Introducing Saran

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the re:find team: Saran Badwal, our Associate Researcher.

Saran has previously worked within the hospitality industry leading a front of house department and providing a tailored experienced to customers. This, combined with her degree in psychology, has nurtured and intensified her need to get to know people and how they work, leading her to pursue a new career here at re:find.

What will you be doing at re:find?

As Associate Researcher, I will be responsible for sourcing and communicating with potential candidates to aid our director’s executive search campaigns. I will live and breath our organisation’s values in order to meet our goal, to be the most helpful firm.

Why re: find?

re:find doesn’t feel like your everyday recruitment firm. Everyone here wants to give their all into helping our clients find the right person for their organisation and to go about it the right way. Every case is unique and is treated that way. re:find doesn’t just go through the motions, they take the time to get to know clients and potential candidates leading to suitable and successful placements.

What is it like being a part of team re:find?

If you searched up the word “collaborative” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of the re:find team next to it. Since I started, everyone has been inviting, helpful and fun to be around, it’s just such a positive environment. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.

Saran Badwal is our Associate Researcher. If you’d like to discuss executive research with her, you can email her on

Introducing Emma

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the re:find team: Emma Gresko, our new Executive Researcher.

Before joining re:find, her career has encompassed recruitment, operations, training, sales and account management, across a multitude of sectors. She loves engaging with people and helping to make a difference.

What will you be doing at re:find?

Here at re:find I will be responsible for supporting our Talent Manager and Directors, by helping to link up our fantastic candidate network with exceptional career opportunities.

Why re: find?

re:find’s top priority is to help and be helpful, whether it’s assisting clients in filling top roles, or supporting candidates seeking a new opportunity. This shines through in every aspect of the way that re:find operates, and is integral their core values, which makes them the ideal business to work with and for.

What is it like being a part of team re:find?

Life at re:find is the perfect blend of professionalism and fun. The Directors and team are incredibly supportive, and have created an environment that is dynamic, nurturing and compelling. It’s a really exciting time to have joined, and I’m very happy to be a part of the journey.

Emma Gresko is our Executive Researcher. If you’d like to discuss executive research with her, you can email her on

Thursday Brunch: what did we learn?

Thursday Brunch: what did we learn. Find out everything you need to know about the #1 networking event in the UK – Thursday Brunch!

Thursday Brunch is jointly organised and hosted by re:find and the incredible Stuart and Tony from Masgroves.

This month’s instalment of Thursday Brunch was looking at making your employer brand stand out.

How to make your employer brand STFO

Are you struggling to attract talent? In the current hiring market, competition is fierce and employees are re-evaluating what they want from employers. 

Businesses are having to rethink, to make sure they attract and retain the best talent. A strong employer brand helps businesses compete for the best talent.

So how do you make your employer brand stand the f*** out?

We had three awesome guests joining us:

Professor Damian Hughes from the high performance podcast. He began his career in HR for Unilever; has practical and academic knowledge of organisational development and change psychology; and is an all-round font of wisdom on human behaviour.

Hannah Litt Head of Resourcing and Inclusion at Motorpoint, a business that’s on a mission! To ‘drive dreams’ in the motor industry, a sector that’s done things the same way since forever. Not only an amazing culture (they’re one of the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For) but some head-turning benefits. Like paid time off – every month – for people to ‘do what makes you happy!’ 

Alison Payne is People Director for a business you may not have heard of – but who are cooking up a storm! COOK Trading Ltd supply award-winning frozen meats and puddings, made like you would at home. For the last nine years, they’ve been in the top 100 Best Companies To Work For list and were ranked the #1 in Food & Drink last year.

Practical advice from our guests on how to really stand out:

  1. Don’t be a pale imitation, that makes you unique, then be proud of it and stay true to it!
  2. Create a culture where people feel comfortable enough to speak up and be themselves.
  3. Have your own ‘why’ – so you’re passionate about what you’re doing!

You can see the full recording here.

What I wish I knew when I worked in HR

Some HR Directors move on to bigger-and-better things. Like CEO. Now that they sit on top of the mountain, looking down on their career, what do they think about HR? What do they know now that they wished they’d known when they started out? Let’s find out!

The three former HRD’s sharing their secrets were:

Andrew Scully is Chief Operating Officer of Grow Group, a business on a mission to unlock the potential of cannabis medicines for patients. Prior to this, he worked at HRD-level for Honeywell, GlaxoSmithKline and United Health Group and for a variety of organisations as an interim.

C-J Green was Group HRD, then Group Chief People Officer at Servest UK before taking over the top job, Chief Executive Officer. For the next two years, she led one of the UK’s leading facilities management companies who operate 12,000 client sites across a range of sectors.

