LDC Top 50 2021
“Entrepreneurship is in my blood and I’m very proud of what we have created,” says Stephen Cann. When he joined his father’s business in 1992, Bollin Group was a distributor of torches, cutlery and Swiss army knives. Over the past two decades, he has acquired a number of businesses; Bollin now owns 70pc of its brands outright.
This strategy has helped the company to diversify – it’s now a big player in outdoor clothing and equipment owning brands such as Mountain Equipment, Sprayway, Ronhill and Bridgedale – and has grown turnover from £6m in 1992 to £71m in 2020. For Stephen, being a family business has been fundamental to Bollin Group’s long-term success.
I really enjoy seeing my colleagues progress. We provide long-term careers for people.”
What are your ambitions for this business?
I’d like to get to £100m in turnover. I set this target several years ago and we are approaching that now, and even though the pandemic put a kink in our curve, our sales bounced back in the second half of last year. I also really enjoy seeing my colleagues progress. We provide long-term careers for people. It’s been a tough time for the UK but everyone at Bollin has done incredibly well. I am spending a lot of time looking at how we can look after them now, at a time when everyone is beginning to fray.
Who inspires you in business?
My father, Tony Cann CBE, has developed several businesses over his life. He floated and sold a business called Promethean. In 2016, he founded an edtech business called LbQ to help cut down teacher’s workloads. At 82 years old, he’s still working and that’s pretty inspirational.
What do you do outside of work?
I walk 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day. I used to have a bad McDonalds habit and was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. That gave me the kick I needed to improve my fitness, so over lockdown I started running and I’ve now completed the ‘couch to 5k’and have done several Park Runs.