Shaper: Sir Lloyd Dorfman encore

Show aired on 22nd September 2018

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Welcome to the Jazz Shapers podcast from Mishcon de Reya. What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

That was Lou Rawls with Nobody But Me starting today’s special edition of Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM. Just like your regular Jazz Shapers it is an hour of music from the shapers in the world of jazz, soul and blues but today we are joined by a previous guest who is back to update his story. Our guest on Jazz Shapers Encore is Sir Lloyd Dorfman CBE, the entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the Travelex currency exchange business in 1976. He first visited us on Jazz Shapers back in April 2013, that’s five and a bit years ago. Since then he has sold his remaining stake in Travelex, created Dorman Media Holdings, co-founded the retail click and collect IT platform called Doddle, has sold a majority of his state in The Office Group and sits on the Business Advisory Board of the Mayor of London. He’s not very busy is he? Sir Lloyd became the Chair of the Prince’s Trust in 2015, a Trustee of the Royal Opera House, the Royal Academy Trust and BAFTA. He has also gained some significant accolades since his last visit after serving on the Board of the National Theatre for nine years, the Cottesloe was renamed as the Dorfman Theatre, while this year he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to philanthropy and arts, following on from his 2008 CBE. Thank you very much for joining me again.

Lloyd Dorfman
Elliot, my pleasure, lovely to see you.

Elliot Moss
We worked it out, it’s about five and a bit years.

Lloyd Dorfman
Yep.

Elliot Moss
Now, you have done so much and continue to do so much. When you, if you ever write your book, if chapter one is Travelex, what’s chapter two going to start with? Where would you start?

Lloyd Dorfman
Well, I think as I started to sort of step away from Travelex I was a bit concerned because I had been sort of mono focussed on building this foreign exchange business over thirty five years at the time. A little bit uncertain, you know, didn’t have any hobbies or pastimes, my wife was always telling me, you know, what are you going to do when you retire but I wasn’t planning to retire. And then I started to look at other business opportunities and I ended up, I suppose the biggest most important one I did at the time was to become the 65% shareholder and Chairman of The Office Group which was a sort of pioneering, flexible office business led by two great guys, Charlie Green and Olly Olsen and we became partners and we began a seven year journey which built this business up into a hugely successful business which we ended up doing a deal with Blackstone this time last year and it’s a great business.

Elliot Moss
But even when I met you then, my sense was, that was an interesting deal, it may have worked out as it happened of course half a billion sale to Blackstone as you said and I have had Charlie Green on the programme a couple of times. I couldn’t have envisaged that happening and I’m not sure you could have done either, if I’m honest. I mean, as you said, you were doing a number of things and that may have been the number one but my sense was you were thinking, you know I think this is a pretty decent business – 500 million, I mean that’s not just a decent business.

Lloyd Dorfman
Yeah, I mean I think it turned out better than we expected at the time but at the time, going back to 2010, well 2010 when we did the deal, although I had met the boys a couple of years before then, I wanted to invest in the property business but was the property business waiting for me and I was worried at the time because if I was being offered properties why were they being offered to me when there were a lot of people in the property business for much longer than I have. But then the world became a very uncertain place and you know I like niche businesses and this wasn’t just a property business, this was the flexible office sector of the office business and I said at the time, you know I think its time has come I don’t think companies want to take ten/fifteen year leases and this has proved to be absolutely the case and in fact in London is the world’s largest market for flexible office space and has sort of led the field and it’s become a very hot sector now and not only for small companies looking to take space but indeed even, you know, big national, international businesses who want to have flexible offices and also, interestingly, want to be near the smaller, younger companies and the vibe and the energy that comes from those sorts of organisations so it’s become a sort of win-win for everybody.

Elliot Moss
You make it sound easy looking back and I know at the time you didn’t say that. Warren Buffett was pretty good at calling stuff, I mean people listening will go what does Sir Lloyd think is happening next because it strikes me that your nose for the things that are evolving are pretty good and we’ll come onto Doddle but where has that nose been developed, where’s that sense of what might be hot come from do you think? Because you keep doing it.

