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I'm Alex Polizzi.
I cut my teeth inside my family's international hotel empire
and now run a multi-million pound food business with my husband.
Last year, I battled to save six failing family firms.
-I don't know if it's ever going to get better!
-You must see some hope!
Otherwise, let's not bother with this, no.
In the midst of the recession, every month,
1,000 businesses were going bust.
This business is on a knife edge.
At some point, we're going to have to call it a day.
But for families, it was more than finance.
£50,000 now, you'll never see me again.
Now, I'm heading back to see how it's all turned out.
This is a business! You're ruining your health! You're ruining your family life!
He's just used to getting his own way.
And I'm used to getting mine.
This week, I'm revisiting two companies whose business dreams had turned into nightmares.
If we fail to make a living here, this will go.
And when it's gone, that's the end of it.
A heritage mill that had never turned a profit...
If the site turns into a tearoom, I don't want to work here.
..grinding the family who ran it into the ground.
This isn't your life, this isn't your family, this isn't your home!
Just stop behaving as if it is!
And a bridal wear shop run by squabbling sisters...
You're making a mountain out of a mole hill.
I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill?
..with a mother who had no head for business.
What proportion will end up on the remainder rail?
-Oh, my God!
The first of our floundering firms this week is
Denver Mill, Norfolk's last working windmill.
Three years ago, Mark and Lindsey Able became tenants of this wonderful historic building
on the first step to realising a dream.
This is the biggest machine you'll ever go in.
And it is a machine, we are inside a machine.
Their ambition was to mill flour
and turn it into bread they could sell on site.
It sounds a bit, you know, hippy,
but I think this windmill found us, not that we found the windmill.
But their utopian dream has turned into a nightmare.
There's something going dreadfully wrong.
Everything we have in the world is here.
We have nothing. Nothing in the bank. Everything's here.
Rather than concentrating on profit, their passion is focused on keeping this mill up and running
and any money they do make is swallowed up
maintaining a listed building they don't even own.
If we fail to make a living here, this will go.
And when it's gone, that's the end of it.
And just when it seemed it couldn't get any worse,
There was just bits of sail and things falling. We just looked up
and shook our heads and said "Well, that's it.
"That's the end. The end of the business, the end of everything."
Nothing would be here if the mill wasn't here.
The tea shop, the shop couldn't survive. It's all the same thing.
It is like a loss of something.
The unique selling point of Denver Mill has always been
that it was Norfolk's last working windmill.
Three weeks ago, that was true.
However, it's going to cost a lot of money to replace them
and at the moment, the family don't know if it's possible.
The windmill might be in pieces,
but the business was broken before the sails came off.
Despite three years of hard graft, they've never turned a profit.
If that doesn't change, this place could close in a matter of months.
I need to get under the skin of this family, and find out
where it all went wrong.
First stop, the on-site cafe to meet mum and company boss Lindsey.
-Lovely to meet you.
And you. We're very pleased you're here.
-Thank you. I'm very pleased I'm here.
-I'll just come round.
So how many people can you serve at a time here?
At busy times, probably about 25 to 30 at the most.
You also sell your own bread here, you make sandwiches
from your own bakery bread, I see.
Well, the idea is that we mill the flour here.
-We make our bread.
-And then people can take a loaf home
or they can use it to cut up for the sandwiches,
so people can actually get to taste the mill, so to speak.
-Let me take you to see Mark.
# What goes up, must come down... #
Lindsey's husband Mark has a background
in mechanical engineering,
but now spends all his time milling flour.
-Mark, this is Alex.
-What are you up to in here?
This is referred to as my other woman. I spend too much time here.
I thought she was the engine round the back.
-You've got two other women?
OK, so this is your arena and obviously your passion.
You have that slightly crazed look of a man who's in his element.
Charming as they are, Mark and Lindsey
don't strike me as natural entrepreneurs.
Let's go. So I'm allowed to go and have a look about, am I?
-Yes, yes. Help yourself.
-And then I'll come back.
I want to ask you lots of questions about money.
OK. Oh, dear!
You ARE the person to ask about that, are you not?
-I believe you're the managing director?
Good, good. Fantastic.
Besides the cafe, this sprawling business boasts a gift shop.
But it's far from well-stocked.
I find it very confusing in here.
The family's home-milled flour
sits side by side with tourist tat and curios.
Really unattractive and generic, notelets and name stuff,
which I honestly I don't think has any place here.
This shop should be a celebration of quality local produce.
All this plastic is just bad business.
One person who should know how things are run is daughter Sally.
She's been brought in to develop the business
but has been sidetracked by the flour mill.
What's your gut feeling about what's wrong with it here?
What needs to be improved more than anything else?
Finance-wise, I feel like we're not looking
to make large amounts of profit here.
I don't think it's easy to make...
-Why do you think that?
-That's what Mum and Dad told me.
When they came in, their business plan didn't involve
making a large amount of money...
It probably didn't involve spending all their money either.
-No, it certainly didn't.
-Do you have any handle at all on
where you're making money in this business and where you're losing it?
Not effectively, no.
Passion is admirable, but not at the expense of profit.
Spoons and cutlery, just help yourself there.
On paper, the only bit of the business showing any potential
is the tea room, run by Sally's boyfriend Duncan.
