Me & My Money: ‘It’s vital to have less waste and better margins’

Roz Martin, CEO and founder of Martin Biotech

Roz Martin: “I would value health and the health of my family and friends over money any day.”

Roz Martin: “I would value health and the health of my family and friends over money any day.”

 

Are you a saver or a spender?

I am both. I have had my EBS savings account since I was 15. I took my dad’s sound financial advice and transfer a percentage of my earnings each month. It goes automatically so I don’t have to think about it.

Do you shop around for better value?

In business, when buying large quantities, even a few cent can make a huge difference to our profit margins. However, I would never compromise on quality.

What has been your most extravagant purchase?

I bought myself a really nice watch for my 30th birthday, which has since doubled in value, so it turns out to have been a really good investment – although it holds more sentimental value for me.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

My Nespresso coffee machines. I have one in the office and one at home. They are the best value for a coffee fiend! I actually did the sums for a takeout coffee per day. The cost was frightening.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Both. I try to support locality and regionality, and any Irish businesses if I like what they’re doing or the products they’re selling. I buy a lot online as well from a variety of Irish and international companies, particularly in the health and beauty sector.

Do you haggle over prices?

As a business, we don’t haggle much in Ireland when negotiating our pricing. However, we do when it comes to our export markets, particularly with each of our Middle Eastern distributors. The process of bargaining and bartering over pricing seems to be a big part of Middle Eastern culture, and I actually enjoy haggling with them.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Most definitely. It has made me more conscious of what we spend in the business. It’s vital to have less waste and better margins. Like a lot of other businesses, we had a tough time, but it was our export markets that kept us going. After six years in business we are stronger than ever.

Do you invest in shares?

No. Too volatile for me, and I don’t have enough “market wisdom”. I remember reading what Warren Buffet once said: “Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls-Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.” That says it all.

Cash or card?

I use my debit card for all my transactions as I’m a sucker for keeping receipts. And I like to see where I’ve spent my money. I might have €20 in my purse if I’m lucky, and a few coins in the car for parking.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

My car, an ex-demo model Land Rover Freelander, which had a really high spec as it was imported from the UK. I would never buy a new car – it depreciates hugely the minute you drive it off the forecourt, and devalues far too quickly. I would lose sleep wasting that kind of money!

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

I saved the deposit for my first house, which I bought and refurbished when I was 27. I did all the work myself and then, at 29 I bought another property that also needed development. The properties were a great investment over 15 years ago.

Have you ever lost money?

I lost some money in the early days of setting up Martin Biotech. I learned the hard way with a few expensive lessons. I had never run my own business before as I had only ever worked in multinational corporate pharmaceutical companies. I’m quite philosophical about it now, and I appreciate that I needed to make mistakes in order to learn and grow the company. I certainly don’t lose money anymore.

Are you a gambler and if so you have ever had a big win?

I’m not a gambler at all! However, I’m very comfortable taking risks with my business. I believe that your tolerance for risk is directly related to how successful you can be. I’ve learned to recognise critical opportunities, so I rely on my intuition and just follow my gut.  

Is money important to you?

Personally, I see money as financial security – a roof over our heads. I would value health and the health of my family and friends over money any day. At the same time, money is very important for running a business as we all know the value of having plenty of capital. Cash flow is the fuel on which a business runs, so it’s important for the business to have money in the bank and be solvent.

How much money do you have on you now?

Not much cash on me today – €10 and some coins.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

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