Lloyd Dorfman
Well, I’ve had a couple of successful outings. You know, there’s one or two things also haven’t worked out quite as well but you know that’s the whole thrill and spills of being involved in business, you know, and look I people thought with Travelex I was a currency expert. I was never a currency expert. We followed the markets up, we followed them down. What I am, what I think I am, is a builder of businesses and you know to bring to bear whatever energy, enthusiasm and thinking I can to help build and develop these businesses and today, you know as a family we invest in businesses but we are using our own money, we are not raising funds, we are not like a private equity company and I at the start of investment is I sort of, I call it sort of paternalistic investment, you know, we back people, we invest in businesses, an opportunity for them is an opportunity for us, a problem for them is a problem for us and we are here to help.

Elliot Moss
Sir Lloyd Dorfman is my Business Shaper today and we have been talking about the nose for the deal and where that comes from, I don’t think you can teach that stuff, I have a feeling you’ve either got it or you haven’t and you so very humbly, well there’s only been a couple of good outings, I mean yeah but they’ve been pretty significant haven’t they? The other thing that strikes me and it’s something that you are asked often, I know, which is, you could have after the first deal done what many people do which is get your golf clubs, sit back, relax, get bored probably very quickly. You didn’t, why didn’t you, what is it within you that said you know what, I am a worker and I want to do more?

Lloyd Dorfman
I mean, firstly, yes I mean, I have been used to have lots of plates spinning, doing lots of stuff, I mean the prospect of you know walking round the golf course talking about the price of health insurance, you know was not something that I felt very excited about and also, you know my wife and I, you know, we married for life but not for lunch and I don’t, I’m not interested in horse racing and I don’t want to own a football team and when you’ve done stuff you want to do more stuff and a very good friend of mine, a very distinguished 86 year old who is still very active, said to me, ‘Lloyd, you know life’s a bicycle, stop peddling and you fall off’, and I think it’s important to remain current and to be involved and you know I’ve seen so much and experienced so much and, you know, if I can bring some of that to bear in terms of other business opportunities or even across my sort of philanthropic portfolio, that’s what sort of gets me up in the morning.

Elliot Moss
And what about Sir Lloyd peak, you know people talk about peak and when you have your moment and often people say oh well it’s between your mid-forties and your fifties, I am looking to the skies and saying I hope so, but for you obviously it feels like there doesn’t really seem to be a decade which is particularly important, you’ve done, you’ve been at peak level for a long time. How do you maintain that?

Lloyd Dorfman
Well, again by just sort of remaining involved and active and you know although I’m sort of
no longer involved in Travelex, you know I’m as busy as I’ve ever been across a very eclectic portfolio of both business and not for profit stuff and, you know, I try and keep fit and I try and keep active and I, you know, I like to have lots of plates spinning and lots of things to think about, I mean that’s sort of how I do it. And, you know, it’s sort of, you know you spend all these years, you know I’m 65, I’d like to think I was a young 65, you know what’s 65 today anyway? You know, 60 is the new 40, whatever, and you know you see people like Rupert Murdoch at 86/7 you know still punching away and you know I’ve got friends who, you know, are still actively involved in their businesses and I think it’s a good thing.

Elliot Moss
Would you, if you felt you weren’t as sharp as you wanted to be, would you go hold on a minute I need to scale back, I need to do less, and have you ever felt that tiredness that you didn’t feel five years ago, ten years ago or is that not part of the Sir Lloyd equation?

Lloyd Dorfman
No, I’ve never felt it, I’ve never felt it and, you know, if anything, you know the sort of, the adrenalin around you know, doing a deal, helping some guys build a business, you know that’s a sort of virtual circle and you know I’m not sure I want… I wouldn’t want to run anything day to day, I’ve sort of been there, done that but absolutely to help people, help other people do that and give the benefit of my experience and stuff I think that’s sort of the best role I can play which is the role that I do play. And similarly with, you know, similarly with all the charities I am involved in, you know, just to help them, yet these are businesses, you know, although they are charities, you know, it’s good if the income exceeds the expenditure, that’s a healthy place to start and making sure that, you know, managements are focussed on doing that as well as achieving their charitable objectives, you know, I’ve, as far as charities are concerned, you know, I’ve been a donor, I’ve been a fundraiser, I’ve been a sponsor, I’ve been a trustee, I’ve been a chairman, I’ve seen charities in the best of times, I’ve seen charities in the worst of times and I’ve got a lot of experience to offer there as well.

