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Retail Week’s Annual CEO Dinner 2015
It’s typical that such an exemplar of retail success should credit that success, in no small part, to the talent he had around him.
Archie Norman, Chairman of ITV, but perhaps most famous in retail circles as the man who turned the fortunes of an ailing Asda back in the 90s, was speaking last month at Retail Week’s Annual CEO dinner.
As sponsors, it meant we at Page Executive were privileged to spend an evening in company and in conversation with some of the most respected minds in retail today. The conversation was never more fuelled than when Archie Norman delivered his keynote.
Norman is well known for his flair for turning businesses around. And during the process, for his strong focus on people. When he took over at Asda, the supermarket was badly in debt, lagged far behind its competitors on every metric, its stores were tired and its workforce was threatening strike action. With no cash available, Norman used the only resources he had to fight back – the Asda people and the Asda brand. So he set about making Asda a better place to work.
Having achieved the buy in of employees to his vision, he was able to take some tough decisions and some radical action. He cleared out old habits and practices that were no longer acceptable, and made sure every employee was treated with equal respect. KPIs in motivation and morale were set, measured, rewarded and acted upon and the proof that attitude drives performance was there for all to see. Happy, motivated staff resulted in a more engaged customer base, a happier customer experience and the perfect environment for longer and more profitable customer relationships.
Norman successfully took Asda to number two in the market and the organisation was eventually sold for £6.5billion, giving shareholders a 1000% return. This two pronged focus on employees and customers is a common thread in Norman’s strategy for success. As is his legendary reputation as a talent spotter. He said in a recent interview:
“People changing means changing people… New people with new energy and new attitudes enable everybody to move faster. But recruitment of that team is everything. The people you bring in define your success or failure.”
Over the years, Norman has brought in some very special people. Allan Leighton (Asda, Royal Mail, Coop), Justin King (Sainsbury’s), John Pluthero (Cable and Wireless), Paul Mason (New Look), Richard Baker (Whitbread), Tony DeNunzio (Pets at Home), Andy Clarke (ASDA), John Durkan (Coles), Ian McLeod (BILO) and current ITV CEO Adam Crozier were all hired by Norman.
Of course, bringing in the right people at decision maker level is far easier said than done. Getting the right organisational and cultural fit is crucial, and the needs of the organisation have to match the aspirations of the individual.
Page Executive specialises in the recruitment of business leaders who have the knowledge, expertise and experience to steer organisations to greater success. Our flexible approach to talent management and headhunting means we are able to provide fast effective solutions to our clients.
With a fantastic track record of delivery and a global network of offices we are able to harness the best talent in the retail marketplace from all over the world.
For a confidential discussion about recruitment options in retail, contact Nicola Wensley or Laura Walker.
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