The Danwood Group is a £270-million-turnover business owned principally by private equity, the founder and management. It employs 1,200 people in the UK. As the UK’s only nationwide, independent specialist in selling and servicing print-related office technology, Danwood maintains a leading position in this fast-changing channel to market.

Founded 44 years ago, by 2012 it had grown revenues at over 19 per cent per annum since 2004, largely through a series of acquisitions. As a result of OEM acquisition activity around the globe, Danwood was now the largest independent player in the world with over 12,000 customers. Danwood had developed strong OEM relationships at holdings board levels in Japan (Kyocera, Sharp, Canon, Ricoh), Korea (Samsung), and the USA (Xerox, HP). This had contributed to driving strong profitability. Unfortunately, by 2012, the business had outgrown its family business origins and founding values. While its customers continued to receive outstanding service, the business had allowed the growth to get out of control. The business had stopped generating cash and its relationships with key suppliers had become strained. Urgent action was needed to stabilise the business and create a platform to return the business to growth.

When Steve Francis was appointed to the role of CEO to steer The Danwood Group back on a path to success in October 2012, he was faced with a challenging task.

The print-technology business turned out to be in urgent need of fundamental change. Alongside chairman Bob Ellis (appointed on the same day), he quickly got to work to take control, change senior management, and initiate a rapid cost-reduction program. By May 2013, the business was cash generative, and Steve had commenced a top-to-bottom review of customer contracts, service levels and sales processes. Steve and his team began to build and implement a two-year strategic turnaround plan that he hoped would effectively set the organisation up for a long and prosperous future.