Research and Development Director – Consumer Products, Non-food


Our client had been trading as a UK SME for over 100 years until they were acquired by a $24 billion US corporation and integrated into their $2 billion consumer products division. Collingwood were appointed prior to the acquisition with the objective of appointing a number of Senior Management/Director roles to bring in expertise from the consumer products industry to aid the planned integration. Prior to this, the business traded on its strong brands in the car care sector mainly through specialist trade channels and needed to invest in individuals who understood the major retail multiples category management model.

In addition to this Research and Development Director role, we also added talent across procurement, supply chain, sales and marketing based in the UK and France.


The R&D team was focused on ensuring product technical specification were met and providing production support and so this senior role was created to develop an innovation and product development strategy. The Managing Director wanted to recruit someone from a global brand in order to bring a real structure, modern thinking and a clear commercial understanding of the consumer sector.


Reporting to the European Managing Director, the R&D Director’s role was to bring gravitas and innovation expertise to the board. The business was missing a clear R&D strategy and had gone from a market leader to a market follower. Much of the product portfolio was both aging and also non-profitable, using chemicals and ingredients that were expensive and inefficient from a supply chain perspective. The initial focus was to work in partnership with procurement and commercial to rationalise the existing product range before identifying market opportunities for new products. This included innovative packaging.

R&D was historically a low key department and another objective was to raise the company’s awareness of it and re-position it as a value adding partner, working with commercial and the customer base (multiple retailers) to identify a range of opportunities to differentiate their offering and maximise profitable opportunities.


We invested a lot of time with the Managing Director to really understand his business and the “dream” he wanted to deliver. Culture, barriers to change and a detailed plan of the journey was key to our understanding that was then captured in an assignment specification document.

Our client targeted Collingwood to entice talent from global blue chips and so we had to create an employer brand to achieve this. Our work here was on data-led company presentations, developing a strong, information led interview process and a real openness for candidates to understand the business “warts and all”.

Our solution was to provide a pure proactive headhunt utilising our strong network in the FMCG/consumer products industry to identify potential candidates and bolstering this activity through “clean” research into a number of target organisations.

We consulted with our client to discuss each individual in detail before agreeing on a select long list that we then met face to face to present our client and conduct an in-depth competency and behaviourally focused interview.

The client interviewed 4 fully qualified candidates that were presented with detailed interview notes, 3rd party psychometric assessments and our expert opinion based on our 15 years delivering senior roles for consumer products organisations.


Collingwood managed the interview process through 4 stages, including a final presentation and client dinner, to a successful appointment. We were very proud to have enticed an outstanding individual from a very well known global brand who went on to deliver every objective set for him. Our expertise came to the fore during contract negotiations which included a counteroffer such was the calibre of the individual.