Alison O’Brien, the new UK Managing Director at Acdoco – which includes the UK’s No1 laundry brand, Dr. Beckmann, among its stable of marques – joined in September and is excited by both the prospect of building on the success of its best-selling brands as well as leading some of its challenger brands to a bright future.
Acdoco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Pronatura, owns the famous Dr.Beckmann brand – manufacturers of No1 selling Carpet Stain Remover, the No1-selling Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner and the No1 selling fabric whitener, Glowhite. It also distributes a number of market-leading health and beauty brands, including Alpecin, Blanx and fenjal.
“I am really excited to be here,” Alison said. “Part of what attracted me to the role in the first place, other than this being my first UK managing director role, was the opportunity to build on the success of Acdoco’s market-leading brands and, at the same time, lead some of the smaller brands in the portfolio to bigger things – it was an irresistible sweet spot.
“The company has enjoyed great growth and momentum – doubling in growth for each of the last 5-year blocks. My challenge is to make sure that continues and ensure that the company, our staff and myself are all fit for the future.”
While the company may be a four-generations-old family concern, it has real international ambitions and markets products in over 80 countries. And while brands like marketing-leading Dr. Beckmann have a firm UK base in the North-west of England, the company’s outlook is far beyond the shores of the UK.
Alison said: “The international piece is hugely important to the future for us. While we are a family-owned company, the owners are very ambitious to take the brands in their portfolio to the next level. We are constantly looking for new brands to work with.”
There may well be a more global perspective on the horizon but those northern English roots are a powerful influence for Alison.
Born and bred in Ormskirk, near Southport in the North-west of England, Alison studied History & Economics at Durham University but was bitten by the sales bug very early on in her career.
“My first real job was a sales role with Pepsico. I would literally sell crisps out of the back of my car – I used to love nothing more than selling my entire stock in the morning and having to drive back to the cash and carry to restock at lunch time. That buzz of selling everything really drove me on.”
Bigger things were on the horizon. Alison soon started working at Kellogg’s and her CV thereafter reads like a Who’s Who of North-west based power brands.
So, with such a strong portfolio of brands at Acdoco already outperforming rivals across the market, how will she maintain that upward trajectory of momentum?
“People are our biggest asset,” Alison said. “It is crucial that the people who work here want to be here. I aim to give every single team member a clear role profile, a smart set of objectives and a really strong development plan. This ensures we create lots of time for the individual and a team development process for the whole business, not just the leaders.
“We are planning training programmes for every member of the team at every level: leadership and technical. Post pandemic, it is about new ways to drive culture in a workplace which now operates on a flexible hybrid model. If your people are working from home two or three days per week, culture can take a bit of a hit. So, we are doing all we can to correct that.”
The pandemic has had a profound effect on the working environment and, more crucially, attitudes to work.
Alison said: “It has given us all a different lens on life. The value of time and how precious that time is to us, is very much the focus now. The lockdown and the whole working from home movement has proven we can operate successfully and do a good job from our homes, a coffee shop or the office.”