Neil Cowie was appointed the head of Mitre 10 in 2014. He is in charge of a chain which has more than 80 stores and over 5000 employees.
As tradition dictates, he started out on the shop floor, working in a department store for pocket money at 16 and rising up through the ranks to store manager.
Cowie did his military service and then packed his bags and headed off to London, where he met his Kiwi wife, Joanna. They did their OE, returned to New Zealand and Cowie went straight back into what he knew. Since then, it’s been his “privilege”, he says, to work for three iconic Kiwi brands.
He spent a decade working for The Warehouse, where he rose to general manager of operations, and remembers his time there fondly. Founder Stephen Tindall was still at the helm and there was a strong team atmosphere, with The Warehouse in growth mode.
His next role was regional manager for the Australian chain Big W in New South Wales, an operation with more than a $1 billion turnover. It was followed by his first chief executive role for a cafe franchise.
Pumpkin Patch then headhunted Cowie and he spent six years with the childrenswear company, heading its global operations and, in his last two years, as its chief executive.