Name: Mark Tyldesley
Place of Birth: Yorkshire, but grew up in Hadleigh
Family: Married to Alex, with two kids Jamie, 11 and Ella, 9
Potted cv: Law degree, P&G for 16 years (including a stint as global marketing director for professional haircare), category director of health & beauty at Tesco for 18 months, and divisional head for savoury grocery at Premier Foods for three years
Best career decision: Joining P&G because the training, ambition, network and the things I got to do were amazing. The first year and the things they drum into you have held me in really good stead
Worst career decision: I haven’t made one. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done
Career highlight: Lots, most recently the opportunity to lead the rejuvenation of Jeyes as CEO, and delivering the foundations for growth
Career lowlight: The immediate aftermath of losing any distribution for reasons other than clear shopper and category rationale. You know it’s going to be a possible outcome, but still immensely frustrating
Best piece of advice: Be passionate about what you do
Business mantra: Know your business, that’s a P&G day one. Talk to as many people as you possibly can. My first month at Jeyes I had coffee or sandwich lunch with about 80 employees just to get a sense of what’s going on
Business idol: I bore the team about James Dyson
Hobbies: Football, golf, and indie music
Favourite meal: Chicken tikka dhansak
Favourite film: Casablanca
A spot in London’s illustrious Design Museum sounds like quite a grandiose ambition for a manufacturer of wet wipes and toilet cleaner but that doesn’t deter Jeyes CEO Mark Tyldesley. His idol James Dyson managed it with the humble hoover after all.
“How can a man make vacuum cleaners sexy, such that they’ve gone from this grotty household appliance to being in the Design Museum?” he asks. “It’s because he’s passionate about the product, hugely innovative, didn’t accept any boundaries and wanted to make things better. That’s absurd but it’s brilliant. It’s an ambition for toilet cleaning to have that same recognition for innovation.”
After three years at the helm of the Norfolk-based Jeyes (creators of Jeyes Fluid, Parozone and Bloo), Tyldesley is convinced consumers get just as animated as he does about sparkling loos. “Look, it’s not the sort of topic that I’d bring up at a dinner party,” he smiles. “But the amazing thing is at focus groups you have to stop people talking after two hours about cleaning.”
All in all the challenge of engaging consumers with Jeyes’ portfolio of more than 500 household SKUs paled in comparison to the execution of a three-year restructuring project when Tyldesley made the move from Premier Foods back in 2012.
“The business had got very fragmented,” he says “We were in multiple categories in multiple countries and multiple manufacturing sites, and we were spending a lot of money without the right returns.”
To fix that the new CEO closed the firm’s Scottish and Welsh factories, and shifted all manufacturing to Thetford, where £5m was invested to ensure the site could cope with increased demand. Businesses in insect control and professional cleaning were sold off, and commercial offices in Europe closed. The overhaul was finally completed early last year.
And despite pre-tax losses quadrupling from £2.2m in 2013 to £9.1m in 2014, Tyldesley remains optimistic all the hard work will pay off, blaming last year’s losses on “exceptional costs.”
“The core business is holding its own and my expectation is that the stronger growth will come next year,” he says. Sales of the four core brands are already up 4% year on year, he points out, and the company has made “big strides” in returning to a “sustainable profit level”.
“Really strong business” in the discount sector will undoubtedly be part of that upward climb, with sales in Home Bargains, B&M and the discount grocers high on Tyldesley’s agenda alongside the major mults.
The gap between working with the big four and the discounters is closing anyway, he speculates. “Major multiples are now much more focused on transparent value to the customer and operating in a shorter time frame, and the discount sector is looking further ahead and being much more strategic versus just being trading houses.
“How can a man make vacuum cleaners sexy, such that they’ve gone from this grotty household appliance to being in the Design Museum? It’s because he’s passionate about the product, hugely innovative, didn’t accept any boundaries and wanted to make things better”
“We’re engaging with the discounters in top-to-top senior level meetings on how we can help them win the marketplace.”
It is also in conversations with online retail giants Amazon, he reveals, which is looking to expand its own household category (alongside more well documented ventures into fresh).
Having spent 18 months as category director of health & beauty at Tesco (“an amazing experience”), he has the inside track when it comes to securing listings in the retailers.
“I’ve sat in a buyer’s chair listening to suppliers come in and tell me about another packaging upgrade that was going to ‘revolutionise the world’,” he recalls. “You think ‘I’ve seen 25 of these today’.”
“Finding truly category-driving innovation that has a properly noticeable difference to anything else in the marketplace is really important. I’ve had to live and breathe what happens when a supplier doesn’t get it and it’s miserable.”
NPD premised on superior germ killing might be on to a loser for starters. “It is technically impossible to prove you can kill every single known organism,” he says, and “you’ve got to a point where everyone is at a reasonable level of quality on efficacy”.
Jeyes tried and failed to give itself such an USP when it asked the ASA to allow claims that a product can kill 99.9998% of germs (rather than the standard 99.9%). The ASA turned it down.
Instead, two of the big drivers in the household category going forward are fragrance and aesthetics, with the 16% of consumers who are self-confessed “exhibitors” top of Tyldesley’s target list.
“It’s a bit strange but there’s a group of people who will match all the colours in their bathroom,” he says. “They’ll have a pink wall and pink toilet paper and they want a pink cleaning product.
“We’re talking about getting emotional engagement. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a miserable experience; you can make it easier, quicker, and more aesthetic.
“Fragrance is a huge driver too, it’s a real elevator,” he goes on, as “you can get immediate satisfaction and it isn’t driven by how hard you’ve worked. It’s like a gift.”
Investing around £2m a year in R&D (15% of total spend) to capture these trends Jeyes rolled out its revamped bathroom care range in July (scented with jasmine, violet, and magnolia).Then in August it launched Bloo toilet gels infused with micro scrubbing particles inspired by the trend for “apricot scrubbing kernels” in beauty cleansers.
Tyldesley remains tight-lipped on upcoming NPD but does say there’ll be two big product launches from Jeyes over the next couple of months.
One of these will focus on “putting fun back into toilets” - a line delivered with only the hint of a smile. After all, if he can do for toilets what Dyson did for hoovers, a coveted spot in that Design Museum might just await.