Alex King is Group Retail & Marketing Director at Tom Davies, the bespoke opticians. Prior to this he was Group Chief Operating Officer for Larkbury Group, a role he took on from Global Director of People, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty.

And the knockout advice they gave:

  1. When the fun stops, stop – it’s essential we’re all happy and motivated! Being in the right work environment allows you to be the best version of yourself.
  2. Have huge courage in everything you do – find a way to do things without worrying about it not going right every time.
  3. Cut your own path in life – don’t follow everyone else. Bring your true self to work!

You can see the full recording here.

The Rise of the Invisible Employee

Gone are the days when a manager would simply peer down their nose, at their team. WFH. Hybrid working. WFAA. New work locations means employees are hidden, out of sight. Say hello to the Invisible Employee. How do you lead, manage, recognise, engage people you cannot “see?”

Did you know?

  • 50% would leave companies if flexible working was removed.
  • 1/5 of UK workers feel they get less recognition WFH, despite working harder.
  • 20% of hybrid employees struggle to switch off.

Our three great guests giving us advice on our new agile working world were:

Jenni Field is the founder of Redefining Communications and the author of research called “Remotely Interested,” which looks at what non desk-based employees want.

Matthew Blake is Chief People Officer at SThree, a group of seven specialist recruitment brands focusing on STEM industries, with 2,500 people working in 15 countries around the world.

Betsy Bula is an All-Remote Evangelist at GitLab, who describe themselves as “A world leader in remote work,” who will share how they’ve scaled as an asynchronous, no-office company that’s consistently recognized as a great place to work.

And what were the main takeaways from this session?

  • Listen – really listen! Do focus groups, have real conversations, the richness of data will be phenomenal!
  • Trust the process, it will work, but takes time and investment.
  • Not just down to HR – responsibility within leadership teams and management teams too.
  • Track goals, and not time at desk.

You can see the full recording from LinkedIn Live here.

HR of the Future: It’s already… here!

What will the HR look like in “the future?” Will it be policy free? Admin free? And free enough to focus solely on helping their people and their company to sky-rocket to success? Well, we’ve news for you. Some HR folk are doing this already, and we tuned in to hear their amazing stories.

Our three incredible guests were:

Sandra Simpson, Correla’s Chief People Officer. You may not recognise the name but Correla are ripping up the HR Rule Book and doing things differently! They’re on a mission: To take on the complex and make it simple. 

Rishita Jones is Transformation & Change consultant at NRG, based in Amsterdam. She has a clear message for organisations: “The future of work is now.”  She believes Covid-19 has accelerated the shift towards new organisational business models and evolving employee preferences. Combined, these are contributing to the emergence of new forms of work that depart from the traditional norm.

Vidhya Abhijith is Co-founder & Head of Design Thinking at Codewave. Codewave has an incredibly unique way of doing things that will make you think this is the greatest work experience you’ve (n)ever heard of. Codewave is flat. People choose the projects they want to work on. That’s because people are not hired to fill a specific job description; they’re hired to do their best work, whatever that may be.

What were the main takeaways from this session?

  • Start small and experiment – not everything will work.
  • Put people experience at the top and remember not everyone is the same.
  • Strive for equality and balance across the whole organisation.

You can see the full recording from LinkedIn Live here.

The Great Resignation or The Great Retention?

Since the pandemic, employees are leaving or switching jobs in droves. A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% are considering quitting or changing professions this year, and another study of the UK and Ireland by Personio says 38% plan to quit in the next six months to a year.

“We all say: ‘People are my most important asset‘, then we recruit in a rush. With 90 applications, the focus becomes getting rid of 60. But that’s not your job. Your job is to find the diamonds in the sand – to find the talent that no one else sees.”

Our three brilliant guests were:

Glenn Elliott, quoted above, founded Reward Gateway in 2006, a company he ran for 12 years. During that time, Reward Gateway grew to over 400 staff servicing over 2,000 clients from 6 offices in the UK, Bulgaria, USA and Australia. Now, he is Entrepreneur In Residence at Tenzing Private Equity having sold Reward Gateway in 2017. At Tenzing, his job is “to help companies grow” and he has some innovative thoughts and ideas on successful hiring in a candidate-driven market. All based on recent personal experience! 

Jo Taylor has worked in Talent Management and Organisational Development (OD) for over 25 years, but she started her career at the BBC as a storyteller! Six years ago, Jo launched Let’s Talk Talent who deliver a wide range of Talent Management and OD projects for global clients like Wagamama, Liverpool FC and The AA. Their aim? To make organisations irresistible by unlocking their people potential ensuring people at every level thrive.

George Bettany co-founded Sanctus in 2016 with his best mate and business partner, James Routledge after their previous business closed. They both struggled with their mental health, which led them to set up the kind of business they wished they could have turned to for help. A business like Sanctus. Sanctus want to create a world where mental health is viewed the same as physical health. And to put the world’s first mental health gyms on the high street! Red Bull, Just Eat and Peakon are just some of the brands they work with.

