Written by:
Charley Howes

Revoco Talks…Increasing the value of Data with Clekt’s
Andy Tudor

Find out what happened when our Head of Data, Charley, caught up with Clekt’s CEO, Andy Tudor for Revoco Talks.

For those who don’t know, Clekt is a Bristol-based Data Optimisation Business, founded in early 2020. Clekt’s aim is to help the companies they work with increase the value of their data. Clekt have created a data value chain that starts with a company’s vision for the future and ensures that the data and innovation needed to support achieving the objectives and goals in place.

They believe passionately in the power of data and how it can be used to improve how companies do business.

Andy was brought on board as CEO in April, just as the global pandemic took full effect. Here he shares more about his career path, Clekt, skills in demand and what lies ahead for the company. Have a read below…

Andy, thanks for joining us. To start off, can you give us a rundown of your career so far?

I started my career on the IT graduate recruitment scheme at WHSmith. Unbeknown to me at the time but WHSmith gave me a very solid commercial understanding of retail; at the time it was a brand which needed to go through substantial reshaping to build a better business for the future – I was taught the importance of controlling costs, delivering change and ensuring service excellence in all aspects of IT.

I took a business analysis and project management route in the early parts of my post-graduate scheme career. I left WHSmith to join Mosaic Fashions which subsequently became Aurora Fashions (Oasis, Warehouse, Coast, Karen Millen, Principles & Shoe Studio Group). I joined initially as a project manager and progressed through the ranks to ultimately become Head of IT. Two key takeaways from my time in various roles at Aurora Fashions were understanding the differences of working in a privately held business (vs. WHSmith PLC) and also a new skill in managing people.

In 2011 Aurora Fashions outsourced their entire IT function to Retail Assist and I was TUPE transferred into Retail Assist which was really interesting for me because it gave me an opportunity to work on the technology supplier side of retail. Here I learned about the art of working with multiple clients and how a services company operates.

A three year stint at Debenhams between 2013 and 2016 followed in which I was responsible for IT across Buying, Merchandising, Supply Chain, International and Business Intelligence functions. In this role, I was part of the IT Executive Team and I learned a lot. We undertook a complete reorganisation of the IT function, we initiated multiple transformation programmes and I was personally accountable for a budget that was tens of millions in size. This was also the first time to have been headhunted – it was my previous boss from WHSmith who brought me into Debenhams.

I left Debenhams in 2016 to join Monsoon Accessorize – again, this followed a headhunting process from someone I worked for at Aurora Fashions (never burn your bridges in retail tech!). This time I was hired to run the technology function as Technology and Data Director. This was my first role being completely accountable for all technology services in a retailer and being part of an operating Board. I learned a lot!

In 2019 my career took a different turn. I took a brave decision and decided to put my family before my career; my wife and I have 3 boys and due to my commute between Swindon and London and the magnitude of my role at Monsoon, I wasn’t seeing my family grow up which you only get to do once in life. I resigned from Monsoon without a job to go to. It was a calculated risk on the basis that I had a 6 months notice period.

I was offered an opportunity to come supplier side of the retail industry once more and was headhunted by OneStock who had been a supplier of mine at Monsoon. I took a role as Sales & Partnerships Director to help them to build their UK business. I stayed with OneStock until April 2020 and joined Clekt (headhunted by another supplier of mine into Monsoon Accessorize).

Can you tell us more about Clekt and your role there?

At Clekt I am CEO. My role is to set the vision and strategy for the business and to develop a culture and lead a team to deliver our plans.

Clekt started just before the world went into lockdown, how did you have to adapt your plans to ensure you made it through this period?

Our business literally began trading in lockdown – the plans we had spent many weeks developing were in part used to guide our decision making, however, in reality, we were adapting in some areas on a daily basis, literally. We have adopted the attitude that COVID will pass and if we can get through this period we will be in a strong position; there is no better time to test your value proposition than during a global pandemic, if it works then, then we ought to be well placed when it is all behind us!

What have been your key business takeaways of the Coronavirus pandemic?

The power of the team is immense – we are a small business and every single member of the team has been exceptional. We have been fortunate enough to come together in a virtual way most days in order that we can support one another and make sure we are working on the right priorities for the business.

The power of partnerships – working together with like-minded businesses and offering complementary products and services is powerful. We have developed the Clekt Innovation Hub which is a collection of hand-picked businesses with whom we partner to drive value from data. These partnerships have brought new business to Clekt and vice versa; without the partnerships, these opportunities would have been more difficult to establish.

Can you tell us more about your products and how they’re supporting the retail industry?

At Clekt we believe that retailers can and should be doing a lot more with their data. From personal experience I know that retail businesses operate on multiple different systems, meaning that their data is more often than not siloed which is less effective than the data being surfaced into a single place for operational and analytical purposes. We also know, from personal experience that cost justifying replacing individual systems often doesn’t make sense because the systems have been bought to serve a specific operational purpose (e.g. a till system or a website). Our platform, the Enterprise Data Hub co-exists with systems already in place and enables retailers to benefit from bringing their data together into a single place from which they can drive better business decisions and get access to innovation more easily.

Our data engineering teams bring the data together and our data scientists can take an unbiased view of the data to spot patterns and trends in business behaviour that retailers would not ordinarily spot.

The data market is thriving at the moment – as it continues to progress which skills do you see increasing in demand for businesses?

A combination of data skills, whether that be data engineering, data analytics or data science together with industry experience.

What’s next for Clekt?

We believe that Clekt’s products and services apply to all industry sectors. As our presence in retail continues to grow we are evaluating market opportunities to bring the power of data into other industry verticals and we are excited by that!

Want to find out more about Clekt? Visit their website here.

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