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Why I chose minority investment – Guy Schanschieff, Bambino Mio
Guy Schanschieff (right, with wife Jo Schanschieff) is the co-founder and managing director of Bambino Mio, the UK’s most popular reusable nappy brand. In 2021, the Northamptonshire-based business received £13 million from BGF to accelerate its growth in the UK and internationally.
Why did you seek investment in your business?
My wife and I founded Bambino Mio in 1997. Through a lot of hard work, we built the business to the point where it was turning over £12 million a year. It was great to hit that target, but we wanted more. We had a vision to reach a turnover of £100 million.
To achieve that, we needed to grow rapidly. We wanted to continue establishing ourselves as the market leader, we needed to bring in people with the right skills, and we needed support – both in terms of finance and expertise. Having an investor like BGF on board gives us the confidence to go forwards.
Why did you choose minority investment?
Before the investment, my wife and I owned 100% of the business. We wanted to take some risk off the table while also bringing on board a partner who could help us in the next stage of our growth. We also wanted to remain majority shareholders. This was important to us and to our staff.
We remain committed to the mission – now, we have a partner sitting alongside us to help us on that journey.
What were you looking for in an investor?
We needed one who bought into our vision. There are always financial considerations, of course. We have a view of what the business is worth and we needed alignment on that, but the main thing we thought about was our destination, and who we believed could get us there. We had about ten private equity houses talking to us, with different pitches – some with a focus on fast-moving consumer goods, some focused specifically on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, and others more generalist – so we had the luxury of deciding what we wanted.
Why did you choose BGF?
What impressed me was the proposal. We felt there was a real integrity. Whereas some other investors submitted cut-and-paste proposals, BGF articulated their ambition really well. I also liked that BGF invests across a wide range of sectors. We could have chosen a specialist investor – one that focuses on sustainability, for example – but our attitude has always been to aim for the mainstream. We liked the journey that BGF is on, and its ambitions around ESG, and we think we can contribute to that. Being involved with an investor of the size and reach of BGF gives us a better chance of having an impact.
How important was it that BGF provides minority capital?
It was vital. Others will talk about being comfortable with minority investment but I don’t think anyone is as comfortable as BGF. Having made the decision that minority capital was what we wanted, BGF were the obvious option because it’s what they understand, it’s what they are set up to do.
Did you make a board appointment following the investment?
We appointed James Syrotiuk, an investor at BGF, as a non-executive director. We also appointed Peter Unsworth as our non-executive chair. He’s got lots of experience, having been CEO of both The Tetley Group and Tata Global Beverages. We interviewed three people for the role of chair and both James and I agreed that Peter stood out as the best candidate.
What has BGF’s minority funding allowed you to do that you couldn’t otherwise?
It gives us the confidence to go for bigger things. I don’t have all the risk sitting with my wife and me. We have a partner to share the risk, and the journey.
Having an experienced chair behind me is really valuable, too. If you’re making investments worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, it’s reassuring to have a senior decisionmaker involved who can sense check your plans. The board is there to provide support, to make sure the business is profitable and growing, and to help me make good decisions.
Having the extra support also frees up some of my time, giving me more ability to focus on my political campaigning, raising the profile of Bambino Mio and working with retailers on a senior level. These activities can really add value to the business.
Did the deal involve charitable giving?
Bambino Mio has always supported charitable causes. As part of the investment, we donated to the newly formed BGF Foundation. I really like the foundation’s purpose, which is to offer support and grants to small and mid-sized charities which improve life outcomes for disadvantaged children, young people and adults living in the UK and Ireland. We also gave a donation to the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, a charity we have supported for some time.
Bambino Mio at a glance
Founded in 1997 by husband-and-wife team Guy and Jo Schanschieff, Bambino Mio creates long-lasting, stylish and affordable reusable nappies for babies from birth to potty-training.
Disposable nappy products are currently the third biggest contributor to landfill, with roughly 90 billion disposables thrown away globally every year, contributing to plastic pollution and non-biodegradable waste. Bambino Mio’s reusable nappies are sustainable and responsible to the planet – they produce 99% less waste and use 98% less raw materials than disposables.
The Northamptonshire-based business is using £13 million of investment from BGF to drive multi-channel growth and increase spend across the firm’s infrastructure, marketing, brand and product development.
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