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The business of celebrity reinvention

How I Made My First Million : Talent manager Richard Thompson pictured at the Oval cricket ground. Image from PR PHA Media.

Richard Thompson, 49, who founded skill administration company Merlin Elite in 2003, has a shopper list that includes Roy Hodgson, Michael Flatley and Sue Barker. In 2013 he sold a 60 per cent stake of the corporate to M & C Saatchi for £1.5m. M&C Saatchi Merlin, the place Mr Thompson remains chairman and chief government, had a turnover of £20m Closing yr. The entrepreneur is a non-govt chairman of Debrett’s, TwoFour Team, Surrey County Cricket Membership, and a director of the britain and Wales Cricket Board.


Born: Carshalton, Surrey, October 1966

Profession: 1983-86 — labored in Croydon as a pc salesman; 1986 — founded First Stop Laptop Crew, that he sold in 1996; 1994/5 — launched Advertising & Gross Sales Advertising agency EMS, promoting in 1998/9 to Mosaic Crew; 2003 — founded Merlin Elite; 2013 — offered 60 per cent stake to M&C Saatchi

Lives: Kingston, Surrey, with wife Danielle and three children aged from nine to Four.

Did you assume you might get to where you’re?

No, not at all When I Was Once at my comprehensive, headlined as the school of Terror, in the late ’70s. I Was most certainly there all through its darkest days, However I Was never bullied as a result of I Was Once over 6ft and just right at Sport. I had failed my Eleven plus and at 15 I Was Once instructed I could now not sit down my O-levels since the college didn’t assume I Might go any. So my oldsters needed to pay £5 per examination for me to take a seat them. I acquired Four As and a B. After I started my own industry at 19 after working for 3 years, I had an overriding experience of self-self belief that I might do this and be successful.

While You had made your first £1m did you want to slow down?

In 1996 I bought my Pc Crew for over £1m to the staff thru a administration buyout. I Used To Be 29 then, and it made me need to speed up. I Was Once in third equipment, whereas now I Believe I’m in fourth or fifth. I needless to say buying myself an Aston Martin Volante Vantage. I reinvested most of the capital into my company, EMS, and simply carried on. After selling EMS, I realised that you’ll want to switch the talents round constructing manufacturers to individuals — and so utilized this data to the world of talent management, throughout the launch of Merlin Elite.

What’s The secret of your success?

I get with the aid of on 5 hours sleep a night, which allows me to work lovely arduous. My minimal weekday hours are from 7.30am to eight.30pm. At Least three days per week I will probably be having dinner in an effort to take me to 11.30pm, But I truly enjoy what I do. I get a certain momentum round ongoing challenges. I wish to forge in advance to the following probability; [I’m] excited via non-public equity.

What Used To Be your easiest instruction for industry?

After I Used To Be 12 there Was a normal stationery sale of liquidated stock near The Oval cricket ground, and i might now not believe how low the costs were. I got a mortgage of £5 from my uncle Frank to buy as so much of this inventory as I might. Then, having pretended that my father had a stationery trade, I Would sell it to my faculty’s stationery department in bulk so much for £20-£30 a time. I Was Once making as much as £50 a week.

At 16 I took a pay reduce! I joined a small Pc firm in Croydon, incomes £Forty Six per week as a trainee Sales govt. However I learnt everything concerning the industry, a great grounding for my Profession.

Do you’ve gotten time for private Monetary planning?

It’s me and an accountant However I Am pretty arms-on. My wife covers the utilities while I look after the mortgage, insurances and pension. We Are an IT-literate couple, and take into account banking on-line. We make an excellent team. She has the endurance and I Have the negotiation talents. I Am perpetually haggling.

What’s your normal trade philosophy?

In 1991 a pal of mine framed two phrases for me: expectation equals Truth. It Was my mantra. I’ve all the time tried to regulate expectation very moderately, through underpromising and making an attempt to overdeliver. When You’re managing ability you must be trustworthy. Matt Dawson Was a global Cup winner and can have played another season for Wasps, But I noticed the benefit for him to retire early and that’s what I suggested. He competed in Strictly Come Dancing, gained MasterChef and secured the Question of Recreation captaincy. The Rationale I Have always felt assured about reinventing my shoppers is that I Have reinvented myself.

