Developing Leaders and Managers

Carpetright recognised that it needed to invest in the development of its leaders and manager to support the continuing growth of the organisation in an increasingly unpredictable and challenging marketplace.


HR Director, Claire Balmforth had no illusions about the challenge she faced and contacted True North to work with her. Claire chose True North she says,

“…because of their trust, reliability and flexibility – I had worked with True North at Lex, RAC plc and Hyundai and those experiences gave me confidence that True North had the right people to deliver what was needed.”


Carpetright is a highly successful business that is sales driven, dynamic and focused. It could also be impatient and unforgiving of poor performance. The focus was on numbers and not on managing the behaviours that ultimately would feed through to the numbers.

The opportunity, and the challenge, was to introduce formal leadership and management training into an organisation that had not previously seen the value of such training, preferring to rely upon an intuitive approach to leading and managing, which could create its own problems.

To reduce staff turnover, improve decision-making and contribute to the continuing success of the business in terms of sales, growth and profit in an increasingly demanding business climate.

Action taken by True North

Originally a ‘slow burn’ approach was chosen by Carpetright who engaged True North to deliver:

A management development programme for top store managers who had the potential to be regional managers.

A leadership and management development programme for the top regional managers who had the potential to be divisional directors.

Once these programmes had been established True North were then engaged to work with the rest of the regional and divisional managers to deliver a leadership development programme.

The working relationship between True North and Carpetright was a key factor in the success of the programmes. Claire Balmforth, HR Director described it as “…a journey requiring us to work closely together to regularly refocus, re-plan and regroup, and also to share the inevitable frustrations establishing programmes like these inevitably create.”

Claire singled out True North’s Mark Watkins for particular praise, “Mark has given a huge amount of his personal energy to make this a success …he listened to what my personal and business needs were and delivered on them.”


The change in managers’ behaviours has been evident both to senior management and to staff. Managers who were very controlling were now delegating and managing others – and this change in style has fed through to the numbers with performance improving. The value of training is now being recognised throughout an organisation that measures success first and foremost in terms of sales and profit. Clear evidence that the impact of training is having an impact on key performance areas and providing a return on investment to the business.

Carpetright is a FTSE 250 company and the largest flooring retailer in Europe, selling and fitting carpets, wood laminates and tiles from a chain of 675 stores. The company employs over 3,500 staff and has a turnover of c £½ billion.

“We needed a company we could trust would cope with risk, complexity – and us as an organisation”.

Claire Balmforth
HR Director, Carpetright

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