05/06/2007 - 22:00

Wesfarmers' strategies have broad appeal

05/06/2007 - 22:00

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When former Wesfarmers executive, John Pirie, took on the job as chief executive of National Lifestyle Villages Pty Ltd more than two years ago he implemented remarkably similar management strategies to those David Robb is currently utilising at Iluka Res

Wesfarmers' strategies have broad appeal

When former Wesfarmers executive, John Pirie, took on the job as chief executive of National Lifestyle Villages Pty Ltd more than two years ago he implemented remarkably similar management strategies to those David Robb is currently utilising at Iluka Resources.

It was Mr Pirie’s review of NLV’s business practices and the development of a five-year strategic business plan that helped pave the way for last week’s $40 million investment in the group by Malaysian private equity fund, Navis Investment Partners.

“What I thought the business needed was a five-year strategic plan that looked at taking it from a family business to SME and beyond that,” Mr Pirie said.

“You need to know where you are headed and what you need to do to get there.”

He said the business planning developed the group’s growth ambitions, and it later became clear that sourcing private equity funds was an obvious solution to meeting those targets.

NLV operates five lifestyle residential villages targeted at over 45s who want affordable, secure accommodation and an active, sociable lifestyle.

Mr Pirie said the company had considered a stock market float.

“That was on the cards but we felt we needed to get the business to a point where we were ready for that and we don’t think we are ready yet,” he told WA Business News.

Mr Pirie spent 16 years within the Wesfarmers group, with his most recent role in the management ranks of its marketing division.

“Wesfarmers provided me with a really good foundation and training about good business practices,” Mr Pirie said.

Just as Mr Robb was with Iluka, Mr Pirie was concerned about getting all of his company’s staff aligned with its goals.

He also brought in expertise to help him review the business and its processes to develop better ways of doing things.

The company’s decision making is based around four key criteria – or the quadruple bottom-line – economic, social, environmental and governance.

Mr Pirie said reviewing each facet of the business never ended, and he was currently examining the group’s IT operations in light of its recent expansion and growth plans.

Sydney-based The Jeminex Group is also gaining some skills from the Wesfarmers camp after recruiting Mark Allison, who managed Wesfarmers’ Landmark and CSBP divisions between 2001 and 2004.

Mr Allison joined the AMP-backed Jeminex last week and follows the group’s recent $40 million acquisition of four industrial supply businesses, which included three based in Perth.

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