The boss of McDonald’s in the UK, Jill McDonald, has been hired as the next chief executive of Halfords where she will become one of the few women at the helm of a London-listed company.
McDonald, who is 50, will join the bike and car accessories chain on 11 May after five years heading McDonald’s in Britain. In January 2014 she took on responsibility for Germany, McDonald’s biggest European market, and six other countries, overseeing 3,300 branches.
Before joining McDonald’s as UK chief marketing officer in 2006, McDonald spent 16 years in marketing for British Airways and also worked at Colgate Palmolive.
She will replace Matt Davies, who is leaving Halfords to run Tesco’s UK business. Davies has won credit for overhauling Halfords’ customer service and building staff morale while improving financial performance.
Dennis Millard, Halfords’ chairman, said the board hired McDonald because she would continue Davies’s work.
Millard said: “We were looking for somebody who had experience and background in understanding what the consumer needs and somebody from a service industry really gets that. We also wanted someone with a track record in colleague engagement as well. Jill’s marketing experience will help us as well.
“She has been briefed very heavily on our existing strategy and she buys into that. We are about halfway through the journey from where Matt Davies joined to lead us to be a very high service business.”
McDonald will be paid a £500,000 salary and will be able to earn up to three times that amount as a bonus and another £1.5m maximum a year from a long-term share plan.
Halfords will award McDonald £165,000 a year in the company’s shares for the next three years to compensate her for forfeiting McDonald’s shares when she leaves. There will be no financial performance targets attached to the payouts because there were none at McDonald’s, Millard said.
Retail analyst Nick Bubb said her appointment was “a real ‘left field’ choice” for the company and that it was a step down for her from her previous role at McDonald’s.
McDonald, who has a first-class business studies degree from Brighton University, has spoken out against snobbery in business by urging company directors to take on more school leavers instead of fixating on graduates.
She will be one of the most senior women in the 250 listed companies that sit beneath the elite FTSE 100. In October, only 5.1% of executive directorships at FTSE 250 companies were held by women.
While her predecessor Matt Davies is a biking enthusiast known for cycling around the Lake District on a high-spec Boardman bike, McDonald has a Halfords entry-level Apollo bike - although her husband is a cycling fan.
“She lives in the country so there are lots of hills for her to cycle up and down,” Millard said.
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd March 2015 09.02 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010