In the Company of Mavericks

Conversations with entrepreneurs who dared to be different.

In the Company of Mavericks

Posted on 26/05/2023

This episode is made possible by Progressive Equity Research, providing freely available engaging research & opportunities to hear from a wide range of small & mid-cap UK-listed companies.

For today’s episode, I am rejoined by Sukh Chamdal, the founder and CEO of AIM-listed Cake Box

For background on Sukh and Cake Box, you should listen to episode 2 from November 2021, where Sukh talked about the formation of Cake Box as a retailer of egg-free celebration cakes and growth via a franchising model.  

I was keen to catch up with Sukh as, over the last 18 months, the UK consumer has been under pressure from the rising interest rates, inflation and a general cost of living crisis.  

Cak Box has also had specific issues not uncommon among growing businesses, and Sukh has a new senior management team. 

I visited Sukh last Summer and saw the Enfield distribution centre. I witnessed Sukh's passion for all aspects of the business, particularly the development of new products and production and distribution efficiency. 

Cake Box now has over 200 stores and continues to grow. Sukh believes that consumers have re-adjusted to the higher cost of living and remain prepared to spend on treats for birthdays and special occasions. 

Please enjoy my catch-up with the maverick, Sukh Chamdal.

Posted on 05/05/2023

This episode is made possible by Progressive Equity Research, providing freely available engaging research & opportunities to hear from a wide range of small & mid-cap UK-listed companies.

For today’s episode, David Seaman of Alpha Cygni Investment Management joins me for a conversation with James Wilson, fund manager of The Huginn Fund. The Huginn Fund applies the value investing principles of the wider Phoenix Asset Management team to international markets. However, James has his own very distinctive approach to investing. 

David and I have attended the Phoenix Annual Investor Meetings together for the last couple of years and have been impressed by James’ presentations of his top picks, last year of French champagne house Laurent Perrier and this year's US onshore gas producer CNX. 

James talks about his investment philosophy, why he seeks to invest in leaders rather than managers and the difference leaders can have on their organisations. He gives us insights into what he regards as the hidden value in three companies covering the French luxury goods industry, the US natural gas market, and the UK floor coverings market. 

James dives into his holdings in Laurent Perrier, CNX and the UK’s Likewise Group. 


James leaves few stones unturned in his approach to getting insight and understanding of the companies he invests in. He gives us a masterclass in value investing, the importance of doing the work, and the insights it can yield.  

I learnt a lot from this conversation. I hope you do too. 

Posted on 21/04/2023

This episode is made possible by Progressive Equity Research, providing freely available engaging research & opportunities to hear from a wide range of small & mid-cap UK-listed companies.

I am joined by private investor Mark Atkinson, host of the Desert Island Investor Podcast, for a conversation with Mark Smithson, the founder and CEO of Marks Electrical

Marks Electrical is an AIM-listed online retailer of household electrical products providing nationwide next-day delivery of a wide range of household appliances.  

Mark’s straightforward approach to his business is based on an enduring work ethic, deep domain knowledge and a commitment to business efficiency based on common sense and the application of technology.  

In today’s episode, we follow the story of an entrepreneur who started selling reconditioned second-hand gas cookers in the 1980s to become CEO of a listed business with a shareholding worth over £60m.

Mark talks openly about the challenges he’s faced and the mistakes he has made. 

However, armed with a “never give up” attitude, he sees his business as well positioned to grow market share in the competitive space for household appliances. Mark epitomises raw entrepreneurial spirit, and his story has lessons for us all.   

Posted on 02/04/2023

Today I am joined by two young active UK equity fund managers with distinct investment styles. 

Alyx Wood is the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Kernow Asset Management. Kernow is a contrarian investor using fundamental analysis and catalyst-driven mean reversion investing. Alyx is a long-short investor.  

Laurence Hulse is a Director of Dowgate Wealth. He is the fund manager of the recently launched investment company Onward Opportunities Ltd. 

Onward Opportunities' strategy is to pursue inefficiencies in the UK market for small and micro-cap companies. It is a long-only strategy.  

Laurence explains his background and how he fell for the style of investing, which he describes as engaged activism, using a velvet glove, not a boxing glove. 

He gives us examples of how this strategy has been effective in the past, and we talk about the current UK market conditions in which Laurence is launching this new vehicle. 

Alyx and Laurence are maverick investors among today’s market participants who are often passive trackers, index huggers, or trend followers. 

This was a fascinating discussion about how professional investors seek to outperform with strategies that Alyx describes as suiting their personalities. 


In Alyx’s capacity as a family office manager, he describes why he likes the strategy of Onward Opportunities and how it compliments his investment style. 

I greatly enjoyed this chat. I learnt a lot. I hope you do too. 

Posted on 23/03/2023

This episode is made possible by Progressive Equity Research Ltd.

A great conversation with two Irishmen with deep domain knowledge in commercialising modern pharmaceutical products. This is a journey into the world of precision medicine and diagnostics. Padraic Dempsey, formerly CCO at Uniphar, joins me for a fascinating conversation with Peter Keeling, the founder and CEO of Diaceutics PLC. Diaceutics' data platform DXRX sits at the intersection of life science and data science as a diagnostic commercialisation tool used by the World's largest pharmaceutical and biotech companies helping patients find the right therapy. It might not sound like a big deal, but as therapies become more targeted, it is much more difficult for the right drugs to find the right patients at the right time. 

