THG director who braved shareholder rebellion steps down

Iain McDonald

Iain McDonald is to step down as a formal non-executive director of THG at the end of this month (March 2024), marking fourteen years as a director.

However, an early investor in THG and one of founder Matt Moulding’s “anchors” McDonald is to retain his link with the business as an advisor spending “even more time” on strategy.

At the Annual General Meeting last June, reported how 23% of shareholders had opposed his reinstatement as a director, forcing an internal inquiry into the rebellion.

McDonald, also a non-executive director at Boohoo, was also forced to step down from his position as chair of the audit and remuneration committee. 

Institutional shareholders ISS and Glass Lewis were concerned that McDonald’s position as founder of Belerion Capital, which had helped King Street Capital on a failed bid to take THG private, made his position untenable, noting too that his long standing position on the board made it hard to justify his status as an independent director.

In the formal statement to the markets this morning (15 March 2024) THG founder and chief executive Matt Moulding described the impact of the former retail analyst and investment director on THG as “remarkable”.

Moulding said: “There’s no doubt whatsoever that THG would not be in such a strong position as it is today had Iain not joined us 14 years ago. Under his guidance, THG has grown revenues and adjusted EBITDA 20-fold and 50-fold respectively, while migrating away from retailing CDs/DVDs and evolving into a global leader in Beauty, Nutrition and Technology.

“Iain’s experience across technology, digital services and marketing is second to none, resulting in him chairing various committees during his time on the Board, most recently leading THG’s Sustainability strategy. As a material long-term investor in THG, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Iain in the future.”

However, in one of Moulding’s more expansive LinkedIn posts this morning he paid a fulsome tribute to McDonald describing their relationship as “lively” and revealing that after a particularly difficult period McDonald questioned whether Moulding was even the right person to be chief executive of THG.

“Naturally, I told everyone to p*ss off,” revealed Moulding.

Moulding has revealed that McDonald will also retain an advisor position with THG: “But Iain’s THG journey doesn’t end here. I’m so grateful for the huge impact Iain has on THG. And so, thankfully, he’s agreed to dedicate more time than ever to us by becoming an advisor, working closely with our 3 businesses to deliver their strategies.”

Following McDonald’s departure from the THG board, it will consist of three executive directors and six non-executives, five of whom (including the Chair) are deemed to be independent.

McDonald, said: “As the THG board evolves to a more conventional PLC structure, the time is right for me to step away from my current role. I intend to remain very close to THG and a committed long term investor. I could not be more proud to have played even a small role in the incredible business which Matt and his team have built and to have been so welcomed as a member of the THG family. Looking forward it is pleasing to step away at a time when the business itself couldn’t be in better shape. The scale of the capability in THG is something which few appreciate.”

Prior to setting up Belerion, McDonald was chief investment officer of the William Currie Group, an early investor in the business when it was known as The Hut Group. 


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