May Glasgow Supper Club with Alan Revie
Glasgow Supper Club Round Table
9 May 2023
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Our Supper Clubs are one of our most popular events and last year, every one sold out more than a week in advance of the event. Due to demand, we added an additional 3 Supper Clubs which also sold out. Places are strictly limited to 14 people with tickets available for members on a first come first served basis. By keeping these events intimate, we ensure there are plenty of opportunity to ask questions as well as an open forum where all attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the emerging themes from the speaker as well as their own experiences. Shared experiences are at the heart of WeDO, ‘individually we can be successful, together we can be extraordinary’ and Supper Clubs give us the opportunity to do just that!
This month we’re delighted to be welcoming Alan Revie of Axle Group Holdings Ltd (incorporating National Tyres and Autocare, Viking Wholesale Tyres and Tyre Shopper) which was sold to Halfords in 2021 for £62 million. Alan has the most amazing journey to share with us and is a fantastic example of a hugely successful, yet low-key entrepreneur.
Alan began his career at National Tyres aged 17 as a wheel fitter, becoming a branch manager at the tender age of just 19, the youngest in the company’s history. A year later he moved from Dunlop-owned NTS to work for Bill Fleming’s Smiley group, working his way up to regional manager, running 40 branches and opening new ones in England, before joining rival Birkenshaw International as Managing Director.
“We took that business from £2m turnover to £16m, and it was bought by Continental, so was owned by a world-wide tyre manufacturer, which was fantastic from a career point of view.”
The German tyre-maker quickly saw the value of their manager, giving him responsibility for opening new retail businesses in Europe. In 1996, at the age of 37, he and four partners founded the internet-based tyre-selling service Delti-Com in Hanover which they eventually floated on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 2006.
Continental bought National Tyres in 1991 and subsequently offered Revie the role of Chief Executive to turn round the loss-maker. He did so in 2001 but only briefly, buying it with three partners for £24m after just a few months.
Then over the horizon came NTS, which had passed from Dunlop to Michelin Continental in 1991.
“It was losing serious money, and they had already struck a deal with a London company who were going to buy it and asset-strip it. I phoned the Board and said are you sure? The company will be closed and 1300 people will be out of work. Why don’t you put me in as Chief Executive and let me have a look at it?”
Alan and three former colleagues offered £24M to rival the existing bid, but stipulated that for the business to survive, £15M of liquidity would be needed, non-returnable. They finally proposed paying the balance of £9M over four years, with just £2M upfront. The headline losses were £44m a year but the real trading loss was around £20m. There were £140m of tax losses on the books and there were property assets worth nearly £80m.
“Some of the costs in the business were horrendous, staff turnover had hit 50% a year, twice the industry average.”
One of Alan’s first tasks was to close the inefficient NTS financial centre in Ireland employing nearly 100, and transfer the work to Glasgow to be handled by 12 to 14 people.
In 2021, Halfords purchased the entire share capital of Axle Group Holdings Ltd for £62M, National Tyres had a 1,400 strong workforce, 239 garages and 60 fitting vans at the time.
ABOUT OUR SUPPER CLUBS
Our Member Supper Clubs are participative, relaxing evenings enjoying good conversations, enabling members to get to know one another, hear from inspirational speaker or benefit from round table discussions.
The venue of the Kelvin Dining Room at The Western Club on Royal Exchange Square which is very handy for both Queen Street and Central stations so it’s very accessible for anyone travelling from outwith Glasgow.