Mercia Asset Management PLC is pleased to announce its record results for the year ended 31 March 2021.

Mercia’s CIO, Julian Viggars reflects on an ‘incredible year’ for the Group – a year that saw the Group’s 10 profitable exits return well over £100million back to investors.

Read the full RNS here

Mercia Asset Management PLC is pleased to announce its record results for the year ended 31 March 2021.

Mercia’s CEO, Dr. Mark Payton explains how these results are a clear demonstration of how the Mercia Model is now delivering with continued momentum, the completion of Mercia’s strategic objectives a year ahead of plan, and how the results really support Mercia’s philosophy of investing into ‘Thriving Regional Businesses’.

Read the full RNS here

The Mercia Brief showcases Mercia‘s team, portfolio companies and provides an overview of the Group’s recent performance.

Mercia’s CEO, Dr Mark Payton, provides insight on the progress that Mercia is making on its three-year strategy. Mark will be joined by Martin Glanfield, CFO, Julian Viggars, CIO and Jill Williams, Investment Director and Mercia’s ESG Lead. The event also included short presentations from the CEOs of several Mercia investee companies within both its direct investment portfolio and third-party managed funds’ portfolios.

No new material information was disclosed.

Register for Mercia’s upcoming events here

This year we moved to a virtual world for our Chair Summit that took place over two days on the 9th and 10th March 2021. It warrants a thank you to all of you that attended, because it was a long session on Zoom staring at computer screens, moving from breakout room to breakout room, remembering to use the ‘hands up’ function and not the ‘laughing face’ emoji… BUT it worked! That said, here’s to the next time when we can all be together in a conference room sharing more conversation.

Notwithstanding the remote element, the presenters brought the same level of energy and debate to both days of the summit. They presented and moderated incredibly insightful discussions, which generated collective thinking that has been fully appreciated by all delegates if the survey results are anything to go by.

Mike Hicks kicked off with a plenary presentation, People and Performance; Taking management to new levels. Mike addressed the necessary changing dynamics that COVID-19, lockdown, the new way of working and the societal drivers are imposing on businesses and their management teams. From difficult conversations with founders that need to let go of the reins to readdressing a shifting management skillset. The discussions evolved around the two scenarios. The first, supporting a first-time CEO leading a management team, where there are undefined relationships, underdeveloped skills and lack of accountability, the second was in pursuit of a more effective top team. Both discussions brought a depth of thinking and consideration from the cohort that reflected the vast experience of Mercia’s NXDs, and highlighted the prevalence of these board issues in the current environment.

A central theme for the solutions in both scenarios was mutual appreciation, a topic that Mike has expanded on at length in his paper Seven Sins.[Email to email request a copy]

In the Chair’s Choice, Patrick Dunne brought the delegates back to the afternoon session to address two key subjects; the board’s role in managing stakeholders from a value creation perspective, and how to manage the power differential to build successful corporate partnerships.

Without doubt, the winning companies post-COVID-19 were those that excelled at communication, employee welfare and agility. Patrick walked the delegates through a practical framework, developed by Cranfield University, that Boards are able to adopt to align the board and executive strategy towards their key stakeholders. Critical to its success, is to understand at a granular level how to align each group’s needs and wants, recognising that different stakeholders often want different things.

Patrick is renowned for his stakeholder engagement, having recognised it as a key driver of value creation at an early stage of his career at 3i. This approach was further expounded on through strategic partnerships that he designed and deployed to great success.

Delegates at this session were able to apply Patrick’s principles during two discussions. These were centered on stakeholder management and developing a KPI framework to measure the performance and sustainability of corporate partnerships, with a view to help manage any power differential that would detract from the opportunities these partnerships foster.

