Shhhhhh … it’s all about margin

By Ed Savory, Birketts

I like the view that there are three stages to life. Stage 1: caring what people say about you; Stage 2: stop caring about what people say about you; Stage 3: realising that no one was actually talking about you. Nirvana.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Winter 2023|24

Legal: Ed Savory, Birketts

The point is that in a world dominated by social media, it’s all too easy to become obsessed by what people think.

I read an article by a researcher surveying some of the most successful business leaders from across the globe. A common theme was that these super-successful people avoided consuming mainstream media. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be aware of what’s going on, but to be cautious about wasting time and energy getting distracted.

Focus on profit

The challenge with the hospitality and leisure sector is that everyone does talk about your business. How often I hear: “I can’t believe how much a burger and chips was at so-and-so pub.” My response is that I can, and well done to that business! Clearly, they are protecting margin.

You will also find more venues that are not open every day – again, brilliant. Keeping a tight workforce and focusing on utilisation when they are open. And when it comes to nurturing people, the number one rule is to make sure they understand how and why you’re focusing on profitability.

It’s no different for a law firm. At Birketts, we have built specialist teams so that our lawyers are experts (not dabblers) and can be efficient and effective with their advice.

We also recognise the privilege of being deeply connected to the Norfolk community and supporting early-stage companies and clients who are feeling the pinch, as well as providing pro bono advice to charities, which is just as important. We value our culture more than anything and try to ensure that everyone at Birketts can be the best they can be.

Several years ago, I met a young entrepreneur running a well-known Norwich-based confectionery business. I asked him what the turnover was, and he went nuts. “Who cares about turnover? It’s all about margin.”

I explained that I was simply trying to establish the size of the business, but he had a point. At the time, many of his products were stocked in major supermarkets. This is no longer the case due to margin squeeze, and he now only trades in markets where there is sufficient profitability. That business is now bigger, stronger and, importantly, more profitable.

Storm clouds lingering

At the time of writing, I have just read an article about the crisis in the UK poultry production sector. Why? Large producers operating on micro-margins are under the pump due to a perfect storm of inflation, the war in the Ukraine and Brexit.

Let me tell you a secret – the Ukraine war is sadly not about to end, Brexit isn’t going to be reversed in the foreseeable future, and inflation will take longer to get back down to an acceptable level. So, my advice is to protect your margin and shut out the noise, because the current challenges are not going away any time soon.

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Get in touch

Ed Savory is a Partner in the Corporate team and Head of Food at Birketts

T: 01603 756479
Or visit 

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