EO Day Case study National Self Build & Renovation Centre

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC) will be celebrating EO Day with an Employee Company Update & Business Masterclass event with networking and a virtual ‘Afternoon at the Races’.

They expect over 40 business owners & leaders to attend the event which includes an employee ownership masterclass with specialist investor ‘Capital for Colleagues’, featuring representatives from other employee-owned businesses such as the John Lewis Partnership.

Other highlights include Sales and Marketing masterclasses and guest speaker Piers Taylor, a renowned, award winning, architect, broadcaster and academic, who will be talking on the theme of ‘Building communities’.

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre, based in Swindon, is a public visitor centre and the UK’s only permanent venue designed specifically to meet the needs of anyone looking to undertake a self build, renovation or home improvement project showcasing a full range of products and services.

This year the centre, which employs 11 people, celebrates 10 years in business, with a brand new employee-owned business, The Homebuilding Centre Ltd, taking it on in 2014.

The Homebuilding Centre Ltd was born out of a difficult period for the NSBRC, having been owned and operated by several businesses, for which the visitor centre was not their core business. The building had not been well maintained, the staff were disillusioned and generally un-engaged and ultimately, the business was not profitable.

On 5th June 2014 a new landlord evicted the previous business, NSB&RC Ltd, from the building.  This naturally caused a great deal of uncertainty, and cash flow issues and in September, NSB&RC Ltd was put into administration, with all staff made redundant.

Current MD Harvey Fremlin remembers turning up for work one day when he was general manager to a chain being across the door “I’d worked at the NSBRC since 2008 and had just been appointed general manager, a matter of weeks before we were evicted. One of my first jobs was to, regrettably, inform the team of 20+ staff, they were redundant.”

Capital for Colleagues, a specialist investment company which only invest in companies with high growth potential and that are employee owned, inspired by the potential of the business, asked if Harvey could form a ‘skeleton team’ who would be prepared to keep the NSBRC operational whilst they negotiated with the new landlord.

Harvey added: “I asked if anyone would be prepared, with no guarantee of success or even of being paid for their time, to help keep the centre open whilst we and our investor tried to negotiate a new lease agreement.

“Five colleagues put their hands up, which was unexpected, but they shared a genuine passion for the business and knew what it could become. It was an incredibly emotional moment and, on refection, the start of an exciting journey together. Today those five are all direct shareholders.”

As the new management team was relatively young and inexperienced, they chose to invest in some specific guidance around their business strategy using the sessions to develop and write a 3-year ‘Plan on a page’ that set out a challenging but achievable vision for the business They convinced the landlords of their robust new plans and worked out a deal, now enjoying a great relationship, three years into a 15 year lease.

The team have invested in their facilities and now offer modern meeting spaces, workshop and conference facilities and they are looking to expand with a new mezzanine floor to accommodate additional exhibitors in the near future. There are facilities for smaller businesses and the centre has a café, free parking and fast WiFi.

The original team has more than doubled in number and there is a recruitment drive for a few new posts. The Homebuilding Centre has a ‘Hybrid’ model with 37.5 per cent of the shares directly owned by the original core team and 37.5 per cent held in an employee-ownership trust.

In 2016 the business saw 16,349 individual self-builders visit the centre, it also welcomed 10,266 conference delegates and increased conferencing revenue by 75%.

As Front of House Manager, Louise Jarmey, says: “Coming to work each morning is exciting, and we all feel the same passion for seeing the company thrive and are proud to be a part of its success.  We are all working towards the same goal.”

Last month the team told their story to the judging panel at the Newsquest Wiltshire Business Awards and won Small Business of the Year 2017.

The team also works to raise money for a Swindon charity which supports the homeless – Threshold – and have set a target of £2,000 in 2017. Harvey ran the London marathon for the charity in April said “We felt this charity aligned with our ethics around people having a good home and it is an opportunity to support vulnerable people within our local community.”

Contact details

Website: www.nsbrc.co.uk

Contact: Harvey Fremlin, MD harvey.fremlin@nsbrc.co.uk

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre, Lydiard Fields, Great Western Way, Swindon, SN5 8UB

Tel: 0345 223 4455