Put on your red shoes…

…and live your best life. Lonnie Mayne, who was our final summit speaker, is the founder and CEO of Red Shoes Living. The business or rather concept of Red Shoes Living is, according to Lonnie, is an adaptable philosophy and practical framework that demonstrates how businesses can build a culture through engaged employees and customer-focused experiences to unlock phenomenal results. This session was to introduce Lonnie and Red Shoes Living to the NXDs within the context of the summit’s themes around stakeholder engagement, aligned management and responsibility. The main tenet of Lonnie’s philosophy is accountability: “Bringing everyone to the table, holding others accountable to the best versions of themselves, and treating every one interaction as an opportunity to stand out like a pair of red shoes.

He strives to empower all stakeholders in a business to elevate the things they care about most, such as work, family, friends, health and community. The five-step process for implementing the Red Shoes Living mindset is: leadership, culture and customer experience – perpetual model – all behaviour support mission, vision and values of a company:

  1. Awareness: Heighten your awareness of what is happening within the teams you work with. Understanding what is important personally and professionally to someone can help us to inspire, motivate and support their individual performance.
  2. Gratitude: Be grateful for what we do and where we live. A survey of business leaders showed that the number one attribute of successful people was gratitude.
  3. Everyone has a story: Understand someone’s story to see how you can unlock their potential
  4. Respect and Kindness: Return a call or an email straight away. Little details matter.
  5. Put yourself out there! Ask the hard questions, step into challenges, take the opportunities  and stand out for the positive to keep progressing.

Lonnie concluded his presentation by sharing a quote his grandmother would bestow upon him as a child: “Treat those who have more than you as equals, and those who have less as Kings and Queens”, which we thought was a great message on which to conclude the entire summit.

You can find out more about Lonnie and Red Shoes Living on his website and of course his book here

A round-up of the year that was 2020, from Mercia’s commercial perspective and including presentations from the Fund Principals and the fund and various portfolio companies.

This event is hosted by Paul Mattick, and includes presentations from Dr Mark Payton (CEO) on the Mercia Asset Management interim results, Peter Dines (COO) on the EIS and VCT strategies, and a look ahead to 2021 by the Saturday Economist John Ashcroft.

How do you stop a founder from dominating board meetings – or persuade an underperforming CEO to step aside? How can you help a business to grow rapidly with limited funds? And how do you achieve the right balance between strategy and operations?

These were just some of questions raised at Mercia’s Chair Summit, which took place at the University of Warwick and gave non-executives from our portfolio companies the chance to ask the experts and share their challenges. The full-day event, which was attended by over 40 NEDs, featured three masterclasses:


Board effectiveness

Patrick Dunne, Chair of Boardelta and author of Boards, offered advice on practicalities from managing the ‘agenda challenge’ to decision making and dealing with conflicts. He also gave fascinating insights from behavioural science, drawing on concepts such as power dynamics, the ‘hill of influence’ and catastrophe theory.

The role of culture in innovation and growth

Vikki Sly, Chief People Officer at tech ‘unicorn’ Blue Prism plc, said culture could be a key differentiator for fast-growing firms. Vikki, who has seen the former Mercia-backed company grow from 200 to 700 employees, warned that typical start-ups with a small founding team and a ‘settler mentality’ need to stay true to their core values as they scale. She also explained how the world of work has changed, why past practices and hierarchies are no longer suitable and why companies need to rewrite the rule book.

The role of the Non-Executive Chair

Diane Cheeseborough, who has over 20 years’ experience in senior management roles, latterly as Managing Director of language tech firm the bigword, recalled her own transition to non-executive roles and how she had to ‘unlearn old habits and learn new ones’. She shared some of the lessons from her new career as a non-exec, and what she had learned from speaking to successful chairs.

Mark Payton, CEO of Mercia, said developing successful businesses was about more than just investing capital. Mercia offers portfolio companies a whole range of support including help to assess and develop their boards.

He told the audience: “Most of you will have run businesses and have learned from your mistakes so our C-suite don’t have to. Having this sort of wisdom from people who know what good – and bad – looks like is invaluable for a growing business.”

Watch a short video we have produced of the event’s highlights.