4 Sep 2018 01:07pm

As I see it: David Thomas

David Thomas had senior executive roles in the hospitality and gaming industries before moving into construction as group FD and then CEO at Barratt Developments

Caption: David Thomas has worked in hospitality, gaming and construction
MY DREAM JOB was to be a professional golfer. I spent hours in the careers library researching the route to golf stardom but unfortunately a key requirement was being very, very good at golf.

THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE I remember was the acquisition of a rival business, which was in the hands of the bank. There was a need to work hard and to be pragmatic in the negotiation.

WHEN I WAS GROUP FD at Millennium and Copthorne Hotels we made three large acquisitions in 1999 at a cost of more than £1bn with two placing and rights issues to fund them, all in the space of 18 months. That was a highlight. Then when I worked in retail I was group FD of the GAME group when we acquired our main competitor unconditionally in 2007. We dealt successfully with the resultant competition inquiry.

AS THE UK’S LARGEST HOUSEBUILDER Barratt is a household name. When I joined in 2009 it was a real turnaround opportunity following the 2008 downturn. It is a challenging and inspirational industry – buy land, get planning permission, then build and sell sounds easy but it is multidimensional and never dull.

SKILLS IS A BIG CHALLENGE. We are employing hundreds of apprentices, trainees and graduates to provide future talent. Ex-armed forces people often have great transferable skills so we try to recruit them too. We are also trialling and implementing alternative methods of construction that have less reliance on core skills such as bricklaying.

THIS YEAR IS OUR 60TH ANNIVERSARY and we have been listed on the Stock Exchange for some 50 years. It is a great honour to be the CEO. Every day I look to do the best that I can for our customers, the homes that we build, our team of wonderful employees, and I never forget the needs of our shareholders.

David is a keynote speaker at ICAEW’s CFO conference on 23 November. Visit events.icaew.com or email events@icaew.com