June 2021

Category Director for iconic food & drink business

Our client is a leading player in the UK food industry with a turnover exceeding £1billion. For decades, this business has been respected for both their commercial performance but also their focus on people. Their manufacturing sites - spread across the North, Midlands and South - are some of the most modern and well-invested in the UK.

This Category Director role sits on the leadership team of one of their key business units, one that dominates the category through their wonderful branded and own-label proposition.

The business unit team is incredibly entrepreneurial, fast-paced and ambitious - the market opportunity is significant and they are perfectly placed to capitalise on this. You will have full responsibility for Category strategy, leading a well respected and credible team. It is a highly visible, high profile role, both within the wider organisation but also externally with the broad channel and customer set.

The Role

This is one of the most exciting and influential Category Director roles that will come to market this year. Key responsibilities include:

Be the voice of the category both internally and externally, providing a clear and salient point of view on category, shopper, and industry dynamics to influence strategy & action. Own an inspiring selling story to provide leadership and impact with our client's current and future customers across the business unit, brand and own label axis. Provide practical expertise and intelligence both internally and externally to enable and influence best in class merchandising, activation, ranging and promotion. Create a rhythm of consequential insight to inform key stakeholders of current and future tactical and strategic challenges and opportunities. Build our client's category management capabilities by showing the way to balance an objective and influential narrative with the trade whilst leading the commercial imperatives of the business. Lead, inspire and develop a high performing team. Operate in a highly collaborative way to lead in conjunction with key sales partners across both brand and own label to ensure we are leveraging our full expertise to influence the trade. Balancing the different behaviours expected with customer partners for own label vs branded leadership.

We are seeking a first class Category leader for this significant, scaled and complex role. It is absolutely essential that you have at least 5 years technical category experience with an immediately recognisable, blue-chip calibre, food, drink, FMCG or retail business. This sector expertise is also essential.

You will be an established Category Director - minimum of 3 years at Director level or equivalent - with demonstrable success operating as part of a business' leadership team. Your blue-chip background underpins your ambition and drive. You will need to be an individual who thrives on autonomy but respects the need to manage passionate stakeholders.

Specific requirements would be:

  • Demonstrates the belief that people are the most important asset. Creates a culture where everybody is treated with dignity and respect at all times and diversity of thought is encouraged.
  • Is a visionary in the area of Customer Experience and can structure a business to create the right offer for our existing and future customers and consumers through insight and innovation.
  • Demonstrates the ability to influence, persuade and collaborate across the wider group and group functions to sustainable profitable growth.
  • Demonstrates the ability to create an agile organisation that can respond quickly and efficiently to the changing environment. An ability to deal with complexity and make timely and informed decisions.
  • Good emotional intelligence with the ability to build, develop and lead a great team and to understand people and their motivations, build good relationships with them and help them unlock their potential.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the Commercial impact decisions and actions have on the organisation.
  • Outstanding communicator with the ability to communicate a compelling vision throughout the organisation, generating genuine motivation and commitment to deliver the change.
  • Demonstrates enthusiasm about our client's future by identifying strategic issues, opportunities to drive sustainable, profitable growth, and managing risk.
  • The ability to establish formal and informal relationships inside and outside the organisation, and to anticipate and balance the needs of all stakeholders whose cooperation is needed.

How to Apply

Our retained consultants, Drayton Partners, are project managing this search. In the first instance, please apply via LinkedIn with an up to date CV and your current remuneration package details.

As you would expect, our client follows the same diversity ambitions and commitments as Drayton. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.