GTN interviews Ian Gordon

Edgar Brothers’ new managing director, Ian Gordon, shares his plans for the future and outlines what the restructure of the business means

Founded in 1947, Edgar Brothers is one of the oldest and most well-established firearms and ammunition distributors in the UK. The Cheshire-based family business recently completed an internal restructure, promoting finance director Ian Gordon to become its new managing director while Derek Edgar and Lisa Riley have departed their former posts.

Derek was managing director for no less than 17 years, so it’s a big change – but Ian is aiming to drive the company forward under its revised structure. His initial focus is on expanding the e-commerce side of the business and consolidating the company’s existing brand portfolio.

After making the move from finance director to managing director, Ian explained the skills he was bringing to the role and outlined his plans for the future.

“Having spent more than three years as Edgar Brothers’ finance director and with over 30 years of experience in various finance and commercial roles outside the firearms trade, I bring a different skillset to the table,” he explained.

“I feel my strong financial acumen can successfully lead Edgar Brothers into the future. It’s a more commercially focused role, so there will be more interaction with the customers and brand suppliers than I had in my previous role, and I’ll have a lot more to do with our stakeholders.

“That means more interaction with shareholders and agreeing
targets with them.

“Ultimately, I’ll be responsible for delivering those targets. Generally, I need to ensure the whole company is pulling in the same direction to achieve the results and performance we are looking for.

“That starts with having the right resources and structure in place. I need to ensure we are operationally lean and efficient. I’m heavily involved in pulling our five-year strategy together, of which the financial side is still a key part.”

Stepping into an increasingly customer-oriented environment, retailers and industry contacts can expect to see much more of Ian at trade shows and other events.

“I’m probably most excited about the commercial side of the role,” says Ian.

“It’s something that is limited in the finance role. I’m looking forward to more interaction with our customers and our brands and making sure we are working well together. Although I have some experience of that interaction in my previous finance role, it is exciting to be doing it on a more regular basis.

“I’ll certainly be attending the main events. I was at SHOT Show and I’m planning to go to IWA and DSEI, but I’ll not personally be going to everything we exhibit at. We will, however, be represented by key members of staff at all these events.

“We have a lot of firearms experts in the business, but my skills lie elsewhere. I’ll always be available to and will have regular meetings with our suppliers and our customers.”

The leadership team at Edgar Brothers (L-R); Richard Farrimond, Mike Roberts, Thea Heapy, Ian Gordon, Mike Newman and Thomas Heapy

That said, it is still a surprise not to see an Edgar name at the helm of Edgar Brothers. Ian comments: “Derek Edgar is well known to the trade and was here for nearly 18 years as managing director.

He has decided to move on but will still retain an interest in the family business as a shareholder and leaves on a high. Under his stewardship, 2017 was the firm’s most successful year in history. He is still keen to understand and see what the future holds for the business.

“After 11 years at Edgar Brothers, Lisa Riley saw Derek’s departure as a good time, in terms of her career, to pursue a new challenge herself. She resigned from her position as shooting sports sales and marketing director.

“It presented us with difficulties, but opportunities as well. We’ve taken the opportunity to strengthen the team, especially within the shooting sports division and the sales side.

“It needs a little time to bed in, but we have the right structure and a strong leadership team in place now. I’m confident that will be reflected in the sales and results we will be achieving going forward.”

Mike Roberts has been appointed shooting sports divisional sales manager, assuming the sales responsibilities covered by Lisa previously. “He was recruited three years ago owing to his personal profile and reputation within the shooting industry and his wealth of product knowledge, so the role is made for him,” reports Ian.

“He will report to overall sales director Mike Newman. Jonathan Bradley has been promoted to financial controller and Richard Farrimond has a new role as the head of marketing and e-commerce. We’ve given marketing more focus to make sure the role covers the whole company, not just shooting sports. It gives us a uniform approach across the whole business.

“In this initial phase of bedding in, we’ll be concentrating on our existing portfolio and brands. Obviously, we would look at any new opportunities if they came up, but at the moment we’re taking the opportunity under the new structure to rationalise the portfolio before actively looking for anything new.

“Basically, if we don’t get enough margin on a product then we’re not going to do it,” adds Ian. Richard Farrrimond’s appointment marks an increased focus on e-commerce, one of the the key areas Ian and his team will be focusing on in the coming months.

“Certainly, e-commerce is one side of the business we will be much more focused on going forward,” says Ian, “We’re really going to start pushing it, retailing on the website and other platforms. That’s going to have a lot more focus and we will be looking at new opportunities and new brands right away.

“It’s currently on a smaller scale compared to our shooting sports and police and military divisions. That’s an up-and-coming one and we are excited about the prospects for growth in this area.”

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