What do you think you're doing right here?
I don't know. We're doing a bit right, but there's a lot to work on.
So tell me your strengths, what you think the strengths are?
The strengths are the quality of the ingredients we actually use.
We try to go for quality not quantity
-to get people to come back again.
-Do you know how much you spend?
How much a cake takes to make and what you cost it for?
-We have our costings, yeah.
-Costings are all done upstairs.
-So you're pretty confident
about your costings? That's what I'm asking.
I wouldn't say I'm confident. They could probably be done better.
The elephant in the room
that everyone knows is there and no-one is discussing,
is the fact that no-one seems to know what's making the money,
where the money's being spent on.
There has to be an answer buried deep in those figures somewhere
and I just need someone to lead me to the answer.
And that's a trail that leads directly to Lindsey.
I've got tea room sales, tea room purchases there,
which would seem to suggest that you've made 40,
-more or less, 40 grand.
But then here, I've got a different price on tea room purchases.
Well, that is peculiar.
And then, if you include the wages that shows the tea room,
over the course of a whole year, didn't make you a penny.
Yeah, but that doesn't actually surprise me.
-No, it doesn't.
How is the pricing worked out in the tea shop?
The pricing, I...
So let me see, purchases.
Er, I'm afraid I don't understand those...at all.
I don't know whether they take it all as a game.
I think they won't find it a game
when they are walking away from there
with £100,000 less of their own money
and nothing to show for it.
I think it'll all be pretty depressing, actually.
-You got out.
-I did, yeah.
-In one bit?
-I did, yeah.
It was quite tough. It was quite tough.
I do feel a bit "Urgh!" now. I just want to burst into tears
-and have a little cry.
-I can see.
I stick my head in the sand about the figures,
because I think if I know them and realise what a mess we're in,
then we'll have to get out.
We may have to say, "Well, that's it. We'll have to call it a day."
The books paint a bleak picture.
The cafe is busy,
but the rest of the business squanders any profit they might be making.
As the owner of a wholesale bakery myself,
I can see that milling flour is Denver's unique selling point,
but Mark and Sally's obsession with the mill is to the
detriment of everything else.
I've GOT to get them to see the rest of the business
and what it means to them for it all to be a success.
So what I want you to think about is the unthinkable.
I'm afraid your sense of self-worth is
so wrapped up in the flour milling thing that I think you are really
ignoring at your peril,
what is the bit of the business that makes money - the cafe.
But if we didn't have our flour which we use in our products,
our breads and our cakes, which is what makes them so nice,
cos the flavour of our...
of stone-ground flour is very different from the flavour
of roller-milled flour.
-Sweetheart, I have a bakery, I know this.
-I know you do.
You have to start thinking commercially!
You have a very tough decision here.
-You have no money in the bank.
You have a bit of the business that's working. You're managing to...
you know, to do a little bit of milling in the set-up that you've got now,
but is it enough to be the raison d'etre of this business?
This isn't your life. This isn't your family. This isn't your home.
Just stop behaving as if it is. This is a business, guys.
You've got to make it work so that you have money to feed and clothe
and shelter yourselves.
Running a family business should be a pleasure. It has become a chore.
At the end of the day, if Denver Mill is going to survive,
they just have to be more commercially minded.
They have to be more focused, they have to concentrate.
They all have to be pulling in the same direction and they have to start now.
The second company I'm visiting this week is a family-run bridal
boutique in the Midlands.
With over a quarter of a million weddings every year in the UK,
it's an industry that's worth nearly £130 million annually.
Even though the economy is in trouble,
people still spend money on weddings.
This is a business that should be more or less recession proof.
But Courtyard Bridal Wear in Kettering is in trouble.
Ready? In this sort of shop, we always have the tissues!
It was set up by Anne Preece who runs the shop with her two daughters.
I love doing it, my life is wrapped round it, my life is wound up in it.
But as customers, sales and profits have taken a nose dive,
the family have fallen out of love with one another.
I said, "What are you looking for?"
I was looking for a 38 trouser, but I had to leave what I was doing and go and look for it.
But as the business crumbles around them,
sisters Bethan and Rihannon can't stop blaming each other.
If you don't deal with them, how am I supposed to know?
Bethan and I have fallen out since we've been working together.
I don't think she trusts me any more.
-Are you annoyed with me?
The rift between them is, I feel, the fact that one has children
and one doesn't.
Um, sometimes I don't think Bethan quite understands how tiring it is.
I do resent my sister. In my head, she thinks of herself first,
and doesn't think of the business or Mum or me.
But it's because I can't get babysitters. I can't necessarily rely on some family to babysit.
It was the same before you had children.
-No, it wasn't.
-Yeah, it was.
-No, it wasn't!
I feel like I've kind of let everybody down...
The rift between siblings is pulling this business even further apart.
The stress is compounded by the fact that Anne can't afford to pay herself a wage.
and has had to remortgage her home to keep the shop alive.
It IS quite scary at the moment.
The real worst-case scenario would be
to end up in a bankruptcy court -
that would be the very, very, very worst thing that I could imagine.
My first impression of Courtyard Bridal Wear
is the shop itself looks rather tired.
Certainly for a wedding dress shop
that window display is all-important.
