Business Irish

Sunday 21 September 2014

Heff takes long route to retail

Published 15/01/2014 | 02:30

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The Dunnes dynasty already has a few family members involved in the retailing business, but one of Margaret Heffernan's sons, Andrew, has remained outside the business fold.

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After training as a doctor, he spent a year practising becoming a consultant at Bain & Co and then a banker with Goldman Sachs in New York. He went on to do a two-year MBA at Harvard. In 2009, he enrolled with the New York-based Parsons School of Design.

"It took me 10 years to get here," he recalled in one of the school's annual reports. "I was a doctor. Then I was a banker. Then I went to Harvard and got my MBA. Finally I found a place to study what I want to study."

He wanted to start his own lifestyle brand and has ultimately based himself in Amsterdam. His Heff Holding vehicle invests in retail businesses, taking either a majority or minority stake. Among the portfolio companies listed on its website is Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons, which has made threads for clients including Winston Churchill. Heff also includes Irish social network firm Skillspages among its clients.

All this experience could be useful at Dunnes, which insiders say has been having a tough time in its textiles business. "I don't have any aspiration to be a designer or creative director," Andrew told a Harvard alumni magazine a couple of years ago. "I want to work on the business side, something that most designers and creative directors aren't that comfortable with."

Irish Independent

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