The Situation

Our client is an international FMCG organisation who have strategic partnerships with some of the largest retailers in the UK. These partnering agreements are much closer than traditional retail/FMCG arrangements, with exclusive product ranges, dedicated creative teams and specialist support that includes merchandising, customer profiling and mapping, trends analysis and mystery shoppers. Our client has also partnered with key online retailers to develop a new sales channels.

Having entered into a full RPO partnership with Quarsh, one of the first projects that they asked us to work on was to replace the current HR Director for UK & Ireland to lead a team of HR Business Partners and take responsibility for taking 2,000 staff through a major restructuring program that would establish even closer relationships with the retail clients by extending dedicated teams for each client group across all central functions within the business. The HRD sits on the executive board and reports to the International CEO.

Our requirement was to recruit an HRD who has a thorough grasp of retail/FMCG interactions, strong instincts around HR strategy, OD, change and implementation, and specifically strong insight into finance and business beyond the normal HR expectations.

The Solution

We conducted an extensive search that was focused on companies that operated within the retail/FMCG axis, looking specifically for candidates within the North of England. We supported that search with advertising on LinkedIn that would pick up candidates that were outside our search target in their current role or who lived elsewhere but were willing to relocate. 

We identified a total of 115 potential candidates, of which we made approaches to 64 of them. The candidates who responded with interest in the opportunity went through an extensive screening process, and 15 of those candidates were interviewed face-to-face by our Director of Executive Search before a shortlist was presented to the client.


In the space of four weeks, we had a shortlist of five shortlisted candidates to present to the CEO and the Group HR Lead (who had come over from the US). They chose to see all five candidates, so each of them had a lengthy interview with the CEO, with the other members of the executive team (in pairs) and with the Group HR Lead via a video link.

The CEO then collated the feedback from all of the team, with the intention of bringing the best two candidates back for a final interview. However, although each interviewer had different individuals placed in places 2 to 5 depending on their fit with the team and the role, every interviewer placed the same individual in first place so pragmatically, we invited that person back for a second meeting with the CEO and also with the HR Business partners. She was offered the position a few days later.

The subsequent feedback from the CEO was that although each candidate on the shortlist was a strong and appointable candidate, the first choice was unanimous and they were delighted.

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