Shares in Halfords down more than 6pc after Matt Davies is poached by Tesco
Matt Davies with his black Labrador Archie Photo: Cavendish Press
By Graham Ruddick
11:59AM GMT 08 Jan 2015
Halfords shares slumped by more than 6pc after the cycling and car parts retailer announced that its chief executive Matt Davies was joining Tesco.
Dennis Millard, chairman of Halfords, said Mr Davies had made an "outstanding contribution" at the company since joining in October 2012.
Before joining Halfords, Mr Davies had run Pets at Home for eight years and was a corporate finance adviser at NatWest and Hawkpoint.
The 44-year-old has built a reputation for focusing on customer service and staff morale at the retailer's he has run. At Pets at Home, Mr Davies encouraged employees to bring their pets into head office.
Both Halfords and Pets at Home broke into the list of Britain's 25 most desirable companies to work for under Mr Davies.
Mr Millard said Mr Davies was "well liked" by store managers and staff at Halfords and was regularly "in the field" visiting stores.
Tesco suspends ninth executive as accounts fallout continues 12 Jan 2015
"His big strength is picking a very good team,"he said.
"We at Halfords had lost our waay. He has an understanding that if you have contented and happy staff, you are likely to have contented and happy customers."
At Halfords, Mr Davies oversaw a 43 percent improvement in the share price. His turnaround programme, called Getting into Gear, involved overhauling Halfords stores, with cycling clothing and changing rooms added to some sites.
Mr Davies also revamped the head offices, launched a comprehensive training programme, and introduced a Monday afternoon meeting where staff were encouraged to celebrate personal news - such as weddings and births - as well as the company's performance.
However, Mr Millard insisted Mr Davies could also be tough, a trait highlighted by a letter Halfords sent to suppliers last year demanding financial contributions for the Getting into Gear programme.
"Oh yes, don't be put off by his amiable nature," the Halfords chairman said. "He can be tough."