Candidate Pack - Liberty Managing Director Japan

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Liberty Art Fabrics

Managing Director

Candidate Pack – February 2016

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Liberty is internationally recognised as a leader in print design and textile innovation. Established

in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, they have produced original and inspiring designs for over 130

years. Known for their fine detail, intricate pattern and original Liberty colour Palattes, Liberty

prints have proved a stalwart of fabric design through the Art Nouveau movement at the turn of

the twentieth century, its revival in the 1960s, and through to the pinnacle of current trends.

Liberty is seeking to appoint a Managing Director of Liberty’s Japanese operation. Reporting into

the Managing Director of Liberty Wholesale, the Managing Director- Japan will be responsible for

defining and executing the Liberty wholesale business development strategy for Japan, ensuring it

reflects the Group Wholesale strategy and ensuring market relevance is maintained. This role is a

key position within the wider Liberty Senior Leadership Team, and will act as a brand ambassador

in order to strengthen key relationships both internally, across the wider Liberty team; and with

external customers, suppliers, and partners.

Liberty is being assisted in this appointment process by the executive search firm Society.

Applications can be sent by email to thomas.devlin@society-search.com.


ORGANISATION

History

Liberty of London was established by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875, trading in ornaments,

haberdashery, and art fabrics from Japan and the Far East. It was in 1924 that the site of the grade

II listed Liberty Department store on Great Marlborough Street and Regent Street was

constructed from two British Naval Ships; HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan.

Synonymous with haberdashery and fabrics in iconic floral and graphic prints; Liberty of London

is also known for its trading of fashion, jewellery, homeware, and furniture. In 1939, Liberty of

London Prints, the wholesale arm of Liberty was established to capitalise on the growth in demand

for Liberty designs and fabrics. Established as a wholesale supplier of fabric prints and designs,

Liberty hence became a household name in haberdashery and at the forefront of leading artistic

and fashion movements; playing an influential part in the Art Nouveau revival of the 1960s.

2010 saw the acquisition of Liberty by BlueGem Capital Partners LLP, their current owner. With

overall assets of circa €500 million, BlueGem are owners of several wholesale and retail businesses

which include children’s wear brand Mamas & Papas.


Prints

Liberty is world-renowned for its prints and patterns. With its own archive of over 43,000 original

prints, sketches, and swatches; they are constantly revisiting, reimagining and adding to the

collection. More than 120 new prints and patterns are created annually, with inspiration drawn

from collaborations with artists, writers, craftsmen, architects, and illustrators. In 2015, Liberty

celebrated its 140 th birthday with the launch of a new pattern called Mayflower. Ultimately their

passion lays in inspiring creativity and championing great design.

The traditional techniques of hand drawing are still used by the Liberty design Studio. Iconic

florals and paisleys, graphic geometrics and colourful conversational are created using pencil,

paint, ink and wash, crayon, printing and computer aided design techniques. Crucially, and at the

heart of the process are the high standards of design, engraving and printing established under

Arthur Liberty over a century ago.

Fabrics

The designs of the Liberty design Studio are offered on a wide range of premium quality cloths

including cotton, wool blends, silk, denim, and fleexe. Liberty Tana Lawn is globally regarded as

the best fine cotton in the world. Introduced by Liberty after the First World War, Tana Lawn is

constructed from long staple cotton fibres sourced from Egypt, woven into compact, fine, and

strong cloth with a beautifully smooth surface that is ideal for printing. Showcasing two collections

annually, Liberty also release a classic collection which they draw from their extensive collection.


Collaborations

Liberty has a long history of collaborations; a tradition which began in the late nineteenth century

with Costume Society founder, William Godwin, in the in-house manufacture of apparel to rival

the Parisian market. As Royal warrant holders, Liberty was influential as a platform for the success

of numerous artists and designers; not least playing a crucial role in the popularity of the art

Nouveau movement.

Throughout its history, Liberty has collaborated with the biggest brands and designers, from

Vivienne Westwood to Nike, and from Hermès to Supreme. Ever the expert in appealing to a

younger consumer whilst maintaining its iconic and traditional designs, Liberty has collaborated

with the likes of Acne and Supreme, as well as offering the latest lines by A.P.C, J Brand, and

designers who have more recently gained prominence, like Mira Mikati. Liberty also holds close

relationships with brands of Japanese heritage like mainstays Kenzo, Edwin, and Tomorrowland.


Liberty Japan

Liberty Japan Co., Ltd has been a subsidiary of Liberty since 1988, trading Liberty-branded

products in Japanese retail stores as well as manufacturing Liberty fabrics which are sold

internationally and locally to designers and retail fashion businesses alike. As a manufacturer of

Liberty patterned and printed fabrics, it trades to local Japanese markets and emerging markets in

the Far East. Alongside operations in Italy and London it forms a business-critical arm of the

Liberty organisation. Currently

ROLE DESCRIPTION

Liberty is seeking to appoint a Managing Director of Liberty’s Japanese operation. Reporting into

the Managing Director of Liberty Wholesale, the Managing Director- Japan will be responsible for

defining and executing the Liberty wholesale business development strategy for Japan, ensuring it

reflects the Group Wholesale strategy and ensuring market relevance is maintained. This role is a

key position within the wider Liberty Senior Leadership Team, and will act as a brand ambassador

in order to strengthen key relationships both internally, across the wider Liberty team; and with

external customers, suppliers, and partners.

