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Published 22 February 2013 12:07, Updated 25 February 2013 22:40
Red direction... Atlassian founder Scott Farquhar has been appointed to RedBalloon’s board. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Online retailer RedBalloon has made its first external board appointments, recruiting veteran director Richard England as chairman and Atlassian founder Scott Farquhar as a non-executive director.
Founder Naomi Simson says the business could take on one more external board director at some point this year and the intention is to gear the “experiential” gift retailer for the next phase of growth.
She does not rule out an IPO at some stage but insists she is more interested in both Farquhar and England’s experience with acquisitions.
“They’ve both been through all sorts of growth, acquisitions and mergers – Scotty has done something like 12 acquisitions of businesses into their own,” Simson says.
“We’re still on an absolute growth trajectory . . . and we’re looking for all sorts of growth opportunities.”
Simson stops short of saying that RedBalloon is actively looking for acquisitions and adds that she is also looking for advice on potential partnerships.
“Rather than saying that ‘we’re interested in this and interested in that’ we’re really interested in the transactions they’ve already done and their experience in undertaking that,” she says.
“We get approaches all the time and having a broader and deeper business skill set within the board means that we’ll have a far more rigorous review process when anything is put in front of us and we can begin to make the strategic choice about where we want to spend our time and energy.”
RedBalloon has sold more than 1.7 million experiences as gifts since it was founded 12 years ago and the business hit 40 per cent growth in total transaction value in the 2012 financial year.
The company has had a board structure for several years but until now the only directors were Naomi Simson and her ex-husband Peter Simson, who each own 50 per cent of the company. The ownership structure remains unchanged.
Naomi says the new recruits bring great enthusiasm and deep, varied experience.
England has a background in accountancy and is currently chairman of Chandler Macleod Group and Ruralco Holdings and a non-executive director of Allianz Australia, Nanosonics and Macquarie Atlas Roads.
Farquhar is co-founder of software company Atlassian and, along with business partner Mike Cannon-Brookes, headed the BRW Young Rich List in 2012.
“I’m sure Richard won’t like it if I say we were looking for some grey hair, we were looking for a grown-up,” Simson says. “What we really mean by that is that clearly he has such a long and extensive board and director experience in both private and public businesses.
“With Scott he’s got all of that wonderful insight into technology trends and he’s also world famous for his entrepreneurial skills, particularly in great workplaces and a values-based business, which is very aligned to our own.”