Growth through investment
A Bibby Line Group case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Bibby Line Group started out as a family-run shipping business. It was founded in 1807 and since that time the company has grown to become a global business. It has also diversified into new business areas, such as financial services and asset management services, as well as logistics.

Today, Bibby Line Group employs over 5,000 people in 21 countries. It has a turnover in excess of £1 billion. Despite its size, the Group is not a public company. It remains in private ownership. The business is almost wholly-owned by the immediate Bibby family and its family trust. In 2011 Bibby Line Group received the UK Private Business of the Year accolade at the National Business Awards.

By retaining a private company structure, successive generations of the family have maintained control of the ownership of the business. Shares in a public company can be freely traded (bought and sold) on the stock exchange. However, shares in a private company can only be bought and sold with the permission of the board of directors.

A private company structure also allows the owners to maintain firm control over the culture and values of the business. The culture of an organisation is described as ‘the way we do things around here’. An important feature of Bibby Line Group’s culture is inclusiveness. It is recognised that everyone who works for the organisation has an important contribution to make. This emphasis on building a family-based business is reflected in the company’s main aim:

'The fundamental aim of the business is to invest in and develop a diverse portfolio of companies – the diversity is there to manage risk and create growth opportunities – which will be handed onto the next generation, and we’re currently with the family’s sixth generation.

Every business should be based on a set of core values. These drive everything a business does. Bibby Line Group has defined six values which it ensures are adopted throughout the organisation:

  • Positively challenging which is seeing how things it already does can be done better
  • Restless momentum which is focused on innovating, using the people and equity available to develop new products, markets and services
  • Making sure that all employees act with real integrity
  • Nurturing lifetime relationships with customers, suppliers and employees by developing activities to ensure that they meet each of the parties’ objectives
  • If the organisation can live the first four values then it will be powered by people and be focused on customers.

This case study looks at the strategies used by Bibby Line Group to grow the business, whilst retaining its strong family ethos.

Bibby Line Group | Growth through investment