Robbie Tindall jumps into Warehouse focus

Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall's son and water polo player Robbie Tindall is working towards a set on the board of the country's largest retail chain.
Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall's son and water polo player Robbie Tindall is working towards a set on the board of the country's largest retail chain.

Robbie Tindall, son of Warehouse Group founder Sir Stephen, is working his way towards a seat on the board of the country's largest retail chain.

Aged 33, Tindall has arts and sciences degrees from Auckland University and began working with the NZX-listed company 10 years ago. He spent his first 19 months as a trainee buyer for the group and in 2005 became a buyer, a post he held for five years.

In the past year, Robbie Tindall has acted as Sir Stephen's alternate on the board. Chairman Graham Evans said he was "now ready for further development".

"We believe he can add value and hence a mentoring role is now in place to continue his learning and ability to contribute to our company and others, which is consistent with the 'Future Directors' programme which is being launched shortly by the 25 Percent Group," Evans said at the annual shareholders' meeting in Auckland yesterday.

The 25 Percent Group comprises chairmen and women and chief executives from private, publicly listed and multinational companies committed to "achieving diversity of thought" at senior management level and in Kiwi boardrooms. The group will soon launch Future Directors, which will provide one-on-one mentoring and a hands-on apprenticeship for selected talented people in second and third-tier management positions.

Robbie Tindall has worked for the past two years as an analyst at K1W1, the angel investment company his father owns. K1W1 has invested $150 million in 110 start-up and early-stage businesses since it began in 1999.

Sir Stephen said two of his daughters worked with the Tindall Foundation that he and his wife Margaret, Lady Tindall, set up in 1994. The foundation has donated more than $100m to community organisations and initiatives nationwide.

Shareholders approved his reacquisition of 1 million shares from the company's former chief executive and managing director Ian Morrice, to whom he had sold the shares some years back. It will move the family's interests in the company from 50.31 per cent to 50.63 per cent.

Sir Stephen needed approval for the transaction despite the fact he and family interests hold just over half of the NZX-listed company. If you hold between 50 per cent and 90 per cent of voting rights in a company you can increase your stake through a "creeping" provision which permits no more than a 5 per cent increase in holdings each year.

But takeover regulations do not recognise the shareholding as belonging to a single entity because of the way it is split. Sir Stephen holds 83 million shares or 26.69 per cent of the company. The Tindall Foundation, a charitable family trust of which Sir Stephen is a trustee, holds 66.3 million shares or 21.31 per cent of the company. Members of the Tindall family hold 7.1 million shares through three family trusts or 2.3 per cent.

When asked if, had he been able to, he would have sought to buy more shares under those provisions, Sir Stephen replied in the affirmative.

"If I could creep, I would."

Sir Stephen later emphasised his comments did not mean he had any interest "at this point in time" in buying back The Warehouse.

In a passionate speech to shareholders at the meeting marking the company's 30th anniversary, he also reaffirmed his family's commitment to the group, staying they hoped to stay with The Warehouse for a further 30 years.

The Warehouse shares are trading at $3.19.

The Dominion Post