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22 November 2004
The Herald
Cream of Scotland's crop vies for business leadership accolade

Entrepreneurial Exchange Awards

THE Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 awards will take place in front of 700 guests at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow this Thursday, November 25, in an evening sponsored by The Herald, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Bank of Scotland.

There are two categories this year:

l Emerging Entrepreneur

l Entrepreneur of the Year

Our preview of the event concludes with a look at the finalists short-listed for the Entrepreneur of the Year award, which last year went to David Milne, the PhD physicist who became a paper millionaire following the (pounds) 250m flotation of his Wolfson Microelectronics technology business.

Name: Bill Hazeldean

Company: Formerly of Macrae Food Group

Location: Aberdeenshire

Started: 1994

Employees: 1300

Turnover: 87m

While Scotland's seafood processing sector has seen more than its fair share of collapses in the face of cut-throat competition in recent years, Bill Hazeldean has made a name, as well as serious money, for himself by transforming struggling businesses into contenders. A qualified accountant, Edinburgh-born Hazeldean worked for blue chips such as Scottish & Newcastle before moving in 1978 to Clipper Seafoods, where he spent nine years learning the trade before becoming managing director.

After buying and selling businesses with Clipper, he went his own way in a food and drink sector that was ripe for consolidation, forming the Macrae Food Group in 1994 to launch a management buy-out of Foodmark's marinades factory in Peterhead. That deal kicked off a 10-year programme in which, through a mixture of acquisitions and organic growth, Macrae became the largest UK producer of ready-to-eat seafood, with a staff of 1300.

The company's growth potential, and a client list including all the major UK multiples, was sufficient to prompt Young's Bluecrest to pay 40m for it earlier this year, netting Hazeldean's venture capital backers at Pan European handsome returns. Since resigning the chairmanship of Macrae when the business was sold, 53-year-old Hazeldean has been mulling over plans for a return to the sector.

PwC comment: Bill's successful turnaround-based consolidation strategy has created a profitable and innovative seafood business with a significant UK market share. He has established himself as a leading player in the food sector, and we look forward to seeing what he does next.

Name: Alan Kinney and Jim McGonigle (right)

Company: d2

Location: Dundonald, Ayrshire

Started: 2000

Employees: 1200

Turnover: (pounds) 55m

After starting in business together in 1987 with a humble stall on Saltcoats' market, Kinney and McGonigle are well on the way to creating two significant forces on the UK's high streets with the d2 and Qube operations, which they run from their native Ayrshire.

The d2 chain selling fashions targeted at youngsters represents the distillation of more than a decade of experience gained successfully operating clothes chains by the entrepreneurial duo, who swapped their pitch for a shop in Rutherglen one year after getting going.

This traded successfully enough under the Jeans For Sale brand to expand to 18 outlets, while a series of bigger rivals came and went.

When the once mighty Fosters went belly-up in 1998 the two men grasped their chance to make a quantum leap with JFS by buying the jeans retailer out of administration, with backing from their old friend Tom Hunter, founder of Sports Division. The business was rebranded d2 in 2000 when Kinney and McGonigle bought another 34 stores from Jeanster with a view to using the enlarged operation to create a national brand.

In the four years since then, the pair have seen d2 grow to generate sales of 55m annually from 80 stores throughout the UK and Ireland, winning praise from Hunter for delivering exceptional performance through strong supplier relationships and a commitment to their people. He recently pledged to invest 40m-plus helping the Qube footwear chain, which the three set up last year and own jointly, to expand from 10 stand-alone stores to as many as 150 in the UK and Ireland.

PwC comment: Alan and Jim have done a fantastic job in creating the d2 chain, combining and growing its predecessor businesses over the last six years. The recent successful launch of Qube looks certain to provide the business's next phase of rapid and profitable growth.

Name: John Kennedy

Company: Kenmore Property Group Limited

Location: Edinburgh

Started: 1986

Employees: 28

The son of an Ayrshire farmer who wanted to join the navy, Kennedy started adventuring aged 23, when, after qualifying as a chartered surveyor, he decided to travel the world and was shipwrecked while working his passage from Singapore to Australia.

After setting up in business in his own name converting houses into flats, Kennedy tasted wanderlust again and decided to sail his own yacht across the Atlantic before spending five years building a marina and leisure business in the Virgin Islands and St Kitts.

He came home to set up Kenmore and made his first million in the late 1980s by selling a modern office block he had developed on the site of a disused church in Edinburgh's New Town, on which he had staked all he had.

In approaching two decades in the business since then, Kennedy has built Kenmore Property Group into an international player with interests in France and Scandinavia, as well as the UK. The 53-year-old, who farms pigs for a hobby, has seen the value of his commercial property investment and development portfolio double to more than 600m in the past year alone.

PwC comment: Through a high-risk, high-reward strategy, John has created a dominant force in the UK property sector, generating market-leading shareholder returns. His strong track record coupled with a fleet-of-foot team have built an excellent reputation for the company, which is now moving into the European market.

 



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