Hot on the heels of Mothercare’s announcement that boss Mark Newton-Jones is to move into a non-executive role this summer comes the news that Jennifer Roebuck is taking the reverse journey at Ted Baker from non-executive director to the main leadership team.
Roebuck currently works as Feelunique’s chief marketing officer while advising Ted Baker primarily on digital and ecommerce strategy in her non-executive role. She will join the troubled fashion brand full-time in April in the newly created position of chief customer officer tasked with developing a customer and digital strategy across the business and exploring new digital partnership opportunities to drive growth.
There is one obvious advantage to appointing a non-executive to an executive role – they know the business inside out and will already have developed in their own mind a clear, considered strategy for how they feel it can best succeed.
Although it carried out what it describes as a “thorough search process”, the board will surely be grateful that the strongest candidate to emerge was someone who needs little time acclimatising to their new environment.
Roebuck, on paper, provides the perfect short-term solution for a business that sees ecommerce as key to its future success. Indeed, her track record points to someone who makes an immediate, significant impact in a role before moving on to her next challenge.
Throughout her career to-date two to three years has been Roebuck’s average length of tenure in any one position.
She joined Feel Unique in April 2018, prior to which she spent three years developing Revl, the events discovery app, as co-founder and chief marketing officer.
Having spent the early part of her career in America working for companies including Bank of America and Esurance, Roebuck shifted her focus to the UK in 2003 landing management positions with first Nectar and then Orange before moving into director-level roles with French Connection and Warehouse.
Acting chair Sharon Baylay will be hoping Roebuck, praised by former colleagues for her strong work ethic and innovative streak, is the ideal person to bring some positive energy back into a business that has been through the mill since the resignation of founder and former chief executive Ray Kelvin in March last year.
Replacement boss Lindsay Page and executive chair David Bernstein followed Kelvin out the door in December, around the same time that consultancy firm AlixPartners was drafted in to conduct a review of Ted Baker’s business model and costs. As a result, the leadership team is currently looking rather thin.
Roebuck’s appointment is a good start. Next on Baylay’s to-do list: find a new chair and chief executive.