That is how the world sees them
and that is what's going to convince people to come through that door.
How are you? Anne, it must be.
-That's right. Welcome to Courtyard Bridal Wear.
-Thank you very much.
I've had a little walk past the shop, gone over my first impressions.
How many styles do you stock here?
Do you keep close track of that kind of thing?
Well, we do, but we don't have sort of a written down record,
if that makes sense.
-OK, so that's an immediate flaw that we can identify.
-We know that.
-There's no point knowing it and not doing anything about it.
-It's worse to know that's a flaw and not to do anything about it.
As Anne takes me on a tour of her back room,
it's soon clear that she has amassed an overwhelming
amount of dresses, crammed into every corner of the shop.
-Wow! Look at this!
We call her Cupcake. They all have names, all nicknames,
and we always call them shes or hers.
I don't know why, it's a bit like a boat.
Courtyard Bridalwear stocks 150 dress styles,
whereas similar stores will only stock half that.
-Right, are you ready?
-Yes. I'm coming in!
-What's your average spend here?
-People would come in and say, oh, I've budgeted for £1,000,
but we have found that lately, that has gone down quite considerably.
I actually think it's immoral to show a girl a £1,500 dress
when she can only afford a £500 one.
Oh, my goodness, darling, wakey wakey!
A girl has a way of getting what she wants for her wedding day.
If you can persuade them to spend a little bit more money, you should.
-How strict is your budget?
-I'd say it's not very strict!
I would tend to agree with you, darling!
I'm sure my partner thinks differently!
Anne's reluctance to push sales is a concern...
-Are you ready for me?
-Let's have a look!
..but so too is the sheer amount of stock. And it gets worse!
In the store room, there's a wedding dress graveyard!
-All this is what we'd call dead stock?
So, things that have either been discontinued,
-have been on sale and haven't sold?
What proportion of the dresses that are actually in your shop
at the moment will end up on the remainder rail...
-would you say?
-Oh, my God!
Let's say the dresses average, to be generous, £500 a dress.
That's £75,000-worth of stock you have there!
With so much of their money tied up in dead stock,
Anne not paying herself a wage and with her home now on the line, it's a bleak picture.
If I said to you off the top of your head, what was your turnover last year?
Do you know your profit margin?
I'll be honest,
I don't know half of what things mean on the balance sheet.
Well, you know...
I know when it says 5,000 at the bottom, that's what I pay my tax on.
-Yeah. That's your profit, darling.
That's pretty poor,
especially as you've committed yourself...
You've remortgaged your house.
You're not paying yourself.
The picture would be much worse if we put in even a nominal sum for your work.
-Yeah. I don't know if it's ever going to get better.
Of course it will!
If you really thought that, you wouldn't have asked me in!
You must see some hope. Otherwise, let's not bother with this, then! You know!
Who are you doing this for?
If you're doing it for your daughters then they have to bloody pick up the slack!
If I AM going to get this shop back on its feet,
The family are going to have to stop bickering and start pulling
in the same direction.
Ultimately, Courtyard Bridalwear's figures show that they would be
better off just closing the business,
which is a very hard fact to face
after all the hard work that Anne's put into the business.
This is something that I now have to convey to her children
and, you know, it's time that they WERE made aware of these facts.
So, let's cut to the chase straight away.
Last year, on 190,000,
you made a three percent profit,
which is just over five grand.
You would be better off if the business closed.
I suppose it's never been put so bluntly.
What's the point of this for you?
Why do you want to be involved in this business?
It would be sad to say, it's all just gone. You know.
Nine years of our lives. Just wasted.
I don't know if I love the business or I love Mum,
and I want to help her.
We've got to start boxing a bit cleverer.
I'm hoping this reality check will force the sisters to buck up their ideas.
If the family can't move forward, then they'll all be out of a job.
# It's a new dawn, it's a new day
# It's a new life for me, yeah
# And I'm feeling good... #
At Denver Mill, emotions are also getting in the way of business.
The Able family have an idealistic love of milling, but have no idea
or interest in how to turn a profit.
We know that we've got to get this business working.
If the site turns into a tearoom and a gift shop,
I don't want to work here!
Their onsite cafe DOES pull in the punters, with quality produce
made from their home-ground flour.
I think there's a wider market for their products,
if only they'd think outside of the box.
Forman & Son, a century-old family smokehouse,
developed a luxury hamper range ten years ago
and haven't looked back since.
It's a market that's worth a staggering £75 million a year
in the UK alone.
I want the family to realise they CAN keep their heritage
AND turn a healthy profit too.
First of all, why are hampers a good idea?
We're very much a fresh food company,
but they wouldn't necessarily come to us for gifts.
So hampers gives you an extra element that you can...
you can supply to people,
they can just buy it off the shelf or out of a catalogue
and, you know, it's all there complete.
The key to all this, I would suggest,
is sourcing stuff that people cannot find so easily independently.
The hamper challenge.
We've got a whole load of your products on that table over there,
so I just want to see what you think makes a good hamper.
I'm interested in seeing what they think goes together,
whether they have a theme, whether they can explain that theme to me,
whether they've thought about the cost of the goods
and what kind of mark-up they can put on it.
I need them to prove they can think commercially.
Contents, £25. Box, don't know the price of.