What Used To Be probably the most challenging duration of your Career?

One period would have been the earn-out, the deferred consideration, When I offered EMS to Mosaic Crew in 1998. I had a goal to succeed in over a three-yr duration. I Was asked to run the ecu industry for Mosaic so on the similar time I Used To Be doing that, the uk industry Was trying to succeed in the earn-out whereas I Was Once also operating Mosaic’s pan-European businesses. Being 6ft 6in didn’t fit in economy flying quick haul in every single place Europe.

Do you wish to have to hold on until you drop?

I’m drawn to the new challenges within the burgeoning private equity markets. Remaining July, having managed to lend a hand promote TwoFour to ITV for £65m — giving LDC, its non-public equity proprietor, a very strong return — Used To Be very pleasurable. I’ll by no means retire, However I’m positive I’ll decelerate. I’ll lend a hand my children in whatever they do, and I’ll do some voluntary work with non-government roles. Being so involved with The Oval I to find myself working with various former chairmen of their 80s. Their insights and steerage are valuable.

After I sold Merlin three years in the past I Was Once Forty Six. I took the view that between your mid-40s and late 50s you are most probably at your top commercially. I’ve been in business for nearly 34 years, But I realize that you just by no means Cease finding out. Technology has taught me the fragility of any business, which is never misplaced on me.

Have You Ever made any pension provision?

I’ve a personal pension that I took out at 19. It’s smartly funded with the maximum lump sum allowable each and every 12 months. I did it as a result of it Was the thing to do, even more so then. I don’t envisage myself retiring, However having an earnings neatly into my 70s and 80s. I Have a extensive portfolio of investments that embody the inventory market and purchase-to-let property; and I’m a business angel.

Do you imagine in giving something back to the neighborhood?

I Are Living my lifestyles on the root that you are judged by using what you supply, not what you take. I do so much for the Skilled Cricketers Affiliation Benevolent Fund because cricket dominates my lifestyles. Last October we raised £One Hundred Fifty,000 for the PCA Benevolent Fund and the Tom Maynard Belief, cycling from Truro to London. I help the Alzheimer’s Society because my father, who is Eighty Three, has this horrific condition. I’m chairman of Debrett’s Groundwork to promote social mobility, which is a large factor for me. I additionally give a boost to the NSPCC.

I’ve sold collectable sports activities memorabilia at a lot of dinners, capabilities and testimonials, that I’ll most definitely put again into charity auctions further down the line. I Have the Tour de France Yellow Jersey worn via Bradley Wiggins and a 1947 print of the Australian invincible Test team led with the aid of Don Bradman. My favorite merchandise continues to be the 1953 Surrey CCC signed menu, the place in those days it is advisable if truth be told make out the identify of every signature perfectly.

Do you allow your self the odd indulgence?

I co-own a property in Spain, in Arcos, a village close to Cadiz on the Atlantic coast, up to now undiscovered by way of vacationers. It Is A villa within the mountains with a huge backyard and swimming pool that I Purchased with Matt Dawson in 2007. We go out there with the youngsters at Christmas, Easter and each August. It Is Extremely much my break out.

Do you believe in leaving everything to youngsters?

Yes I do, nevertheless it depends how so much you’ve got, in point of fact. I prefer to donate while I Am here and can put a while funding behind what I supply to ensure it has more impact.

How Have You survived the recession?

In 2008-09 we noticed that brands stopped using celebrities of their campaigns. After They launched a product it Used To Be without the affect of a big title, which slowed us down. I Was Once careful to maintain overheads tight, as a result of if our income drop it method our purchasers’ incomes drop. Tips On How To get throughout the recession is to search for some other open door. Fact TELEVISION and comedy start to make a big resurgence, as a result of It’s low-cost TELEVISION, or it may be a just right time to start your personal brand.

In 2011 we took a raffle with Freddie Flintoff, encouraging him to carry out a spread of menswear for Jacamo, the logo for taller individuals. It paid off, but it Was if truth be told low risk, being mainly led by means of royalties, and the corporate did not must pay an enormous retainer. Freddie helped to design one of the vital clothes, and modelled them, and brought prestige to what is now a high-promoting range.

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