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Blueblood Ben and Dale

Scoring Big: How Blueblood Transformed Their Business Game with TAB 

Dale Harris and Ben Cook, co-owners of Blueblood, have embarked on a fascinating journey of business transformation driven by guidance from their TAB facilitator, James Ross and the support of their peer advisory board.

They have been members of TAB North Chilterns and Oxford for 2.5 years, and we recently had the opportunity to hear the story of their business and its transformation guided by the expertise of TAB and their facilitator, James Ross.

How it started

Dale Harris and Ben Cook founded Blueblood in 2019. Based in Oxford and Thame, the company supplies branded apparel to schools, companies, and sports clubs. The pair met in 2010 while working at an Oxford-based sports retailer and had some fantastic ideas to grow the business they worked for, but the company owners weren’t that interested.

When the owner passed away in 2016, his family temporarily took over the business, but they filed for liquidation just two years later. From the ashes of this business, Dale and Ben decided to start their own, inspired by their deep-rooted passion for sports and the iconic blue of Oxford.

They opened a shop in Oxford town centre selling sports equipment and embroidery services and acquired six of the previous company's school contracts. Despite steady turnover growth and securing several school contracts, their profits remained thin. The duo faced challenges with declining footfall, changes in customers' buying habits and outsourced embroidery services, which prompted them to seek new solutions.

thumbnail_Ben Dale Early Days

The Journey to Profitability

In 2022, a chance encounter with James proved to be a fortuitous event. At that time, Blueblood had a turnover of £900k but was still struggling with profitability and a clear path forward.

Working with James, and supported by their peer board, Dale and Ben devised a bold strategy. They decided to close the retail shop, focus exclusively on the more profitable sectors of school wear, team wear, and work wear, and bring embroidery and printing in-house. This required significant changes, including moving to a new purpose-built unit, purchasing machinery through fixed-term finance, and launching a new website and social media strategy.

"Working with James gave us the confidence and business support to change the strategy of our business, sometimes you don't know how to do something having not done it before ourselves and having an experienced business mentor and advice from our board really helped with the ideas and how to execute them."

thumbnail_Dale and Ben Pop Up 2024

Dale and Ben took a number of bold steps to transform the business, including closing the retail shop, moving out of a warehouse unit they were sharing with other businesses into their own purpose-built unit, moving the embroidery and printing in-house by raising fixed-term finance to purchase the machines, and building a brand-new website and a completely new social media strategy.

"We have wanted to raise funding in the past, but we thought our only option was to give away Equity, and the people we spoke too wanted a huge slice of the company, which just didn't make economic sense. James completely opened our eyes to other fund-raising options and raising fixed term finance was a brilliant solution which has catapulted our business forward."

 

The Power of Peer Support

Dale has found the support of his Board invaluable during this process.

"I have been with TAB board since the start, and it now feels like an extended family. It’s such a great place to go and be open with people who I totally trust and will give me impartial advice based on their experience. It has massively helped me as a business owner with the advice and support. I always come back from the board feeling rejuvenated and ready to go again armed with new ideas."

James Ross and Dale Harris - Blueblood

A Bright Future Ahead

Today, Blueblood is thriving. Dale and Ben are optimistic about the future, with plans to grow turnover by over 50% this year while maintaining a healthy profit margin.

"Our business has completely changed over the past two years, thanks to the support and advice from James and our TAB board. We’ve learned so much and are excited about where we’re headed. It’s reassuring to have a strong support network to help us achieve our goals,"

Blueblood's transformation is a testament to the power of business coaching and peer support. It showcases how strategic guidance and a collaborative approach can drive remarkable business success.

James Ross

About James Ross

James Ross has a wide range of experience, having spent 20 years working in tier 1 Investment Banks as a qualified accountant running large Finance teams and as a Prince 2 certified program manager running large projects for the front office.

Having left the city, James set up his own business, investing in property and renovating old houses into high-yielding quality shared living accommodation for professionals in Oxford and Greater Manchester.

James has a passion for coaching and mentoring business owners and has unique experiences in helping business owners with exceptional problem-solving abilities.

Get in touch with James today to learn more about how joining TAB can help you and your business thrive.

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