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Witre Manutan – a turnaround in the middle of Covid-19

We met with Witre Manutan to talk about the importance of marketing to achieve success, especially in times of uncertainty. Witre Manutan has gone from being analogue to digital in a short time amid the current pandemic.

We have talked to their Nordic Managing Director, Etienne de Terrasson, and their Marketing Director Nordics, Daniel Collby, who started as interim Marketing Director via Nordic Interim.

Etienne says that he did not believe in the concept “interim”, but engaging Daniel has made him see what an important solution it can be to assign an external independent person to handle a tough challenge: “An interim gives results immediately. I used to think that it takes a long time for an interim to understand the business, but I was wrong. Daniel is a wizard.”

Daniel Collby began his interim assignment at Witre Manutan in 2019 with the task of improving and digitalizing the marketing function and upgrade the efficiency to increase sales. After 8 months, sales started to break all-time highs and the development looks very positive.

“An interim gives results immediately. I used to think that it takes a long time for an interim to understand the business, but I was wrong. Daniel is a wizard.”

“We are going through a major digitalisation and transformation of the company and it is extremely important that we do not forget the customers and that we take care of them, their queries are the same as before. It is important to know how they want us to reach them. To succeed, the team must believe in what we do and have a common path going forward. There is a tendency to get stuck and not being solution-oriented. For me, it is an interesting lesson to get the team to change its approach.” Daniel tells us.

Both Daniel and Etienne believe that it is crucial for the organization to know its products, figures and plan ahead, to achieve the set goals. “The organization did not know the answer to these questions and that was where we needed to start. Basics first. Together with the team, we worked with a business plan covering the next 2-3 years.”

“We need to learn the way forward, get everyone involved and allow mistakes as well. When the team says no, you must push them to change and show them the results in an encouraging way. You cannot be a dictator.” says Etienne.

Daniel believes that one of the advantages of driving change as an Interim Manager is that you do not need to take everyone’s opinions into account. “But it is important to agree with your core team. Now we are experiencing a change in attitude in the company. Before, they simply said ‘no’ and that change was impossible, but now they have realized that it is possible to do things faster and more efficiently and thus achieve success.”

Another advantage of an Interim Manager is that you don’t come into the business to make a career, but can focus entirely on the assignment, which guarantees a result. An interim does not pose a threat to the organization and can be clear and honest in a different way than employees can. Past successes, setbacks, and ways of working, what has worked and what has not, provide stability and security.

The business needed to see results immediately and a recruitment process for a permanent Nordic Marketing Director would have taken too long. “An interim has the same drive as a permanent employee, but more experience and focus. Daniel has introduced professionalism very quickly. As a manager, you can sit back and trust that the person reports back without considering internal politics and can analyse the function with new eyes.” says Etienne.

We asked Daniel how to quickly get into an organization and build trust: “You have to be clear about what you can and cannot do, not play games and pretend you know everything. Learning the products and showing that you believe in them is especially important. It is necessary to ensure that the team understands the business and work together with them. For me, it is easy to work with new people, I have a broad experience with a strong foundation as a consultant. When I started, I had three days to do an analysis that usually takes three weeks. We have made many efficiencies and have, among other things. shortened the preparations for campaigns from 9 weeks to 1-2 days and we have drastically improved our SEO, etc. Due to Covid-19 we have lost time and are behind schedule, but we are still on track. We have also looked at the results so far, it is important to show success and also to learn from past mistakes. Now we have a good starting position for Q3.”

Daniel is now taking on a permanent role at Witre Manutan and we asked Etienne why they chose this solution: “Daniel has been highly successful and is a very good leader for the team. With his background from digital marketing, he has made this journey before, has the competence and a good gut feeling. He fits well into our team. Getting him on board permanently is a stroke of good luck.”

Daniel discloses that he wants to continue the journey and see the changes and the result together with the team: “This lays the foundation for the entire business. It has been a little slower than I expected, but we are well on track. We are now facing a fresh start and I am convinced that we will beat the expectations.”

About Witre Manutan

Witre Manutan is one of Europe’s leading companies in workplace equipment with more than 2,000 employees in 17 countries. The Nordic business is in the middle of a major change/turnaround where the entire business, with a focus on marketing, will be digitized. Their largest customers are in warehouses, industry, and offices, which had its challenges in 2020.