Case Study - Head of Retail Trading


A privately-owned, UK retail convenience, petrol forecourt business operating under several different fascias and supply agreements for their grocery range. Expansion through acquisition necessitated the need for a newly created role of Head of Retail Trading to evaluate current store formats, review the range and supply agreements in order to devise and implement the most commercially effective trading model.


The client insisted on ‘hands-on’ supermarket/convenience experience across both buying and retail operations; although the ‘buying team’ did not deal directly with suppliers but managed the supply and range from the major wholesale businesses. The hands-on and demanding nature of the business owner required a strong character with the ability to challenge the owner, but also understand there would be frustrations when decision making was sometimes made for them. The company had never made an external appointment at senior management level. The company’s brand was virtually unknown in the convenience market.


The hybrid nature of the role requirements (both buying and operations) significantly narrowed the target pool so flexibility on candidate location was agreed and a nationwide search was conducted to identify potential candidates with the relevant experience. A target list was created through both word of mouth referrals (utilising the extensive MKJ buying & retail operations networks) and non-proprietary sources such as LinkedIn. The c60 candidates identified were directly approached and qualified through a 3-stage screening process involving telephone and face to face interviewing to clarify both technical competencies and cultural fit, in light of the challenges identified. The company name was withheld as it was agreed it would not add any value in ‘selling the opportunity’ in the early stages at least. A shortlist of 4 candidates – none of whom were actively looking for a new opportunity at the time - and all with different backgrounds, was presented to the client with extensive profiling using a ‘Match Matrix’. Three of the candidates were deemed strong enough to meet with the business owner to make the final decision and one of the candidates was offered and accepted the position with minimal negotiations required.