Gillian McLean was appointed Managing Director of Ulster Weavers within the midst of the pandemic and right this moment the Managing Director is tasked with main the 142-year-old firm into additional development territory within the years to return.
illian McLean has had a diverse profession thus far, having transitioned from B2B corporations to consumer-facing corporations.
In August 2020 she took over the helm of Ulster Weavers, the house textiles firm that manufactures a spread of merchandise for worldwide markets in addition to non-public label and luxurious manufacturers.
“My expertise is kind of broad and covers many quick rising unbiased corporations. Earlier in my profession, I additionally spent 11 years within the public sector and engineering industries, together with positions at Whale and Thales,” says Gillian.
This was adopted by a place as head of selling at Westland Horticulture, the place the Lisburn-born lady helped diversify the model into plant meals – and inside a couple of years made it quantity two in that class.
A Director of Advertising, Communications and Commerce at Nationwide Museums NI in 2006 beckoned and would see her remodel the group over a span of 11 years.
“My accountability was to reposition the Ulster Museum and I used to be concerned with the Titanic exhibition there working with artefacts by no means seen earlier than. I additionally constructed a commerce infrastructure and initiated commerce and commerce occasions,” she says.
The numbers spoke volumes about Gillian’s contribution to the group. She made the museum the third hottest customer attraction in Northern Eire and, based on her CV, “complete attendance elevated by 83% to 800,000 guests and abroad guests by 74% by means of rebranding, reform and modernisation”.
“Each enterprise is totally different and I personally assume that as a pacesetter you want to be very visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit and a powerful sense of shopper and buyer tendencies, however being a powerful crew participant is on the coronary heart of my method.
“I’ve over 25 years of expertise within the enterprise world and in that point I’ve discovered to hearken to my crew and my position is to encourage and have interaction them within the journey they’re on. So additionally right here at Ulster Weavers.
“I would like them to really feel empowered to do issues they by no means thought attainable and to articulate the path we’re taking.”
In 2017, Gillian shared her expertise as a development chief by means of her personal consulting agency when she based Thrive Advertising and Communications.
Greater than a yr later, she was approached by quarry tools producer, CDE, to affix their crew as Advertising Supervisor. She was then formally appointed managing director of Ulster Weavers in August 2020.
“Ulster Weavers was a model I’ve at all times admired. Having labored at Nationwide Museums NI, I used to be properly versed within the main retail manufacturers, so I used to be very excited to simply accept this position.”
Though she has solely been in workplace for over a yr, Gillian’s signature management fashion is already evident within the firm’s development methods, sustainability insurance policies and crew.
“Approaching as CEO within the midst of the pandemic, I’ve very strongly offered sturdy management to encourage and encourage the corporate’s new strategic path and whereas the pandemic has introduced challenges, we see them as a possibility to… Refine the construction of our group. ‘ says Gilian.
Investing in analysis and bringing new expertise to the corporate, in addition to nurturing present staff, has fueled the corporate’s quest to double gross sales by 2025, the identical yr that the corporate celebrates its a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary.
Ulster Weavers will even diversify its product vary and enter new market segments. This development will see the Northern Eire crew of 40 individuals increase on the Lisburn headquarters
“During the last yr we’ve onboarded 10 new staff, a mixture of senior workers and additions to our manufacturing crew. We plan to rent 27 extra individuals over the subsequent three years.”
The corporate additionally has a presence in New York and an workplace in China, which is able to assist capitalize on the latter development.
One other vital focus of the corporate supervisor is sustainability. Ulster Weavers, Gillian says, has its personal coverage on the matter and is “dedicated to constructing a greater group for our individuals, for a greater planet, and minimizing and eliminating our environmental affect”.
“Our dedication begins with the individuals. We now have at all times been a household enterprise with deep roots locally.”
Measures embody a shift from virgin to sourcing recyclable supplies, a deal with sturdiness to assist transfer away from a “eat and dispose” tradition.
One other purpose is to maneuver extra of its manufacturing to shore, aiming to make about three-quarters of the corporate’s new retail merchandise in Northern Eire, whereas different drives embody a brand new vary of housewares.
Gillian believes Ulster Weavers is properly positioned to meet the latter intentions and she is going to paved the way.
“The pandemic has had an enormous affect on international provide commerce and the excessive avenue, however the rise of on-line procuring has mitigated this, actually within the sectors we serve. Residence furnishings transactions are up 97%, however most significantly, the pandemic has had a big affect on customers, who’re extra targeted on their want to buy ethically.”