‘Success comes from highly motivated and engaged individuals and People Puzzles has helped us create this atmosphere and workplace culture at Gonzalez Byass UK’ – MD Martin Skelton
A fast-expanding Premium wine importer based in Hertfordshire needed People Puzzles’ part time HR expertise to help develop a strong culture and take care of its HR processes, allowing its Managing Director to further focus on developing the business.
UK distribution for Gonzalez Byass Spain was founded in 2004 in St Albans and imports a range of wines from around the world, including sherry, port, champagne and cava.
Over the course of ten years, Gonzalez Byass UK saw fast growth; it acquired several brands and got to the point where it was turning more than £16m per annum. ‘That growth gave us HR issues – we needed consultancy help with recruiting and developing people,’ says Managing Director Martin Skelton. ‘There are a lot of businesses our size, who can’t afford a full-size HR department; that’s why we turned to People Puzzles.’
HR Director Morag Woodliffe was brought into the business, initially to help with a restructure. The company had taken on a number of brands and its marketing department needed a broader spectrum of skills. The company also needed ongoing support with its people strategy, which Morag provided by working on site for half a day a week.
People Puzzles oversaw a number of different interventions to help Gonzalez Byass implement its people strategy for growth and improve workplace culture. These included:
• Restructuring and recruitment: Restructuring a business is rarely an easy process, especially if redundancies are involved. ‘It was quite painful at the time,’ Martin recalls. ‘But we got through it and the results speak for themselves; most of our key brands are in strong growth.’
People Puzzles then helped recruit people to help take the company forward as it moved into new markets. ‘They have been incredibly resourceful in helping us to recruit the very best,’ says Martin. ‘When we took on a champagne brand we needed sales people who were experts in selling champagne. People Puzzles helped us recruit those people and they are still working for us very successfully.’
• Developing a strong workplace culture is as important as getting the right people in the right roles. ‘There is a very clear culture in Gonzalez Byass and when we recruit it’s really important that the fit is there,’ says Morag. Nurturing people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the products they work has put the company on a strong footing, as Martin Skelton acknowledges. ‘I would say People Puzzles has helped us develop a team that is superior to our competitors,’ he says.
• Personal development as a tool for growth: Morag worked closely with the team to ensure that personal development was encouraged and recognised as important. ‘If everybody can add more value, then the business will continue to grow and be successful on the back of that,’ she explains.
• Having a professional HR function in place: Embedding an HR professional in the company to take care of HR related issues means that Martin can focus on his MD role of running the business without getting caught up in the details. ‘People Puzzles are really dynamic; they offer solutions and get back to us straight away which means less stress for management,’ he comments. ‘We now have a very professional HR function in the way that we recruit, manage people, appraise our people and the work they do.’
Five years on, Martin can see tangible benefits from working People Puzzles. ‘Success comes from highly motivated and engaged individuals – and People Puzzles has helped us create this atmosphere and culture at Gonzalez Byass,’ he says. ‘It’s a great opportunity for small businesses like ours to put into place a professional function and affordable resource. I’ve had people in St Albans ask for advice on HR and I’ve recommended People Puzzles!’
Please do drop us an email if you would like to discuss any of these areas within your business.