When Mike Logue took over at Dreams in 2013, he knew he had his work cut out. The company was recovering following a private equity buyout that brought it out of administration, profits were stagnant and there was a "disconnect between staff and senior management".
Today, following a back-to-basics turnaround strategy, profits have risen for the fourth year in a row - hitting £30m for the year ending December 2017 - and the company has invested heavily to transform the culture within the company.
It’s been expensive, but Logue says that one of the most important - and symbolic- changes cost nothing.
"On my first day I gathered all of the employees in the atrium at our HQ to introduce myself. There was a terrible atmosphere and I couldn’t quite understand why. I actually felt quite unwelcome.
"Over the next few days I realised that the management were extremely unpopular. Staff were used to not seeing the senior leadership and as a result a real disconnect had emerged. The company had a directors only car park, so to quickly try and re-establish a connection I removed it.
"Quite frankly I was appalled that a company would have it anyway. Why should staff who get in at 7am park down the street because spaces have to remain free for the director who turns up at midday? That is just unacceptable and paints totally the wrong message.
"It’s so important to bridge that gap because the only way that the leadership team can get to the customer is by having a great relationship with their staff. I learnt in my early career as a management trainee at Marks & Spencer that with hierarchy came access to certain information. I worked on the shop floor and wasn’t allowed to know certain things because I was too junior.
"Now as a CEO I look back on those days and think how ridiculous it was. I was the closest to the customer so knew them far better than the decision makers ever could. I’ve made it a policy to share everything with our employees. They know where we are doing well, where we are behind and how it’s going to affect the business. I generally want people to know what is going on and to be proud of the organisation they work in.
"Abolishing management-only car parking was a good symbolic starting point on that journey, because people could see that I meant what I was talking about straight away."
Image credits: fantail/gettyimages