Have to roll me sleeves up, it's no good.
Disappointingly, they're being very random.
Toast and honey, beer and clotted cream - there you go.
Apart from Sally who, unusually, is very focused on
what customers might be willing to pay for.
I was trying to do something different
and do more of a hamper just with our baking products.
Let's have a look, then.
So, your thinking was here?
It's a showcase of our products and if somebody wants a sort of, like,
you know, start-up kit to try and start
making their own bread with our products, this would be it.
I love it. I mean, to me, this really, you know, this...
this sells your brand, you know.
You know these products are excellent products
cos you're producing them yourself, and part of the reason for doing hampers is to promote what you do.
I was worried that Sally would let her values get in the way
of creating a hamper you could make a healthy profit on,
but her bread-making kit captures the essence of the mill
and passes muster with the experts.
That looks like something you'd spend money on.
-That looks worth plenty, yeah.
It's very natural looking and it says something about you,
and I think that that's... you know, that is great.
It was a real eye-opener for me.
Made me realise that you can progress and you can make money,
but still hold these values.
With the new day comes a new direction for Denver Mill.
To help the family I'm introducing them to David Revell,
who has created brand identities for heritage sites
like the Roman Walls at Chester.
He's been working on a selection of logos for the mill.
The first one is our classic and we were thinking the National Trust,
English Heritage, those sort of things and there's a middle ground,
which is a little bit more contemporary.
And then there's another look and feel,
which is about being a bit more artisan.
I must say this is really exciting. These are like the dark arts
that we mere mortals are not really sure of
but it's suddenly becoming very obvious.
I think this looks too classy for us.
I don't think we're quite... As much as I like them.
And I think this is a sort of image that you could use on a sack,
-you could block print it.
-You imagine it being a stamp.
-Which I love.
-And how it can be manifested
is so much part of the brand, and it can be stickers.
You can be folding your flour bags down and putting the sticker on it.
-They work really well in packaging.
I think the main thing, which is very appealing,
is that it has so many uses.
I mean, that shape, that format, is so easy to transfer onto.
So, do we have a winner?
-I think it's got to be this one.
-Yeah, that one.
Ready to derail the process.
Honestly, I'm relieved that they came
so quickly to a decision about a logo that they all agreed on.
I wasn't going to let them leave the room until it was hammered out.
What I really wanted them to be aware of was once they'd left this room the bridges are burnt,
there is no turning back and so they had to commit to it wholeheartedly.
And actually, I think, overall they did.
With the new heritage logo chosen, it is essential that the shop
starts to match the smart image they will be presenting.
I want them to promote their own products
and other local produce, not the tat they have been touting.
We need to get all those units out of the way. I'm not sure where.
Just move it into the middle for now.
We'll be moving something over there to bring something in there
to move it back over there.
But this is the only way we can do it,
short of taking everything out of the shop.
Put it in the back garden and bring it all back in again,
which might be an idea.
In just a few weeks' time,
I want to help the Ables relaunch Denver Mill as a destination,
not just for fans of flour, but for foodies far and wide.
I'm hoping the rejigged shop is a step in the right direction.
Very different. Oh, I like it. I love this.
I mean, that looks amazing. All your produce.
Instead of hiding behind cheap toys, the mill products take
pride of place alongside the best of Norfolk food.
It is an impressive turnaround
and a big step in the right direction for the Ables.
Back at Courtyard Bridal in Northamptonshire, I am still
battling to push them in the right direction, too.
Owner Ann is deep in debt
and her daughters are too busy bickering to help.
What's more, the shop is swamped in dead stock
and in desperate need of a facelift.
I think visually this shop is cram packed.
I don't think things are displayed particularly brilliantly.
I would agree on that. Definitely.
I think you walk in and you think, bloody hell, where do I begin?!
Somehow, this isn't aspirational enough.
So we need to make this kind of just a bit more special
as a shopping experience.
-We've got too many...
-OK, pick out the ones that have definitely never sold.
Not only will holding a discount sale help de-clutter the shop,
the family should also generate some cash to rejuvenate their tired sales floor.
That one can go. That one can go.
That one can go, never sold that one.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16...
-They need to go, would you agree?
I'm not quite sure who to blame for this ridiculous mess.
What they seem to have forgotten is that sample dresses are only
useful for them if they generate future income,
which some of these dresses are signally failing to do.
She's been on the shelf for about a year and a half.
-And we've never sold one.
-Never had one person in it.
-So it can go.
The girls have managed to clear out over 150 dresses
and hired a hall for the sale.
Now, all they have to do is flog them.
To cover our costs, I worked out we need to sell seven.
Best case scenario, we don't have to pack anything up and go home, yes!
There's really expensive dresses here that are worth £2,000
and we are selling them for £149.99.
So people are getting a great bargain.
Just got to hope that people come, now.
As soon as the doors open, the brides flood in.
Take up this bit, from here.
Oh, I like that. I think that's lovely.
Try those two on first, and then come back for this one.
-I think it's beautiful.
-As the morning wears on, business is brisk.
One more, and we've paid for the sale.
So anything after that will be ours. So that will be good.
See, it's nice to be busy, rather than standing around twiddling our thumbs.
I love this taking money thing!
