Managing Director - European Manufacturer

the Client

Our client is a UK subsidiary of a €300m European manufacturer and distributor of small consumables. Customers include leading supermarkets, high street and specialist retailers, wholesalers and local authorities. Key customers include the likes of WHSmiths, Rymans and Tesco. With a strong heritage, a recognisable brand in the UK market and backed by their European parent company, our client was looking to grow their presence in the UK market and establish the brand as a market leader.

The Business Challenge

Our brief was to find a new UK Managing Director to continue the growth trajectory that their predecessor had successfully developed in the UK market. Through stronger product development, improved customer relationships and a stronger stock position, the business had significantly grown its retail customer base and identified a number of opportunities in the independent and local authority markets. The new Managing Director would be tasked with maintaining this momentum as well as continuing to develop a strong team environment and culture. This person would also need to ensure the business maintained strong financial reporting along with continued improvements in their profitability.

The Role

As Managing Director, the successful individual would have full P&L responsibility for the UK subsidiary. The role would oversee the sales, marketing, supply chain, NPD, finance and UK warehousing and operations. Strong customer facing experience, along with supply chain and financial planning skills were the key attributes required. The successful recruit also needed to demonstrate experience of managing and developing a long-serving and loyal workforce, along with maintaining the strong and collaborative working environment that had been established in recent years.  

The Solution

To ensure that we found the right candidate for the business, we spent significant time upfront with the European parent company and the owners, to understand the role, the organisational culture, their vision and values and ultimately the expectations of a successful candidate.

We developed an assignment specification on behalf our client, tailored to reveal: the company’s history and culture, the job description, candidate skills, experience and competency behaviours required to be successful in that role; and the remuneration package. This enabled candidates to obtain a clear understanding of the company and role requirements and facilitated us to benchmark candidates against the strong parameters.

Collingwood researched and identified a wide variety of Director’s and Managing Directors from a broad range of FMCG sectors including toys, stationery, office products, DIY, cleaning products, greeting cards and electricals, to name a few. We made sure each candidate had had exposure to both retail and independent markets, along with having commercial and operational exposure.

After identifying and headhunting over 95 potential individuals, we then provided a list of 12 candidates to our client; to guarantee that both parties’ expectations were aligned before Collingwood’s consultants met with each candidate face-to-face. From these interviews, backed by reliable psychometric assessments, we shortlisted 6 strong candidates for our client to meet.

The Result

A two-stage interview process was conducted, supported by Collingwood’s comprehensive interview notes and behavioural profiles. Six first stage interviews were conducted in the UK before two candidates proceeded to a final interview at the European head office. Due to our client’s internal pressures, the interview process was delayed slightly. Collingwood ensured strong communication was maintained throughout this delay so both the candidates and the client were aware of any developments or new findings during the lapse of time. This meant all parties knew where they were up to and ensured a smooth and successful process was executed.

A successful candidate was offered the position and Collingwood continued to support the client by managing all contract negotiations between the parties. The end result was a delighted client and a candidate eager and excited to start the next stage in his career.


"I’ve have been a candidate as well as using Collingwood for recruiting several key positions in our organisation and have always been impressed with their professionalism and ability to track down quality applicants. We have now begun to also make use of the executive coaching arm of the business and it is already paying dividends. I would recommend Collingwood without hesitation."