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Executive HR Movers, Promotions & Insights – Retail / Consumer

Published on December 2, 2020

Considering we are in a global pandemic, the market has been fairly buoyant this year within Retail and Consumer. Some notable moves at Leadership level include;

  • Natura & Co hired Paula Fallowfield as CHRO from Aesop in January

  • Ted Baker hired Peter Collyer as Group People Director from Asos in January

  • B&M hired Allison Green as Group CPO from Brewdog in February

  • Kingfisher hired Kate Seljeflot as Group HRD from Costa Coffee in March

  • Costa Coffee hired Jonathan Crookall, from Unite Students as Group HR Director in March

  • ASOS hired Jo Butler as Group HR Director in April from Mitie and she hired Tara Benton from Mitie as Director of People Experience

  • Charlotte Tilbury hired Sarah Day as Global People Director from Jack Wills in April

  • Morrisons hired Charlie Field as HR Director, Retail from Greencore in April

  • The Body Shop hired Katrina Wright as Group HR Director from Pentland Brands in April

  • Versace hired Candida Goes as Global SVP HR from Michael Kors in April

  • Jimmy Choo hired Ros Marshall as Global CPO from Luxottica Retail in June

  • Quatre Retail hired Darrell Abbondanza as Global VP People from Equifax in June

  • LoveHoney hired Nicola Frayne as CPO in June

  • Bensons for Beds hired Maxine Blackwell as HR Director from Steinhoff UK in June

  • hired Ilhan Mehmet as Head of People from in July

  • John Lewis hired Nikki Humphrey as Executive HRD from Virgin Atlantic in September

  • PZ Cussons hired Julian Sykes as Global Head of Talent from Co Op in September

  • Holland & Barrett hired Caroline Kitcher as CPO from TUI in October

  • Clarks hired Clare Gates as HR Director fro

m Meininger Hotels in November

Flutter Entertainment have made a number of senior hires this year and still continuing to do so. They hired divisional CPO’s Caroline Ross, from Channel 4 (February) and more recently, Catherin Lynch from Virgin Media (November). Ocado are hiring significantly following the appointment of Chief People Officer Claire Ainscough in December last year; Amanda Wolfe, Head of People for Retail joined in January and Rachel Warwick, Global Head of Culture and Engagement joined in June, and they are now hiring a Head of Talent. Amazon have made a number of senior Hires in Resourcing, L&D and ER.

In other news;

  • Nicola Kowalczuk was promoted to the Group HR Director of JD Sports in January

  • New Look promoted their Head of HR Charlotte Collins to the Group HR Director role in October

  • Nathan Clements, HRD UK + I at Boots passed over to his successor, Ben Horner, who took up the role in November

Many senior leaders in the Commercial sector

s that were considering retirement over the next few years have found that Covid has been key factor in deciding now is the time to step down in 2020/2021. There are therefore many excellent senior HR leaders now only considering NED roles, and we are also anticipating a number of replacement roles to come up as a result.

Within the Retail industry, Covid has accelerated new consumer behaviour, but also consumer confidence has decreased, resulting in a

huge amount of business change and a need for a new kind of HR capability. Online demand has grown a huge amount during lockdown, and physical sales are no returning to pre-Covid levels anytime soon. As a result of this, many retail businesses are reconsidering their business propositions e.g Ikea and H&M accelerating their move to online trading, and therefore needing people with Technology and Digital skillsets. Primark however has made the controversial decision not to move to online trading; possibly due to the cost of online logistics and returns, and the faith in their customers to still shop in bricks and mortar. Businesses like Boohoo have saved huge amounts of money by not having a physical presence, and have most recently been advertising for a Head of L&D.

There are plenty of Retail / Consumer businesses on the market for HR Directors at the moment - for example Gousto, Bleach London, and Just Eat are all advertising directly – however Covid has increased anxiety and therefore time to hire, and many roles have been on the market for a long time and clients are being very select


Within specialist areas, most senior roles we are seeing coming up are for Talent, Employee Experience, Engagement, Wellbeing and Diversity & Inclusion. This is really positive news - organisations are ensuring they are fit for the future, investing in their people, embracing change and becoming more forward thinking. The increase in Employee Experience type roles has been noticeably huge– many organisations are looking for a top to bottom transformation of their entire employee lifecycle, focusing on culture and using engagement to create organisational value. As well as this, we have seen a huge demand for senior Talent specialists to define current and future talent and capability needs of organisations and how they drive strategic workforce planning. And of course with the BLM movement this year, many businesses are looking to hire senior leaders in the D&I space, but the challenge as always in this area is finding the right people with prior success delivering results, with it being such a niche and fairly new skillset.

One of the biggest shifts we have seen is the increase in our clients coming to us and proactively requesting retained search. Sometimes due to confidentiality and the need to find a blend of extremely niche skillsets, but for a lot of our clients, huge increase in application traffic has been unmanageable and somewhat overwhelming, so the need to partner with a specialist to cherry-pick the best talent has been more crucial than ever.

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