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Bricks and Mortar with Russell Thackeray

Today we have a returning guest, Russell Thackeray. He’s talking about his new venture into retail with a bricks and mortar business. He has found out that starting up again from scratch isn’t quite as easy as he first imagined. Listen in and learn all about the pitfalls that Russell has encountered in his first 100 days.

Podcast photo for the next 100 days podcast with Russel Thackeray, Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby

Four or five years ago, Russell divested his large training business ‘to go solo’ as they say. He’d worked in the consulting and training industry for many years, and decided to focus on two areas. These were the analytics and evaluation of OD departments and resilience. (OD means organisational development!)

However, Russell spent all his time on resilience really. For example, he was building products, training programmes and skillsets based on this. As a result, QEDOD was born. Russell and a bunch of consultants follow the traditional model of money for hours, alongside some online training and revenue streams.

What’s interesting us that Russell is branching out into bricks and mortar.

Bricks and mortar

Russell is a great believe of practicing what you preach. It was when Russell was in a cafe that he saw a beauty bar up for sale, and wondered how much it was to buy (or rent) that space. Why? Because there are two things he knew about retail that works – experiences and niche. This space seemed perfect to create a heart for his new business and create a gathering point for training, consultancy and the other therapeutic practices Russell organises within his business.

The soft launch is two days from the date this podcast was recorded! Russell’s business has become a bricks and mortar business!

Close Up Photo of Antique Brown Please Come in Sign

The next 100 days…

Interestingly, Russell doesn’t plan 100 days out. Russell starts from the perspective of being interested, innovative and enthusiastic about something. What Russell wanted to do is create a training space and a therapy space, because he is good at those things. On the other hand, there was a real need to provide a retail element for the lease. This is something Russel hasn’t done for a number of years. Russell’s plan was to provide something high value, experiential and niche. So, he decided to retail CBD (Cannabidiol Oils), because linking this with a therapeutic practice helps its reputation, particularly in the UK. Additionally, it gives a unique aspect because CBD is often bought online or in shops that offer a questionable quality.

Combining CBD with Russell’s therapy practice allows him to, for example, run a sleep clinic. He can discuss the quality, the physiology, the psychology and the routines of sleep, AND use CBD as part of a therapeutic approach.

The logic of this was incredibly appealing. Russell’s business model is:

  1. Hiring the therapy room out to therapists
  2. Running therapy and training to courses and groups their selves
  3. The retail

Who will be your clients?

There are two sets of clients. First of all, there’s quite a lot of footfall. This is because the mariner in which Russell’s centre is based is a huge, experiential endpoint. The second group of people are people who have a need for the sorts of therapies Russel’s team put together. For example, people who have PTSD, who have stress or anxiety, people who want to live a better life, to make presentation skills better, a need for counselling.

As result, Russel is witching from international work to being local – being part of a community. He will be getting to know the great movers and shakers and makers of his local market.

What’s the primary draw into the wellness centre?

This is a bit of a glib answer, but wellness. Because wellness is this idea of living a healthier and more productive life. It means living longer in a more productive way. It means being more productive at work and it means having healthier relationships with family, friends and others.

However, these customers are more likely to be in their 40s or upwards when it comes to the footfall.

What are Cannabinoid Oils?

You can put these oils in your mouth or rub them on your skin. Essentially, every human being has receptors that allows us to absorb cannabinoid oils. It’s quite peculiar.

As a result, cannabinoid oils are very good for pain relief – for example, Russell doesn’t have a bad knee anymore after using cannabinoid cream.

On top of this, Russell emphasises it’s about building a holistic approach to help people live that better life, whether that’s living pain free, having better sleep or pick up their kids when they’re a bit older.

The wellness centre of the south?

This isn’t Russell’s intention. Thinking in postcodes, he’s more SO, PO – maybe Chichester down to Bournemouth.

Being at the early stages of being a bricks and mortar business, Russell and co have a lot of ideas. As a result, they need to think this through. Ideas are, in actual fact, cheap.

The key is what you execute, not how many ideas you have. 

For example, the centre sells dream catchers, gifts, books on wellness – it’s not all about medical wellness. They’re not precious about the word wellness and how they portray wellness in the market.

Wellness is what works.

However, Russell won’t be going down the route Graham suggests, which is getting a nail bar going in the corner! Many businesses fail quickly because they over diversify.

The next 100 days (again)…

At the end of the day, the point of having a bricks and mortar business is to have something tangible to sell. Russell is learning that he needs to put as much time into the back end of the business, as he is in the front!

There’s a much bigger financial repercussion for the decision you make as a bricks and mortar business. All the factors of buying tills and card-reading machines, and the deductions from that add up. It’s worthwhile stopping, thinking ahead and being clear rather than ‘being busy’ without productivity.

So, Russell binned his plan and went for plan 2 (or plan b)! The first stage of that 90-100 day plan is getting the doors opened. Therefore, they have to get stock, get insurance and equipment and then they must market like crazy. This is because there’s basically marketing and delivery – they’re the two main things.

After that, he’s just got to suck it and see when it comes to accounts.

Is the shop front one of the rabbits running round?

There are three areas which Russell is looking at; two are the focus:

  1. The therapy rooms
  2. The retail side

There’s a lot of logic for having the retail enterprise.

a. A lot of footfall that works for this market.

b. Russel wants to differentiate. That is, there are loads of therapy centres. What sets them apart is the cannabinoid oils. When they’re set in a place where people are eating, drinking, shopping, why not give them a place to think about their wellness. It would seem rude not to!

One of the trouble with the wellness industry is that you’ve got a conflict; you’re talking about people you never want to see again because you help them. Also, you’re talking about the worried well-off, who are never going to be fixed – they almost indulge them selves in being professionally ill!


Having an authority in the local community will magnetically attract people to Russell’s centre. As a result, there’s a need to get on local tv, to write that book, to get into the newspaper. It’s that celebrity thing that people are attracted to. Just listen to an episode with Adam Witty about it!

Part of this authority is getting the brand right too. Russell’s concern is that his brand is nothing more than a description. Now there’s lots of words like ‘serenity’ and ‘therapy’ and weird spellings, but actually be pragmatic. You don’t want it to be too airy-fairy. What he decided was that he wouldn’t be precious about the brand. Get it started first!

If you want to know more about Russell’s business, click here.

If you want to know more about Graham, click here, and about Kevin, click here.