Thursday 22 February 2018

Simon Burke

ROISIN BURKE

Trying -- twice -- to turn around Superquinn while the retail sector collapses takes guts. But then Simon Burke likes a challenge, as his holiday choices show.

Burke's early career began in London where he worked in investigation and corporate recovery with Coopers & Lybrand from 1980. His first retail job was as a finance manager with Virgin in 1987. He swiftly progressed to running the retail division and then to leading Virgin's €1bn-plus international retail and entertainment business.

In 1999, Burke became CEO of toy store Hamley's, steering it to a £59m sale four years later. He then worked on several private equity projects, including an attempted takeover of WH Smith.

He fronted the €450m purchase of Superquinn in 2005 by a consortium including Bernard McNamara. Property debt and declining sales ultimately led to receivership. Musgrave bought it for €200m last year.

Burke is back in London, where he chairs Hobbycraft, a British arts and crafts business with €155m of yearly sales, and is an investor in a significant new tech startup there. He very briefly chaired John Magnier and JP McManus's pub group Mitchells & Butlers -- one of several chairman to come and go there in recent years.

He's chairman of Eagle Eye, a startup backed by ex-Tesco CEO Terry Leahy with a patented mobile couponing technology. Clients include Karen Millen and McDonald's.

Burke is now looking for a new challenge, preferably with a public company in the consumer space. He has a pilot's licence and likes to fly light aircraft. He also loves exotic travel. Last year, he holidayed in North Korea; this year he's heading for Uzbekistan.

In two weeks' time he'll sit an A-Level in Physics -- just for the heck of it. He enjoys medieval history and is a fan of 17th Century Dutch art.

Sunday Indo Business

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