What were the main takeaways from this session?

  • Start with really great job adverts, be honest and put a whole load of people off – so the people applying are really excited by the opportunity.
  • Create your businesses story and make sure everyone knows their place in it.
  • Look after your mental health: pause, reflect and acknowledge where you need support.

Who killed employee engagement?

In 2018, HBR estimated companies were spending over $720 million each year on employee engagement – projected to rise to over $1.5 billion. There is no doubt, employee engagement is big business. But why is the dial not moving? 

Because it has been bastardised. So, who is to blame?

We had three incredible guests joining us:

William Kahn is professor of organisational behaviour at Boston University Questrom School of Business. However he’s regarded as the “Founding Father of Employee Engagement,” a label he strenuously refutes. Yet there is no doubt he changed the world of work with his research titled: “Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work”.

Blaire Palmer is a world authority on the changing face of leadership and work. An author, speaker, coach, consultant and commentator on future trends in business, Blaire shares her funny, insightful and challenging ideas about leadership and change with audiences around the globe, inspiring them to find ways to start running their companies in partnership with their people, lose the ego around leadership and re-think what leaders are here for in the post-Industrial Age.

Cliff Ettridge leads the employee engagement offer at The Team, delivering projects for clients such as IBM, RBS, Three and the BBC. Prior to joining The Team, Cliff headed internal communications at The Body Shop International, was creative director at Banner McBride, then the sole employee engagement consultancy within WPP.

And the main takeaways from this session?

  • Leaders must be aware of employees psychological safety.
  • Listen, with a willingness to change your mind.
  • Be obsessive with it – do it every day.

Business as unusual

Even before the pandemic, some companies had found a different way. A different way of thinking. A different way of doing. A different way of being. If 2020 has taught us to ask anything, surely it is this: How do we do business as unusual?

Our three champions of business as unusual were:

Nathalie Nahai is an international speaker, author and consultant, who explores the intersection between persuasive technology, ethics and the psychology behind evolving consumer behaviours. 

Luke Kyte is Head of Culture at Reddico and firmly believes traditional business structures are dying.

Gethin Nadin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for two decades. He is also Director of Wellbeing at Benefex where he leads their thought leadership in the market.

And the main takeaways from this session?

  • Value your employees, listen to them, find out what makes them perform best.
  • Clarify your values and purpose, make sure it’s clear.
  • Empathise and sympathise, ensure psychological safety.

You can watch the full session here:

Scandinavians do “it” better (it = work)

The happiest countries in the world were recently announced, and all of the Scandinavian countries are in the top ten! Again. With Finland number one. Again. We want to ask what is it “they” do to lead such happy lives – at home and at work. Because we believe Scandinavians do both, better.

Our three brilliant Scandi guests were:

Rasmus Ankersen is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, speaker on performance development and a trusted advisor to businesses and athletes around the world.

Natasha Holland is a creative, collaborative change management consultant, helping organisations deliver remarkable results with happier humans.

Alexander Stephanou is Chief Commercial Officer at Open, a Copenhagen-based employee communication agency. Open work with some of Europe’s largest companies including Arla, Carlsberg and Maersk as well as global players such as Microsoft and Du Pont.

So what were the main takeaways from this session? 

  • Work-life balance – this was reiterated by all three guests. Be efficient during work time, then enjoy time outside of work with family and friends.
  • Trust first – give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t try to control too much, you’ll be happier for it.
  • Be more democratic – challenge helps innovation, so embrace it. (Even though it can be tough!) 

You can watch the full session here:

George Floyd: one year on

The killing of George Floyd on 25th May 2020 reverberated around the world. He was arrested after allegedly buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, George Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.

One year on, what has changed? At the time, his killing resonated far beyond Minnesota where he died and disrupted politics, business, culture and sports. It sparked debate across Europe. Sports stars still take the knee. And his dying words – “I can’t breathe” – remains a parable for America’s racial story and a rallying cry for action.

Our three guests are pioneers of diversity and inclusion:

Nichol Whiteman – Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), which tackles the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness and social justice.

Eugenio Pirri is Chief People and Culture Officer and global diversity champion at Dorchester Collection, a portfolio of the world’s foremost luxury hotels in Europe and the USA.

Catherine Garrod is the founder of Compelling Culture, following a career in media and telecoms, where she led Sky to be named the most inclusive employer in the UK.

So what were the main takeaways from this session? 

  • Focus on an inclusive culture – and ask your employees for their honest views.
  • Be proactive, not reactive, and be intentional in your actions.
  • Education, communication and celebration: the 3 pillars of inclusivity.
  • Ensure that the people making the decisions are a complete mix, so everyone brings different ideas and challenges each other.
  • Provide compelling data, so your teams know what they need to work on to improve.

