Fiona Greiner reveals how she came to work at luxury retailer Matchesfashion.com ...
What is Matchesfashion?
It is a luxury online retailer which also has shops in London and was founded 31 years ago. We have 400 people in our Shard headquarters, stock brands such as Erdem and Gucci, and had sales of £200 million in the year to January 2017.
Last September [founding couple] Tom and Ruth Chapman sold the business to funds advised by private-equity firm Apax Partners.
What do you do?
My role is to help us grow in a profitable and considered way. This week has included spending time with the property team to get an update on our new tech and design studio opening in Stratford; working with our head of merchandising on spring/summer 2019 buys, and discussing new tech investments.
What do you like about it?
I spend a lot of time looking at the website. It is impossible not to shop, so a staff discount is nice.
I love the emerging brands that we support. It is really exciting when we see them grow with us.
What don’t you like?
I get annoyed at people turning up late for meetings, something that happens a fair bit in the fashion industry.
I grew up in Bradford, west Yorkshire, and did a business studies course at college. My first role in finance was at an architectural practice in London, and I then went to Germany to work at Citicorp Kartenservice as financial controller for credit cards. They were training a number of Brits and Americans on the job, and they had a tutor to come in and teach German.
I moved back to London when I was 28 with my husband, whom I met in Germany.
I became a finance manager at Woolworths — then owned by Kingfisher — which was a big break because they really invested in people, providing great training. Then I was headhunted by Gap, eventually becoming their European head of finance, followed by spells at fashion groups Polo Ralph Lauren, Charles Tyrwhitt and Jack Wills.
The move to Matchesfashion in 2011 was a massive opportunity because I was given the chance to join the board and be part of transforming a small but loved brand into this major global business.
Having two companies relocate was not pleasant. Gap moved its head office to Rugby and Polo Ralph Lauren moved to Geneva.
I loved the companies, but I had two young children and we were not in a position to leave London. However, those not working out ultimately led me to my current job, which I love.
How’s your work-life balance?
My husband is an architect and we have two children: Joshua, 15, and Amy, 13. I like to spend my working hours in the Shard, be visible and know what is going on in all departments. That means I am at home in Kingston at a decent time most evenings to have dinner with my family.
My parents also moved in with us when they retired 10 years ago, so they have been a huge help with the kids over the years. We’ve also just bought a holiday home in Devon.
Question what you are told. Finance requires thinking up new ways of saving and making money, so new ideas will always be welcome.