Photobox chief executive Stan Laurent has resigned from the online photo printing firm after a decade at the helm.
Laurent, who will remain an investor at the Moonpig owner, said that he is stepping down as he wants to scale another technology business.
He said: “I’m 48. I want to do more of this – scaling disruptive businesses that are changing markets. It can take five or 10 years to really see through a project like that so the clock is ticking for me.”
The search for his successor is under way and Laurent will remain in post until a replacement is appointed.
“Doing a PE transaction forces a discussion on next plans. You have to sign up to a new owner’s timeframes and I knew I wanted to build another business”
Stan Laurent, Photobox
Laurent’s departure comes just six months after Photobox was sold to private-equity firms Exponent and Electra in a deal thought to value the group at around £400m.
Laurent said he had been “upfront” with Photobox’s owners about his departure plans.
“Doing a PE transaction forces a discussion on next plans. You have to sign up to a new owner’s timeframes and I knew I wanted to build another business,” he said.
New leadership will also be “healthy” for Photobox, insisted Laurent. “It’s good to have fresh blood and new ideas,” he said.
Laurent joined Photobox in July 2006 when it was in its infancy. He has grown turnover from £13m to £300m during his reign and transformed it into an international leader in personalised products.
“In our first board meeting we discussed how our aim was to hit $100m,” said Laurent.
“Our first step was to consolidate our share. The second step was to become the premium product offering in the market through product innovation and then we’d move into adjacent markets.
“Ten years later, I look back and that’s all we’ve done over that time,” said Laurent.
The retailer now operates in more than 20 markets and ships to 120 countries, and sells a range of products including wall art, mugs and phone covers.
Mergers and acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions have driven Photobox’s growth under Laurent. “In this industry you need to get to scale to be able to invest in the technology that’s going to drive innovation. If you don’t get to scale, you’re going to have to pare back the customer experience,” he said.
The group bought fridge magnet specialist Sticky9 in 2013, Spanish firm Hofmann in 2014 and German personalised products leader PosterXXL last year. All brands are notching up significant double-digit growth.
“We always had this vision of being personalisation at large. Until [the Moonpig buy] it had been theoretical, that day it became a reality”
Stan Laurent, Photobox
However, the group’s most high-profile acquisition was its first, Moonpig, which it bought for £120m in 2011.
Laurent said the Moonpig acquisition was his greatest moment at Photobox as it helped move the group beyond photos into a broader range of personalised products and expanded its potential market from £2.4bn to £7bn.
“We always had this vision of being personalisation at large. Until then it had been theoretical, that day it became a reality,” said Laurent.
Acquisitions are taking a back seat in the short term for Photobox as it concentrates on integrating its most recent buys, Hofmann and PosterXXL. Laurent said his replacement will focus on “step-changing” the customer experience and product innovation.
Laurent said his successor would benefit from a strong management team across all brands along with support from chief operating officer Jonathon Brown, who joined Photobox from M&M Direct in March. Laurent said Brown was not in the running for the top job.