You can watch the full session here:

2021 AD: How will we work After the ‘Demic?

For many, 2020 was the year when “home” became “work.” Millions joined those who have ‘WFH’d’ for years – like small business owners, freelancers and sole traders. To say some have found it tough is an understatement. It has also been tough for companies to flip how they operate, literally overnight.

Now light is at the end of the tunnel, we look to life after the pandemic:

  • What will the world look like?
  • How do we rebuild?
  • Will things ever be normal again?

We got the views of three leading thinkers:

Tom Goodwin – #1 Voice in marketing on LinkedIn globally, with over 700,000 followers and currently sits on the World Economic Forum’s Future of Workboard.

Rebecca Seal  is an award-winning food, drink, lifestyle and personal development writer.

Marco Bertozzi was until recently Vice President EMEA and Multi-market Global Sales at Spotify.

So what were the main takeaways from this session? 

  • Focus on ourselves and what’s important to us and be more optimisic.
  • Look after ourselves when working from home by eating well, working in daylight, taking regular breaks and not sitting for too long – ‘sitting is the new smoking’.
  • Go “all-in” and embrace what’s happened and look at the benefits to carry on post-pandemic.
  • Trust your teams.

You can watch the full session here:

Mental health strategies for a crazy world.

The statistics on mental health are widely known. What is less well known are the strategies to adopt to respond to a growing workplace challenge. And the scale of the challenge becomes even greater as more of us struggle with the pandemic.

  • Deloitte say poor mental health in the workplace is equivalent to almost 2% of UK GDP (in 2016)
  • The cost ranges from £497 to £2,564 per employee depending on the industry and sector
  • The return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive, with an average ROI of 4:1

We look for answers with three of the leading thinkers on wellbeing: David Beeney from Breaking the Silence; ex-professional footballer, Drewe Broughton; and founder of The Performance Club, Stacy Thomson. What did we learn?

  • Kindness and wellbeing have a significant impact on culture and the engagement of colleagues.
  • Our brain is our most powerful tool, yet we are not taught how we can manage it to get the best out of it
  • The fear of failure and constantly striving for perfection are massive contributors to poor mental health.

You can watch the whole session here:

The joy or serotonin: why happiness matters.

Human happiness has a positive effect on productivity, organisational success, and a whole host of other things too. Here are some ‘stats’ to back that up.

  • Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%.
  • Employees who report being happy at work take X10 fewer sick days.
  • And happy salespeople produce 37% more sales.

Most leaders want happier workplaces – but aren’t sure where to begin or how to achieve it. Hear from three guests who will share practical tips and advice to make your workplace more than just colourful walls and a few free snacks in the fridge!

You can see what our three great guests –  neuroscientist, Amy Brann; author of “Freedom to be Happy: The Business Case for Happiness” Matt Phelan; and David Bellamy, founder and CEO of Happiness Lab – had to say, watch the recording here:

Thursday Brunch 2020

We ran three virtual Thursday Brunch events in 2020. The final Thursday Brunch of the year was a controversial subject that had a mixed response – How to thrive without HR:

Can companies not only survive but thrive without a formal Human Resources function?

Is it possible?
Is it legal?
Is it commercially savvy?

What a great event it was, some really thought-provoking and inspiring discussion with our 3 guests, PTHR’s Perry Timms, Brave Goose co-founder and radical truth-teller C-J Green and Rich Sheridan, CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations.

If you missed it, here is the full show:

If you would like to chat with the guys at Masgroves and BVU about hosting an event like this for your business, they’d love to hear from you. Just give them a call on 012 1369 9631.

Thursday Brunch 2019

We ran three live events in 2019, the final event in November was the best, with over 60 attendees, a line-up of fantastic speakers and our hosts – Stuart and Tony from Masgroves – really knocked it out of the park!

For this Thursday Brunch, we gathered together to discuss ‘What leaders want, an alternative look at employee engagement’.

In the absence of a video recording to share, here is a roundup of what we learnt:

Don’t get too intellectual about it!

We can get too intellectual about engagement at times – particularly when it comes to company purpose.

You cannot just create purpose and expect people to care about it. It’s about helping people understand what’s important to them and then find some alignment to that.

If you work on a production line and do the same process 20 times a day, do you care about purpose or do you just want to get your job done?

Some people want to come into work, work hard and go home and there’s nothing wrong with that! Shoving engagement down someone’s throat isn’t going to make them engaged.

Keep it simple

The employer/employee deal has skewed. A lot of it is being driven by what we see on LinkedIn that other people are doing, rather than what the business and employees need and want.

