A businessman, entrepreneur and MBA from The London Business School, Andrew worked for the London Stock Exchange and Danbury Mint before agreeing to join the family business in 1996. In 18 years as Managing Director of Cox Agri Ltd – a company specialising in a wide range of agricultural products including tags and shearing equipment – Andrew developed the company significantly. Under his management, the company restructured, relocated, and diversified its product range, securing a number of exclusive distribution agreements.
By the time Andrew sold the business in 2014, Cox Agri was a key player in its sector, holding significant UK market share in its areas of operation.
Approached by a buyer
It’s not unusual for a business owner to receive an offer from someone they are aware of, this was the case for Andrew.
“Like many sectors, the agricultural products industry is fairly close-knit. My buyer, Allflex, was a competitor, who had at one point been our key supplier. I knew them fairly well. My industry was cattle tags, and Allflex was the No 1 in a global industry, with a track record of buying companies being totally dominant in the markets they operate in.”
The game shifted significantly in the industry when the second-largest company worldwide bought Andrew’s key supplier.
“Within hours I got a text from Allflex saying “Fancy a coffee?” I assumed immediately that meant he was interested in buying us. So, I said yes, but I was mistaken – he actually wanted to supply us as he thought my supply chain might be under threat. Essentially his had been a sales call, not a buying one!”
After a long conversation Andrew convinced Allflex to consider buying his company which Allflex then went away to discuss with the board. Allflex got back to Andrew very, very quickly – which was clearly a green light.
No fear of selling
Andrew had previously sold a business, Cox Orthopaedic Limited in 2007, with BCMS. “The fact I had experience, and because I could see the market clearly, meant I didn’t have a fear of selling. I knew – as soon as I got the green light from my buyer and his board - that I would come to BCMS for advice.”
Don’t have all your eggs in one basket
“I didn’t want BCMS to contact other companies. I knew I wanted to sell to my buyer, but BCMS convinced me that it wasn’t a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket, and advised me otherwise.
It was clearly the right thing to do in retrospect. If you genuinely have no Plan B, then a buyer will sense that. You’ve got to get competition, because you just don’t know what else is out there. My buyer knew we were talking to other parties, which I am sure influenced their thinking.”
Selling a business is an intense experience
Andrew sold in just four months, he said that one of the reasons was due to the buyer knowing the industry and knew how to buy companies. “It’s not like this was a one-off deal for Allflex. For a business owner, selling might be a once-in-lifetime experience. But companies like Allflex buy other companies all the time. This meant they were utterly serious, professional and pragmatic about negotiations.”