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Turnround Management Association Europe – Dedicated to Corporate Renewal

TMA Europe Distressed Investing Conference: Finding value, creating value

Wednesday 18 September, 2019 | 15:30–20:00

Taylor Wessing, 5 New Street Square, London EC4A 3TW


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David ChmielDavid Chmiel, Managing Director, Global Torchlight

David is managing director of Global Torchlight, a political and security risk research and consulting firm. He advises companies in a broad range of industries on the effects of geopolitical risk on their business strategies and operations. He has a particular interest in issues related to the "weaponisation of capital" – the use of trade and investment for broader national security and foreign policy purposes.

Prior to co-founding Global Torchlight, David practiced for ten years as a transactional lawyer in the London and Chicago offices of a leading global law firm. His practice focused on advising Fortune 500 companies on their cross-border acquisitions, divestitures and reorganisations.

David contributes to media in Canada, the UK, and the US on geopolitical developments and speaks frequently on these topics at conferences and seminars. He holds an MA in Intelligence and International Security from the War Studies Department of King's College London, an LL.B (Hons) degree from University College London and a BA in Economics and History from the University of Victoria, British Columbia.

Drummond-SmithJamie Drummond-Smith, Interim Chairman, Taveta Investments Limited

Jamie was a partner in the restructuring team at Deloitte from 1995 to 2006. He joined the Board of Cattles PLC as Finance Director to help them through their restructuring following which he became Chief Restructuring Officer. He still chairs the Board of the main subsidiary Welcome Financial Services Limited. More recently Jamie has served as Interim Chairman of Arcadia Group Limited assisting the Group with their Company Voluntary Arrangement. Jamie is a Non Executive Director of two financial services companies.

Gavin GeorgeGavin George, CEO Alteri Investors

Gavin has 30 years of experience in the retail sector as a financially qualified retail operator, turned consultant, turned investor.

He is CEO of Alteri Investors, an operationally driven special situations investor, focused exclusively on the European retail sector.  It invests in retailers with sales of between €100m to €3bn, targeting a broad range of opportunities from performing businesses facing structural or stakeholder issues to companies which require fundamental financial and operational transformation.  Alteri is a joint venture between its management and leading alternative investment management firm Apollo Global Management, LLC. 

Since launching at the end of 2014, Alteri has developed an impressive track record with particular success in Germany including including CBR Fashion, one of Germany’s leading womenswear businesses, and leading multi-channel retailer Versandhaus Walz, which has successfully undergone a comprehensive turnaround.   Other investments have included a range of equity, debt and direct lending transactions across multiple retail sectors and Western European geographies, notably in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.

Prior to establishing Alteri Investors, Gavin was CEO of GA Europe, an independent Chief Restructuring Officer for retail and consumer businesses, and Partner/Head of Retail at Ernst & Young UK. He originally trained as a chartered accountant before working in retail operations at Dixons and then moving into retail consulting.

Erica VilkaulsErica Vilkauls, Principal CEO, Luxury, Fashion & Brands

Ericka Vilkauls has an impressive track record in the retail industry covering branding, transformation, restructuring, supply chain and logistics for high profile luxury and fashion brands.

Her previous positions held include CEO of LK Bennett, CEO of EAST and COO of Thomas Pink.

As CEO, Enrica enjoys developing insightful commercial strategy while still being hands-on in operational delivery, translating brand vision into competitive advantage. Needless to say, this includes the usual mix of highs and lows, requiring resilience as well as the energy and desire to work hard and fast.

As you would expect, her remit is broad to say the least! For Erica, it’s all about results which means she needs to draw on her experience of:

- 30 years in Retail and E-commerce, from shop-floor to Boardroom, in the UK and Europe.
- Developing and delivering successful strategies to drive multi-channel, sustainable, profitable growth.
- Steering company-wide change in response to evolving buying patterns, cascading critical behaviours.
- Leading senior management to create and implement strategic plans and goals.
- Designing robust infrastructures which facilitate change in preparation for expansion, mergers or sale.
- Exploiting technology to harness critical business information and optimise sales channels.

Erica believes a good deal of my success can be attributed to the following philosophies:

- Valuing honesty and transparency in equal measure, and above all else.
- Considering people as an asset rather than a cost and instilling this belief in leadership teams.
- Quickly analysing the business, unearthing the reality to understand what you have to work with.
- Basing decisions on what’s right for the business, while also being mindful of the impact on its people.
- Even the best laid plans can go awry; be prepared to admit it rather than blindly carrying on regardless.

Whether she working with start-ups, restructuring and growing established companies or being parachuted in to improve or close failing businesses, the key is for everyone to pull together in the same direction; that will ultimately be a win-win for everyone.





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