7 magazine meets Mark Osborne, founder and director of William Powell Sporting, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire
Mark is a chartered surveyor by profession – his main business is JM Osborne & Co, but a little more than 20 years ago he founded the multifaceted field-sports company to offer bespoke fishing and shooting trips to clients from all over the world.
The company has grown significantly through the years and, these days, as well as organising trips, William Powell Sporting manages some of the best estates and sporting properties in the British Isles. As if that wasn’t enough, the company also designs and makes a range of beautiful, custom-specification guns.
With a large family that shares his love of country pursuits, Mark has found his perfect personal and leisure vehicle, and the ideal all-rounder for business use.
7 magazine: Thanks for taking the time to speak to 7 magazine, Mark. First, the all-important question: why did you choose Jeep vehicles for William Powell Sporting?
Mark Osborne: Before we made a decision on which vehicles to buy we investigated and appraised all the obvious, and not-so-obvious, makes of 4×4 SUVs. Our business demands that we use vehicles with true off-road capability. However, we also need vehicles that offer a great deal of luxury and comfort. We organise between 500 and 600 shooting days a year. Most of these take place on moors and estates, some of which are in the Scottish Highlands, for example, where we encounter all sorts of inclement weather all year round. But, before we even get to the stalking estates and fishing locations, we may have several hours or more driving on the motorway. We found that the only other 4×4 vehicles with the off-road capabilities close to those of the Jeep vehicles are unsuitable for fast, on-road miles with clients on board. Those that offer good, on-road performance are simply too ‘suburban’ for the wilds of Scotland.
7: Which Jeep models did you eventually choose?
MO: When we’d finished our analysis and narrowed down the choice to two different makes, we quickly realised that Jeep SUVs are superb value for money. So we bought four – two Grand Cherokees and two Cherokees. Currently we’re close to buying a fifth. I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, as does my business partner, James Chapel, the managing director of William Powell Sporting. Will Robinson and Chris Maxted drive the Cherokees. Chris is James’ assistant at William Powell Sporting and Will is my assistant in JM Osborne & Co., but we all muck in and do pretty much everything!
7: Your work sounds like a wonderful way to pursue a passion and build a business. How did you come to start your company?
MO: My father shot when I was a boy, which is where my interest came from originally. As you know, I’m a chartered surveyor. Over the years many of my clients have been owners of shooting estates and sporting properties. More than 20 years ago I spotted an opportunity to offer bespoke shooting trips and formed Pennine Sporting, the precursor to William Powell Sporting. Things have grown from there. These days, around 40 per cent of our clients come from overseas, mostly from the USA, Europe and, increasingly, China. They come to Britain for the wonderful sporting locations and because we offer a unique and very high-quality service. It’s great to meet so many varied and interesting people, all with a shared interest.
7: What do you do to relax when you’re not taking clients to remote estates in Scotland?
MO: I grouse-shoot and fish! I love to shoot and fish, and really, I can never get enough of it. Also my wife has a couple of horses, so on many weekends we’re at point-to-point meetings somewhere in the country. The Grand Cherokee is a great family SUV, with tons of space, and it’s good for towing the horses. We have four young children – two boys and two girls – so we never travel light.
7: What Jeep SUV features or options are vital for your work?
MO: It’s not just one thing; it’s the combination of luxury, comfort and capability that makes them perfect for the job. No other SUV comes close. One day I might be collecting clients from an airport, so creating a good first impression is very important. The very next day, we could be traversing an icy river or moor. The Jeep Selec-Terrain® traction control system allows us to select the right 4×4 setting for the conditions. Even when the going gets very tough, the Jeep SUVs are stable and comfortable. We want our clients to enjoy their shooting and fishing trips, which means the journey there and back has to be smooth and uneventful, whatever the weather throws at us.
7: There may be readers of 7 who would like to try shooting and fishing for the first time. Do you have any advice, other than to drive a Jeep vehicle?
MO: Do it! You won’t regret it. However, if you’ve never done it before, try to go when the weather forecast is good. Getting cold and wet may put you off, which would be a great shame.
7: Thank you, Mark. We wish you good hunting and continued success with your business.
MO: Thank you! It was my pleasure.
With many thanks to 7 magazine for content and photographs.