Member spotlight: Konditor & Cook

At the 2016 EOA Conference Konditor & Cook were announced as the winners of the 2016 Investment Award , sponsored by John Lewis Partnership.

The businesses’ compelling story with fans of their cakes including Nigella Lawson and their mission to “bring joy” to all through its luxury cakes, bespoke bakes, its cake school experiences or its day to day customers looking for a hot lunch alongside its need for a succession plan that was a fit it’s values, rewarded the hard work of their staff and ensured the future of the brand built up over many years shone through.

Six months on the company is engaging its employees in a culture change that will prepare it for the outcomes of its other two strands of activity – exploring governance and democracy structures working with John Lewis Partnership and exploring employee ownership models that will best work for them with EOA specialist advisor RM2.

But it was not just the £10,000 award money they took away with them from the conference but also the learning from our key note speaker Jack Stack and associated workshop.

The business has adopted the Great Game of Business method and is engaging the whole workforce through workshops and using the principle of games to bring the teams together to work towards shared goals.

Paul Cons CEO of Konditor & Cook said: “The one thing that became apparent quite quickly was that you need to build the right culture before changing your structure and business model.

“You can’t just bring people in on your plans for employee ownership and leave them scratching their heads as to what that means.

“Through the Great Game of Business method we have widened participation being transparent about our finances and our long term aims through our 3-year business strategy, and we are training our staff to understand the finances relating to this and engaging with them to build the culture we need to make the most of our ultimate goal of becoming employee owned.

“We’ve used the principles of games to push growth in our stores for our Celebration range keeping score boards in our outlets which has seen 15% sales increase in this range.”

Konditor & Cook has also widened its participation in team meetings and seen the conversations they used to have shift to meet the needs of the new business culture.

Paul added: “Now in our weekly team meeting alongside the senior team you have representatives from stores which means you can be drawing in the view of a delivery driver alongside that of a financial director. For me, this has created much stronger relationships across the company.”

Paul is continuing to explore the structures of democracy within John Lewis Partnership to see which would make sense within Konditor and Cook and will look to bring this in when they feel they are closer to getting their culture right. Paul feels they are at a mid point of creating the right culture.

The third strand of work is working out what the options are for employees to become owners and the business is working with RM2 to explore the costs and financial arrangements for the various models of employee ownership.

The business will continue to build its culture over the next year before committing to the structures that will complete its transition.