Not asking what people want is a huge mistake. Doing initiatives that you think people will like rather than what they actually want is a risk. By doing things people haven’t asked for, it can disengage on a number of levels.

Every business is individual – dogs at work and beer fridges are great, but that doesn’t mean that is what your people want. Keep an eye on the basics and go with your gut on what will work.

For example – your IT hardware is hugely out of date. Are people more likely to leave your business because you don’t have a beer fridge, or because you haven’t invested in a decent enough laptop and operating system for them to do their job effectively?

Create psychological safety

Create an environment where people feel comfortable saying things that are unpopular and challenge the status quo. Creating an open environment where people can say what they mean is key, as is creating space and time to have those conversations. Tell stories about people challenging things within the business – put them on a pedestal. We need diversity of thought – the conversation may not lead anywhere, but let’s celebrate the fact the conversation was had.

To learn about all our upcoming events for 2021, you can sign up here.

And don’t forget to check out our new website here.

Thursday Brunch is jointly organised and hosted by re:find Interim & Executive Search, BVU and Masgroves.  

If you would like to chat with the guys at Masgroves and BVU about hosting an event like this for your business, they’d love to hear from you. Just give them a call on 012 1369 9631.

Extraordinary transformation in retail

The last 2 years has seen retail giants go through extraordinary transformation. At a tough time for retail and with the added unpredictable timing of Covid, consumers were looking at what matters. Wellbeing, mental health, health management, and diet were at the forefront. Our featured blog is on a major UK retailer in the health and wellness sector who wanted to make wellbeing accessible to all.

Omnichannel, products, pricing, and store revamps are some of the pillars of their transformational success. One of my great interim placements whilst working on this project was Matt Taylor.

Matt Taylor has 17 years of commercial experience across multiple sectors. His consultancy, Taylor Corporate Solutions, support clients with value challenges and pricing and promotion opportunities. This is through detailed analysis to drive actionable recommendations that are approved and supported by business stakeholders.

He worked through a huge retail transformation and has given us some insight into the changes and the challenges faced.

So Matt, tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the transformation space?

Redundancy forced me to look at options, but to be honest I was approached for another retail role – due to my relevant retail background and pricing and promo experience – and immediately started a contract role supporting a major UK retailer on a transformational project. The project was to reset their price and promotion position based on consistent feedback from customer on poor value perception.

What has been your biggest transformation project in the last couple of years?

The projects I have been involved with have all been similar in nature at the highest level, but significantly different when you consider different sectors, categories, or scale. For example, I have project managed price repositioning initiatives affecting £billions in sales and across thousands of SKUs and several European markets.

And what were the biggest challenges you faced?

The world of price and promotions is very ‘grey’ and within the retail environment there are many people who have strong views or have significant experience, so reaching alignment on strategic direction and initiatives can be very challenging.

How about the biggest successes of the project?

The results have seen the business win back volume, market share and recruit new customers in categories that had been in decline –  this enabled a cost reduction programme to help continue to drive value back through these categories.

And finally, what were your biggest lessons learnt from this project?

I will always regularly  ‘check in’ with key stakeholders; they provide a deeper perspective and build the broader picture….data and analysis (however robust) will always be more engaging and is more likely to drive action when the narrative of experience is also included.

Thanks so much to Matt for his insight into retail transformation, you can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Paula Keville is our Change and Transformation Specialist. You can email her at and connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Introducing Natasha

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the re:find team: Natasha Ferguson our Talent Manager. Natasha has been in the communications sector for over 10 years and now specialises in diverse recruitment and acquisition. Throughout her career as a journalist, editor and public relations consultant, she has focused on building clients’ reputation, brand visibility, thought leaders and for the past three years driving inclusive and meaningful change across organisations.

What will you be doing at re:find?

As a new backbone for the business, my role is to work end to end with clients to provide a seamless service. I pride myself on building sustaining relationships externally while bridging our internal team at all points of our delivery process, to ensure that we produce exceptional results.

Why re: find?

With this role being new to re:find, the opportunity to make it my own was one I could not pass up. Over the past year, the topic of diversity, equality and inclusion has echoed throughout every organisation and across all industries. This has required the recruitment and acquisition sector to understand where the gaps are when we talk about representation within underrepresented groups. Then, think about what needs to be done to support companies in becoming more equitable for the future.

The re:find team have not only embraced my expertise but want to innovate a new way of ensuring we deliver a richer service, where my experience in this area elevates our way of working and our client’s goals and objectives.

What is it like being a part of team re:find?

The team are just what I need for where I am in life and my career. Their “family first” value is one that I respect sincerely and has allowed us as a team to connect on a deeper level. Authenticity is not as accessible as it used to be and I appreciate that I can bring my full authentic self to work here – which ultimately allows me to perform at the optimum level.

