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Vanguard Textiles

Vanguard Textiles has been established for over 30 years as a designer, importer and distributor of home textiles. With a turnover of circa £20 million and a workforce of 85, they have experienced a period of rapid expansion over the last ten years and took the decision to develop their plan for growth a stage further.

John Grumley, Managing Director, established that, in tandem with the core business, he needed to develop a new selling business to improve profit margins and provide a secondary sales environment. World of Linens was born – an E-Commerce site that would provide high quality bed linens and accessories directly to the public.

Having identified, specified and sourced the products and outlined the IT infrastructure for the site, John realised that they required the expertise of an experienced on-line retail manager to refine the plan and take it through to its implementation.

"We needed someone who knew E-Commerce at ground level; understood on-line retailing; had a strong sales and marketing background and was business astute," commented Lesley Sloan, Human Resources Manager, Vanguard Textiles.

"I couldn’t believe the deadlines that she set for herself and then went on to achieve."

"We needed someone to take the first glimmer of inspiration from John and make it become a tangible business. We are sales people not marketers, so we chose the interim route because we needed a quick injection of skill and experience."

"We appointed interim, Gracia A, who had been sourced by Executives Online. Her skills perfectly matched what we were looking for and she had the intense amount of knowledge that we required to get the project off the ground. We felt that once the project was underway, we could then take someone on permanently at a lower level in order to maintain it."

"In the six months that Gracia was here she really motored. I couldn’t believe the deadlines that she set for herself and then went on to achieve. We went from a standing start to completion in a really short period of time. It was fantastic."

"In appointing an interim, we were instantly able to tap into her top level expertise. It can be an expensive route, but you get what you pay for and it’s perfect if you want an instant hit of high-level input."

"It doesn't matter what industry you are in; with interims you can get an instant injection of talent and experience for a short period of time which then allows you to assess what you’ve got left to do and where you go from here. You’re not tying yourself into any kind of contract. We didn’t know if this 'idea' was going to have any long-term success and needed to tread carefully."

Gracia A – Interim Manager

"Previous to taking on the Vanguard Textiles interim assignment I had been running my own company, so I was used to being independent. I have the capability to give a very quick and powerful burst of all of my energy and experience. It was a perfect assignment for me. I ended up going to China four times and even got to use my Mandarin Chinese."

"In general I prefer interim work as I tend to work faster than most people. The only negative thing I find is that when things go really well you tend to get very involved and then it’s hard to let go."

"What I enjoyed most was seeing how something could grow so quickly and see the results, also to have access to the rest of a very talented team. The Managing Director had already started to order products and design the website when I came on board. When I arrived 50-60% of products had been selected. It was a solid enough start."

"Even though we were developing an on-line offering, in my experience consumers still want to be able to see a catalogue. We needed a tool to sell with and I have a contact that is an expert in mail order catalogues. A brochure gives something more kudos, especially when it’s new. It is another way of reaching people if you follow the right strategy – the budget was there, so it would have been a waste not to do it."

"I was really proud of the end result. The website looks fantastic. I have solid experience in buying and a real ‘eye’ for the product. I was very pleased with the new products that I was able to select. The Managing Director trusted me implicitly and allowed me to source products in China and to build the range myself. I was given the scope to build the interim brief as the job required. I have to say that you can certainly utilise a diverse range of experiences when working as an interim."