Retail & Leisure

After an extensive search, Drayton identified an outstanding candidate...We had found Theo Paphitis his ‘Third man'

“To be honest, I did not believe the perfect candidate for this role actually existed. I was proved wrong about that.” Theo Paphitis

Position

Chief Financial Officer, Theo Paphitis Retail Group.

TPRG consists of four brands – Boux Ave, Rymans, Robert Dyas, and The London Design Studio. TO: £306 million.

Challenge

Find a CFO with deep experience of working in multi-level, multi-operational businesses – managing very different brands under the same umbrella.

Theo Paphitis and his business partner Kypros Kyprianou are a very experienced deal-making duo who have worked together for fifty years. They had a profound knowledge of – and a fantastic track record of success in – the retail marketplace. So, in effect, Drayton were looking for a ‘Third man,’ or woman. Someone who could, in time, turn that duo into a triumvirate. That single fact alone made this a very challenging brief.

Search Strategy

Firstly, Drayton exploited their deep retail network to identify the rare individuals who could seamlessly fit into Theo and Kypros’s vision for their company.

Experience told us that it was necessary to find an individual who could become part of a dynamic and thrusting entrepreneurial culture. Not someone who had been in senior management at a large PLC – who would say they worked in an entrepreneurial culture but, in reality, probably hadn’t. Rather, the kind of culture that Theo Paphitis has built. One which mirrors the dynamism of its founder.

It clearly warranted a a tactical approach to the search – looking at other multi-brand, multi-operational businesses; trying to find people who had been on a similar journey to TPRG. As just one example, we undertook an in-depth and detailed study of the senior management involved in Sainsbury's takeover of Argos.

Once a shortlist had been drawn up, the team forensically focussed on the key attributes that Paphitis possessed. The ones which he would reasonably expect to see in the successful candidate. Things like, the ability to spot and seize entrepreneurial opportunities. Paphitis – who bought La Senza for £1 and sold it to Lion Capital PE for £100m – expects his business partners to demonstrate the same kind of acumen.

Outcome

After an extensive ten-week search we had created a very strong shortlist and pin-pointed a stand-out candidate from Arcadia – a business that offers many parallels with TPRG. In particular, its extensive portfolio of different brands. But, more importantly, the individual had also worked successfully with Sir Phillip Green.

Their experiences and core competencies exactly matched the opportunity. Drayton had found TPRG their ‘Third man.’