08th May 2012

Leadership change at Smythson of Bond Street..

Iconic British luxury brand Smythson, manufacturers of fine leather and stationary goods since 1887, announced a leadership change this week. Andy Janowski is taking over as CEO – replacing Smythson’s owner and chairman Jacques Bahbout. 

Janowski has over 20 years experience in the business. He began his career in Banana Republic in 1989, and quickly went on to become vice president of production at Gap. He was Burberry’s chief operations officer until he moved to Smythson 18 months ago. According to Vogue, he was appointed due to his “deep understanding of the luxury consumer” and “innate ability to drive a business”.

Interestingly, his role-predecessor will remain with the company, and Janowski will in fact be reporting directly to Bahbout – who is still the company’s chairman. Janowski will no doubt be keen to prove himself as soon as possible to Bahbout, and he will be anxious to make an early and lasting impact.

However, effectively implementing change can be very difficult in this situation. Any suggested changes may potentially be perceived as criticism of his still influential predecessor. Janowski will need to be upfront with the board to ensure he is guaranteed the space and freedom to effect change.

Janowski’s appointment is effective immediately, and by now he is likely to be tackling some of the common transitional challenges experienced by any new leader.

During this time of intense scrutiny and time pressures he will do well to sharpen his self-awareness, to the point where he can efficiently monitor his actions and make sure he is not getting sidetracked from his strategic priorities.

He is also most probably be facing some tough personnel decisions – he will need to critically assess the quality of his team – and make the requisite changes. Nobody likes firing people, but it is best to make these changes as soon as possible in order to get off to an accelerated start.

Starting with the end in mind will be key to Janowski’s success. He should have a set of achievable aims for his first 100 days, which he will need to remain vigilantly focused on. The most effective way of doing such, and avoiding derailment, is with the help of a detailed First 100 Days Plan which acts as a route map to success.

Hilda Goold

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