Posted on 27/01/2023

Thanks to Progressive Equity Research for making this episode possible.

In this episode, Miles talks about the changes he is implementing in the business and the opportunities to grow by product, industry, and geography, both organically and via acquisition. Miles demonstrates a wide-ranging understanding of the markets in which Concurrent operates and foresight of how to raise its growth ambitions. Since joining Concurrent, the business has had to cope with a significant component shortage which has impacted the performance of the business in 2022. Toward the end of the episode, Miles discusses a significant obstacle he has had to cope with from a young age. Miles provides inspirational advice to others who might be facing similar issues. Thanks to Mark Atkinson for introducing Miles and the great questions he asks. Many thanks to Miles for sharing his story in such an open and honest way.       

Posted on 30/09/2022

In this episode, Andrew Hollingworth of Holland Advisors discusses what he looks for in the maverick owner managers he invests in. He talks about what he chose to back Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, now Frasers and how he thinks about capital allocation and governance issues. He also runs through his investment thesis on JD Wetherspoon, and other owner-managed scale economy shared businesses like RyanAir and Charles Schwab. Andrew is the fund manager of the VT Holland Advisors Equity Fund. This episode is produced in conjunction with Progressive Equity Research, offering objective analysis and access to company management teams across every market sector.

Posted on 01/07/2022

I am joined by franchise industry veteran, Ian Bradley, for a conversation with Stephen Hemsley, Founder and Chairman of Franchise Brands.

*** A REQUEST - I support a charity called Level Water which uses the power of swimming to change the lives of children with disabilities. Later this month I will be swimming the 6km from Averton Gifford to Bantham in Devon to help Level Water fund its noble cause. If you have found value in listening to the In the Company of Mavericks podcast series, I would appreciate it if you could make a modest contribution to my fundraising page. I have experienced myself and seen others flourish from the greater self-belief instilled from developing swimming skills and enjoying the water. It is a very worthy cause. Thank you. Jeremy ***

Stephen discusses his journey from training as an accountant to 3i, to Dominis Pizza and then onto the formation and development of Franchise Brands. He talks about the lessons learnt from the remarkable growth of Dominos, the importance of technology and effective guiding principles for developing trust with your franchise partners. 

Posted on 27/05/2022

This episode is a fascinating insight into the changing mix of our sources of energy from serial entrepreneur Andrew Austin. Andrew is founder and Executive Chairman of Kistos Plc which he founded in 2020. Kistos owns gas assets in the Dutch sector of the North Sea and has agreed to acquire an interest in the Greater Laggan Area, West of Shetland from Total. Andrew talks about how to structure M&A deals in volatile energy markets, the importance of low carbon locally sourced natural gas as a bridging fuel to a fully renewable future and some interesting tips with keeping in touch with his shareholders. Please enjoy our conversation with the maverick, Andrew Austin. Brendan D'Souza In the Company of Mavericks 

Posted on 29/04/2022

Renowned stockpicker Rosemary Banyard joins me for a fascinating conversation with Julie Lavington and Ali Hall co-founders and co-CEOs of online women's fashion brand Sosandar. Julie and Ali met in 2006 working at Time Inc. They launched the successful women's high street fashion magazine Look, which had a 300 000 weekly circulation. They identified an opportunity in the online fashion market and set up Sosandar in 2016, reversing the business onto AIM a year later. They have since strongly grown revenue and have been vindicated with the brand being carried by large UK retailers, M&S, Next and John Lewis. Julie and Ali talk openly about the challenges they have faced including raising equity, working with suppliers, and becoming a PLC. They also tackle head-on the question of operating as co-CEOs and demonstrate utter conviction about their plans to become an internationally recognised household name. Julie and Ali both have a rare authenticity and a refreshing approach to teamwork and shared responsibility which sets them apart from the norm, true maverick credentials.        

Posted on 01/04/2022

Brendan D'Souza of Dowgate Capital joins me to talk to Nadeem Raza, CEO of Microlise. Microlise is a dominant software supplier to the UK logistics and road haulage industry. Nadeem has worked his way up from being a software engineer in the late 1980s and gives us a masterclass in how focusing on solving customer problems and taking a long term view of the business opportunity can drive value creation. Nadeem discusses the impact of changing technology and events such as the financial crisis and the 2008 MBO focused attention on developing the SaaS revenue model. As he says, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. On IPO in 2021 Nadeem chose not to sell any shares and has subsequently bought more, marking him out from the norm. His long term vote of confidence in the international growth potential that Microlise offers is notable. Nadeem also describes how interconnected we are as an economy and the role that transport and logistics play vital roles in keeping us in the manner to which we have become accustomed.  

Posted on 04/03/2022

Chris Bogart discusses how he started to dabble in litigation finance as a hobby, but the onset of the global financial crisis led to the formation of Burford Capital and a 12-year journey to industry leadership and a listing on the NYSE. Chris describes how culture, risk assessment and the adoption of data science have all played a part in helping Burford drive its competitive advantage in the developing market for litigation finance. David Seaman of Alpha Cygni Investment Management adds some in-depth questioning on key aspects of the Burford story, including the periods of investor scepticism, its culture and how Chris thinks about risk. Please enjoy.