Client profile - Matrix and Charlie Bradshaw

Matrix is no ordinary business and Charlie Bradshaw is no ordinary business owner.

“I now have a fantastic team now managing Matrix” he explains, “which leaves me time first, to work out how we can “disrupt” and digitise our business before someone else does it and secondly, to “put something back” by helping to show youngsters and those from disadvantaged backgrounds just how much fun work can be”.

“One of the best pieces of advice I was given when starting Matrix” says Charlie, “was from my father who told me that whatever I did, I should stick with Lubbock Fine because their advice was always the best. I’m never tempted to look for cheaper advice, as I know it’ll prove expensive in the long run.”

A long-standing client, Charlie Bradshaw came to Lubbock Fine when he set up his company at the tender age of nineteen. “Charlie’s father has been a client of ours for many years” said Mark Turner, Lubbock Fine managing partner, “which explains the connection. Charlie's firecracker brand of business management has led to huge success and great respect from his many customers and suppliers. He’s extremely passionate and very driven without being totally ruthless – that makes him pretty unique”.

Matrix is a product procurement and design company now supplying big blue chip organisations including British Airways, Primark, The White Company, BBC Worldwide
and Disney. If you’ve flown BA business or first class, your nice goodie bag will almost
certainly have been supplied by Matrix.

With several awards for innovation, a Queen’s award for enterprise, a trip to Buckingham Palace and an interesting, albeit short, conversation with the Queen under his belt, Charlie feels that Matrix is still small and nimble enough to tweak operations to fit a variety of situations.

The business model remains faithful to the one Charlie embraced when he started: buy goods at a certain price and sell them at a higher one. Perhaps the difference today is that it’s a hugely professional outfit with a 110-strong team and staff based overseas in China, Hong Kong and Dubai. Additionally, Matrix has relationships with hundreds of suppliers in the Far East and can design and procure almost anything. But it’s the future that most interests Charlie Bradshaw.

Some years ago, he attended a course at Singularity University in Silicon Valley (https://su.org) an organisation set up for business leaders who need to understand what exponential technology is and how to deploy it in business. Having been running his business for 17 years, Charlie was looking for new ideas and returned from California with his head buzzing. He realised that he could start to reinvent the way his sector worked and he now spends around 80% of his time on new developments. “At present,” he explained, “we can go into Primark on a Monday and present ten different iPad case designs. The buyer may choose designs 1, 2 and 4. We then produce them in China and three weeks later, 100,000 are delivered to Primark. Numbers 1 and 2 sell like hotcakes but number 4 is a “dog”, doesn’t sell, which affects Primark’s profits on the two successful lines.

In the future, we’ll be printing these iPad cases on 3D printers in Clapham, overnight. The store can then trial, say, 100 of each design in five outlets to see which sells best. Within 24-hours, we’ll be 3D printing 5,000 iPad cases that they know will sell, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities with better margins for the retailer and ultimately, cheaper products for the consumer. Right now whilst the actual cost of doing it this way is higher than producing them overseas, the same production run takes a month in China and 24-hours here. The implications are mind-boggling.

Another area of interest is the first humanoid robots working in China. These collaborative robots, called “cobots” sit opposite their human worker who are often, for example, very bored screwing endless tops on bottles. It has been proven that when a robot or cobot sits opposite them doing the same job, the human starts to do the job better. Whilst cobots have some outwardly scary, long term employment implications, Charlie claims that when the tractor was first introduced, there was uproar and 300 million people lost their jobs overnight. He believes that whilst technology can and will cause some temporary employment hitches, it has also brought the planet to its healthiest and wealthiest place ever.

“Lubbock Fine has been instrumental in our success and I love it that Mark Turner is so interested in technology,” Charlie continues, “I’m currently investing and putting time into a lot of pre-revenue start up companies where I can see exponential opportunity. Mark’s always happy to look at these from a financial perspective. He’s also now one of my executors and a real friend. He even sends me relevant newspaper cuttings because he knows how much I hate reading the papers! How many accountants out there would go to that sort of trouble? I am also very grateful to Clare Munro (tax partner) who’s awesome – very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable, there’s nothing she doesn’t know about tax and manages to make a mundane subject very interesting. Lubbock Fine Wealth Management and Neville Pereira are doing a great job on our pension portfolio for the whole family and I owe Simon D’Souza a drink for having gone above and beyond the call of duty on several occasions. I’m also using Russell Bedford International's member firm in Hong Kong who are advising me in a number of different areas and we’re consulting Russell Bedford (Dubai) to help us open an office there early in 2017. You could say that I’m more than happy with the pro-active service we get from the firm.”

Mark Turner added “The Bradshaw family and Matrix are really ideal clients. We now act for the whole family providing all accountancy, financial and business advice. They keep us on our toes but that’s the way we like to work with clients.”

Charlie Bradshaw is also very interested in helping youngsters, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to understand that working and business can be fun. He works with “Founders for Schools” (www.founders4schools.org.uk) and “Seeing is believing”, run by Business in the Community (BITC), (https://www.bitc.org.uk/issues/all-programmes/princes-seeing-believing) which involves him going into schools and prisons to encourage and inspire.

“Many people in prison, particularly young people, are there primarily through lack of
guidance and opportunity,” says Charlie. “70% of those who leave prison with the government’s £40.00, and a five week wait for their allowances to kick in, will reoffend without a job to go to. But if they can go straight into work, the reoffending rate is dramatically reduced. Currently, I’m helping with BITC’s “Ban the Box” campaign which works to ban the obligation to declare your criminal record on job applications. It’s a source of pride that Boots has now banned the box. I’m also mentoring a 26-year old prisoner, serving a two-year sentence, who has an amazing idea for a new product. Hopefully we can get it off the ground when he’s released and who knows, he could even become the next tech global success story!”

Anyone interested in working with Founders for Schools or Seeing is believing, please feel free to contact Charlie Bradshaw via Matrix. http://www.thisismatrix.com

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