The Business On... John Sach, Chief executive, Walker Greenbank
Wednesday 13 April 2011
That sounds like a stockbroker
How wrong you are: Walker Greenbank is the company behind most of the UK's poshest wallpaper brands — Harlequin, Sanderson and Zoffany to name but three.
And will Mr Sach come round with his pasting board?
It seems unlikely – not least because he's rather busy just now taking the company into new markets, with China a particular focus.
But he is a home-furnishings guru though?
We can't comment on his ability to match colours at home – and the company does have designers as well as managers – but his background is in finance. He was the company's finance director before he got the top job seven years ago.
All this austerity can't be making for an easy life
Actually, Mr Sachs has just presided over a pretty decent year for the company. Profits were up by 144 per cent last year, partly thanks to those new international sales but also with the help of a surprisingly resilient performance at home. People are spending more time at home because of the downturn and Walker Greenbank reckons this is prompting them to think more about decor and furnishings.
No doubt all the history helps?
Actually, while the company dates from 1899, it didn't get into the wallpaper business until 1987. It began life as C&W Walker Holdings, anengineering company that made gas containers.
It's still a manufacturer though?
Indeed and Mr Sach is proud of the company's facilities. It prints from two factories, in Loughborough and Lancaster, and Mr Sach insists this sort of wallpaper production is a skilled job that couldn't be sent overseas to save money.
What do investors think?
They'll stick with him as long as the high-quality focus works. Distribution – direct and through stores such as John Lewis – is no problem, so this is all about meeting demand. Gartmore, with 20 per cent of the stock, has been a long-time supporter.
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