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 johnw@hwglobalpartner.com or on +44 (0) 113 243 2004.

Exploitation of big data the answer for supermarket giants battling low cost competitors

11th June 2019

Dave McNulty talks to Stuart Richards

The pace of change in our industry never seems to abate. The rise and rise of the German retailers is seemingly inexorable, with their ultra-efficient assortments and aligned, low-cost supply chains allowing them to deliver a value proposition that shoppers need and want.

It’s an approach that has alerted shoppers to the inefficiencies of the more traditional sales technique of value through promotions.

Let’s be honest, deep cut price promotions or hi-low strategies were once the drug of the retailer, shopper and manufacturer alike. But this deep deal culture was at the root cause of huge supply chain inefficiency with forecasting, inventory management and service all increasingly complex to master for everyone in the chain.

If this inefficiency ended in empty shelves or high wastage the end result could be a disillusioned and disenfranchised shopper, something that can have a damaging effect on loyalty.

So, is the answer for the big retailers to replicate that Every Day Low Prices (EDLP) approach to win shoppers back?

Should the ‘Big 4’ tighten assortments to drive efficiency, move to an EDLP or medium-low approach and work with fewer suppliers in a more collaborative way, jettisoning those who cannot bring themselves to align?

As unpalatable as it may be, the simple answer is yes or maybe. But it’s not all that black and white and the truth lies a little deeper.

Inevitably, retailers will only want to work with those who align to their strategic agenda – even the big brand powerhouses recognise that. It’s how you align that will determine your success in navigating through the retail landscape. This begins with a re-evaluation of the landscape.

The shopper of today is a digital savvy shopper, one who is perfectly happy to shift to online in the pursuit of convenience, experience and value. The emergence of Amazon as the UK’s fifth biggest retailer may be uncomfortable for many retailers, but it’s indicative of a significant shift in shoppers’ mindsets.

Subscription models such as harrys.com or Dollar Shave Club in male grooming or Hello Fresh in meal solutions have cut out the middlemen and gone straight to their consumer. Another hammer blow to big retailers? Far from it, but it must be a concern.

So how does big retail adapt and how do manufacturers align and help? I believe the answer lies in data and the availability of it through internet shopping and loyalty/CRM programme tools.

Artificial Intelligence will be transformational for our industry. When you’re on any digital platform you’re generating hugely valuable data which the most intelligent machines will interpret and then customise their content to you.

So, working with supermarkets to utilise this data and customise your offers to individual shoppers is powerful. Accurately identifying your target consumer or shopper and presenting them with a relevant deal enhances not only their experience but it also drives tremendous efficiencies in areas such as supply chain management.

Working collaboratively with retailers in this way isn’t of course the only solution; aligning on food sourcing and sustainability, navigating legislative headwinds like the sugar levy or HFSS regulation, and capitalising on wellness trends are all valid areas of collaboration.

But big data lies behind so many facets of today’s retail landscape and its exploitation will allow manufacturers and retailers alike to work together in a unique way to drive value and loyalty for all.

Dave McNulty is a highly experienced MD and commercial director in grocery, wholesale and cash and carry, working in senior roles for global brands including Kraft and Coca Cola. Stuart Richards is a Principal Consultant in the Global Consumer Practice at HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at stuartr@hwglobalpartner.com or +44 (0) 161 249 5170 or +44 (0) 7787 254 600.