Bye. Thank you.
But after a rapid start, sales slow right down.
Here we are standing around at three o'clock
and we have got another two hours to go and we haven't seen any customer since one.
That, to me, is a failure.
The sale might not have been a huge success,
but at least we are moving in the right direction.
-I felt it was a bit disastrous.
-Why? You made money.
-We did make money.
-But it was an awful lot of work to make that small amount of money.
I think that you are approaching this in the wrong light. Seriously.
I mean, every single person who came in and booked, bought a dress!
That is an amazing hit rate.
And I think what you need to always do is step back
from every situation and think about it in purely business terms.
Yes, you bust a gut to do it. That's the negative.
The plus side is that you are 600 quid up.
You know, at the end of the day, you cannot stop fighting,
you have to keep pushing the envelope, you have to keep thinking of something new, fresh.
You have to push your own boundaries.
At the moment, I'm doing the pushing.
-Once I'm gone, you are going to have to do that for each other.
When they get back to Kettering, there's some really good news.
After some serious phone-bashing,
Ann has managed to secure a buyer for that unsold dead stock.
A discount bridal outlet have bought the lot for a few thousand pounds.
We're photographing the dresses
so we remember why they didn't necessarily sell.
Now they'll be able to make the changes the shop is crying out for.
Just tell Mum to bring the dress over here
-if you don't want to deal with it.
You're making a mountain out of a little molehill.
-I'm making a mountain out of a molehill?
-A little bit.
If, that is, they can stop arguing for long enough!
-Fine, I'll deal with her, then.
I think this constant sniping
is because the girls don't have clearly defined roles.
I want to hear what they think they bring to this business,
and how serious they are about its future.
I thought it might be a good idea
to get the girls to interview for the positions they already have.
I don't expect to walk away from here thinking that everything is resolved for ever.
What I would like to teach them
is a way to deal with each other that is professional
and that doesn't revert back again and again to that family bickering.
So, shall I start asking questions or do you have something to show me?
Um, I'm obviously Bethan McCall, 28,
and I believe that I have an eclectic skill set
that will be able to fulfil this role in a good way.
I feel I can communicate very effectively,
I communicate on a daily basis with the brides,
I feel I have good selling skills
and I think that's very much part of communication.
I've got a B in GCSE Mathematics,
which I know is very basic but that's where it all starts,
we all have to count.
So, do you think you could work with the other members of the team?
Yes, of course I can work with Rhiannon.
Sometimes we don't always get on but that's the sisters in us,
not the colleagues in us.
Where are those sisters going to live from now on?
At the door, before we come in.
-But so is the mother.
I have not been focused in the past, um...
But I believe now I can see clearly the path before me.
I want to work alongside my family in harmony.
Courtyard Bridalwear, I feel, is my chosen career path.
Even though other people could probably do the job much better than me,
I can bring love to the business.
It is a family business, I can give that,
no other person can.
The only thing that concerns me slightly
is that everything that you said you wanted to do was all to help me.
Not much of it was about you.
I want you to get something out of it as well.
It hasn't just got to be about saving Mum.
You have to be part of the team,
not just somebody holding up the rest of us.
I suppose at the end of the day
this was never my dream, it's yours, it was never my dream.
I don't know,
it was never in my career choice,
so everything's to help you.
But then, should it be?
I want you to want the job, I want you to...
I do want the job, just maybe for different reasons.
I want you to really want the job for you,
and to make you better, and to enjoy your life.
I told Mum that I do...
I don't do the job for me, I do it for Mum.
Do you think, though, through this process, though,
you will start doing it for all of us and yourself, or not?
I don't know.
I want to make it successful so that I still have a job.
So, as long as you know my heart's in it.
Yeah, and so is mine, just for different reasons to you.
That's fine, we can have different reasons.
-Yeah, as long as we have the same goal.
-Do love you.
Ah, you freak!
At Denver Mill, it's not just the family showing a united front.
I think they're really, really nice.
This fragmented business is being pulled together with clear
rebranding throughout the site.
-That was good.
-Yes. That's good.
Well, these are our new leaflets.
And don't they look nice?
I don't want to put them out in case the public take them.
These are mine!
Look at this! It's fab.
The first sign that there has been really significant
change at Denver Mills.
It is important to show that they are becoming a more
professional outfit, that they're thinking about their branding,
their face to the world.
In just a few hours, the family will host their first ever farmers' market
and launch the new Denver Mill brand.
Sally has been working overtime on the hampers.
The perfect showcase for their revitalised image.
-You all right, Sal?
Don't forget to put loads of that stuff in.
The hampers are unique to the mill
and are a great way to promote their own brand flour.
By grouping this with other products, they are tapping
into the home baking market that has currently never been bigger.
-It's like doing mill tours. I'll be Dad's glamorous assistant.
This is the beginning
of what is going to be a huge warehouse-style factory
-making hampers. This is the miniature version.
I mean, fantastic!
As well as selling in their own shop,
I think these hampers are ideal for bulk sales that could take the Denver Mill brand countrywide,
making the business much less reliant on passing trade.
For now, though, they are a great way to show off the new look Denver Mill at the farmers' market.
With food producers coming from all over the county
the pressure is on to make sure the event goes without a hitch.
