CFO for PE-backed, leading national clothes recycler

Richard Robinson appointed to manage transition from privately owned to PE-backed business


TRI is the holding company for five of the UK’s leading textile recyclers: JMP Wilcox, Nathans Wastesavers, Cookstown Textile Recyclers, BIU Group and SWD Premier Clothing Experts.

With a current combined turnover of £90 Million, the businesses work together as one group to create longstanding and trusted relationships with charities, local authorities and other entities, in order to purchase textiles, which are then processed and sold to clients around the world.

After the business’ backing by PE House Waterland several years ago, Waterland decided that a CFO was needed, who:

  • Had the ability to influence growth as an operational and commercial “walk-the-floor” CFO.
  • Could manage the transition from a privately owned, debt-free environment to a PE-backed business.
  • Possessed the experience and gravitas necessary to potentially become a future CEO.


Rowan worked closely with CEO Mark Burrows Smith and Waterland, in order to understand the role, alongside the personal skills and capabilities of the incoming CFO.

As experts in Executive Search, Rowan:

  • Consulted with Mark and Waterland, to fully understand the requirements of the incoming CFO.
  • Identified candidates with significant, relevant experience of managing the transition from privately owned to PE-backed business, at Board level.
  • Evaluated candidates’ exposure to automating and improving reporting, as well as assessing potential acquisitions.

Rowan’s Search and Asessment process led to Richard Robinson being appointed. Richard was a highly relevant candidate, having an extensive record of professionalising privately owned companies, which had achieved recent PE backing, across a variety of sectors.


Richard has added a lot of value to TRI. Since joining, he has:

  • Implemented the required rigour, financial processes and systems demanded by Private Equity.
  • Contributed to increased turnover year-on-year, with a record £86m in 2019.
  • Has facilitated the smooth transition from a privately owned to a PE-backed business.