Anne Wickens/Anne James is taking early retirement and will leave Lavendon/Loxam after almost 25 years with the company.
She joined the business in June 1996 just as it was preparing to expand further in Germany and make the transition to a publicly quoted company. The Lavendon business was established by David Price in 1992 after he returned from Australia, where he had been working with GKN Access. His first move was to acquire Nationwide Access from owners David Wraith and the late Gary Smith in a ‘management buy in’ backed by private equity firm Cinven. He set up Lavendon in a small office in the market town of Lutterworth, Leicestershire and was joined by David Shipman as chief financial officer.
In those early days there very few Lavendon employees for regular visitors to the modest offices in the early 90s, Anne’s arrival seemed to bring a new level of organisation and professionalism to the young holding company. She joined the business after 10 years in the fashion retailing business, having started out as a personal assistant/secretary at Next under the leadership of fashion and retail impresario George Davis. Just a year or so later she transferred to his company, the George Davis Partnership as a PA/office manager.
The Lavendon operation must have seemed a little dull after the fashion world, but on joining the company she met service manager Roger Wickens and soon fell in love, a couple of years later the two became a couple, marrying in 2004. In those early days she seemed to pull the head office organisation together, she was always a friendly face for visiting suppliers, totally professional and always well organised. She has worked with every chief executive and senior management team member in the company’s history – some good, some not quite as good – but she has never wavered in her professionalism, consistency and discretion. She will be missed by many.
Chief executive Paul Rankin said: “Anne has been a pillar of this organisation for the past 25 years - the ‘Oracle’ of the Power Access division! She will be missed tremendously, both personally & professionally. I wish her a great retirement as it is fully deserved!”
Earlier this week she sent out the following message to her work colleagues:
“The events of the last few years – particularly the tragedy of losing Roger nearly two years ago now – and the current pandemic, which is affecting all our daily lives, have allowed me to re-evaluate my life going forward and after months of deliberation, I have made the decision to take early retirement.
I joined Nationwide Access Platforms Limited (as it was then called) on 25 June 1996 – nearly 25 years ago, the same year that the SV Division (originally named Skylift) was formed, and we floated on the London Stock Exchange as Lavendon Group plc. From a company initially employing around 135 people, I have seen many changes over the years:- rapid growth – both organically and via acquisitions; occupying Units 1,2,3,5,7 and 10 at Central Park, watching our current Head Office being built in 2007, being acquired by Loxam in 2017…. the list is endless. I have worked alongside five CEO’s during this time up to the present day (can anyone remember their names?!).
Nationwide Platforms/Loxam PAD has been like my second family/home over these near 25 years and it has been a privilege to watch the company grow from such humble beginnings to the powerhouse it is today. It has been an incredible journey and I am proud to have played my part in that journey. However, age waits for no-one, so it is time to ‘step away’ from the keyboard! I will be leaving on 5th March so that I can start my retirement in the warmer months, rather than wait until my official retirement date in December. Whilst retirement will be totally different without Roger by my side, I do have some possible home improvement projects lined up to keep me busy. As many of you know, I live within minutes from Head Office, so anyone is welcome to call round for a cuppa/chat when current restrictions are eased.
I have met and worked with some amazing people over the years and this is what I will miss most – each and every one of you! You all have your own part to play, but you all come together as one fantastic team and that is what makes the company the market leader it is today. I wish you all – and the company - continued success in the future.”
All of us at Vertikal wish Anne a very happy and interesting retirement.