GAME-CHANGING VITA GROUP FOUNDER POWERS UP THE ASX
4 March 2016, Written by Laura Daquino
MAXINE Horne has a precise idea of why she is among the few in corporate Australia - a female founder heading an ASX-listed company.
"He asked what the decision-making process was for creating a store - I said 'get the bank statement and if there's enough money we do it'," says Horne.
"Looking back, we were very fortunate to be in a growing industry that was starting to take off and we knew this from observing the UK."
"We changed strategy from organic to acquisitive growth and mapped out a three-year plan, but all our money was going into new stores so we didn't have enough cash to execute the plan," she says.
"The minute we brought in private equity we knew our exit strategy was going to be an IPO. It wasn't our intention to go public; it was always our intention to just grow the business."
Horne says in the few years that followed Vita Group's listing she 'struggled' with her relationship with the board and this became detrimental to the company's success.
"I drifted for a couple of years and for two years our business was practically leaderless. It's actually amazing we are still here today. Compound that experience with the GFC and it really took two or three years to recover."
Vita Group's five-year chart now reads like a dream. The company's share price has risen from 28c in March 2011 to around $2.90 today.
"It doesn't take me long to start talking about purpose, mastery and autonomy - and essentially we gave our people a huge sense of purpose," says Horne.
"Every single business unit now knows how profitable it is, and the more power they have, the more powerful the organisation is.