With a history spanning almost 100 years, and a position as one of the United Kingdom's largest distributors of auto parts and workshop equipment, Andrew Page knows its business. It was started by the late Andrew Page in 1917, and members of the Page family are still involved in the company to this day. Originally known as Andrew Page & Son, it was based out of a shop in Leeds and enjoyed modest success. After being forced to briefly close during World War II, in 1946 the company was reopened by Andrew's son James as Andrew Page & Co Ltd. In 1974, James's son Andrew joined the company, which saw rapid growth in the following decades.
Previously the COO of Andrew Page, Mark Saunders was promoted to the CEO role in February 2015, and was tasked with pursuing the board's strategy for expansion. At the time of the appointment, Jim Sumner, executive chairman of Andrew Page, expressed his confidence: Mark has done an outstanding job in the past year and thoroughly merits this promotion.
Mark's career history means he has the perfect skill set to take Andrew Page onwards and upwards. After studying economics at the University of Salford in Manchester, Mark gained a graduate position with a major UK supermarket chain and hasn't looked back since. I started as a graduate trainee with Waitrose supermarket and then worked my way through various organisations over the years. This includes household names. I worked for Sears and Fosters Group for about six years in junior buying roles.
Interestingly, fashion has been a recurring theme, as Mark worked as head of merchandising for Tesco's clothing division at the turn of the century, was on the board of Matalan, and then vice-president of retail for Levi Strauss Europe between 2004 and 2009. He also served as chief executive of Habitat, with the remit of addressing the furniture company's falling sales. However, despite the high-street experience, he did a couple of more relevant interim roles, the last of which was for automotive supplier Saxon Industries. This is where he crossed paths with the dynamic chairman of Andrew Page, Jim Sumner.
As investment firm Endless negotiated it's acquisition of Andrew Page in February 2014, Jim Sumner approached Mark with the offer to come on board as COO. Its a very classic progression, says Mark. When I was younger, I had functional roles such as merchandising, which is the science-like side of buying in fashion, and then those roles became broader, like my role at Levis.