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AN INTERVIEW WITH TIM CROXSON – CEO CROXSONS

Croxsons has made planned changes to its leadership structure. As part of their succession planning, Tim Croxson, previously the company’s COO, has assumed the role of CEO, in place of his father, James Croxson, who will now concentrate on furthering Croxsons’  international development. This move comes after a period of extraordinary growth for the family firm, who celebrate a remarkable 150th anniversary this year.  

Here, Tim Croxson shares his thoughts on his new role and elaborates on his future intentions for the business.  

[5 min read] 

What do you see as the key focus of your role? 

Succession is more than just a new role, it also represents ownership and legacy, so in that respect, there’s a huge mantle passed on from one generation to another within a family. I am the fifth generation to be trusted to lead the business and I’m very conscious of the responsibility that now rests on my shoulders.  

Notwithstanding that, there’s clearly a pride and importance in being the standard-bearer for the company, directing  how the business is to run, how we interact with each other, how we interact with customers, suppliers and stakeholders and so on. I am the ultimate ambassador of the firm and while being part of a fantastic team, who are phenomenal in every aspect, I’m very conscious of the gravitas and weight that the role carries.  

How much pre planning was put into the succession plan and your future role in the company? 

I think my father, James, and I first sat down more than 10 years ago to chat through what that might look like but it has been the last five years that it has really accelerated. My old role as Chief Operating Officer, which I held for 10 years, provided me with a unique insight into all areas of the business. I think everyone thinks succession is purely a family generational thing, but the business has to be ready for change as well and I’m very privileged to have worked with the board that we have now for such a long time, which helped make the move feel very natural. 

Did you and James share strategic ideas collectively over the last 10 years in preparing for succession, or did you have a singular vision? 

In all honesty, I think there’s a bit of both. We’ve worked well together for such a long time, we bounce ideas off each other, but with the great board that we have here, ideas tend not to be generated by one person. I have some amazing people around me who have equally great ideas, so my job is getting the best out of them, and them getting the best out of me as well.  

It is natural for me to have my own vision for the business, but as I’ve had an opportunity to shape how we have operated and succeeded over the past 10 years, the business is in great shape and in the short-term, the business doesn’t need significant shifts. 

What do you see as being priorities? 

It was good to sit down with our team early in the year and look at some of these key areas. Without betraying too many confidences, two areas are around our supply chain. The world economy is in an interesting place and no-one has been immune from the challenges arising from the current situation in Ukraine. For us, procurement and securement are key areas, and we are fortunate to have forged some key relationships over the past decades. There are some exciting and interesting times ahead, and while the business has been in a great position, I still think there’s more we can do to elevate other relationships from commercially based to true partnerships. 

Sustainability is also a key area for the business: sustainability of supply – that’s building long term relationships, not just the short term; sustainability of people – all the surveys say we’re already doing lots of things really well and that’s great, but we want to make sure that people enjoy their life outside of work and we have a role to play in helping them achieve that; and ultimately, sustainability of profit – building a legacy and doing good with what we have is very important to me. From both a sustainability angle, as well as socially, we can have an impact on our local or global communities by doing that. It has been a long held heart passion of mine, James, and the business as a whole, so we will look to continue that good work. 

What changes are you looking to make in the medium and longer term and why? 

The business has experienced strong growth over the past 5-8 years, backed up by our Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and we will be working harder to ensure that we are future ready. We will be moving into our impressive headquarters later this year, so some of our systems will be tweaked for efficiency. Again, our supply chain relationships are key, so the development and improvement of supply chain relationships will be really important for us in the medium term. Alongside that, we are going to build some more diversity at board level as well. It’s important to have some different voices in the mix. 

Elsewhere, we have plans to grow the business and continue the strong growth trajectory that we have had for the last three or four years. That will require some thinking outside of what we have always done, and I suspect will involve some tweaks and complementary products and services running alongside what we do. Ultimately, if it gives us sustainable value, but also gives our customers value, then we will look at it. 

What is your vision for the business in general? 

The headlines are that the 5 year plan is a tripling of size and being a market leader in the markets that we operate in. Alongside that, a workplace that is envied, that is creative and inspiring. This will include our culture, environmental, sustainability, health and welfare.  

In terms of vision, continued growth of the business organically and through acquisition to position ourselves as the go-to resource across the UK and all parts of Europe. As we are not a manufacturer, we can set trends that influence industry choices, as well as being market leading in terms of the depth and quality of our product offering. We also want to be seen as market leading in terms of our impact on the environment and the communities in which we operate.   

For sustainability, and as part of our carbon reduction strategy, we are making a commitment to achieve carbon net zero, thereby we are already working to understanding our carbon footprint and working towards establishing clear targets. We have also planted 150,000 trees, which in itself has a dual purpose in not only signifying our intent in tackling environmental issues, but also helps mark our 150th anniversary, which we celebrate this year. Sure it’s outrageous to plant 150,000 trees, but we wanted to be gutsy and why not – it’s our gift back in many respects.  

We can’t do everything, but we must do something and this is something that we can do. Sustainability should be the heart of everything we do and we look forward to working with our customers on their sustainability goals. 

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