Elliot Moss
More from my Jazz Shapers Encore guest, Sir Lloyd Dorfman CBE in a couple of minutes but first let’s return to the News Session podcast series. At the moment Paddy O’Connell with the help of Mishcon de Reya is getting to the bottom of crypto currency and all the questions that throws up.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers here on Saturday morning with me, Elliot Moss on Jazz FM. There are lots of ways you can listen to this programme, all you need to do is, for example, search Jazz Shapers wherever you listen to your podcasts – podcasts could be in iTunes, Deezer, Spotify, TuneIn and Stitcher to name but a few. We’ve got our own Jazz Shapers channel on your Amazon or Google smart speaker and just ask it to play Jazz Shapers. But back to today right now Sir Lloyd Dorfman has been with me and we’ve been talking about where life is at in 2018 for Sir Lloyd and lots and lots has happened. I wanted to talk about money for a second because what we mentioned earlier was the fact that you are just as lively, just as busy, just as interested in the world and interested in business and interested in doing things as you ever were, and obviously and publicly Travelex sold for a lot of money. The Office Group deal was a lot of money in pretty much anybody’s terms. It doesn’t seem to have touched the sides for you emotionally, I don’t mean in terms of practical impact of money, that’s all very good. What is it about your relationship with money? Can you just tell me what kind of relationship you have? Does it make any difference to you on a daily basis, what you have in the bank or wherever else?

Lloyd Dorfman
Look, I mean, I decided at a fairly early age at school that it was better to have money than not to have money and therefore making it was always quite important to me and, you know, the only way I could think to do that was really to build a business and, you know, I think if you are fortunate enough to make money at any level the important thing is to be sensible about it and to put something back at whatever level and to be thoughtful, generous and just a decent citizen about it as well.

Elliot Moss
And I want to come on to the philanthropy because you are a significant, as you touched on all the different areas that you have been involved in but you are a significant giver backer as it were. But in terms of affecting decision making, 1976 you open up your first really small little shop. Today you are making different decisions. Does the fact that you’ve got money in the bank make any difference to the way you analyse a situation or an opportunity?

Lloyd Dorfman
Look, I mean, you know, business is about you know, it’s about appetite for risk and I suppose, you know, if you’ve got money in the bank you are prepared to, theoretically you are prepared to take on more risk, you are certainly able to take on more risk although sometimes I think, you know, when you’ve got nothing often, you know, you’ve got nothing to lose and therefore perhaps you take on things that, you know, you can sometimes think too hard about.

Elliot Moss
Well, I just wondered, that was really my point, I wonder if you become more conservative with a small ‘c’ than you might have realised?

Lloyd Dorfman
No, I don’t think so, I don’t think so, I mean I don’t think I’ve you know, the nose, the enthusiasm to back people, to be involved in the business opportunity, to particularly as I said before you know I like niche businesses, I like start-ups, backing people, these are all things which I don’t think ever quite leave you and if I was that concerned about taking on risk probably, you know, I shouldn’t do any of it and get on that golf course.

Elliot Moss
Why is being decent so important to you? Because did you feel like that before you had the money that you have now? If you had a hundred quid in your pocket would you be giving 10% or whatever it is that you do?

Lloyd Dorfman
I don’t understand why if you have money you shouldn’t behave, if you do, what difference does money make on how you behave? I mean, you should behave, properly, responsibly, decently as an individual, vis a vis relationships, towards society, towards all sorts, I mean I don’t, I think if you are asking me if having money has changed my attitude to people or anything the answer is I’d like to think no, absolutely no. I’d like to think I was the same bloke if we’d been having this interview, well you wouldn’t have been interested in me forty years ago but I mean if we’d been having this interview back then I’m the same bloke now that I was then.

Elliot Moss
You strike me as a very proper person which may sound like a ridiculously non-deferential thing for me to say to you but you do, I imagine that you always were so where, and that’s really part of the decent thing, where is that sense of what’s right come from? Is that a familial thing?

Lloyd Dorfman
Well, I think it’s yes, I think it is, I think it is my upbringing and, you know, my wife and I have been married for forty four and a half years, don’t forget the half…

Elliot Moss
Please don’t forget the half, don’t forget your anniversary. But the happiness that you derive from life Sir Lloyd, is it at its highest when you are giving, is it at its highest when you are with your family, is it at its highest when you are doing the deal?

