March Glasgow Supper Club with Gio Benedetti
Glasgow Supper Club
17 March 2020
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
**MEMBERS ONLY EVENT **
Gio Benedetti is one of Scotland’s most successful serial entrepreneurs and we’re delighted that he is joining us to share his phenomenal entrepreneurial journey.
Gio came to Scotland at the age of 9 and worked in his uncle’s café during his school years until the age of 17 when he left and purchased a small dry-cleaning shop in Kilwinning for £25k and grew this to 14 shops across Ayrshire and Paisley and sold the business for £1m after 6 years.
Gio then invested in a dry-cleaning factory in Kilwinning dry-cleaning and renting garments. He then built a new 100,000 sq ft factory in the industrial estate in Kilwinning with a loan of £1.2m. This was the first new dry-cleaning factory built in 15 years in Scotland in 1981. He invested in new technology with an automated garment handling system and system 38 IBM computers to manage the garment rental winning business from Tesco, Ford, Jaguar, Rover and Nissan etc. This was won via his system management which was way ahead of major competitors such as Initial and Sketchley dry-cleaners etc. When touring the car plant at Linwood, Scotland he noticed a large number of industrial gloves that were being thrown away after just one use so he invented a way to clean repair and sterilise them for the car and component industry both in the UK and Europe, cleaning over 1m gloves per week. He won the “Industrial Achievement” award from Lloyds Bowmaker for the glove innovations which included polishing car bonnets, sealer deck rayon wipers etc. which came with £200,000 prize money. Gio was approached by 3 major competitors to purchase the business due to his innovations and business I had taken from them. It was sold to Initial after 6 years for £15m and he work as a board member for a further 15 months.
Gio was then approached by Charterhouse to see if he would like to join a management buyout in 1986 of a car transporter company based in Dagenham. Its main role was to transport new cars in the UK and Europe so it was purchased for £4m. With several innovative ideas such as building a small factory next to the main Ford manufacturing plant where all the unfinished cars were delivered to due to lack of components. This saved Ford and other car companies considerable amounts of money due to the lower overhead costs and became our largest profit earner. The company was sold to Tibbett and Britten for £75m.
Gio then purchased a small tissue company in Birmingham for £1m that was about to go into liquidation. He developed a new range of washroom dispensers which was fundamental in turning around the business from £3m to £15m. He was then approached by SCA Europe’s largest tissue convertors to sell the business for £15m and he continued to work as a director for a further 2 years.
Gio then purchased a first aid company in 1997 as he was approached by Scottish Enterprise as it was about to go into liquidation. He again developed the Wallace Cameron Adulto and Bambino first aid kits which were awarded Millennium Product status in 2000 and featured as one of only 1000 UK products in the Millennium Dome, London. The innovative design of the kits led the way in the first aid market place not only in the UK but worldwide with distributors in over 30 countries. He grew the business from £6m to £12m and was approached to sell it for £14m but unfortunately chose not to due to having a final salary pension scheme when he purchased it this became a major issue for growth and sale and eventually closed the business and sold the assets for £2m. However, Gio retained the first aid training division which was part of the business and rebranded as Green Cross Training with a turnover of £700k. This is now the largest independent first aid training company in the UK and sole supplier to Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, BT, Coca-Cola and local authorities etc. training in over 1500 in-house and external locations throughout the UK. Today’s turnover and profit are reflected in the development a new IT system booking system and “GEMS” portal. This is a dedicated web portal which now runs the customer accounts to the benefit of the company and our customers who can access it managing and monitoring their first aid business needs reducing time and labour. Any organic growth or by acquisition will be managed by this IT system further avoiding labour expenses.
Gio then purchased a small cling film and foil converting company Wrap Film Systems with a £2m turnover in Telford and once again through innovation developed a range of cling film/foil dispensers which was instrumental in the company’s growth. Today 80% of restaurants and hotels now use the catering range of Wrapmaster clingfilm/foil dispensers which have a captured refill i.e. only Wrapmaster refills fit the dispensers and these are sold through the leading wholesale foodservice suppliers. He then developed a new range of dispensers for the domestic market called Easycut utilising extrusion to manufacture at a very competitive price to compete with the cardboard cutter box in supermarkets. Gio then moved the company to a new 120,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in Hortonwood Telford to house the new production facilities for the Easycut dispenser. Having taken most of the business from Baco in the catering and domestic market Gio bought the Baco brand for £4m then we were a £65m turnover company and the largest cling film/foil convertor in Europe. The business was finally sold to a German company for £35m who are moving their production from Germany to the new Telford plant.
Recently Gio set up a new medical innovation company Green Cross Medico which is currently designing developing new patented products for the medical sector. With his innovative past he was approached by NHS Innovations South East to come up with a new system to help with difficult vascular access (DVA) in oncology. At present their only option was to use warm water immersion inserting patients arms in buckets of warm water to try and vasodilate their veins. This has many issues around unsterile water, potential slippages, burns and gram-negative infections not to mention an uncomfortable practice for the patient.
Working in conjunction with NHS Innovations SE, Airglove received approval for the invention called Airglove and from this Gio formed the new company. Airglove has since won several awards including the “Seal of Excellence” award which is the “EU quality label for first-class innovation ideas worthy of investment.” Since the success of Airglove the company has been offered more products and problems to resolve for the NHS such as the cannulation plaster and an Epidural fixation device with others in the pipeline. Recently Gio redeveloped Airglove with a new contemporary design to meet the worldwide voltage 110 – 240 volts. This will developed initially be for the US market which has a massive potential and will eventually be sold to hospitals in the UK through NHS Supply Chain (England/Wales), NHS Scotland, Europe, US, Asia Pacific and Middle East through our distributors network.
Presently Gio has Green Cross Training and Green Cross Medico with the intention with his team to grow both businesses with investment to eventual sale as he has done with his previous companies.