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Monday, 15 August 2022
NIGEL WHITE is managing director of Higgs & Co., the printing and publishing company on the corner of Reading Road and Station Road in Henley. He was born in Lancashire and educated in Widnes, Cheshire. He and Caroline, his partner of 26 years who works in travel and tourism, moved to this part of the world in 2013. They live in Sonning Common with their two children, Alannah, who works in recruitment, and Lauren, who is taking her A-levels, and cockapoo Freddie, who has his own Instagram account. Nigel is a member of Henley Golf Club and plays billiards and snooker in the Henley & District League.
Describe your business
Higgs Group is primarily a commercial printing and publishing business, which owns the Henley Standard newspaper and Henley Life magazine. The business has been in Henley since its foundation in 1877. The original premises were in Bell Street but the business moved to its current location in 1885.
How many people does it employ?
We have 32 employees in Henley and additional staff in our Wallingford and Kingston-upon-Thames offices.
What did you do before you started this business?
I joined the Liverpool Echo as a sales rep at age 22 and by 26 I was a general manager for a group of magazines they owned. I’ve been running newspapers and magazines ever since. I have worked in Wales, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Merseyside.
What was your objective in joining Higgs Group?
To ensure we have happy customers who value our products and services and to have a team who feel appreciated and enjoy working here.
Who or what influenced you?
I had only ever worked in the corporate world so the opportunity to work with a respected independent company was very attractive.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
No, but I tend to pick up good traits and good practices from a variety of people I’ve met. My father had a considerable influence on me. He was a miner for 10 years, then joined the police and worked his way up to become a detective chief superintendent.
What would you do differently if you could start again?
Nothing. I have enjoyed every one of my jobs and the different experiences.
What impact did the coronavirus pandemic have on the business?
It knocked us for six initially and was very tough. The Henley Standard relies heavily on advertising support and much of that ceased as many businesses had to stop trading, especially in the early months of the pandemic. Similarly, much of our commercial printing is event/leisure-led, which was badly affected. Despite these challenges, we continued to produce the Henley Standard as the local community looked to us to explain the impact of the virus and provide advice.
How is your business doing?
I am pleased to say that we are bouncing back as people now seem to be getting on with life and learning to live with the issues of covid.
How do you market your business?
The Henley Standard, henleystandard.co.uk and higgsprinting.co.uk as well as social media.
What’s the best thing about running the business?
Being able to make decisions quickly rather than having to go through reams of red tape
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Third parties — things that are outside my control, such as suppliers. Getting supplies for certain products is challenging at the moment and some costs are rising at an alarming rate.
Where is your business headed?
We are looking to continue diversifying by acquiring businesses that we can add value to. We already have several different strands and revenue streams and are eager to add more.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
To get your work and life balance right. In my early years I was working all hours but I’ve learned that’s not good, either for the person or the business. Now when I get home work stops and I focus on the family.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Do your research, develop unique selling points and have a detailed plan which can be adapted. Also have a contingency fund and prepare yourself for hard work.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Hard work, integrity and having a positive mindset.
What’s the secret of your success?
The team brings success, not the individual, so I always look to surround myself with capable people and support them as best I can.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
I can’t think of a glaring mistakes but as long as you learn from your mistakes, you won’t go far wrong.
How organised are you?
How do you dress for work each day?
Usually a smart suit.
What can’t you be without every day?
My laptop and my phone.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
I’m aware of the benefits of going out for a bit of lunch and taking a walk but in reality it tends to be at my desk.
Do you continue to study?
Only by reading trade publications and websites which help me keep up to date with innovations and issues.
What do you read?
I have a house full of autobiographies and biographies that I’ve read. Needless to say, I read the Henley Standard.
How are you planning for retirement?
When the time comes doing a lot of travelling.
21 February 2022
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