I've got to do labels for the spelt biscuits.
Lindsey seems to be running around trying to do everything.
See if he knows where the side of the gazebo is.
Duncan's trying to do that.
Have you any idea what's going on?
Which way round we are now?
The family are hoping to take £1,500 today,
which is a lot given they only made £7,000 profit last year.
So, we need people to spend.
Smoke after bonfire night. That sort of taste.
The variety of products is a real draw for Norfolk's foodies.
From fudge to chillies and coffee to cider.
The site really feels like a hub for good food,
but to make this a regular event at the mill
it needs to be profitable for the stall holders.
-How have you done?
-I think we have sold quite a lot.
Really nice. Nice setting here as well.
It's quite magical, so definitely worthwhile, we'd do it again.
-I wanted to come and support Denver and...
-I'm really pleased.
..when they're trying to do something new and exciting
so we've all got to stick together, all us food producers.
What they offer their customers
is actually sensationally good.
As long as they keep that up I think they'll succeed in the long term.
This event is only the start,
but the family did manage to beat their £1,500 target tonight.
And better still, they've realised passion and profit can go hand in hand.
It is about profit, although it sounds like an awful thing.
I don't believe that any more, I don't believe it is an awful thing to say.
Of course it's about making profit, we won't survive if you don't make profit.
We've come a very long way in these last two months.
We acknowledge now that
we probably would have given up.
None of us want that to happen.
You've achieved a lot, I think.
You've understood how important it is
to combine every aspect of the business.
I'm very happy with how there's such consistency of branding.
I do think that makes you look much more professional
and I think that's what you needed.
I think you mustn't bury your head in the sand
about the financial parts of the business
and if there's nothing else that I've reminded you
it's about the fact that successful businesses are built on the bricks and mortar
of making sure you make a profit on every item you sell.
I mean, it's, you know, it's not rocket science, is it?
I think we've got a much better chance now
than we certainly had before Alex came
and I'm looking, you know, I'm looking forward
to putting some of the things into practice that she's taught us.
The Ables' new-found focus on what makes their business work is a triumph.
So, how have they coped since I last saw them?
Have they managed to keep their focus on the business
without getting bogged down by the broken windmill?
What we have been doing in the last year,
is we have been trying to develop our outside sales.
Which is really what Alex pointed us in the direction of.
With Mark's electric mill now firing on all cylinders,
flour production has gone into overdrive.
-I am Duncan from Denver, this is Lindsey and this is Sally.
We have been selling our flour externally
and we have five new outlets.
You can buy our flour from five other places around Norfolk,
rather than just having to come to this site.
One of the best things that Alex did for us was giving us this new logo
and brand recognition and so obviously,
the more places we have our logo out and about, the more
people are going to know about us and the better recognised we will be.
And I'm pleased to see that Sally has big plans for future hamper sales.
Obviously, we have been concentrating on the hampers since Alex left. They have been really good.
And now I'm getting myself set up and ready for Christmas.
The on-site cafe continues to be a hit with the locals
and the streamlined shop has taken off, too.
Attitude has changed since Alex came, in that we no longer
do things that we don't think are profitable.
If something isn't making money, there's no point in doing it.
But despite the positives,
the family have recently received some catastrophic news.
At the end of last year, we had notification from the landlord
saying they weren't going to renew our tenancy.
And obviously that was a big blow to us.
We then had to start thinking what to do next.
With the landlords ready to sell the site, and a potential price tag
of over half a million pounds, the outlook seems bleak.
But the Ables are determined not to be beaten without a fight.
So they have called in community action expert
Pat Murch for some much-needed advice.
Pat heads up a group of locals who bought their village pub
when it faced extinction.
And the family are hoping she can help them work out a similar model for the mill.
Anything like this, it's so important that you get people who are enthusiastic involved.
There was already a lot of interest in the village,
because everybody wanted the pub to be saved.
We circulated to everybody in the village
some details of what it was we were planning to do to buy it.
We gave them a form so that if they were interested,
they could buy shares.
The shares are £1 each, but you have to have a minimum of 250.
And the maximum was 20,000. We haven't had any 20,000s as yet.
-We're still hopeful.
-Can I have that?
-I brought a copy so that you could have something to consider.
They would need to raise around £600,000 from the community
in order to buy the mill and have only a few months
in the middle of a recession in which to do it. It's a huge task.
But Lindsey and Mark want to give it at least a shot.
The goal that we have had all along for the heritage side
is that the mill is here at the end of the century.
So by selling shares, the site will be protected
and people can actually own a little bit of this mill.
To have any hope of selling enough shares to buy the site,
the family set about spreading the word far and wide.
The guys from Denver Windmill are here.
They're going to tell us a little about how you can own
part of history.
It's a huge day in the history of Denver Mill.
They are opening their doors to potential investors and will today discover
whether there is enough interest to make community ownership viable.
To encourage people to come, we're putting on a ploughman's buffet,
which we've been doing recently with outside catering we have started doing.
It's basically a ploughman's but in a buffet.
It's our bread, local cheese, local pickles,
local beer and local apple juice as well.
So hopefully, that will be enough to entice people to come along
and listen to what we say to them.
We have got to get moving to get this function up and running.
We got to get a shift on. Simple as that.
