Round Table Discussion: What Happens Next?

With Nigel Mills CBE, Brian Palmer OBE, Fiona Raglan and Christine Nugent

25 April 2024, 08:30 - 11:00

Close House, Heddon-on-the-Wall, NE15 0HT

Entrepreneur Member
Lead Corporate Partner

This event is FULLY BOOKED - Please email to be added to the RESERVE LIST.

You’ve developed an idea, brought it to fruition, launched your business, grown it, and built a team along the way. Sooner or later, you may be considering exiting or taking a step back from the day to day running but what happens once you do and how do you make that life-changing decision?

In this event, we’ll discuss ‘what happens next’ in more detail, focusing on reasons for exiting, the importance of having an exit strategy, the alternatives to a full exit, how to prepare for the emotional impact and, when the time comes, charting a course for success beyond your leading role.

We’ll explore what you need to consider as you move forward into the next chapter of your life, providing stability for the business and allowing you to embrace what happens next.

Led by Nigel Mills CBE (The Lakes Distillery), Brian Palmer OBE (Tharsus), Fiona Raglan (DRG) and Christine Nugent (Business Travel), this round table discussion offers a unique opportunity to gather insights, build connections, and shape the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey.

This event is expected to benefit our experienced entrepreneurs who are actively considering their own transition from the day to day running of their business to the next phase of their entrepreneurial journey.

Our round tables are shaped by your views and experience, so while we hope to cover the topics above, we may discuss other related subjects during the session.


About Our Hosts

Nigel Mills CBE

Nigel’s entrepreneurial journey began back in 1986 when, along with his father, he purchased eight North East convenience stores which kickstarted the beginning of a multi-million-pound portfolio.

Starting with eight convenience stores, over the course of 25 years, Nigel expanded the business to represent 85 convenience stores, employing over 2,000 people and turning over £170m. It wasn’t long until ‘The Mills Group’ started to gain the attention of the supermarket giants and in 2011, it was revealed Tesco had acquired the Group.

In 2012, he started the journey again when he purchased an abandoned Victorian farm on the banks of the River Derwent with the ambition to turn it into one of the world’s celebrated distillers.

Over the course of 12 years, Nigel and co-founder Paul Currie would launch and build The Lakes Distillery into one of the leading New World and English Whisky Distilleries, while Nigel himself was named one of the most influential entrepreneurs in British luxury. Nigel announced his retirement, and transitioned from CEO to NED, in June 2023.

In addition to his accomplishments with The Lakes Distillery and The Mills Group, Nigel was also the co-owner of award-winning The Trout Hotel (which he sold in 2022), a founding member and former Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

In 2018, Nigel was awarded a CBE for services to entrepreneurship and for co-founding The Lakes Distillery and became a Liveryman in The Worshipful Company of Distillers.


Brian Palmer OBE

An entrepreneur and engineer, Brian is passionate about the creation of products that have strategic impact and businesses that have global reach, are sustainable and grounded in their host communities.

As MD, CEO and now Founder, Brian created and led the Tharsus Group on its journey from being a back street metal-basher to a leading North East technology business, the purpose of which is to create Tech that Matters.  The success of the Group has been built on strong values and a belief in doing the right thing.

In 2023 Brian led the Creation of Connect Northumberland, a not-for-profit organisation, focused on supporting and enabling the future growth of Northumberland’s workforce.

Brian was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018 and was awarded an OBE in the 2024 New Year Honours.


Fiona Raglan

Fiona Raglan is a seasoned entrepreneur and the co-founder of DRG and Panelbase.

Under Fiona's leadership, DRG and Panelbase has flourished into a dynamic business with two distinct divisions. Panelbase, an online panel comprising over 350,000 members, plays a crucial role in collecting data for informed decision-making.  Meanwhile DRG stands as a full-service agency specialising in brand and communications research, offering tailored solutions to major brands, media planners and advertising agencies.

Headquartered in Hexham with a notable presence in London, the company has maintained a robust workforce ranging between 45-75 employees over the years.

In 2018, DRG and Panelbase attracted the attention of a private equity company seeking to acquire the business. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March/April 2020 prompted a strategic withdrawal from the deal, with the owners wisely navigating the uncertain terrain.

Undeterred, Fiona and her team revisited the prospect of a sale a few years later, engaging Cavu Corporate Finance to identify potential buyers. The process had its share of challenges, including false starts, but perseverance paid off. In July 2023, DRG and Panelbase completed its sale to Norstat, a Norwegian company with a strategic interest in expanding its portfolio of online consumer research panels across Europe.

And Fiona's commitment to excellence has not gone unnoticed, evidenced by her recognition as Rural Entrepreneur of the Year and the company's receipt of numerous accolades throughout the years. She served as a non-executive director of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum from 2015 to 2020.


Christine Nugent

More information will be published soon.


The small print - Due to limited capacity round table discussions are exclusively for entrepreneur members. Guests or substitutions are not allowed.

This event is FULLY BOOKED - Please email to be added to the RESERVE LIST.

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