Former McKinsey advisor Nick Wilkinson new CEO of Dunelm

10 January 2018

British homewares retailer Dunelm has appointed former McKinsey & Company consultant Nick Wilkinson as its new Chief Executive. Evans, who is also the previous CEO of Evans Cycles, and Maxeda DIY, replaces outgoing leader John Browett following a period of weak performance for Dunelm.

Wilkinson’s predecessor exited Dunelm in the summer of 2017, citing “personal reasons”, although his departure came amid sustained falls in share prices. Browett had run the company since January 2016, and his departure in August 2017 was greeted by the group’s share prices rising by a fifth. According to a company spokesperson, “the fit between his leadership and Dunelm culture was uneasy”, and, despite this minor rebound since his leaving, Dunelm’s prices were still down 13.7% at the end of 2017.

Importantly, the group unveiled a 9.3% climb in its fiscal first quarter like for like sales in October, helped by rapid growth in its online division and a comparison to a weak period in the previous year. However, Dunelm’s gross margin came under pressure thanks to a pricey acquisition of Worldstores, as well as a focus on “newness” among their latest ranges.

Nick Wilkinson

Nick Wilkinson will subsequently have his work cut out for him, when he formally takes up office on February 1st. However, the new appointee has a wealth of experience in retail and strategy management to draw on in order to help Dunelm with its efforts to improve performance. Having previously worked as a Brand Manager for five years at Unilever, Wilkinson joined McKinsey in 1994, spending four years as a consultant at the firm. Following this, and a seven year stint with Dixons Retail – where he latterly became Managing Director – Wilkinson joined Maxeda DIY as CEO in 2007. His most recent engagement came with Evans Cycles, who Wilkinson enjoyed a five year spell with, beginning in 2011.

In the same year, Nick Wilkinson also took up Trustee posts with two major UK charities. He joined The Pennies Foundation and Age UK, where he remains a Trustee and Non-Executive Director on the group’s Trading Community Interest Company to this day. He also holds a BA in History, obtained from the University of Cambridge.

Dunelm Chairman Andy Harrison said of the appointment, “We are confident that Nick’s proven business leadership and track record will help us to deliver our ambitious plans for growth in market share and creation of substantial value for shareholders.”

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Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of partners

18 April 2019

Three senior level consultants have been boosted to the rank of Partner at Quantum Advisory, as the firm works to meet heightened levels of client demand. Aled Edwards, Amanda Burdge and Chris Heirene become Partners as long-time Quantum member Rob Davies retires in May after 15 years as a Partner at the firm.

Founded in 2000, Quantum Advisory provides pension and employee benefits services to employers, scheme trustees and members, with five offices across the UK. The firm has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, following a number of major client wins and booming demand for its services. It opened a new office in Bristol in 2016 to service the South West and in 2017 relocated its Cardiff office to a larger site within the Welsh capital to house the increased workforce. More recently, Quantum relocated its Amersham, Birmingham and London offices to more spacious premises in the centre of both cities to cope with demand.

The financial services consultancy, which employs 115 people across the UK, has promoted three senior team members to Partner, as part of its wider growth plans. The firm has moved Aled Edwards from Principal Consultant & Actuary, while Amanda Burdge has ascended from Principal Investment Consultant. Chris Heirene, former IT Manager, has also joined the ten current Partners at Quantum.

Aled Edwards most recently managed the actuarial team within Quantum’s Cardiff office as well as providing technical training for all staff. He boasts more than 17 years of pensions experience. He started his career as an Actuary at Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s Bristol wing, before joining Quantum in 2011. Edwards is also the President of the Welsh Actuarial Society (WAS), which supports actuaries and actuarial students living or working in Wales.

Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of Partners

Amanda Burdge joined Quantum’s team in 2001, as one of the fledgling firm’s first employees. Most recently she was a Principal Investment Consultant with the firm, and with more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the sector, she is responsible for providing investment advice to many of Quantum’s key clients with both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Prior to her time with Quantum, Burdge spent two years as a consultant with SBJ Benefit Consultants (now Capita), and three years with Tesco Pension Trustees. She currently sits on the Regulation Committee for the Pensions Management Institute.

Chris Heirene initially worked with Quantum as an IT Consultant with Teamwork Technology Services and then UES for over five years, before finally joining the firm itself in 2011. He is now responsible for Quantum’s IT systems across all of its offices, including the network and core server infrastructure which supports the business. Heirene is heavily involved in utilising IT to improve and build upon the processes in place throughout Quantum.

David Deidun, Partner at Quantum Advisory, said of the promotions, “This is a very exciting time for Quantum. The recent round of promotions fully recognise the hard work and dedication shown by the three, all of whom go above and beyond for the company. I’ve no doubt that Aled, Amanda and Chris will settle into their new roles with ease and look forward to working together to grow Quantum even further.”

The news comes as Rob Davies retires in May, after spending fifteen years as a Partner at Quantum. A qualified actuary, Davies was instrumental in setting up Quantum’s Investment Division, specialising in aiding clients with their investment strategies. He will remain with the company on a part-time consultancy basis, while working with several clients in the Fiduciary Manager area.