200 people would be absolutely brilliant.
Any less than that will be OK, more than that, I shall panic!
With ploughman's lunches aplenty,
the Ables have managed to draw in a crowd.
And after an emotional plea from Mark...
It's not a building, it's a machine.
And like any machine, it can come alive again.
..it's time to find out how many locals might be willing to invest.
Yes, I'd certainly be interested in buying shares.
Hubby and I, and perhaps some of our relatives we could talk into it.
Neighbours, friends, yes.
We're looking to buy 200 shares, £2,000.
That sort of region, really.
The show of support is strong, but what the family need is cash
and plenty of it.
OK, so these were...
ten... 250. 50.
Just over £4,000.
£4,000 in pledges is an admirable effort,
but nowhere near the 600,000 the family need to buy the mill.
I think we've done everything we can here
to do what we have to do here and to try to stay here.
I think it's now the end of the road as far as that's concerned.
With only two months left to raise such a huge sum, the family
have had to face the reality of leaving Denver Mill behind.
But there is hope.
In the last few weeks, the Ables have managed to sign the lease
on new premises inside the historic Hanse House in nearby Kings Lynn.
Last year, before Alex came,
we felt afraid that because the mill had broken, and the mill
is the centre of our business, that we couldn't carry on without it.
And she came in and explained to us that there is more
to our business, there is more to us, than just the windmill.
So, although we would love to be here, it doesn't really...
We don't feel afraid any more about whether we're going to be here or not.
We know we can survive without it.
Their plan is to take their electric mill with them
so they can still make their flour, open up a new tearoom and shop,
and relaunch the whole business model on a new site.
And now that they have a much better understanding of how to run
a business, they will be starting this venture from a much
At Courtyard Bridalwear in Kettering,
it's nearing the end of my time with the Priest family,
and their much-needed makeover is already under way.
What's more, the squabbling sisters seem to have buried the hatchet.
I think the refit is going to change
the perception of the shop as a whole.
It's going to be more upmarket and a bit more modern.
Anne and Bethan are taking lessons in business finance.
When they say to you, you need to make 10% more profit,
it's not magic.
I now know the difference between gross profit and net profit.
Oh, my God, is that the sign?
It's the rebirth of our business, I suppose -
out with the old and in with the new.
The three of them have come together as a team,
and they've transformed the shop into a wonderful bridal boutique.
That is a really fun window display.
If people don't stop and look at that, I'll be very surprised.
It's kind of provocative and witty and charming.
It shows that there's been a brain at work here.
The window display is the best form of advertising that any shopkeeper has,
and they're certainly winning with this one.
What a difference!
I'm thrilled and amazed.
Somehow, everything feels more precious.
This is just somewhere you'd want to buy a dress.
This is definitely a destination shop now.
I think that this really shows that we have changed
and that we have to change to keep up with the shop.
With the new-found focus on the business,
they relaunch as Courtyard Bridal Boutique.
To promote the relaunch, nine brides are invited back
to renew their vows in front of a captivated audience,
including press and the movers and shakers of the bridal world.
God is love, and those who live in love live with God.
That each marriage promise renewed here today
will be a faithful sign of your love in the world,
and as the years go by
bring them ever closer to each other and to you,
for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.
It seems strange giving them permission, but you may kiss your wives!
Tell me what's in your future.
I, in the future, I'm going to look upon my daughters as young women,
independent, but both very competent,
and they've shown me that, that they can both actually do the job.
I feel slightly tearful.
We couldn't have done it without you.
It's been an absolute pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, pleasure
to work with you all. I've enjoyed every single minute.
When I first came here, the thing that I was most nervous about
was that Anne, Bethan and Rhiannon really struggled as a family in business together.
What I'm most proud of now is that they've resolved their differences as a family,
and that has transferred into their business life,
and ultimately, that gives me great confidence in the future of this business.
Now, though, the Priest family have to make things work on their own.
In the 12 months since I left, have Anne, Rhiannon and Bethan
managed to build on their success or fallen back into their old ways?
You can start arranging that side. I've dusted there.
-It's been a huge improvement to us, hasn't it?
Business-wise, we're very much more focused on finances.
Gross turnover is up 28% in the first quarter,
so it's going really well. We're really enjoying it now.
Anne has begun to take a back seat in the business,
and couldn't be happier with her daughters' progress.
They've been running the shop by themselves
and they've been doing that now since February.
Rhiannon has really excelled at buying.
Bethan has proved to be an excellent financial manager.
They are now definitely equal partners.
The girls are now running the shop,
but they're about to embark on something even more ambitious -
making the bold move to push the business upmarket.
We're going to see Ritva Westenius,
who is the bridal designer of the year.
We're coming to meet her in person today,
and to see if we could possibly stock her brand.
An exclusive deal with a designer dressmaker
would massive expand the company's money-making potential.
These dresses will retail at upwards of £3,000,
around twice as much as the most expensive they currently stock.
The responsibility is ours now.
If anything should happen to the business, it falls upon our heads.
Yeah. It's kind of pushing out of our comfort zone for them,
that's the way we probably need to go to make the business work.
-We haven't really got a major designer.
So this hopefully will secure more people coming into the store.
nervous, I suppose, a little bit,
cos at the end of the day, she has the power
to say that she doesn't want us and that we're not good enough for her.