Lloyd Dorfman
I think it’s, you know, a combination of all those things, you know, I think look, you know, I love the family, I love doing deals and being involved with great people and building businesses, you know, I’ve philanthropic activity is both a privilege and a pleasure and hopefully, you know, hopefully I/we are making a difference in a lot of the things we do and why would you want to try and make the world a better place in whatever way you can and how you can do it.

Elliot Moss
You make it sound very obvious that that would be the way to lead your life but the thing that strikes me underneath that is the fact that you probably cope well with stress. What happens when you are having to encounter a stressful situation, how do you deal with it?

Lloyd Dorfman
Look, I mean, you know in life things don’t go from bottom left to top right in a straight line you know, it’s more of a zigzag, hopefully in an upward direction and you know I wouldn’t want you to think that, you know, every day is complete utopian bliss because that’s just not life and yes, you know, over time there are stressful periods, business, personal experiences that happen and I would like to think I cope with them reasonably well. What the recipe for that is I’m not too sure but you know you’ve got to be prepared, you know if you are going to build businesses and do things you’ve got to be prepared with problems and issues.

Elliot Moss
And you sleep well? I mean it that, you manage all that because again when you are dealing with mega issues, people often can’t process them super well.

Lloyd Dorfman
Yeah, I mean my sort of head hits the pillow and you know I fall asleep and I might wake up a few times during the night but probably comes with age, yeah both my wife and I are morning people, you know, we can conquer the world at six o’clock in the morning, we are not so good around the eleven o’clock/midnight at night.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Sir Lloyd Dorfman today and that will be up shortly, plus we will be hearing some music from Carmen McRae.

That was Carmen McRae with Just Give Me More Time. Well, we don’t have that much more time so I’m hoping to cram in a bit more insight, or elicit some more insight from my business shaper today, that’s Sir Lloyd Dorfman on this Encore special. Over the last few years and in fact decades, you have been given many, many, many titles, you’ve been honoured in many ways, obviously you’ve just been made a Sir. A lot of people would let that go to their head. Again, it strikes me six years later and you are Chair of the Prince’s Trust, you’ve been made an Honorary Colonel I believe, and I hope I get this right, of the Third Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment.

Lloyd Dorfman
Yep.

Elliot Moss
Good, I got that right. The first time I’ve interviewed a Colonel, I think, or Honorary Colonel, I should say. All these things, I mean massively impressive. Where do you put it in your head?

Lloyd Dorfman
I don’t know, I don’t really sort of think about. Recognition, you know, recognition in the Queen’s recent honours list, you know, is a lovely and special thing. You know, one of the funniest conversations I had was with my twelve year old grandson trying to explain to him that it wasn’t hereditary.

Elliot Moss
That’s a shame. It’s like but come on.

Lloyd Dorfman
He got all excited, thought he was going to be a Sir and I mean the Honorary Colonel thing, I meant the coming together of two totally unrelated things, I won’t bore you with the story now but, you know, which happened around funnily enough around the same time as the Knighthood and incredible honour and privilege to do that and interesting appointment on their part to appoint a businessman as an Honorary Colonel and that’s, I mean you know, it’s basically an ambassadorial role I think there is an opportunity to be more engaged if you want and it would be an interesting conversation between, you know, the Army and where they are and risk in business and how you evolve and develop things so that will be an interesting conversation which will hopefully develop.

Elliot Moss
But also you drive past on the South Bank and there it is, it’s the Dorfman Theatre. I mean that must, you’ve got to privately go oh that’s quite nice even if you can’t publicly say well there must be an element of super depth of pride in that.

Lloyd Dorfman
Yeah, and I think that’s it, I mean huge pride, huge pride that we were able to do this and it sort of capped a long and very fruitful relationship with the National Theatre and, you know, a relationship which began over a silly conversation over dessert at a dinner party back in 2003 that ended up leading to the Travelex cheap ticket season that’s now fifteen years on that ended up me going on the Board of the National Theatre and ending up me giving or being the lead donor for their Cabral campaign and they renamed the then Cottesloe as the Dorfman Theatre. So, look I think, you know again to support a sort of not just London but national institution, world class leading institution like the National Theatre is again a privilege and a pleasure and I suppose, yes, it’s a legacy, you know to have done that and to associate our family name to embody the relationship we have with the National Theatre there, you know is a very special thing and hopefully my great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren will, you know, will be pleased that we had that association.

