More about David
I studied Psychology at Durham University many years ago in the early 1980s and immediately after graduating I completed a professional qualification as a hypnotherapist. Having had a highly successful corporate career across retail and publishing, adding the provision of professional coaching and mentoring seems to be bringing me back full circle. I am providing the expertise that I was fascinated by, way back when, but I’m now energised with the experience and skills that I have picked up in the intervening decades.
I worked for 20 years in retail, initially in planning, operational and major project management roles then becoming Product Director in charge of buying and marketing at HMV, growing the business to £800m turnover and £90m profit. I was responsible for our range, pricing, category development and management, and negotiations with record companies, film studios and games developers. I then moved to Waterstones to set up a similar function as Product Director and liaised with all the UK major and independent publishers as well as setting the commercial strategy across the 200 plus stores.
In 2006 I joined Borders and Books etc as CEO. This was an American owned company with £220m turnover in the UK and Ireland across one million square feet of retail space, and over 2,000 employees, but was making a loss each year before my arrival. The brief, which I successfully delivered, was to drive consistent sales growth, deliver profit on the bottom line, open new stores, and drive market share growth. There was also a discreet plan to split and run the organisation independently from the parent company in Michigan, USA in order to facilitate a later sale of the UK business, alongside all other international territories. This was achieved successfully, with Borders being recognised across the industry with awards along the way, and I left the business in 2008 after managing its sale with Merrill Lynch and Ernst & Young to Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners. During the same period, I was elected President of The Booksellers Association of UK and Ireland and served a two-year term representing the book retail community and leading cross-publishing industry trade associations. I also was a Trustee and interim Chair of the largest book charity, BookTrust, from 2008-2015.
In true poacher-turned-gamekeeper style, I then joined HarperCollins as Group Sales and Marketing Director, and negotiated with the retailers from Amazon to Waterstones from the other side of the table. I was charged with re-designing how the company structured these and other functions, and leading the change of focus to be more consumer driven. This meant reversing the structural direction of the company away from the old physical channel model to ensure that we focused on their content; a dramatic cultural shift that also resulted in parallel changes across the company in finance, production and rights.
I left executive corporate life in 2011 to set up my own company, David Roche Enterprises Ltd, and have since operated as a consultant and NED working with a wide variety of companies both in the UK and internationally (see the logo chart). To complete the full house of publishing roles, I have additionally acted as a literary agent for a few, select, non-fiction authors and had a book of my (doggerel) poetry, Just Where You Left It, published in 2017. Outside of coaching and mentoring, the majority of my time now is spent in non-executive director roles. I am currently Chair of The London Book Fair (since 2011), the world’s biggest Spring publishing trade fair, Chair of the innovative and original writing agency New Writing North (since 2015), and Chair of the publishing industry digital news service BookBrunch (since 2016). I lecture and mentor students at the National Film and Television School completing their Masters in Creative Business for Entrepreneurs and Executives, and give occasional masterclasses at the likes of University of Central Lancashire, Kingston University and Northumbria University to Masters students in their publishing or creative writing courses.
I enrolled with The Coaching Academy in 2019 and qualified as an accredited coach 15 months later in July 2020. I have undertaken many professional training courses over the years covering, amongst others, project management (Oxford Brookes), finance for senior executives (Templeton), negotiation skills (Templeton) advanced presentation skills (Henley), the role of the managing director and the role of the non-executive director (both at the Institute of Directors).
I am lucky enough to have been presented with several awards for both the companies that I have worked in and run, as well as recognition for my own personal contribution across the industry. I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Central Lancashire in 2017 for outstanding contribution to the book industry.
I am married to a Finnish wife who is a primary school teacher near where we live in Kingston upon Thames, and we have three grown up sons. In my spare time I like all sports from rugby and golf to scuba diving, squash and swimming. We spend time in Finland in a mökki (summer cottage), and I love to cook, travel, drink wine and read good books. I am also proud to be Honorary President of Bros’ Rugby Club in Lecce, in beautiful Salento, Puglia.