September Meeting with John Gilligan

John Gilligan visits Ibrox


93 Glasgow Business Club members and guests enjoyed their own unique version of T in the Park when they heard John Gilligan MD of Tennent’s at the first regular lunch of the season in Ibrox.

A witty and down-to-earth presentation – without any of the ‘technical stuff’ – was John’s choice. The 450 year old, world-renowned brewing company is located in Wellpark in Glasgow’s east end. Currently, it sponsors both Rangers and Celtic and the English Football League One club, Preston North End.

When asked by one Club member what the company did to attract young people to their famous lager, John replied: ‘T in the Park.’ This festival is the biggest outdoor music festival in Scotland and has attracted more than 85,000 people a day to hear Mumford and Sons, Rihanna, Killers and a plethora of other top bands and singers.

Headhunted by Tennent’s at the age of 59, John’s sales and industry experience were important but his people skills and communication skills are what got him the job, he believes.

‘I’m having a wonderful time but keep me away from computers,’ he said.

Instancing how he advised a young colleague to really get to know the people who worked in the company, John said: ‘build morale, treat people properly and you will get you results.’

He admitted he enjoyed leading by example. But he is also open to learning himself and shared advice he was given at a recent football tribute dinner: ‘Just make a decision.’

Said John: ‘A good manager can leave because he leaves behind a good team who make their own decisions. I focus on the BIG THINGS – like the future, costs and growth. I don’t look back.’

He outlined the huge investment programme which Tennent’s has run to enable the company to maintain its lead in the market. ‘Tennent’s commitment to Glasgow is enormous,’ he said. ‘It includes £1m for a Training Academy; £1.5m for infrastructure; £1.3m for new offices and a visitors’ centre; £4m for a bottling hall.’ In addition, £20m has been invested in two years in the licensed trade through diminishing capital loans to pub landlords to improve their premises. ‘Some buildings were eyesores and falling down. Without this investment they wouldn’t be here.’ On Tennent’s working strategies, John said the company was not a corporate body. ‘Everyone has the ability to make their own workplace decisions. Only in exceptional circumstances do we go to the group for a decision. ‘ Tennent’s is owned by C & C Group of Dublin which reported a turnover of €724.1million in February 2013 and a profit of €104.4million. Turnover at Glasgow based Tennent’s is £30-40m and profit is £20m.

Glasgow Business Club President Norman Ferguson thanked John Gilligan for his informative talk and announced the next meeting on Tuesday 22 October would be for speed networking. The September meeting, attended by 94 members and guests, indicated a healthy rate of club growth for the start of the business year.


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