Management & Strategy

Well read

Igloo Books, finalist of the Santander Small to Medium-sized Business of the Year award at last year’s National Business Awards, is achieving an astounding rate of growth, by putting its energies into a quality product and customer experience.

The fastest growing private publishing company in the UK, Igloo Books has been trading since 2003, publishing a range of mass-market non-fiction titles. Says Managing Director John Styring: “We started by buying and selling other people’s books to build revenue so we could then begin publishing our own. Hard work, tenacity and passion have helped us to grow to where we are now.”

And where they are now is in an admirably solid position in a competitive marketplace. The company has achieved astonishing growth, doubling in size over the last three years and now with 70 employees working from its rural base in Northamptonshire. “Yes, we’ve grown fast, but it has been sustainable growth,” John emphasises. “I’ll admit that where we’ve got to now has definitely surpassed where I thought we’d get to. I didn’t set out to run a £20 million turnover business, but we can go further and further.”

What appeals about Igloo, alongside its market-leading products, is its attitude towards and from employees. “The endeavour which goes into each title is very high,” says John, “but there are other publishers with good product. What really makes us stand out is our ‘can-do’ attitude, spending a lot of time understanding what our readers' needs are, and responding.”

Igloo also has a global reach, with its books in 55 countries, published in 33 languages. It has doubled its number of customers in the last 18 months. “That’s protected us somewhat from the global downturn,” adds John. “If one customer is struggling, then we have others who are doing very well. If one country is struggling, we’ve been able to maintain growth in other countries.”

The success of the company was acknowledged in last year’s National Business Awards, with Igloo a Finalist in the Santander Small to Medium-sized Business of the Year Award. “The recognition, on a national level, meant a lot to us,” John states. “To be one of the top 12 SME’s in the UK was fantastic for us, our customers and our suppliers.”

So, what’s next? “One of the key things now is to grow the Igloo brand. We want the market to recognise Igloo as creating the best books in the world.”

And in another, arguably more daunting, challenge, John and three colleagues at Igloo; Mark Burge, Dean Cornish, and Jonny Illingworth, are currently in training to run seven marathons in seven countries in seven days in April, the ‘7-in-7’. John admits: “We know it’s going to be difficult, but we’ve put a lot of effort in, it’s for a good cause and what’s been amazing is that others in the company have got on board, with some signing up to run their first marathon, and others to swim a marathon.”

The aim is to raise over £100,000 for the Prince’s Trust.

You can donate to the 7-in-7 challenge here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=igloobookschallenge&isTeam=true

Entry for the National Business Awards 2012 is now open: www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk

Igloo Books: www.igloo-books.com

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK