CEO, author and mentor: Andrew Selley shares his business model

Andrew Selley, CEO of Bidcorp, talks to Cash & Carry Management’s managing editor Kirsti Sharratt about his debut book, Ignite Your Business.

From starting as a graduate trainee at Coca-Cola in 1986 and moving up the ranks to become trading director (wholesale) to then leading several divisions of Bidvest – culminating in his appointment as CEO of Bidcorp in January this year – Andrew Selley (pictured) has plenty of experience to draw upon for his new management book Ignite Your Business.

If that weren’t enough, he also has an MBA in Business Studies, is a trustee of two charities, and is chairman of healthcare provider Arden Primary Care.

Ignite Your Business, which is being launched very aptly on 5 November, focuses on Selley’s IGNITE business model:

Inspirational vision

Galvanising for action

Nurturing the team

Increasing everything that you do

Tell, tell, tell

Embedding for success

There are chapters dedicated to each of these subjects, followed by a ‘Never Stop’ chapter and a bonus chapter, ‘Ignite During Covid’, in which Selley talks about using the IGNITE model during the COVID crisis, providing timely evidence of how the model works in bad times as well as good.

With glowing testimonials from former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward, Barclays UK chairman Sir Ian Cheshire, and business coach and author Craig Ballantyne, Ignite Your Business is self-published by Selley, who is launching it with an introductory offer through his own website, It will also be available later this month through Amazon in Kindle and paperback versions.

In addition to the book, Selley has introduced a mentoring service, offering “a select few business leaders” a six or 12-month programme that will help them tackle their business issues.

Selley spoke to Kirsti Sharratt, managing editor of Cash & Carry Management, about his latest projects:

Why did you decide to write this book?

I have read a lot of management books and listened to a lot of management consultants and I just thought I had something to say that’s of equal value to, if not better than, some of those.

Who is the book aimed at?

Anybody in business because it’s about basic business skills executed really well. I think people try to make business too complicated.

What makes your book different from other business books?

A lot of management books are written by academics whereas mine is a practical business book written from the perspective of somebody who’s had successes and made mistakes and learned from both.

The first business book I ever read was The One Minute Manager [by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson] which is great – it is written as a story – and in homage to that book, I’ve included a fictional story that runs through my book, highlighting the points of each chapter, and demonstrating good and bad practice. The storytelling aspect makes it different from most management books.

I also have action plans at the end of each chapter because very often people can read a book but not really understand how to act upon what they’ve learned or how what they’ve learned will look like in real life.

I also talk about how I have used the IGNITE model during the COVID crisis – showing how it works in the real world.

How did you go about writing the book while working full-time for Bidcorp?

I started the book two years ago. I blasted out the framework and then I added to it. Prior to COVID, I did quite a lot of business travelling, both home and abroad, and I would find myself in a hotel or on a plane or on a train with time to write. Conversely, since March, I haven’t been travelling around or staying away or going to business events, so I’ve had time to write at home.

If you had to pick your top tip from the book, what would it be?

Brilliant businesses are always built through brilliant people, so you are not going to achieve success all on your own and nor should you try. It’s all about recruiting and engaging and motivating the right team.

Did you learn anything through writing the book?

You don’t always practice what you preach! Publishing the book is great because it’s always something I’ve wanted to do, but on the other hand it is basically an accountability charter for me because I’m saying ‘This is how business should be done’ and therefore everybody is welcome to tell me when I’m not living up to that!

Does your book include any memorable stories from your time in business?

As someone pointed out to me, business people usually write books when they’ve retired, not when they’re still in the job, so although there are quite a few stories I could tell, they will have to wait until a later book!

During your 30-plus years in business, have you had mentors that have greatly influenced your style of leadership?

There hasn’t been one particular person that I’ve modelled myself on. Like most people, I’m a sponge, and I pick up something, good or bad, from everybody. I have picked up what works and adapted it to my own personality, my own circumstance, my own style.

Why did you decide to introduce a mentoring service alongside the book?

I know quite a lot about business, I enjoy mentoring and I would be happy to help other businesses. Clearly I have a full-time job as chief executive of Bidcorp so that limits the businesses I could work with – obviously I couldn’t work with any suppliers or customers or competitors, but if there are business leaders in other industry sectors who need help I would be happy to work with them (although obviously I would have to fit it around my day job).

Are the book and mentoring service designed as an exit strategy from Bidcorp?

No, not at all! I will stay as long as they will have me. I now look after all of Bidcorp in the UK, including fresh fruit & veg, fresh meat, the manufacturing businesses, Bidfood wholesale, and the independent wholesale businesses. Bidcorp is very decentralised so effectively I get to run the business in the UK with a lot of freedom. Ultimately I think that’s what most people are looking for in business: to have the freedom and ability to do your own thing, see if it works and see the success. Or when it’s times like these, when it’s a challenge, to see what you can do to protect the business and drive it forward at a later date.

Who do you admire in business right now?

All of the small independent business people who are keeping going at the moment. I know how hard it is out there.

Published Date: November 2, 2020
Category: Wholesale Industry News