Sights set super high

Tue 05 Aug 2014

Wendy Edwards, Company Secretary at SuperGroup, talks about the energy and innovation within a rapidly growing brand

Tell us about your role with SuperGroup

I joined the business in 2010, which was just before SuperGroup floated, and I came on board to provide support with that process. A key challenge was to start putting in place the processes required for a public limited company. This involved starting from scratch, to ensure that the business was able to make the move from being a limited company to a plc. I had to implement a corporate governance framework, set up a board meeting structure, appoint registrars, and basically do everything else that needed to be done for the business to make the switch. It has been an incredibly busy period, as SuperGroup converted to a plc in a very short period of time, and was one of the few companies to make an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in 2010.

What made SuperGroup stand out for you when you were looking for a new opportunity?

I had been in the corporate world for a while and I deliberately left it because it can become boring and predictable. When I started to research SuperGroup, I realised just how exciting a company it was. At the interview, I could see how passionate people were about the brand. The whole place had a pulse.

Wendy Edwards, Company Secretary at SuperGroup Plc

What are the key strengths of the company? 

There is real energy and innovation that exists within SuperGroup. As a company, it is always looking for ways to do things, rather than looking for reasons not to do things. There’s a culture of constant reinvention. The pace we move at is also really exciting, but that comes with its challenges, as is the case with any business that has recently listed.

What are your key priorities?

These have changed during the four years I have been with SuperGroup. In the early phases it was about putting board structures in place and getting non-executive directors recruited to meet the needs of a listed company. The management team here has really seen the value of having independent non-executive directors to challenge and support the business. We recruited our Group General Counsel last September, and my role now includes focusing more on compliance. This covers things like anti-bribery, data protection, whistle-blowing and ensuring compliance with our regulators, to include the London Stock Exchange. I am still actively involved with the team here to manage the cycle of board meetings and all that goes with that in terms of decision making and chasing up actions.

How has SuperGroup fared during the global economic downturn?

Retail conditions have been very tough over the past couple of years. The customer has become more and more discerning and very selective with how they want to spend their money. But, we have been very resilient. Our Q4 results were announced recently and we still have fantastic growth and great profits. We do recognise that we can never be complacent, as the current conditions are tough to trade in.

What are the benefits to working with Equiniti?

The customer service that Equiniti provides is very good. As a company, it is good at looking for solutions to problems and to finding ways to do things rather than ways not to do things. The staff are real experts and always mindful of compliance, which is essential when a business is so tightly regulated. The share register analysis work they also do for us is great, as it is clear and user friendly. We have a very good relationship with Equiniti and they are always just a phone call away. They are a very responsive team to work with.

As a company secretary, you have to keep learning

Can you tell us some of the lessons you have learned throughout your career?

As a company secretary, you have to keep learning. You need to always stay fresh with your subject matter, and be aware of the changing economic environment, which will help you to ensure that you can deliver value for the business you are working for. Networking is also important and not just for progression, but to learn from others and keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry.

If you were able to choose a completely different career, what would it be?

I would definitely do something related to design. I used to work as a financial controller for an interior design company, which was incredibly interesting. It actually inspired me to study interior design, so if I had my time again, I’d work in the design world.

What do you like to do to relax outside of work?

I love gardening and spend as much time in my garden as the weather allows me to. I also enjoy art and go to exhibitions when time allows. And, I have a real love for music. I play the flute and the piano and I find that music is a truly fantastic way to relax and escape from the world. Another thing that I enjoy – but it’s not quite as easy to do when you live in England – is skiing. I find that very relaxing.

Do you have any secret talents?

I’m a qualified masseur. Not very many people know that, but I love receiving a massage – it’s such a good way to unwind. Equally, I enjoy giving a massage because I really like it when you can help someone to relax. In this mad world that we live in, being able to give someone the ability to switch off is a gift and a massage certainly does that. It’s so nice to be able to do this for people.

If you could invite three people to dinner, living or otherwise, who would they be and why?

One would be a long-standing friend who has a brilliant name – Zog Zeigler. He is a motor journalist and has a great command of the English language and uses it to its full. He is full of fantastic stories and brings everything to life. He is a great fillip, someone who energizes every situation. The other is a man I had the privilege of living across the road from. He was 101 when he died last year; Dr Dick Jarrett was one of life’s greats. He was young and curious right up to the very end. He was a dapper dresser too! The other would be a lady I worked with at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Vicky Tuck, the previous principal. She was somebody that had a rare combination of a fantastic business and academic brain and she is also great company.  

Find out more about SuperGroup Plc here.