Insatiable appetite for innovation in online sales drives demand for interim consultants

17th December 2019

The insatiable appetite for innovation in online sales is generating a stack of opportunities for talented interim consultants in consumer retail.

With online retail market leaders and digital disruptors threatening to squeeze out many established brands who have been too slow to adopt new technologies, demand for interim managers who can lead business transformation programmes has never been higher.

Meanwhile the impending IR35 tax changes are leading many interims working in financial services to start looking elsewhere for work as high street banks end off-payroll contracts.

The combination of huge demand for business transformation expertise in consumer retail and this new influx of consultants well versed in leading B2C digital transformation projects, has created a buoyant interim market.

In response, HW Interim has hired an experienced consumer retail headhunter to join its talented team of consultants and researchers.

Jake Slater has been supporting HW’s global consumer practice for the past year as Principal Researcher, working on international assignments sourcing candidates for permanent executive positions for global leaders in consumer products and services.

These have been typically business transformation roles in specialisms including digital, supply chain, analytics and marketing – all concerned with finding the elusive formula for getting closer to consumers.

Prior to joining HW Global in 2018, Jake (pictured) ran his own retail recruitment business Best Recruit UK which he had set up in his mid-20s.

Jake, who hails from Clitheroe in Lancashire, said: “For the past year working in the global consumer practice I have been sourcing candidates for international assignments. My focus now is identifying UK-based interim executives for our consumer clients.

“Many of these will be business transformation roles so could fall outside of IR35 given the nature of these contracts with key deliverables, day-to-day working practices and the need for the interim being due to a lack of suitable experience in-house.

“I would urge executive interim consultants looking for new roles in the consumer sector, including CPG and durables, retail, apparel and luxury goods, to get in touch.”

HW Global, which has a £20m turnover and employs 50 staff based in London, Leeds and Manchester, currently operates on an exclusive and retained basis in the £120K+ search market, also placing interims on daily rates from £700 to £2,000. It has enjoyed an excellent year, with revenues growing by 30 per cent during 2019.

For an informal discussion with Jake Slater, Interim Consultant – Global Consumer Markets, clients and candidates can contact him at or +44 (0) 7384 832270.

FD hired as HW Global targets rapid growth

2nd December 2019

Leading UK headhunter HW Global Talent Partner has hired a new finance director as it targets rapid growth both organically and through strategic acquisitions.

Rob Pettican has joined as Group FD accountable for the company’s finances, in a new position created to support the planned expansion of the group.

Rob qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG, where he gained exposure to a broad range of clients including large PLCs, high profile sports teams and private equity backed businesses across a range of sectors including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, tourism and retail.

He also brings significant M&A experience, having worked on a number of cross-border deals on both the buy and sell side in the UK, USA, Central Europe and the Middle East.

In a busy period for recruitment, HW have also announced the appointment of new Principal Researchers Mike Langford, Anna Sharrott and Harry Spetch, and Customer Relationship Managers Laura Rushton and Marketa Simova.

Meanwhile Principal Researcher Jake Slater has joined the Interim practice from the Executive Search division to support its Consumer clients.

CEO Spencer Jinks said: “In an excellent year for HW Global which has seen revenues grow by more than 30 per cent, it has been equally busy on the internal recruitment front. We are delighted to welcome Rob to the board, in a key appointment to support our growth plans.

“Following the acquisition of UK digital recruitment agency Zebra People in May, we are currently involved in discussions with other potential M&A targets and Rob’s extensive experience in cross-border deals on both the buy and sell side will be invaluable.

“He joins Mike, Anna, Harry, Laura and Marketa, who bring a wide range of experience in executive search and financial services, as new members of our fast growing team at such an exciting time for us.”

HW Global, which has a £20m turnover and employs 50 staff based in London, Leeds and Manchester, currently operates on an exclusive and retained basis in the £120K+ search market, also placing interims on daily rates from £700 to £2,000.

The Zebra People acquisition has enabled HW Global to offer a comprehensive digital talent service to its clients, with HW Global appointing senior digital leaders and the Zebra People team building the critical capability that sits underneath.

HW Global’s medium term business strategy envisages substantial growth by acquiring leading human capital organisations operating in its key market sectors of consumer and financial services, at the tier below executive level.

Other potential acquisition targets include recruitment agencies specialising in finance, HR, technology and professional interim.

D-day looms for interim consultants facing IR35

6th November 2019

By John Wakeford

With just five months until the IR35 changes come in, D-day is looming for interim consultants.

From April 2020 medium and large sized private sector firms (over 50 employees) will bear the responsibility for determining the IR35 status of all their off-payroll workers.

While the vast majority of companies who employ interim executives have not yet announced how they intend to respond to the new regime, a number have already indicated they are taking a safety first approach.

In the heavily regulated financial services sector, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds have all said they will in future only engage contractors on their payroll on a PAYE basis. Meanwhile Tesco Bank has also said that, at least for now, all limited company contractors will be declared inside IR35 after March 2020, until it agrees its long-term policy.

Should other corporates follow their lead in the weeks and months ahead and take a blanket approach to end all off-payroll contracts, the impact on the executive interim market will be seismic.

Interims would be forced to decide whether to accept the significant loss in income which being employed on PAYE terms, paying income tax and National Insurance and being taxed on expenses as an employee, would mean.

Obvious alternatives include seeking non-IR35 contracts, applying for permanent executive roles, working abroad, taking on NED roles or retiring.

The potential impact on businesses which rely on interim consultants could also be significant. By ending all off-payroll contracts they could lose access to the best talent, as highly experienced interim executives choose to only work with firms who will engage them outside of IR35 or instead leave the market altogether.

Another major concern is that with just a few months to go until the tax changes, so many companies and the interim consultants which serve them have still not decided the way forward.

A recently published report by specialist law firm Brookson Legal ‘Avoiding an IR35 talent drain’ includes a survey of more than 500 contractors which found:

  • Nearly a quarter said they don’t fully understand the changes
  • 83 per cent had still not had a conversation with their current client about IR35
  • Only 22 per cent believe their client will make a correct decision
  • 37 per cent would never consider moving to staff status
  • 59 per cent would consider moving to another client if they were assessed as being inside IR35
  • More than half thought the changes would discourage people from starting as contractors in future.

In an earlier survey this year of more than 500 firms who hire contractors, also commissioned by Brookson Legal, nearly three in five directors said they would take a blanket approach to managing IR35 as they did not have the resources to assess individual contractors. This has certainly been borne out by the actions of some of the banks in recent weeks.

So what should interim consultants do?

Take action now. Interim consultants need to contact their client(s) to find out what they intend to do about IR35.

If your client(s) inform you they are ending all off-payroll contracts you need to establish if this will include existing commissions.

Get in touch with us to discuss your future career plans. We can identify other opportunities including interim contracts outside of IR35, permanent executive roles and moving into NED.

But don’t just wait for April…the clock is ticking.

John Wakeford is MD of HW Interim. Contact him at or on +44 (0) 113 243 2004.