Natasha Ferguson is our Talent Manager. For all thing’s pertaining to diverse recruitment and acquisition email her at

Kingfisher’s struggles shows the pitfalls of nailing international retail

Nailing international retail

International success is one of retail’s holy grails but despite notable wins, Kingfisher’s results today show it is one of the most elusive of prizes. 

As one senior retailer with extensive overseas experience told me, things are always going wrong in at least one important market. He questions whether it is actually possible to be successful on a truly global basis. 

There is plenty of evidence to support that view. It’s not just Kingfisher that has beat a retreat from markets once seen as great opportunities like Russia and China. Tesco has too. And Walmart, which hopes to offload Asda to Sainsbury’s, is another case in point. 

Global ambition is frequently spurred by the idea that there is today an ‘international consumer’ who wants the same whether they live in Swansea or Shanghai. The success of Asos, which describes itself as “a global fashion destination for 20-somethings”, is typically cited as proving that point. 

While such a generation may be nascent, the particularities of place and people still matter hugely, as the travails of B&Q’s owner show. The mixed success so far of the ‘One Kingfisher’ strategy, including greater product in common across its markets, illustrates that starkly. 

Uniting consumers 

Kingfisher can certainly claim some advances from the strategy and it can point, as it did in its results statement, to the fact that “sales of our unified and unique ranges continue to outperform non-unified ranges”. 

However, its overall performance was poor and the architect of the strategy, chief executive Véronique Laury, is to depart when a successor is found. 

As Whitman Howard analyst Tony Shiret noted: “The news that Laury will be leaving the group… effectively means the company is calling time on her ambitious One Kingfisher transformation plan.” 

Whether you put Kingfisher’s difficulties down to unaddressed differences in consumer tastes in various countries, generally tough conditions or the disruptive influence of the gilets jaunes protests in the important French market, the point is that international success is extremely difficult to achieve. 

Gone are the days when giants could simply replicate abroad the model that brought success at home. More than product, what perhaps does unite consumers around the world is shared aspiration and behaviour. 

Everybody wants a better life. Increasingly everybody is conducting more of their lives through smartphones. That’s evident from China to Africa, where pan-African etailer Jumia has grown to the extent that it is planning a Wall Street IPO that could value it at $1bn. 

And while Walmart is scaling back its interest in the UK, it is upping the ante in India, where its $16bn acquisition of Flipkart shows that it is how shoppers buy as much as what they purchase that is seen as most likely to bring future success. 

Bold moves 

That same combination of aspiration, combined with the desire for convenience, speed and value is what has driven the rise of one of the big contemporary international retail success stories – Amazon. 

But the ability to key into unifying behavioural patterns isn’t restricted to the new online giants. Ikea, which itself has had its ups and downs, has perhaps been more forward-looking than its rival Kingfisher. 

The Swedish furniture titan is boldly nailing its colours to the mast of urbanisation, which is occurring across the world, and developing new formats in response. Similarly, Ikea initiatives such as renting furniture are driven in reflection of changes in how people live rather than just product. 

Whether Ikea’s bets pay off remains to be seen, but it looks as if its ideas could tap into transforming times more than some of the shifts Kingfisher has made. 

Ironically, Kingfisher owns one business that does reflect the common desire for speed and convenience – Screwfix, which can offer click and collect in just one minute. 

It’s a business that has been built through intimate customer knowledge that is then executed upon with flair. That’s a foundation stone of retail success anywhere in the world. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Supply chain management: An opportunity for transformation?

The world of retail has always been competitive and fast moving. In the current climate, where few are making sustained headway on sales and margin, agility and demand responsiveness are at an even greater premium. For me, this is about supply chain performance where failure can threaten survival, and excellence can transform a company’s market position and financial performance. 

The term supply chain is now as ubiquitous in both the press and government pronouncements. However, the interpretation and scope of supply chain management by people and organisations is varied. Recent research by Cranfield, led by Professor Richard Wilding, found that the senior supply chain manager in around 70% of companies had a place on the divisional or operating board. This is a position that has emerged from nothing in only the last ten years. However, the same research showed that the scope of responsibility varied greatly across the 238 manufacturing companies surveyed.  

What is supply chain management?

The essence of supply chain thinking is about improving the end-to-end processes within a business and with its suppliers and customers, to maximise sales and margin potential.  So the reported fragmentation of responsibility is interesting. For me, supply chain management is about the integration of planning with sourcing, making and delivering.  While the research was carried out mainly with manufacturers, the parallels with retail are strong, with supply chain now having a place on the board, but directors’ responsibilities are not consistently framed across the retail sector. 

Should supply chain calls the shots?

No, this doesn’t mean that supply chain people should call the shots across the business; that would drive a left brain and relatively uncreative retail world and spell potential disaster. From my experience, boards generally see supply chain as a source of risk and disruption. The well-catalogued failures over the years have taken their toll and supply chain operations are perceived as having a negative potential. Suppliers, warehouse operations and systems, parcel operators and others are all seen as potential pitfalls and points of cost with no upside at all. 

