How innovation enables a company to endure and succeed amid crisis

By Lelde Smits. Published at Aug 31, 2020, in Podcasts

Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) was established in 1934, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1961 and has been led by Lindsay Partridge AM for the past 35 years, delivering a dividend for each of those years.

In the following interview, Mr Partridge outlines how the company has pursued innovation, where it looks for inspiration for new ideas and how COVID-19 will impact future trends.

“Already we're hearing people saying their homes are their castles. Houses are going to become more popular than apartments. People are going to be moving to the city. It will take place in 18 months to two years, but we will have a completely different product suite to what we had just a few years ago," he says.

Read the transcript below:

Lelde Smits: Hello, I’m Lelde Smits for The Capital Network and joining me from Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) is Managing Director Lindsay Partridge. Lindsay, welcome.

Lindsay Partridge: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Lelde: Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) was established in 1934, it was listed on the ASX in 1961, you have worked for the company for 35 years and overseen incredible success including every year delivering a dividend. What factors do you believe are responsible for this exceptional growth?

Lindsay: I think a lot of it came from the company being formed in the middle of the Depression. That gave a lot of character to the company in the way we thought about things, and gave us longevity. Another important factor is being conservative about what you do and not getting yourself involved in high risk ventures or high gearing situations.

Lelde: It's interesting you say conservative though, because you of course have overseen incredible innovation. What's driven you to pursue innovation?

Lindsay: I got an enormous amount of joy from making beautiful products that people can enjoy for the rest of their lives, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. It gives me a buzz every day of my life.

Lelde: And where do you look for inspiration for new ideas?

Lindsay: Ideas can be anywhere. You never stop looking. Different products all over the world, and things that other people make. Also, you have to be mindful of where the trends are going - what's the latest fashion trend, what are the latest colours? I always remember that brick making is a fashion business. It is the biggest fashion purchase most people ever make in their lives.

Lelde: It's interesting you said the company was obviously born out of The Depression. We are now in a global pandemic being COVID-19. Do you think that's likely to have any trends that will influence the way operations are done?

Lindsay: Absolutely. Already we're hearing people saying their homes are their castles. Houses are going to become more popular than apartments. People are going to be moving to the city. The demand for products in monochromatic greys and blacks has now shifted to mottles. We've gone back to rustic looking products and that shift is happening at a rapid rate. It will take place in 18 months to two years, but we will have a completely different product suite to what we had just a few years ago.

Lelde: So, for the everyday person that's living in their home, their castle, or looking to make decisions about home materials or even perhaps architects doing it professionally, where are they likely to see these changes occur?

Lindsay: In terms of the style, we are seeing a resurgence in large houses. We haven't seen multimillion-dollar houses coming through like we are at the moment. That's staggering, and people are making the decision that ‘I can't travel overseas this year, so I'm going to spend that money on this new house that I want.’ They see that as a safe environment - their castle - where they can be safe and retreat to.

Lelde: Great, well Lindsay thank you for those insights and trends for the future, we will be watching how your digital platforms expand.

Lindsay: Thank you.

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