Michael Dickson to become Dicksons chairman as Chris Hayman moves into Managing Director role

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26 April 2016

We are delighted to announce Chris Hayman, previously Head of Sales, will take up the role of Managing Director following the decision by Michael Dickson to move into the role of Executive Chairman.

Michael Dickson has been at the helm of the family business for over 25 years and has taken the business from a small group of shops in South Tyneside to a thriving food manufacture and retailing business employing over 300 staff.

Michael Dickson, now Chairman comments: “It’s been commonly accepted for some time by staff, colleagues and family that we would make such an appointment to allow me to move to the role of company chair. Given how integrated Chris is within Dicksons and how involved he has been in the future strategy of the business, passing operational matters over as the first non-family managing director of the company has been a process rather than an event.

“This is an appointment we’ve planned for several years and which was the main driver behind the formation of a family (shareholder) council in 2008. The family council was set up with the clear intention of maintaining family participation and ownership, while accepting the business might not remain under close day-to-day family direction. Although my daughter Elena remains in a senior-level role as Marketing Director and son, Dr Matthew Dickson, is current Chair of the family council.

“Growth expectations in our wholesale business will necessitate further expansion of the factory in the next 12 months. We’re also planning a 50% increase in our retail estate by 2019 taking us to 40 sites so now is the right time for Chris to drive forward the many positive changes taking place to secure the future for the business and that of our long serving team.

“Chris has had a truly remarkable impact on the business in the two years that he’s been with us. He’s not only gained the support and respect of the wider staff but understands the family values on which our business has been built on. Succession planning has been a consideration for quite some time and I have every confidence that Chris will lead our newly restructured senior team to build on recent momentum in the retail and wholesale divisions.

“It’s a time of change but also an exciting period of growth for Dicksons and one which Chris and the team will be leading with my support.”

Chris Hayman previously worked at multinational food retailer McDonalds for over 16 years before joining in 2014 to manage Dicksons retail division. His management skills, extensive food retailing experience and chemistry with staff has given the company a fresh new approach after 63 years serving the North East.

Chris Hayman, newly appointed managing director said:

“When I first arrived at Dicksons, the change in culture from a multi-national to a much-loved family business was a revelation but one which I embraced wholeheartedly. The business has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and modifications to our retail model and new shops have brought us to a new audience eager to try both the traditional and new products that continue to make Dicksons such a strong brand in the region.

“The willingness in our retail division to readily adapt to customers’ changing needs carries through to the fast growing wholesale side of the business, where Dicksons reputation for the production of quality food products remains strong. We are now in the midst of planning a factory expansion to meet this increase in demand and help future-proof the business to deliver for clients on a national, as well as regional, scale.

“Michael Dickson has been the driving force behind Dicksons for so many decades that stepping into the managing director role was one which I had to consider carefully. Michael’s input in day-to-day operational concerns will reduce but we’ll continue to work closely together on strategic matters for the next two years as so the business can continue to benefit from his decades of experience.

“Looking ahead to the future, I’m committed to ensuring Dicksons retains the family ethos so important to our customers and employees and will continue to work with not only Michael and, marketing director Elena but also engage with the wider family council, all of whom take a real interest in the business and their employees.”

Chris will now be leading on a range of new initiatives at Dicksons to help the business expand in both the retail and wholesale markets. The business is planning four new shop openings in 2016 alone, with the long-term plan to increase the Dicksons retail presence to 40 shops within three years a determined focus. In addition, a plan to modernise equipment and expand space within the factory is currently being rolled out to support the wholesale division in a bid to increase efficiency and compete in markets on a regional and national level – this expansion should see staff numbers approach 450 by 2019.

Chris comments:

“Michael’s leadership over the past 25 years has been exceptional. It’s brought Dicksons to a point where we are now looking at growing our regional presence with a greater number of modern shops and an improved factory facility. I’m motivated by the enthusiasm of the excellent team here at Dicksons. There’s a genuine desire to make this much-loved brand achieve even greater things and we look forward to seeing what the future brings to our thriving family business.”