For most retailers the planning, buying and merchandising functions (right brained and creative) are not perceived as organised as ‘supply chain’ functions. The paradox is that the financial and reputational risk from lost sales, markdowns and disposals from the planning of flow control processes are worth typically more than double the entire cost of the physical distribution operations. 

How do retailers get it right?

So retailers are damned if they don’t get the operations right, but they are doubly damned if their planning of buying and distribution is lacking. Buying and merchandising is central to retail supply chain management and the real challenge is to manage the tensions between left and right brain thinking, to drive real customer value. By doing this well retailers could see a 5% improvement in like-for-likes and 2% to 3% in net margin. Most CEO’s would kill for that right now and they need to think about their organisational dynamics to get a new balance. 

The multichannel challenge

Multichannel is coming up on the rails so fast it will soon be the outright winner; the problem is that multichannel risks are driving in cost and margin erosion faster than the growth. Right now this is still ‘land grab’ time. Right brains have control and are rushing headlong – and while pursuit of growth is not wrong, it should be challenged if it comes at too great a cost. The fulfilment cost options need to be clearly understood and Boards will need a tighter grasp of the new operating system in order to make balanced long term choices.  Again a consistent offer, well presented and executed by a trusted brand, at a cost that does not erode margin too fast, will be the future. Successful multichannel retailers will be judged by how little they have eroded value, as they have embraced the new normal of e-retailing. 

So what about the future?

Going forward, Boards will need to recognise these twin realities and put in place processes to bring both the left and right brain tensions to their table, well informed by real cost and net margin data. Only then will they make decisions that can protect the business from major surprises. It is both essential for survival and the opportunity for transformation. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Simplifying the ‘Change Journey’ – can a Change Advisory Board help?

Simplifying he change journey

A change-advisory board (CAB) delivers support to a change-management team by approving requested changes, assisting in the assessment and prioritisation of changes.   A CAB is an integral part of a defined change-management process designed to balance the need for change with the need to minimise inherent risks. 

The CAB members should selectively be chosen to ensure that the requested changes are thoroughly checked and assessed from both a technical and business perspective. The considered change will dictate the required personnel to convene in a CAB meeting.  

A CAB offers multiple perspectives necessary to ensure proper decision-making. For example, a decision made solely by IT may fail to recognise the concerns of accounting. The CAB is tasked with reviewing and prioritising requested changes, monitoring the change process and providing managerial feedback. 

How do you manage a CAB effectively? 

Here are four good tips to running a CAB: 

1. Get the agenda out early and encourage discussions before the CAB. 
Don’t wait until the last minute to publish the upcoming CAB schedule. One of the frustrating things about attending CABs is that attendees often don’t really know much about the changes until they get to the meeting. Publish the list early so attendees have a chance to get up to speed on the proposed changes. This way, they can get with change requestors and sponsors before the meeting to get a clear understanding of what is proposed. If you don’t, then your CAB will be overtaken with efforts to solve any personal issues people have with proposed changes. 

2. DECISION MAKERS attend the CAB. 
The CAB members should be selected based on their knowledge and meaningful input to the meeting. What happens when CAB invitees can’t make it and send their designated hitters? Simple: ensure that then people attending have the authority to speak on the behalf of the person they are sitting in for. There’s nothing more frustrating than discussing a change and a key role says “I don’t think I can speak on that, I’ll have to get approval from my boss.” If they can’t speak on behalf of their boss, then they don’t need to be there. You can either clarify this need with the attendees before the meeting, or reschedule the discussion to a later CAB when the key personnel can attend. 

3. Know your decision thresholds. 
Do not attempt to approve a change that is bigger than you. Follow your organisation’s governance guidelines and determine the rules to decision making. This means that you should know exactly what thresholds (pound amount, risk level, impact, urgency, etc.) you are capable of approving. 

4. Careful not to get into “rubber stamping.” 

Many CABs get overwhelmed with complex and numerous changes. The pressures of getting through these changes during a meeting are enormous. This often results in sloppy approvals that may not receive proper assessment – and can cause incidents once deployed. Ensure that every change request receives the proper attention by scheduling enough time to discuss them. Also, be careful not to blindly approve a request simply based on who is requesting it. I remember a situation where a CAB approved a change simply based on who was requesting it. This “rubber stamp” approval resulted in a poorly managed deployment that caused several hours of downtime. The lesson learned here is that it doesn’t matter who is asking, every change must have the proper amount of analysis and scrutiny. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Mindset vs skillset: redefining retail talent for the digital age

Mindset vs skillset: redefining retail talent for the digital age

Today more than ever, chairs and chief executives are seeking our advice about structuring their organisations to compete in the digital age and creating the right leadership model for the future

Increasingly it’s about behaviours, not just skills and experience. 