That's very true.
This is a make-or-break meeting for the girls' bold new business plan.
Securing a contract with this award-winning designer
will make Courtyard Bridal one of only 25 companies in the UK
to stock the range.
And they'll need to work overtime to impress company boss Chenka.
Nice to meet you. I'm Bethan.
When I look for a new stockist, it's most importantly for the public.
It's good service. It's the most important thing in the world
to choose your wedding dress. And also about their personalities,
so I don't know them yet, so I'd be interested to find out.
You know, you can feel if people have passion or not.
So, Rhiannon and Bethan, this is all our dresses.
We've got loads of them, but what we've done here to help you
is put things into shape. So behind you, my darling,
they're more column shape or they're a gentle mermaid,
so they slightly kick out at the bottom.
And then you have A-lines for days,
right the way through here and into the other room.
-So I'll let you loose
-and then we'll put some on a dummy and show you.
-Thank you so much.
-I'll leave you for a moment to look.
-I like the high neck.
To have a collection like this
in our shop would be absolutely amazing.
-Oh, I love that one. That's the Gatsbys.
And to have someone so highly renowned within the industry
would just be fabulous for us,
so really this is, you know, this is a big deal to us.
-Awww, that's gorgeous.
-Can I stroke it?
-You may stroke it.
-Is it fabric?
-Feathers, not endangered.
-No, that's fine.
I really love the dress, but I have a feeling it might be a little bit
over the top price that we're looking at.
It's a beautiful dress, but it's just whether or not
it's in the parameters we've set.
If it's slightly over, it'll be fine, but if it's way over,
I think we'd have to say no,
even though it is the most beautiful gown ever.
It's reassuring to see Bethan not let her sister get carried away,
and that they are sticking to the budget.
-That is lovely.
-So these are the ones that would be definite...
-If it's viable.
The girls may have picked their dresses,
but will Chenka feel confident
that her collection and reputation are in safe hands?
I really hope that Chenka has got the right impression of us.
I really hope that we come across as serious businesswomen.
The main question is, we love your designs, they're amazing,
but it's whether or not we would actually
be allowed to stock you at all.
Oh, darlings. Erm...
I looked at the catchment area,
and I think the distance for exclusivity for you
and for any other of my stockists is perfectly fine,
so therefore I'd like to say yes.
-Oh, that's amazing!
No, seriously, if you'd really like to go, of course.
-I will back you up as much as I can, OK?
-Can I have a...?
-Oh, bless you.
-Oh, you're sweet.
-Thank you so much.
-No, you're more than welcome, seriously.
But thank you for choosing us, more than anything.
It's really great.
-Hi, Mum. It's Bethan.
We've just been to see Ritva Westenius
and her dresses are amazing, and they're beautiful.
-And she said yes!
-So we have taken on the label. We're very excited,
and we hope you're proud of us that we've done that.
-Love you lots.
-BOTH: See you soon. Bye!
Success! And that's not all
the ladies of Courtyard Bridal Boutique have to celebrate.
10 years ago, I opened the shop. So we always promised ourselves
that when it was 10 years, we were going to have a party.
Today, we are here to celebrate 10 years
in a dream business, so thank you to all our brides for trusting us
to be part of a very special time of your lives.
Rhiannon and Bethan have taken the step to become partners,
but not with me.
So hence this evening, I'm officially passing the business
of Courtyard Bridal Boutique
over to the capable, but still caring, hands of my daughters.
'This is our business. Mum is not retaining any part of it.'
It kind of feels surreal that it's our shop now.
-It feels like it really hasn't happened.
It feels kind of like your wedding day.
It's kind of a big change, but really it doesn't feel...
So here's to a lovely retirement.
-Have a lovely time.
I will, if you two don't ask me to do too much.
What an amazing turnaround.
And it doesn't stop there.
The shop has been named the best wedding dress retailer
of the East Midlands in the 2013 Wedding Industry Awards,
and they were shortlisted for the national award.
The future looks bright for these girls.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Alex returns to some of the businesses she first helped over a year ago, catching up on their struggles since she left and discovering whether they have managed to turn things around while still battling the harshest economic conditions in living memory.
In this episode, she returns to Denver Mill - a mill, bakery and café business in Norfolk - and Courtyard Bridal Wear in Kettering. At both places their dreams had turned into nightmares, perhaps not surprisingly given the poor handle on finances these two families showed.
At Denver Mill, Alex suggesting adding value to their products by creating luxury hampers and giving their brand a complete makeover so that they are actually shouting about what they do best. Finally, as the business is slowly pulled together, Alex gets them to relaunch to the public with a farmer's market that shouts about them as a local artisan venue and supplier. But when we return have they continued to build on Alex's advice or have the wheels come off? The biggest news is that the landlord of the Mill has decided to put the building up for sale, which could force them out.
At Courtyard Bridal Wear, the shop was shabby and the place was stuffed full of bridal gowns that were just gathering dust. Alex forced them to rethink whether piling the place full of unpopular dresses was a smart move or whether they needed a dramatic clearout. The place was given a major makeover and the girls were taught some business basics, relaunching the shop with a new look, new dresses and a new name.
When we return, will they have built on these building blocks?