The Player: Bill Grimsey, Chief Executive of Wickes; Bill's restoration job on a DIY Goliath

PERSONAL DETAILS: basic salary of pounds 234,000 in 1997. Total remuneration including bonus and pension contribution pounds 511,000. Lives in Radlett, Hertfordshire. Drives a BMW 7 Series. Hobbies include riding his Triumph motorcycle.

CHALLENGE: implementing the five-year recovery plan set out at the time of the rights issue in 1996.

This has a number of objectives including: a sweeping reconstruction of the business in terms of relationships with suppliers, employees and customers; investing in a new store format; opening new stores; improving margins; and building the Wickes brand.

The company also needs to rebuild its reputation in the City after an accounting scandal two and a half years ago and an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. The SFO inquiry continues and officers have yet to decide whether to take action against former Wickes directors, including the chief executive at the time, Henry Sweetbaum.

CORPORATE BACKGROUND: Bill Grimsey was appointed to the board as chief executive in November 1996. He has 27 years' experience, mostly in food retailing and he held a senior position at Tesco.

For five years he was managing director of Park `N' Shop, based in Hong Kong, the leading supermarket chain in south-east Asia.

Mr Grimsey joined Wickes in 1995, "intrigued by the formula", responsible for the group's South African joint venture, and was appointed managing director of Wickes Building Supplies on 1 July 1996.

STRATEGY: boost margins by increasing the customer and product base. Wickes customers tend to be do-it-yourself buffs and small jobbing builders. They spend only a third of their total DIY expenditure in Wickes, a proportion the company is keen to increase.

Mr Grimsey wants to keep existing customers and he hopes to attract new ones through broadening the product range in paint and wallpapers.

The six new-format stores, with the wider product range, reported sales growth of about 20 per cent in 1998. A further 35 stores will be updated in the current year at a cost of pounds 23m.

By 2001, all 124 stores in the existing group will have been refurbished. Ten new stores are expected to open each year for the next three to four years. Mr Grimsey rejects suggestions of saturation in the DIY market, identifying geographic gaps in the store network.

During 1998, customer service improvements were made and pounds 16.5m was spent on two new distribution centres. The strategic plan is "on track". Overall, Mr Grimsey says, it is "a tough old job but it's exciting and rewarding".

MANAGEMENT STYLE: open and very much hands-on. Mr Grimsey is at home on the shopfloor and is keen to hear the views of staff.

Every month he has breakfast with 12 of his non-management colleagues, such as fork-lift truck drivers and cashiers, and reports back to an operating board. He believes chain store retail companies should have a culture where everyone is aligned to achieving the business goals.

That entails "open communication, encouraging and rewarding staff". This, he says, produces a "dynamic environment" and "is a very powerful mechanism for pulling in the same direction".

Most admires in business: Lord MacLaurin of Knebworth, former chairman and chief executive at Tesco.

CITY VERDICT: Mr Grimsey is described as "fantastically hard-working and enthusiastic". In terms of motivating staff and cutting costs he is said to have done "an excellent job".

But there is a limit on how much further costs can be cut. There is some concern that Wickes will struggle to increase market share profitably against stiff competition from B&Q and Sainsbury's Homebase.

Mr Grimsey remains confident that market share gains will be achieved from a combination of new store openings and refurbishments.

"Every five years you have to refresh the offer in line with changing consumer demands," he says. "I'm a merchant at heart. I am passionate about customers and understanding them."

The heavy store investment programme will inhibit profit growth this year but thereafter Mr Grimsey expects "very exciting profit growth".

Warburg Dillon Read, the company broker, forecasts pre-tax profits of pounds 31m for 2000.

In 1998, Wickes made profits of pounds 24.9m pre-tax compared with a previous loss of pounds 6.5m. The shares are expected to perform in line with the market.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home