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Sue Shipley, Partner, Odgers Ray & Berndtson

By far the biggest hire of the year was made by recruitment firm Odgers Ray & Berndtson when the head of the five-strong retail recruiting team, Sue Shipley, placed New Look’s Paul Marchant as chief operating officer at Primark.

The firm is usually low key when it comes to shouting about placements, but such a coup couldn’t be kept under wraps for long. As well as one of the biggest hires of the year, the appointment of Marchant – who is tipped to take over the running of the company from managing director and chairman Arthur Ryan when he retires – was also one of the most difficult appointments to get right.

Finding someone who could fit into Primark’s lean management structure, flourish in the role and bring in new ideas but still keep Primark on track, was tough. And poaching Marchant from his chief operating officer role at New Look, which incentivises its management staff to stay loyal, was no mean feat.

Shipley has been a partner at Odgers Ray & Berndtson for six years, following a career in export sales and management consulting. The industry waits with bated breath to see what Shipley will pull out of the bag for 2009.

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