If your business is in trouble and your trying to market it to potential investors or buyers – take time, try to think of the needs of your workforce…in the majority of cases…they are your brand.
Over the last few weeks we have been monitoring the situation with a high-profile business brand in Northern Ireland – The Wrightbus Brand
You may have read about Wrightbus in the North of Ireland going into administration, but what you might not know is that the staff where told (as per public interviews) that they could not get pay rises as the company was investing profits back into the company – which is fair enough, companies need to evolve to remain secure and that requires inward investment.
But what is emerging is that over time, a large percentage of the profit, which could have been used to support the company during tighter times was being moved to other third parties? Including a church group the company owner is involved in. Who was managing the company cash flow and ultimately protecting it?
Would you invest £15 million of your company money into personal ventures?
The owners of Wrightbus have publicly denied they acted unreasonable in trying to market the manufacturing side of the business investment or a sale – why? The Wrightbus site and factory are owned separately from the manufacturing company by another company called ‘Whirlwind Property Two’.
So the Wrightbus company is in administration and 1,200 jobs are at risk, the ‘Whirlwind Property Two’ owns the factory and has apparently been looking for £1million a year after any sale to use the factory site (not bad if you own the site, which has been bought and paid)… and all the while the Wrightbus company has made £15million in donations to the Green Pastures Charity over the last six years…as you can imagine, its not going down well with the workforce who built the buses and ultimately the people who built the brand.
Already public and brand perception is changing towards the business owners and the business decisions they have taken. There is no problem in any business owner following their personal passions, but should they be removing such large sums of money that could be used to protect the business and the workforce in quieter times? The Brand perception of the Wrightbus company is being damaged every day, the legacy of the brand is being targeted in the media and obviously social media. If I was a potential buyer I would be offering a lot less money for the company as it stands now, as it will need a lot of brand development, internally and externally – People need to Trust a Brand to work for it and do business with it.
Tomorrow morning at 10am the #StandwithWrightBusWorkers protest will be held at the Green Pastures Church (Who strangely enough also own an engineering company) and all the parties involved will take another battering in the media.
Between April 2011 and September 2014 – Wrightbus had 10 approved applications for funding from Invest NI for R&D and skills development and received £5.7m
Ironically the Prime Minister of the UK has suggested he may ride in on a big red bus to save the day….offering Government support…has the company not being getting government support from Invest NI (A Business support quango in the North of Ireland) for years?
For the sake of the workers we hope a solution can be found and this workforce gets the support they deserve for helping to build the Wrightbus Brand.