The leap from soft drinks to sweatshirts is not an obvious one but Asos is convinced it has found the right CFO to support its quest to become the world’s top fashion destination for 20-somethings.
Britvic’s chief financial officer Mathew Dunn will join the fashion etailer next spring, by which time it will be a year since his predecessor Helen Ashton announced she would be leaving the role.
Ashton ultimately exited at the end of August since when chief executive and former finance chief Nick Beighton has been covering both roles.
Dunn’s appointment is an interesting one and I suspect a clever move on the part of Asos. Sometimes the obvious candidate is not the right candidate. Lazy searches, as I call them, will always uncover lots of people holding similar roles within comparable businesses but they risk missing out on individuals whose skill set and outlook may be perfectly aligned with what the client is looking for, despite them working in a completely different sector.
Aside from a short spell at EMI Music around the turn of the last decade, Dunn has spent his entire career in FMCG working for some of the biggest companies in the global drinks trade.
He began his career at spirits superpower Diageo as a management accountant before moving to brew giant SAB Miller in an investor relations role. Dunn worked his way up the ladder to become finance director of Asia before joining SAB subsidiary South African Breweries as CFO in 2014.
He has held his current position at Britvic, which owns the Robinsons and J2O brands and also bottles and sells PepsiCo brands under licence, for a little over three years.
Dunn’s appointment chimes with Asos’s recent strategy of hiring senior retail executives with a global outlook. These include former M&S man Clifford Cohen who joined in 2015 as group chief information officer, and people experience director Peter Collyer who previously spent 12 years with The Walt Disney Company.
With former ITV, Royal Mail and Football Association chief executive, Adam Crozier, set to become chairman from next month, Beighton has at his disposal a team bursting with international experience and strategic nous.
Dunn’s lack of history in fashion retail need not be a barrier to his success at Asos. The time taken to appoint him tells me that Asos has had a good look at the market and probably interviewed lots of candidates before settling on someone who ticks all of their boxes. Only time will tell whether they’ve reached the right conclusion.