The 2011 Top 25 Consultants: Andrew Rees

Andrew Rees, L.E.K. Consulting Excellence in Retail

Andrew Rees
Vice President and Head of the North American Retail and Consumer Products Practice
L.E.K Consulting

Despite the fact that consumer spending has fallen sharply the last few years, L.E.K. Consulting’s consumer retail practice has nearly doubled over the last three years. The practice now has ten partners (up from five) and total staff is up to 100 (up from 60).

Andrew Rees, Vice President and head of L.E.K.’s North American Retail and Consumer Products practices, thinks he knows why his group is succeeding at a time when others aren’t. “We really take a lot of pride in driving to actionable recommendations. Our team members all have significant tenure in strategy consulting and many, myself included, have years of P&L experience in industry,” Rees says. “Operating experience and consulting experience drive us to make meaningful results quickly.”

Rees was formerly a senior executive at a global producer of athletic shoes, apparel and accessories. He was responsible for building the company’s own retail channel into a substantial and profitable business and eventually was charged with strategic planning for the company.

Given his background, it doesn’t take much for him to get in his clients’ shoes. “It’s easy to do a three month analysis and write a report. What we really want to do is figure out what the right answer is. And then we want everyone within the client company to see it as the right answer,” Rees says.

And the way he approaches every problem is through “client empathy—knowing what they’ve been through,” he says. “When revenue drops 20 percent, I understand what that feels like inside of a company. And I know the kind of advice and counsel I needed when I sat in their seat.”

And that mindset carries over to every client interaction he has. “When responding to a client request, I always ask: ‘How will this project help? Is this project a good value? If I were the executive, would I hire us?” Rees says.

So far, that mindset has proven highly successful. Firm wide, “80 percent of our business comes from repeat buyers,” he says. “Our high client satisfaction drives high recommendations, which yields new opportunities and repeat business.”