The Business On... Harriet Green, chief executive: Premier Farnell

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Looks like Harriet Green has her work cut out?

I'll say. Her company – which distributes high-spec electrical components – put out results yesterday which showed that sales growth is slowing markedly (and went into reverse in August). An operation like Premier can be a useful indicator of how things are going in the economy, and despite doing her best to accentuate the positives, Ms Green couldn't really disguise the fact that the outlook is rather uncertain. At best.

At least she's not short of energy

Hardly. Ms Green is on her yoga mat when most of Britain is still slumbering. She gets up at 4am so she can fit in a 45 minute routine. And while she might be a jet-setting executive who runs an international business, she insists on finding the time to do the routine, saying that if you can't find three-quarters of an hour in your day you're no longer your own person. Although one could say that if you can only find that time by getting up at 4am you've already lost that battle.

What's she like?

As chief executives go, Ms Green is actually rather personable. And refreshingly plain speaking.

She knows the industry fairly well doesn't she?

Oh yes. Moving into the electrical components industry might seem an odd choice for someone who studied medieval history at the University of London, but she's carved out a successful career having had stints at Arrow Electronics and the Diploma Group before taking the top job at Premier Farnell in 2006.

And what's she plan to do with the company now?

Well Ms Green still managed to post a 6.6 per cent rise in adjusted pre-tax profits (to £44m), so it could be worse. But life isn't going to be easy over the next few months. So she'll be bearing down on costs and seeking to push more of the business on to the internet. The yoga involves lots of stretching physically. Guiding Premier through the next couple of quarters will probably be just as stretching mentally.