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Sixth generation takes the reins at James Donaldson & Sons

Leading timber specialist, James Donaldson & Sons has announced its new senior team, as Andrew Donaldson and Michael Donaldson take over as chief executive officer and chairman.

As the business celebrates its 160th anniversary, 2020 is a momentous year for the Group, with the change in leadership also marking the sixth generation of Donaldsons to run the family firm. Andrew was appointed as CEO in April, with Michael commencing his position as chairman from 31 July.

Andrew joined the family business in 2010 after completing a graduate training program at KPMG (Edinburgh) and qualifying with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). He has spent the last ten years working in a variety of roles within the business, primarily as commercial director for MGM Timber and then latterly for James Donaldson Timber, before becoming group finance director in 2019. Andrew takes over the top job from Scott Cairns, who stepped down as group managing director in April after nine years in the role, which saw him as the first ever non-family member to lead the Group.

With almost 20 years of experience in the industry, Michael joined the Donaldson Group in 2003. He started his career manufacturing roof trusses for Donaldson Timber Engineering in Cramlington. Since then he has worked with three of the JDS trading companies in roles ranging from internal sales and operations through to director level. In 2007 he became one of the first to qualify with an MSc in Timber Industry Management at Edinburgh Napier University and he is also a director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF). Michael became deputy chair in 2018 and takes over the role of chair in July when his father, Neil Donaldson retires.

In their new roles, Andrew is responsible for the commercial and trading performance of the business, while Michael will lead the main supervisory board, which comprises chairman, four non-executive directors, finance director and CEO. Both brothers will be involved in developing strategy and driving the Group forward, as they co-lead and co-manage the business.

Outgoing chairman of the James Donaldson Group, Neil Donaldson comments: “It was always my hope that the business would be passed on to the next generation, so for both Andy and Mike to be taking on the reins is an ideal scenario and a proud moment for me. The business is a very different one to the one I started running in 1985, and I’m pleased to be leaving it on a high and in such good hands. The transition from one generation to the next has been well considered and planned for over the last ten years, and I’m confident that both Andy and Mike will do an excellent job in their roles.”

Andrew Donaldson says: “We were brought up with our father and grandfather leading the business, so their moral compass is at the forefront of all we do – nothing will change in terms of the Donaldson ambitions or principles. Our focus will always be good governance; partnerships with our suppliers and customers; and looking after our loyal employees. However, we’re ready to take the Group into the next generation and put our stamp on it, which is an incredibly exciting prospect.”

Michael Donaldson adds: “Andrew and I spent our summers working in the family business, and we’ve spent the last ten years preparing to take over the leadership. The last two years in particular have offered serious training for the roles, with Andy as CFO and me as deputy chairman. Despite the incredibly difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time of taking over, dealing with the impact of COVID-19, things are off to a great start for us and we have some ambitious plans for the business.”

The James Donaldson Group comprises seven subsidiaries, trading from 31 sites throughout the UK, with over 1000 employees and a turnover of circa £225m. The business has been operating in Fife for 160 years.

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