Gio Benedetti urges Scottish entrepreneurs to focus on innovation and be brave

Published by Admin on

From L to R: Gordon White of fatBuzz, WeDO Chairman, Belinda Roberts, WeDO CEO and Gio Benedetti of Greencross Medical & Greencross Training

We were delighted to welcome Gio Benedetti as the speaker at our first Supper Club in Glasgow for 2 years.  Gio had been due to speak at a Supper Club a week after lockdown was announced so it’s been a long wait!

13 of our members joined us for a delicious dinner at Chaophraya and it was fantastic to see such a buzz in the room, demonstrating just how much everyone has missed in person events and networking.  Gio was on top form and shared his hugely inspiring story with us, interspersed with his trademark sense of humour.  One of the many things we love about Gio is that he doesn’t hold back and says it as it is.  The over-reaching message to us all was to “innovate, differentiate on price, and don’t be afraid of the big boys.”

Here’s feedback from some of the attendees:

“Another superb event on Tuesday evening.  As usual, the conversation before, during and after the meal was fantastic.  It’s great to finally get out and meet members and their guests face-to-face and to do some real networking.  Gio was excellent, a true entrepreneur.  It was great to hear his story, pick up a few tips and listen to his sound advice.  He is certainly an inspiration for anyone in business, young or old (like me!).

Well done on putting the evening together, it was a few hours well spent in excellent company.”


“Thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring event!  Gio was a great speaker and the company around the table was just the best.  It was good to catch up with friends, and make new ones. I’m going to try to attend future Supper Clubs -well worth it.” 


“Thank you Gio for the wonderful insight into your personal and business life.”


“Really enjoyed listening to Gio’s life and career story quite an entrepreneur.”


“It was fascinating to hear from one of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs – an incredible mix of innovation and guile.”

Gio is one of Scotland’s most successful and highly respected serial entrepreneurs and during his phenomenally successful career, has sold businesses to the tune of £160M.   His long and successful journey has been anchored on his unerring ability to conjure systems and gadgets that overcome difficulties in industrial processes.

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, he sold the business for £1m after 6 years.

In the early 1980s, Gio founded an industrial dry-cleaning business in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, which in the early-1980s was the biggest of its kind in Europe. He eventually sold it to Initial for £30 million.

“As a laundry, it was so innovative.  There was nowhere else like it. I did all the garments for Ford, Jaguar and Vauxhall, all the workers’ gloves – half a million gloves per week.

No one had as many machines as me; they were huge, expensive, industrial dry-cleaning machines. I took 50 gallons of oil out of these machines every day because it came from the gloves. Then I cleaned them and put it back in the boilers to make the steam. I was recycling the oil.”

Gio moved on quickly from the dry cleaning business, using the proceeds to buy a paper maker in Birmingham and a cling-film maker in Shropshire.

He sold Wrap Film Systems to its management team, including himself, for £21m in 2007, with the deal allowing him to retain a 20% stake in the business. He continued to work for Wrap, striking deals with major supermarket clients and, most notably, designing a cling film dispenser which continues to be widely used across the restaurant and catering trades today. Wrap, which owned the Bacofoil brand, was acquired by German firm Melitta in 2015.

“I spent nearly £1m to develop the machine but again, it took balls.  Everyone thinks I had a big strategy, but I hadn’t. All I knew was the box didn’t work, people cut themselves, and they wasted half of it. I hadn’t a Scooby what I was going to do but I was determined to come up with something, which I did.”

It’s that determination to solve puzzles which gets him out of bed in the morning.

“I just enjoy it.  My reward is creating things, selling them off at a profit and creating more innovations.”

Most recently, Gio has been quietly developing a range of medical innovations for the health service, under his Hamilton-based Green Cross Medico firm.

The first is a device to ease the trauma patients often endure when medical professionals struggle to access veins for intravenous treatments, which often happens after people have had chemotherapy. It also occurs when patients are dehydrated.

Remarkably, it’s still common for people to be asked to put their arms in buckets of warm water in a bid to swell their veins in hospital wards around the country.

He is changing that with the Airglove, which gently heats the patient’s arm by pumping warm air through a double-walled polythene glove. It has been approved by the NHS after successful trials in England.

He admits that personal experience informed the innovation, which he believes has the potential to save the NHS millions of pounds. Around £6m could be saved initially, he said. That is based on the estimated £50,000 each of the UK’s 200 oncology units can save by reducing the amount of cannulation packs which have to be discarded when veins are not accessed successfully.

“We’ve been to the moon twice and we’re still using buckets of water.  They’ve been looking for ages and have never come up with a solution.

It gave me the challenge, basically to think how else can you expand the veins?  When I was in hospital, I experienced it. There were six holes to get access to my veins, and still they couldn’t find it. After the sixth, it becomes traumatic.”

Airglove has since won several awards including the “Seal of Excellence” award, the “EU quality label for first-class innovation ideas worthy of investment.  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.

Green Cross Medico also has 2 additional products, Secure 2 part IV – a new style of cannula dressing that comes in 2 parts thus providing more stability by reducing movement in all directions with venous complications avoided and the possibility of infections.  And Tuck Bag which provides cover in the form of an eco-friendly bag, strong enough to last for a patients visit and can be disposed of easily. The re-sealable water resistant bag has a clear window to allow the contents to be easily seen with an effective closure to properly protect the food contents from dust and airborne infections.

Gio is also the founder of Green Cross Training which has been voted the UK’s leading Health and Safety training provider for 3 years in a row.

We’re very grateful to Gio for joining us and as always, thank you to everyone who attended and made the event such a success.  If you’re interested in finding out more about membership of WeDO, click HERE.

Our next Members only Supper Club is taking place on Tuesday 5th April in Edinburgh, click HERE to find out more.