New brands, new propositions. That’s what handl Group is all about. Finding up-and-coming companies who are looking for new opportunities, new challenges, and offering them new ways to flourish. Whether it’s alone, or in concert with another of the handl family of brands, we’re laser-focused on exciting innovations.
So of course we were delighted to welcome Robertson Cooper to handl Group in December 2021. While not a “new” brand, with 20 years’ experience, Robertson Cooper brought new ways of thinking about workplace mental health and wellbeing – something that we were excited about combining with our other health and wellbeing brands.
And as you’ll see, Ben Moss and Vikkie Buxton-Cope (Robertson Cooper’s Managing Director and Sales Director) were just as excited to become part of the family.
Independence is non-negotiable
So why would an established company making waves in the wellbeing space want to come under the handl Group’s umbrella? Ben and Vikkie are clear – it was about support and strategy without sacrificing independence.
“handl was the right size of group at the right stage for us at Robertson Cooper. We had discussions with other parties both large and small but we soon realised that handl Group would be the best fit for our business.”
“It was important to us that we didn’t get swallowed up in a PE (Private Equity) house. handl had realistic expectations, are willing to collaborate to support growth, and aren’t looking to sell us on.”
“We formed great early stage relationships with Dan, Chris and Graham that lead us to build trust and faith in the future of the business. This was extremely important and made for smooth sailing when it came to due diligence and negotiations.”
Obviously trust and collaboration were key for Ben, Vikkie and the team, but they had one red line they weren’t going to compromise on. They wanted the freedom to independently continue the great work Robertson Cooper were doing. Of course, that’s exactly how we like our group to operate.
“One of our other non-negotiables was maintaining operational independence, but with the addition of the central challenge and support which was essential to take us to the next stage of growth, something that we were lacking.”
“The team at handl Group were accepting of our growth strategy and investment requirements and supported us from the outset in enabling and accelerating our plans.”
“We were also drawn to the synergies with some of the other brands within handl group; the ambitious plans for building something unique in the wellbeing space; and bringing new and innovative perspectives than our own to that.”
When you crave a challenge, you need a partner who’ll challenge you
One thing you’ll notice Ben and Vikkie didn’t mention in their reasoning is size. That’s because being part of a huge collection of disparate businesses just wasn’t important. Yes, Robertson Cooper needed to collaborate, and yes, they wanted to share knowledge and expertise. But really, for their team, it was all about the challenge.
“Whilst handl Group wasn’t the biggest business to make enquiries about Robertson Cooper, this was actually a positive for us. When compared to similar sized players their competence and experience surpassed them by a mile.”
“We could tell that commercially there was experience that we wanted to learn from, along with constructive challenge – which we’d been craving for a long time.”
“Through the DD process, we also felt that we as a management team were respected and felt that we would be bringing something to the group so it felt like a natural fit from the outset.”
That fit, that cultural fit, it’s important. Because Ben and Vikkie didn’t want to lose what made Robertson Cooper a unique company. And some of the bigger offers came with a caveat – you’d need to change how you work to fit in.
“We liked the fact that we could be ourselves and didn’t have to bend to a fixed corporate culture. We have a strong and energetic identity and we knew we needed to keep that and handl Group welcomed this. It wouldn’t have been with some buyers!”
It’s people (plus technology) that make a handl Group brand
The independence, the challenge, the culture. All of these were key reasons for Robertson Cooper to trust us, to see the opportunities we could lay out in front of them, to show that we’d work with them.
But it all ultimately comes down to one thing, and one thing only. When you make a business-changing decision like joining handl Group, you’ve got to believe in the people.
“Why did we ultimately choose handl? Simple. The people we met along the way.”
“There were other factors, of course. The timing being right for the founders to move on and to motivate our team in achieving our goals. The synergies. The willingness to invest. And there was a real sense that Graham has the right balance of freedom and accountability.”
“All in all, handl Group was the complete package for Robertson Cooper and delivered on all criteria we had for a prospective buyer.”
The complete package, supported by the right people. That’s a glowing review of everything we aim to be here at handl.
And Robertson Cooper? They’re pioneers of workplace wellbeing, they’re experts in the evidence-based approach, and they’re equipping workers across the UK with indispensable skills and knowledge to care for their health and wellbeing.
It’s all about more “Good Days at Work.”
With them on our team, we’re sure there’ll be plenty of good days ahead as we continue to innovate and define success for our brands.