HR Director, Private-Equity backed luxury high-street brand
A premium beauty brand, received private equity investment in order to double their salon numbers and grow, nationally. Their first appointment was the Non-Exec Chairman, whose first recommendation was that they created an HR Director role to steer the business strategy to focus entirely on its people. As a services business, employee development and engagement and retention has a direct correlation to customer retention and the commercial mandate for a strategic HR Director had never been more critical to the future growth and success of the newly-structured business.
The challenge was to find an HR Director with the experience of navigating the delicate relationship between the new PE Investment Directors and the Executives. The “honeymoon period” post-investment was very much still in evidence, but some of the intended changes, and desire for growth meant that serious change was afoot and the HR Director would be key to advising the Exec and Non-Execs, as well as being part of that senior management team. Excellent stakeholder management was required, as well as serious commercial capability, to prove return on investment from all the people initiatives which were needed. It was a brown-field site, with a huge hand-on element, so the team required someone who could be in the detail, and actually deliver as well as sit with the top teams and contribute the longer-term vision for the business.
Culture fit, as always, was key to success. In a highly customer-facing business, a friendly, down-to-earth personality was required, with considerable resilience, commercial knowhow and a solid HR Generalist skillset. The client knew they didn’t want anyone from their industry as they recognised that HR was not well embedded within their competitors. The challenge, therefore, was knowing where to look for HR Directors with this mix of skills and background. Our search focused on retail, hospitality & any other sector where customer service was the heart of the business’s success, where budgets were lean & resource are usually tight. The shortlist ticked all these boxes and the successful candidate came from the Airport Industry, running the complex mix of customer service, security & regulation under serious commercial scrutiny. They had a unique mix of corporate capability without being too rigid in their approach, and the ability (and willingness) to get things done.