Hannah Lia, 36, works with stepdad Patrick Gore, 53, bringing together their combined skills to create luxury food gifts.
Patrick says, “I met Hannah’s mum, Heidi, through our love for swimming at the World Masters Championships in Sheffield in the 90s. Hannah was 12 at the time and also had an 8-year-old brother, Tom. The relationship continued to grow and we got married a few years later, closely followed by the arrival of a little sister, Emily, for Hannah and Tom.”
Hannah says, “From a young age, I always looked up to Patrick as a role model and took a great interest in what he did for work; it ignited a passion for business, and as I grew up I was always asking Patrick for the opportunity to do something together, however he (quite rightly) said I needed to cut my teeth in the real world of business for a few years to gain the valuable skills needed to run a successful business. I was lucky enough to work in two fantastic companies before joining hampers.com, which taught me some invaluable lessons and I was able to specialise in business change, team development and leadership.”
In 2010, Patrick was brought in to support hampers.com as a corporate financier, and owned 2% of the company as a non-executive director for nine years. He says, “When the former owner decided to take a step back, it was the perfect time for me to acquire the business, with much encouragement from my stepdaughter, Hannah. I acquired the company on 21st June 2019 and have been Managing Director of www.hampers.com now for 2 years.”
hampers.com offers luxury food & drink hampers for all occasions; both seasonal, including Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well non-seasonal, with gifts including wine and picnic hampers. Patrick says, “We believe that gifting offers an emotional connection like no other, and is a fantastic opportunity to show your family, friends and even your colleagues how much you care.” He adds, “I have run several other businesses, and so I know I can develop businesses rather than starting them from scratch. I was running a corporate finance boutique prior to the acquisition, so it was a very different proposition! The transition was made easier in that I knew the team at hampers.com very well. However, running an online retailer is very different to helping people buy and sell businesses.” Hannah says, “We knew there was a huge opportunity to transform the business into something very special, by creating a strong brand-led strategy for growth, and focusing on investing in our people, processes and tools, whilst also laying the foundations for an ethical and sustainable business model.”
The company is in its 42nd year, but Hannah and Patrick have been at the helm now for two years. Patrick explains, “The previous owner decided to take a step back which coincided with Hannah completing an MBA at Cardiff University and getting itchy feet to do something different with her career. I had been running the corporate finance boutique for 20 years, and so I was ready for a fresh challenge as well. Everything just fell into place – as if it was meant to be!” He adds, “I love seeing something you have influenced grow and flourish – especially the team. Seeing people achieve way more than they thought was possible is an awesome feeling!”
Hannah’s favourite part is being able to really influence positive change and see where you’ve been able to make a difference. She says, “hampers.com is a much smaller business than I have been used to; it’s been great to get involved in so many different areas, and really drive outcomes that you can see have a tangible impact on the company. I also thrive on growing and developing teams and culture, and we are really starting to see the fruits of this now with everyone working towards a clear vision.”
While they both enjoy the business, it also comes with challenges, Hannah says, “All the challenges come with something new to learn. However, to the detriment of my partner, we definitely suffer from talking about work a lot at family meals and on holidays! I would say that keeping up to date with regulations, particularly in the area of HR, is one of our most difficult challenges, because we’re trying to do so much at the same time, to enable the business to reach its potential.”
Hannah says, “Our people are our biggest asset; it’s been a really tough time working through the pandemic, especially with legacy systems and processes. Everyone working for hampers.com has really gone over and above to make sure we are delivering on our promise to our customers, whilst also working towards our business goals.
“Being primarily e-commerce, the pandemic meant our business model was well suited to gifting in a world where bricks and mortar shops were closed for so long. It’s something we could never have anticipated, but bringing joy to thousands of people during one of the toughest times we’ve experienced is pretty wonderful.”
Software has been another challenge. Patrick says, “I implemented some new software in a rush – and it turned out that it was not fit for purpose. I had to make the decision to change it, and change it fast. Mistakes happen and, as long as you learn from them (and don’t repeat them!), they are essential to being successful.”
Looking at the medium term, Patrick says, “Our vision is to bring joy and wholehearted togetherness to gifting, and we have a five-year plan to make progress towards achieving this. Our plan is based around developing the hampers.com brand, based on our key values: Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do, being best in class in all we do, respecting one another and being creative in the way we do business… whilst having fun along the way.”
Although Patrick has worked on developing businesses for 20 years, he has yet to develop his own exit strategy. He says, “We have so much more to achieve over the coming months and years; the real value creation has not really started yet. The brand is beginning to take shape and the business is becoming recognised as experts in gifting, who passionately care as much as our customers care about each and every gift we deliver throughout the world. I’m relishing not working on the details of business and seeing the people in our team who really know what they are doing, absolutely flourishing!”
Hannah has a goal for hampers.com: she says, “I like us to have achieved B-corp status and been recognised in the Best Companies awards. I feel like both of those would mean that ‘we made it’, and they’re good measures for some of our key strategic goals.”
Discover more about the business and what it offers at www.hampers.com