Commercial Director from the garden and DIY sector
Q&A Session – Sector insights and the future of the gardening sector
Over the last 18 months Collingwood Executive Search have been extensively working in the gardening and DIY sector on Senior Management and Director assignments across manufacturing, operations and commercial roles.
We recently spent some time with Richard Carr, the Commercial Director of Fiskars Tools and previously of William Sinclair, Hozelock and Spear & Jackson Gardening Tools, to gain some of his insights and opinions in the gardening and DIY sector.
Chris: Over the years what have you enjoyed most about working in the DIY and Garden sector?
Richard: The garden sector has become increasingly more important and I have seen the emergence of new customers as well as new demands from both an old and young profile of customer. I have also seen the ‘fun’ come in to the gardening sector over the years and I have certainly enjoyed being part of this ever changing sector. I have enjoyed the opportunity to build some fantastic relationships with the Retailers as well as being able to develop my skills and learnings from a number of new people entering the market.
Chris: In your opinion, what have been the biggest challenge over the last 5 years with the Retail partners you have dealt with?
Richard: The biggest challenge has been the shift in to Multi-Channel and Online. As a business we have had to work hard with the bricks and mortar Retailers to ensure they have different product and service offering to the price-driven Online retailers. We have also had to ensure that we provide Online Retailers with extended ranges to ensure all their customers are accounted for.
Chris: In your opinion, what trends and changes do you predict for the DIY and Gardening sector for the next 5 years?
Richard: Over the coming years the role of Supply Chain will significantly change. With Retailers wanting to hold less stock and with consumer demands on convenience increasing, we need to fully ensure that we have the right stock, in the right place, at the right time. (Especially in the seasonal peaks we experience in the gardening sector).
I also believe we will see the polarisation of brands with stores offering one big brand and their own label products only. We also need to adapt to the consumer and understand the reasons why they are visiting stores and how we can make it as convenient as possible for them.
Chris: What gaps in skills and talent do you believe there are in the DIY and Gardening sector and how does it need to adapt?
Richard: I believe that the DIY and Gardening sector can learn a lot from the Food sector. I believe we need to learn from their working disciplines, ensure we have similar strong category management and also develop stronger POS and marketing plans. I also believe that our Retail partners need to ensure that they build strong teams of Buyers, who do not only have their own interest at heart but are willing to work closely with their suppliers to develop a strong brand story and meet the ever changing consumer demands we are facing.
Chris: Based on your own extensive experience of helping to develop a brand in European and International markets, what advice would you give to UK businesses looking to expand in to such markets?
Richard: Businesses need to fully understand how they can add value to these markets as well as developing products that work in all their target markets, not just products that please the large UK Retailers they are currently dealing with. I would also recommend that you do your homework. A lot of people have perceptions of the Australian market, for example, but it is a lot more different than you first expect. Finally, you need to be more innovative and ensure that you have a strong supply chain planning in place.
Richard Carr is currently the Commercial Director of Fiskars Tools. Richard previously spent time as Commercial Director of Hozelock, the watering, spraying and aquatic product business and William Sinclair Growing Media. Leading Commercial teams, Richard has extensive experience of managing the large UK Retailers, the vast Independent Retailer network, as well as developing a launching a brand proposition across Europe and Australia territories.