Elliot Moss
I want to return to the first question I asked which was around chapters and books and what I love about your story is it’s just that you’ve written this yourself, you weren’t given anything as it were, you decided you were going to do Travelex, you’ve moved on to property, you are interested in the things you are interested in the arts, you’ve given back. You’ve just decided what you are going to do next. What’s the next chapter for you?

Lloyd Dorfman
So, look, I mean on the business side, you know, we are very excited about the development of Doddle which is this click and collect retail IT platform that we have been developing. The team are doing an amazing job, you know, this is a very hot space the whole e-commerce click and collect, I mean, around the world, you know, we are going to shortly be launching the business in Australia and we are doing some really exciting things here, having some incredible conversations with all the major players, both in retailing and also technology and that’s an exciting development. And then with my son, Charles who is a producer and actor we have made a commitment late last year to start building up a group of media related businesses under the umbrella of what we have imaginatively called Dorfman Media Holdings, as I say it’s not exactly Disney Corporation yet but we’ve started the journey and, you know, hopefully I will revisit this conversation with you in about twenty/thirty years’ time, assuming we’re still here, and you know we are doing some really exciting things in the sort of, both financing, film and TV, in producing and also in investing in media businesses which service the media world. And a very exciting space to be in, you know, you will be aware the amount of money going into content at the moment from the likes of Amazon and Netflix and so if we can help finance, produce and service that market then that seems an interesting thing to do. And then philanthropically, you know I am on the Board, I came off the Board of the National Theatre after nine and a half years, I am on the Board of the Opera House, I am on the Board of BAFTA, I am a sort of walking cultural attaché between theatre, opera, ballet, film, tv, Prince’s Trust, you know I chair Prince’s Trust and Prince’s Trust International, there is a sort of, I’m going to be directing a lot of my efforts towards building up the international side which has only been going for about three and a half years and that’s an area that, it’s a great privilege to work with the Prince of Wales to help sort of give affect to his philanthropic ambition and to help young people get into some form of education, training or employment around the world. So I’ve got lots to do.

Elliot Moss
It’s not very busy, Sir Lloyd but good luck and I do hope we see you in twenty years and we’ll have that conversation. We’ll be going, who? Disney Corporation? Never heard of them. Thank you so much for your time today.

Lloyd Dorfman
Thank you, Elliot, thank you very much, thank you.

We hope you enjoyed that edition of Jazz Shapers. You will find hundreds of more guests available to listen to in our archive. To find out more just search Jazz Shapers in iTunes or head over to mishcondereya.com/jazzshapers.

Sir Lloyd Dorfman

Subsequent to his first Jazz Shapers interview, Sir Lloyd Dorfman collaborated with Network Rail to invest £24m into a co-owned business of click-and-collect stores at more than 300 stations; Doddle. Lloyd said that he wanted to use his experience to build “a game-changing service for millions of online shoppers”. Doddle aims to solve the “last minute” problem of internet shopping by allowing customers to conveniently pick up and return parcels from online retailers, including Amazon, Asos, eBay and Missguided. The company has six stand-alone stores across the country, with a further 300 concessions in train stations and other shops. Since his last appearance on Jazz Shapers, he received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, as well as becoming Chairman of the youth and enterprise charity The Prince’s Trust having joined the charity’s Council in 2007. In addition, he is a Trustee of the Royal Opera House, the Royal Academy Trust, BAFTA and JW3 as well as Deputy Chairman of the Community Security Trust, a British charity established to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in the UK.

“A little bit uncertain, I didn’t have any hobbies or pastimes, my wife was always telling me, ‘what are you going to do when you retire’ – but I wasn’t planning to retire.”

“I’ve had a couple of successful outings. There’s one or two things that haven’t worked out quite as well but you know that’s the whole thrill and spills of being involved in business.”

“We invest in businesses and opportunity for them is an opportunity for us, a problem for them is a problem for us and we are here to help.”

“A friend of mine, a very distinguished 86 year old who is still very active, said to me, ‘Lloyd, you know life’s a bicycle, stop peddling and you fall off’”

“60 is the new 40, whatever, and you see people like Rupert Murdoch at 87 still punching away and I’ve got friends who, are still actively involved in their businesses and I think it’s a good thing.”

“I decided at a fairly early age at school that it was better to have money than not to have money and therefore making it was always quite important to me.”

“If you are fortunate enough to make money at any level the important thing is to be sensible about it and to put something back at whatever level and to be thoughtful, generous and a decent citizen.”