Historically, retail has been an industry driven by ruthless efficiency, both at head office and in stores, and typically chief exec succession
candidates came from buying and merchandising or operations.  

Now the most likely contenders are a new breed of data-driven, customer-centric marketeers. 

Disrupt or be disrupted 

Companies need to continuously evolve and structures must be more fluid, moving from functions to centres of excellence, and from siloed departments to collaborative teams working together to fulfil the customer mission. 

In many ways mindset has become more important than skillset; creating a learning organisation which is flexible and responsive and able to deal with ambiguity.  

This is where the leadership style of the chief executive is critical. 

Retail is hardly the career of choice for millennials, unless it’s a sexy pureplay, and the old ‘command and control’ approach has to give way to one that is visionary and strategic.  

Pace and agility are key to success, and empowerment and engagement of the internal as well as the external customer is a must. 

Structures need to be flatter and more inclusive, with a sense of purpose and fulfilment that goes beyond work/life balance to truly win hearts and minds. 

Structure diversity 

If the business model is omnichannel, with the majority of sales through stores, then an understanding of the operational disciplines in the form of a really strong chief operating officer may be needed.  

We will have to take a more open approach to organisation design structures.  

Above all, tomorrow’s chief executive must be a visionary with high EQ, who is really good at putting together a team that is collegiate and includes all the skills and talents to win in an increasingly complex and demanding world. 

The message is clear – the route to the top in retail is changing and so must the leadership style.  

And an increasingly fickle and demanding workforce is more likely to identify with a brand that champions collaboration, inclusion and engagement as its core values.  

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Preparing for the future of retail: getting to know your people

Preparing for the future of retail

HR professionals gathered recently to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by HR reporting and analysis in retail. 

Starting point 

The starting point to more effectively understand your people, is to first decide on the data you want to collect, and how the data will be used and analysed. Simply collecting as much data as possible and then attempting to make sense of it is typically a much less successful approach. 

At Travelex, one of the main focuses was on staff retention and the team wanted to better understand how to retain staff. 

Managers were given access to the people data through the Workday system, and Travelex is now seeing changes in behaviours based on a better understanding of that data. If the data highlights an employee is potentially at risk of leaving, managers can now intervene earlier to find out why and potentially take actions to prevent this from happening. 

Implementing new HR technology 

One of the challenges that Travelex faced during implementation was changing the culture across its business in the UK and internationally to adapt to a self-service HR system. To overcome this, the HR team worked closely with the IT department and regional managers to implement the changes. 

The company also focused on local needs, adapting its strategy based on regional and cultural differences internationally. There were also challenges around how the HR system was viewed by employees, and the HR team worked to show employees the value of using the system. 

During the implementation process, it was useful for Travelex to focus on collecting and understanding only a selected set of data points that could be easily analysed and understood, rather than attempting to understand a huge amount of data. The selected data points were easy for managers to dissect and understand in monthly review meetings with their teams. 

The right tools for self-service 

The discussion then moved to giving staff the tools to use the self-service systems in store, and one of the challenges that came up was around connectivity. 

In-store Wi-Fi is as useful for staff to carry out self-service HR functions as it is for consumers to enhance their experience, and definitely something worth investing in for retailers. 

Workday provides extensive self-service capabilities that Travelex staff use on their own mobile devices regardless of their location. 

Valued and effective 

For HR systems to be useful and adopted by employees, they need to be easy to use and not require much training. One of the greatest challenges faced by several retailers in the room was the outdated and difficult-to-use HR systems in place in their businesses. 

Pulling data together manually, having to create reports from scratch and dealing with dissatisfied staff who find the old HR system confusing or difficult to use were common complaints. Aside from changing systems, though, most retailers acknowledged they often needed to do the best they could with what they had available to them. 

Retailers also debate how they can measure the pound value of HR functions for board members, and agreed this is one area where data can help. If people KPIs are agreed at the outset, then showing how those improved and what this means for the business is one way to prove HR’s pound value. It also helps the HR team if they can articulate how using the HR systems will make the life of employees themselves easier – it’s not just about making life easier for HR. 

Looking to the future 

Looking to the future of more effective HCM systems that help HR, employees and managers, the discussion turned again to data and how to use it most effectively. 

Performance reviews online are difficult to get right, as it’s hard to replicate the richness of one-to-one conversations. On a system these conversations become very black and white. It ends up just being a score on a screen. 

Some advice for all retail HR professionals who want to use data to better understand their people: decide what data you’re going to collect and then what you want to understand from that. Unless you’re clear on that, you won’t be able to make better decisions for your employees. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector.