Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Warehouse Group: Tips for the new CEO

With news out yesterday that Mark Powell is to replace Ian Morrice as CEO of The Warehouse Group Ltd [WHS.NZX]it is worth taking a closer look at Mark and what his experience might bring to a company that is currently experiencing falling sales, loss of market share and stagnant profits.

It is clear that he has a long history of experience in retail over a wide variety of geographical locations but his early years at The Warehouse have had patchy results.

Recent history though has seen him turn the company's stationery chain around and this kind of experience will be crucial in changing the direction and fortunes of the big red sheds.

Shareholders should make up their own minds as to whether Mr Powell is the right man for the job and we will find that out within a year or two based on some of his key decisions.

He needs to focus on service first before anything else, then concentrate on the poor morale of staff and the direction the company is going in.

A focus on just who the Warehouse customer now is, what they want to buy, at what price and a clear strategic direction of where the company is going and how it is going to get there.

Mr Morrice appeared to be planning things on the hoof as evidenced in the mish mash of directions, muddiness of the retail offerings and lack of a clear or sophisticated enough marketing plan.

The cartoon kiwi just doesn't cut it anymore. Ditch the quaint "kiwi owned" spiel and just give the consumer good branded goods at the best prices with excellent service.

Oh and Mr Powell, watch out for your boss Mr Tindall.

Mark Powell's Bio

Mark Powell is 49, married with two daughters and originally from South Wales in the United Kingdom. He migrated permanently to New Zealand when he joined The Warehouse Group in November 2002.

Mark’s original training and management experience was in the underground coal mining industry. He changed direction in 1986, joining Iceland plc, a UK food retailer with more than 600 stores. He has since held a number of management roles in the UK, Canada and Spain, including responsibility for Wal-Mart Canada’s logistics operations, supply chain and home Linkshopping management for Iceland plc and the logistics operations of Tesco.

Mark has been involved with The Warehouse since 2002 in various full-time, part-time and advisory capacities, including as Interim CEO of the Australian operations, Group General Manager Supply Chain and Merchandise Planning, and most recently CEO of Warehouse Stationery.

In the past year the Warehouse Stationery team has achieved a significant turnaround, executed a continuing growth strategy and received the prestigious JRA Award as New Zealand’s best large company to work for, as judged by employees.

Mark has Bachelor degrees in Mining Engineering and Theology, and Masters degrees in Logistics (from Cranfield) and Business (an MBA with distinction, from Cardiff). He has also attended strategic leadership courses at Harvard and INSEAD.



D.O.B. : December 1961
STATUS : Married with two daughters

An initial career in mining operations, then senior management positions in:
- Logistics Services (Tibbett & Britten Group, Booker Food Services and PwC Consulting)
- Retail (Iceland plc, Tesco, Wal-Mart Canada and The Warehouse Group)


Nov 2007 - Present The Warehouse Group
GM Supply Chain & Merchandise Planning and CEO Warehouse Stationery

May 2005 – Nov 2007 Advisor to The Warehouse Group / Independent Consultant

Nov 2002 – May 2005 The Warehouse Group : General Merchandise Retail Group
GM Supply Chain and Interim CEO The Warehouse Australia

Nov 2001 - Oct 2002 PricewaterhouseCoopers : Consulting
Director – UK supply chain practice

April 2000 – Oct 2001 Tesco Plc : Retail Stores
Board Director – Director – Logistics/Distribution

Sept 1997 – Mar 2000 Iceland Plc : Food Retail & Home Shopping
Supply Chain Director and Internet Home Shopping Director

March 1994 – Sept 97 Tibbett & Britten Group Plc : Logistics Services
Managing Director, T&B Iberia (based in Madrid - Spain) 1996-1997
President SCM Inc, Toronto Canada (Wal-Mart) 1994-1996

June 1992 – March 94 Booker Plc : Food Service Wholesale Supply
Divisional General Manager Booker Foodlink (Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Whitbread)

March 1989 – June 92 Tibbett & Britten Group Plc : Logistics Services Outsourcing
DC Operations Manager, J.Sainsbury DC Shift Manager, Asda

Aug 1986 – March 89 Bejam/Iceland Plc : Food Retail
Retail store deputy manager
Various transport, warehouse and stock control supervisory positions in DC’s
Replenishment buying at Bejam Head Office

July 1980 – Aug 86 National Coal Board : Coal Mining Operations
Graduate programme
Various underground supervisory management positions


Carey Baptist College, Auckland 2005-2007 : Bachelor of Applied Theology

Cardiff Business School 1998-2001 (part-time) : MBA (Distinction), Thesis on the management of change in retail

Cranfield School of Management 1990 – 91 : MSc in Logistics (Distribution Technology and Management) – Winner of Coopers & Lybrand Course Prize

Polytechnic of Wales 1984 – 85 (part – time) : Mine Managers First Class Certificate of Competency

University of Wales 1980 – 83 : BSc (Hons) Mining Engineering class 2.1

Disclosure: I own WHS shares in the Share Investor Portfolio

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c Share Investor 2011


  1. Darren, can we take this guy seriously?
    Granted he has a good background but..
    I mean he has a degree in Christian studies. Smells a bit fundamentalist to me.

  2. I wasn't going to point that out but he has worked for Walmart which is run by a deeply religious family and they do fine thank you very much.

    Perhaps because of that he might be a little more disciplined and focused on his goal to turn the company around.

    I believe Mr Tindall has a similar faith background.

    I will reserve my judgement on his results.


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