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTABILITIES:

Brand






To protect the Liberty brand; ensuring its relevance to the customer;

Translating the Liberty brand strategy into actionable business development plans in Japan, per market

segment;

Acting as the Liberty brand ambassador within the global market; building effective relationships with key

decision makers in other like-minded global brands;

Keeping abreast of industry developments, indentifying new product and market opportunities, and

devising strategic and tactical plans for business growth;

Providing detailed feedback on market trends, opportunities, and customer needs, to the company

leadership team.

Sales





Setting annual plans in line with achieving wholesale group business targets, and in line with the

company’s 5 year plan;

Creating a sales strategy by segment:;

Monitoring and managing performance against targets and taking corrective action;

Creating a strategy to exploit emerging markets and setting aggressive sales goals.

Profit




Setting annual plans by segment to build a sales plan in line with the company’s 5 year strategy;

Continually identify opportunities for margin improvement, cost reduction, and measuring commercial

impact;

Devising and implementing new initiatives to drive profit and margin growth,


Marketing


Working with the Marketing Director to support the creation of a focussed and commercial brand

marketing strategy;


Ensuring the strategy remains relevant in a Japanese market;


Using data to inform marketing plans and working with a central Insights team to maximise data from all

sources;


Ensuring Japan is working with agreed brand guidelines;


Working with the Head of Collaborations to create a smooth cross-over for collaboration marketing plans

and ensuring global campaigns are maximised for the benefit of all;


Ensuring all marketing spending has an agreed ROI.

Customer Relationships


Acting as the voice of the customer to the senior leadership team and providing detailed feedback on

market trends, opportunities, and customer needs;


Supporting existing strategic key accounts and handing over to the relevant stakeholder (i.e Head of

Sales/Head of Business Development) where appropriate;


Targeting lapsed key accounts;


Identifying key opportunities for collaborations and work with the Liberty B&M Director to maximise the

global reach of opportunities.


Customer Relationships



Developing an in-depth understanding of the Liberty business infrastructure; reviewing structure for

business efficiencies and synergies across all territories;

Exploiting local opportunities and understanding timing in the roll-out of local practice across individual

territories.

Team







Creating a world-class, diverse, and commercially focussed team that is focussed on delivering targets and

exceeding expectation;

Providing strong and decisive leadership to both the senior leadership and broader team as a whole;

Mentoring high potential managers across the wider business;

Ensuring that succession planning is in place to retain customer loyalty and business continuity;

Creating a team culture which embraces change;

Ensuring that all team members have challenging and relevant KPIs.

Product & Design





Working with the sales teams to understand the current requirements and potential opportunities of the

customer, b y individual market segment;

Identifying the cultural differences of the target customer and local market requirements;

Ensuring that the Liberty product remains relevant to these respective markets;

Providing market and customer insight to designers and creative teams, both on current collections and

future trends.

The Managing Director will also be required to make bi-annual trips to the London Head Office as well as

attendance of relevant trade shows both within Japan and abroad.

Key Performance indicators will include:





Sales & Margin

Controllable costs

EBITDA

Customer acquisition and customer retention


PERSON SPECIFICATION

The successful candidate will be expected to demonstrate evidence of the following skills,

capabilities and experience:

Core Competencies



A strong customer focus;

Team focussed and the ability to work with others.

Role Specific Competencies




Strong communicative skills;

Ability to establish direction and drive;

A talent for leadership and management.

Personal Qualities and Experience











A minimum of 12+ years’ experience of international sales and marketing in a commercial function;

A strong executive presence, with a charismatic presentation style, excellent written and verbal

communication skills;

Proven negotiation and influencing skills; the ability to negotiate significant contracts and secure the best

possible deal for Liberty;

An excellent communicator with first class interpersonal skills who is able to lead and motivate an

international team across different cultures to deliver on KPIs;

Capable of adopting a proactive and hands-on approach to deliver results;

Customer focussed and able to manage key customer relationships on a personal level;

Experience of managing budgeting processes and P&L accountability;

Experience of working and living internationally, in a number of countries and markets;

Ability to demonstrate a cultural awareness of global markets;

Prepared to travel both locally and internationally for extended periods; sometimes at short notice.

APPOINTMENT DETAILS AND HOW TO APPLY

Liberty is being assisted in this appointment process by the executive search firm Society.

Applications should consist of a CV, ideally accompanied by a brief covering letter and addressing

the criteria in the Person Specification. These documents can be sent to:

thomas.devlin@society-search.com

The deadline for receipt of applications is midday on Monday 23 rd May 2016.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview in May-June 2016.

An appointment will be made subject to receipt of satisfactory references. The appointed candidate

will be offered a salary that is commensurate with their experience and the seniority of their new

role.

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