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CFO, Pan-European niche retailer

Blackwood’s client is a private equity owned specialist retailer with over 1000 stores across Europe under a number of different fascia. The European business is an autonomous but fully owned subsidiary of a previously listed US entity. European revenues are in excess of $800m. Global revenues are in excess of $3bn. The business was acquired recently by a tier 1 global private equity fund and took the decision to supplement the management team in Europe with the appointment of a highly commercial and experienced CFO.

Role

Blackwood worked closely with the CEO and investors to clearly define the criteria for this appointment. The two key requirements were to identify and attract a proven CFO with a track record of transforming the performance of a finance function in a private equity setting with significant experience of the retail and/or leisure sectors. The individual needed to be able to be a commercial business partner to the CEO and build relationships and credibility with the business, sponsors and banking community. It was also noted that the candidate needed to exhibit cultural sensitivity in order to fit into a well-established senior team.

Search Process

It was considered that a relatively small pool of suitable candidates existed with successful experience in a relevant sector, a privately held business of requisite scale. It was also noted that many candidates with such desired experience would likely be tied into a current project and unable to move. An added complication was the divisional nature of the role in a reporting line, albeit the region was run very much at arms-length. The location was also a factor, with certain candidates not keen to relocate. A constant challenge in the assessment process was to find CFO candidates with a demonstrable track record of adding value away from the core finance remit.

Outcome

Blackwood appointed the former CFO of several private equity owned retail and leisure businesses. The process was completed in 10 weeks, from commencement of the assignment to the successful candidate signing a contract. The long list consisted of a cross section of the market and 15 names. The shortlist consisted of five candidates. Three were taken through to second round and the clear favourite was offered the role and negotiated his exit having helped identify a successor.  Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.

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