June 21, 2018 – London-headquartered executive search firm Ridgeway Partners has expanded with the addition of Katie Thomas as a partner.
“We are delighted to welcome Katie to the Ridgeway team,” said Sue O’Brien, managing partner at Ridgeway Partners. “Every industry challenge needs effective leadership, so we see the retail and broader consumer service sectors as a growth opportunity under Katie’s direction. With her relationships merging with our existing track record in board, CEO and executive appointments, we hope to build on our reputation as the leading boutique in the sector.”
Ms. Thomas has spent 25 years in executive search working at the international level for a broad spectrum of publicly quoted, private-equity backed and privately-owned businesses at the board and C-Suite level. She joins Ridgeway Partners from Russell Reynolds Associates where she co-led the global retail and luxury goods practice. Her experience covers all categories in retail, fashion, apparel and luxury across multi-channel and pure-play businesses. She has also worked for companies in the broader consumer space, particularly in leisure and hospitality. In her earlier career, Ms. Thomas spent 10 years at Whitehead Mann where she worked for clients in the retail and consumer sector.
In her new role, Ms. Thomas will lead Ridgeway Partners’ growing omni-channel and retail practice. She will bring a particular focus on transferring leaders, not only from within the retail and broader consumer sectors, but also from other industries, particularly where digital knowhow and transformation are more evolved, the firm said.
Recruiter Rankings: London Top 60
London’s need for talent has transformed it into the second largest executive search market in the world after New York. Hunt Scanlon has selected the most prominent leadership solutions providers in this dynamic marketplace, settling on 60 of the most influential and innovative.
“The retail sector continues to experience tremendous disruption and transition, and I believe this is a critical time for organizations to focus on ensuring their leadership is fit for purpose to handle these rapidly changing conditions and that succession strategies are future proof,” said Ms. Thomas.
She added that with its powerful network across multi-sectors, the firm can offer creative solutions to clients around talent acquisition and development. “From a platform like Ridgeway, which can be agile and nimble in its approach, I can continue to bring fresh talent to the sector to navigate the choppy waters ahead,” Ms. Thomas said.
Growing Search Firm
Ridgeway Partners is a global advisory firm specializing in executive search, board appointments and succession planning for a select group of multi-sector, domestic and international companies. The firm has offices in New York, Boston, London and Hong Kong. Its clients range from privately-held companies to Fortune 100 companies. Ridgeway focuses in banking, asset and wealth management, private equity, retail and digital recruiting.
Philip Marsden, who founded the firm in 2004, has been a professional advisor and business leader throughout his 35-year career. Before entering the executive search industry, he worked for 20 years in the financial services, oil and search industries, first at Citibank NA, then as head of M&A at NatWest Markets. Mr. Marsden currently serves as Ridgeway’s chairman.
In April, Ridgeway Partners expanded its operations in the U.S. with the addition of Regina Glocker as a partner in its New York office. Ms. Glocker specializes in executive searches within banking and capital markets and the three lines of defense for financial institutions, fintech companies, private equity portfolio companies and other corporates. She most recently as a co-founder of financial services focused executive search firm Exchange Place Partners in New York, which joined Hedley May in 2017.
Challenges Facing the Retail Sector
Retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer and respond to ambiguity, according to search consultants.
Developed markets, excess retail capacity, rising prices, the shift to omni-channel retail and the unpredictable pace of change in consumer shopping habits all affect the type of leader that retailers now need.
According to Herbert Mines Associates, 31 percent of incoming retail CEOs are focused on international expansion as a key strategic priority, making that global mindset a competitive differentiator when searching for new leaders.
Retail CEO turnover is accelerating. Herbert Mines reported that 47 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion experienced a chief executive change the past five years (up from 34 percent during the previous three years). Since 2007, 71 percent of retail companies have experienced a switch in CEO.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media