Impact & Client Stories

Creating a collaborative culture in a leading family business

Yorkshire tea

Bettys & Taylors Group is an independent family business based in Harrogate, specialising in craft baking and confectionery, teas, and coffees, with catering and retail branches across Yorkshire. They are the business behind the Yorkshire Tea brand and the legendary Bettys Café Tea Rooms. The business takes great pride in its ethical trading relationships; its commitment to being environmentally responsible and its approach to being a great place to work.

Oasis and Bettys & Taylors Group are long-term organisational development partners, creating a collaborative, leaderful business with values at its heart. We partnered with them to address questions relating to succession, cultural change, development of leadership skills within the governing body and senior team and helping to embed even deeper relationships with shareholders. That set the foundation for a whole organisation development process that was initiated in 2010.

“Working with Oasis is not for the faint-hearted, but the benefits are just incredible. It is a journey that you take together, and we all get a huge amount out of it.”

Lesley Wild, Chair, Bettys & Taylors Group

Our Impact

From a traditional model to collaborative working

When we started to work with Bettys & Taylors, we created an approach to people and organisational development that reflected the deeply held values of the business, as ell as a methodology that helped it to make some of the most substantial changes it has faced in the 100 years since it was established.

Like many family businesses which start out small, BTG’s management structure was based on a paternalistic model, with one person overseeing the whole. The business had become tremendously successful. But with over 1,200 employees the company had grown to the point where it was no longer possible to operate in the same ways. When the last family CEO retired in 2011, the decision was made to make major changes.

“Everybody waited to be told what to do; although we were still making money, if we carried on like that for any length of time it would have been the beginning of the end. We needed a fundamental shift in culture and approach. Oasis take that sort of approach and they are not afraid to tell you the truth.”

Together we have been evolving BTG from a family business with a traditional structure to one with a less hierarchical model. Four directors share Collaborative CEO duties.  Longer-term strategic thinking and practice now lives across the business, giving those involved a renewed direction and purpose.

Unlearning, learning, and growing up

Developing a more self-initiating and accountable culture has required a process of “unlearning” old habits and behaviours and embracing ways of working that have been designed and shaped by staff. As part of this a bespoke leader development programme was devised and rolled out to senior managers within the business.

“We struggled in our business to deal with conflict. We were terribly nice to each other
but in the end that can be a problem because we were not being as honest as we
needed to be. There is the ability to have healthy challenge and to have grown-up
conversations about behaviour which we could not do before.”

Short Films

Contracting and Leadership at Taylors

Leadership Development in Bettys & Taylors Group

Transformation in the Leadership of a Family Business

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