Braemar boss James Gundy is keen to move forward after finally putting to bed any questions over legacy businesses sold over the past couple of years.
The London-listed shipbroker issued strong annual results on Tuesday after three months of delays while auditors grappled with complexities arising from disposals of subsidiaries such as Cory Brothers and the engineering businesses that went to Aqualis.
Gundy told TradeWinds that he is now focused on key objectives in shipbroking and not on any potential negatives.
“The past is the past. It’s something I’ve obviously had issues with, but now we can look forward. The business is in a strong place,” he said.
“We’ve simplified the business and we’ve proved that’s the right thing to do.”
Investors seem to agree. Following the profit announcement, the stock price jumped by up to 17%.
Gundy professed himself relieved at how his plan has panned out, but said he was always confident in his approach.
“Shipbroking has changed over the last 35 years, there’s more diversity within the sector. But if you maintain that focus on that arena, then you can’t go wrong,” he explained.
“It’s when you start stepping outside that arena into things you don’t necessarily understand [that] it becomes more difficult to focus.”
He is confident that he can interact with any of his broking desks and add value.
But with the non-core businesses, he did not understand enough about their operations to be sure how they were really performing.
“Those businesses were low-margin businesses. It’s not enhancing the main group, there wasn’t enough overlap,” he added.
He described keeping them as a risk, “because you have more personnel and less profit”.
Gundy said his staff are still proud of the Braemar name.
“It’s a great brand and now we have to build on that brand,” he told TradeWinds.
Legacy names such as the acquired shipbroker ACM have gone — “It’s all clean,” the CEO said.
Gundy has previously stuck his neck out on doubling the business over the next few years and is “100%” sticking with that.
“You can be influenced by the outside if you don’t understand the business. Now it’s my strategy and my view,” he said.
He believes Braemar slightly lost its direction for a while. “We’ve put it back on track again.”
Strategic recruitment has strengthened operations and Gundy has an open mind on adding staff.
Strength in diversity
“You need to take a mixed bag of personality coming through the training schemes, not just graduates,” he said.
“Longevity and relationships are key for youngsters coming through.”
Referring to recent movements of staff among rivals, Gundy said brokers starting out need to weigh short-term gain against the value of having a long-term career vision.
Mentoring is important at Braemar: “Occasionally young brokers need to lean on the senior personnel to help them.”
Braemar now has 14 brokers in Athens and nine in Geneva after opening up there in the past three years.
For Gundy, it is about making sure he is keeping on top of the business and ensuring it evolves.
“You can’t be allowing it to just sit, you have to make some decisions, to say, ‘Right, now it’s time to let the young blood come through’.”