square’s business turnaround programme include:

Karen Chambers of KC Coaching helped the team to identify 3-year aspirational goals and is providing personal coaching to ensure that all employees’ motivational drivers are understood and considered; this work is being match-funded through the Growth Accelerator programme.

Steve Foster of Abraham Foster Chartered Accountants provides accounting services and is a key contributor to ensuring that all accounting and tax matters are effectively managed.

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