Over the next two years, things moved quickly; the machines dispensed cash, Nation employed people, quit his day job, and was approached by Thomas Cook who wanted to buy his nascent foreign-exchange business.
Nation refused, being turned off by the staid corporate culture. However, he knew that he required funding to grow, and so approached Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex himself, whom he admired for his entrepreneurial drive.
“We thrashed out a deal in a couple of hours, on the back of a sheet of A4 paper”
Cennox’s growth has been carefully built over the years by a combination of business turnaround, organic growth and acquisition, but all characterised by Nation’s eye for an opportunity and his willingness to develop that opportunity
This new joint-venture subsidiary first started installing foreign currency machines into UK and US airports, then took over a legacy business of ATM machines (growing that tenfold), then created a processing centre to process BA’s ‘Change for Good’ programme, before expanding into security and compliance initiatives.
In short, this subsidiary became so successful, that in 2002, Travelex sold it to APAX private equity partners. However, APAX struggled to emulate the returns, and, according to Nation, changed the culture from an entrepreneurial ‘can-do’ one to an overly-analytical ‘let’s check first’ one. Within a few years, Nation resigned.