For the first time Quarto has reached an equal split between men and women on its board of directors following the appointment of chartered accountant Leslie-Ann Reed.
Reed is the third female director to join Quarto's board, where she will serve as a non-executive director alongside chairman Peter Read, chair of the audit committee Mike Hartley, chair of the remuneration committee Jess Burley, and Claire Capeci, effective today (3rd August).
Her hire means that Quarto is beating a government-set target for FTSE 350 companies to reach 33% women on their Boards by 2020. Currently only 19.5% of FTSE 350 companies meet that target. Quarto's board is now made up of 50% women.
Reed's skills in finance and in supporting mergers and acquisitions were welcomed in particular as the group sets out to "refocus" the group on its publishing business with the aim of becoming "the dominant publisher of illustrated books worldwide".
As a chartered accountant, Reed has served both in executive and non-executive roles in publicly listed media and professional services companies, and is currently non-executive director and chair of the audit committee for Learning Technologies Group plc, an e-learning services and technologies provider. She is also a member of the supervisory board and chair of the audit committee of Zeal Networks SE, a company listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that specialises in the area of online lottery.
Reed also spent two years, from 2010, as group chief financial officer of online B2B auctioneer Go Industry plc, where she focused on driving operating efficiencies, enhancing operating margins, improving cashflow and negotiating new banking facilities. Ultimately, according to Quarto, she led the successful sale of the business. And, between 2007 and 2010, she was an adviser to private equity company Marwyn Investment Management, overseeing their strategy to acquire professional training, research, data and information businesses.
Prior to this, she was chief financial officer of global commodities and economic research media group Metal Bulletin plc, helping to lead its transition from printed products to an online data and news service, and after a career at Arthur Andersen held senior finance leadership roles at Universal Pictures, Polygram Music, EMI Music and Warner Communications Inc.
Read, chairman of The Quarto Group, said: "I am delighted to welcome Leslie-Ann to the Board. Her skills and experience in Finance and in supporting mergers and acquisitions will be of great help to Quarto as we refocus the Group on its core publishing expertise and pursue our ambition to become the dominant publisher of illustrated books worldwide."
Leslie-Ann added: “I am joining the board at a transformational time for Quarto. I look forward to supporting the company in their journey and to working with my fellow Board members to drive further shareholder value.”
Quarto reported a 17% publishing profit rise in 2016, when its children's publishing revenues were up an impressive 34%. Last month the company issued a profit warning for 2017, however, this year being a "transitional" year for the business.