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Meet the MD: Edward Sexton of Glancroft

Inspired by his time spent in various marketing roles in and around London, Edward decided to focus his time on growing his family's countrywear production and distribution business. 

What is it the company does?

Based in a 200-year-old converted barn in the conservation village of Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Glencroft Countrywear is a brand of trustworthy countrywear producing traditional, luxury clothing and accessories made from natural fibres including British wool, sheepskin and Harris Tweed.

Established in 1987, over the past 31 years the company has supplied national and international retailers, from small independents to large online and mail-order firms.

Our focus is on high quality products responsibly sourced and many still made using the same techniques and factories as when we started. 

This includes British wool knitwear, woven scarves and throws, sheepskin and tweed hats, lambskin gloves, leather belts and bags, and wool and sheepskin slippers.

About 80% of our products are made in the UK, many in the mills and factories of Yorkshire and the North of England.

We hand-finish all our own sheepskin rugs in our Yorkshire Dales warehouse. Our gloves and some slippers, meanwhile, are made in specialist factories in Portugal, including our handmade lambskin gloves. We also use reliable tanneries in Poland for our Icelandic sheepskin rugs.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

As the part owner of a small business, my role is wide and varied. On a day-to-day basis, I can be doing everything from managing stock and suppliers and liaising with customers, to packing orders.

I’m also responsible for focusing on how we can grow and expand the business and increase consumer brand awareness. This involves managing our business strategy – growing our team, applying for grants and funding, consolidating our processes, marketing our brand and products, improving our product and packaging, and expanding internationally.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

Growing up in the rural Yorkshire Dales, I was keen for something different so aged 18, I packed my bags and headed to London to study marketing and law at University.

From there, I worked in marketing for a variety of B2B media and publishing companies through the 2000s. I loved exploring and using all the new digital marketing techniques as they arose - from Adwords to Text Messages, Twitter to online research.

In my last role in London as an international marketing manager for a global construction event, I decided to complete the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing.

This reignited my passion for marketing and inspired me to want to grow my own brand – to create something which would be recognised the world over. I suddenly saw the family business in a different light, as an opportunity to really make a difference, so I quit my job and moved back to Yorkshire.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe leaders should lead by example. They should have confidence and passion in what they’re doing, with a willingness to constantly learn and strive to do better. Together with this, they need to possess empathy and the ability to get people within their organisation to exceed in their roles. This makes for a much stronger business, where people work together towards common goals rather than as individuals, each in their own silo.

What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?

I was told once that starting a business from scratch is significantly easier than taking over an existing one, despite the investment required.

At Glencroft we have ways and means of doing things that have worked for many years, and whilst this helps to ensure we avoid the common pitfalls we’ve learned from in the past, it can also mean that sometimes it’s harder to change tried and tested ways of doing things, or react quickly to changes within the industry and environment. It’s a family business spanning two generations which is an amazing thing to be part of, but, as I am sure my parents will agree, this also brings its own challenges!

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Exercise. I couldn’t survive without a weekly game of football and a run every now and then. That and trying to have a regular day working from home.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional footballer for Crystal Palace. My Dad’s originally from South London. I used to get some funny looks from football loving tourists as I wandered around the village in a Palace shirt as a kid. I remember one saying to me when I was about 10, “You’re a bit far from Selhurst mate!”.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Negativity. Any problem whether it’s from a customer, consumer or supplier, can be translated into an opportunity to do something better – if you have the mindset to do so. My approach is to support and encourage when problems occur in times of adversity, and to look at how we can learn from them. This is in the hope that in the future, others will look upon similar challenges in the same way - with a smile. ‘At the end of the day, no-one ever died for a woolly jumper’.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I want Glencroft to become synonymous with trustworthy British traditional countrywear. I want people to see our brand and recognise it, know they can trust it - from the quality of the clothing to the origin of manufacture and the care for our customers, employees and suppliers.

I plan to grow our UK trade business and gain a stronger international customer base in Japan, Canada and USA with a turnover of £7 million.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Identify your strengths, and also what you have time to focus on, then employ or outsource everything else to people who are the very best at what they do. You will reap the benefit in the long term.                           

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?.

Spend time to really nail down your brand proposition and make sure this filters through into everything you do.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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