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Go Brands: Plain sailing

How Dudley Kennett, Director of Go Brands, took his retail roots and mixed it with a passion for sailing to run a successful business…

Hi, my name is Dudley Kennett and my business is called Go Brands. We sell outdoor leisure and watersports goods trading as Outdoor Hub, and fancy dress items trading as Fancy Dress Hub.

I’ve had a long and varied career. My family business was in retailing, so I guess that influenced my career choice. When I left university, my first job was with Marks & Spencer where I ended up working with someone who left to work for Mothercare. I followed him soon afterwards and worked as an Area Manager with spells in the buying department and opening shops in Germany.

After my time there, I changed career and went on to teach maths for 10 years before moving on to the University of Exeter, where I lectured for a decade. I later ended up moving to Jersey for family reasons and worked as a Director of an IP Management company.

I then retired and moved to the West Country where I set up Go Brands with my business partner at the time. Since going our separate ways, I have concentrated on growing the business and making efficiency savings wherever possible.

I’ve always had a keen interest in sailing and I’m familiar with the marine industry, so I guess it made sense for me to sell products I already knew about. With fancy dress it seemed an obvious counter seasonal area for us to get into, and looking back we were influenced by the suppliers available to us at the time.

My advice for anyone starting in ecommerce is to do as much research as you can to make sure your ideas make business sense, but ultimately it is about being brave and getting on with it.

After five years in this business, it’s clear that having strong systems in place to build the business is a critical need for success. The Volo system has been central to this and it has matured into a valuable tool for us. We couldn’t run the business without it – we’d need to double our staff if we did not have it. Another decision we made was to import products directly from China. This has been essential for us to be competitive in some product areas.

Not everything has been smooth sailing though. There have been times when we’ve struggled to cope with peak trading periods, as we didn’t have the systems or staff in place. So being able to plan and prepare for the busy times has been easier thanks to Volo’s ability to link to Peoplevox, our warehouse management system.

Marks & Spencer taught me about the importance of getting the details right before you look at the bigger picture. Looking after your own people and your customers breeds loyalty. But first you need to find loyal and able staff – talent is critical to business development and growth.

Ecommerce is a fast-moving world and sellers have to be reactive. We tend to assume what happened in the past will happen again in the future. This is wrong. Don’t assume that your growth in ecommerce will continue. You need to adapt as events unfold.

Going forward, my goal is to improve our return on capital by growing turnover and keeping costs down. We will continue to specialise in specific markets in a variety of sectors. At the moment we’re selling in some European countries and have plans to move into other international markets.

Ultimately, it’s about reaping the rewards for the hard work you put in and the risks you take. As you might have guessed from the brief career history I gave you earlier, doing something new is what motivates me!