Nigel Edwards, CEO, founder and lead funder
Nigel brings together high-level strategic skills with focus on detail that helps turn creativity to commercial reality, and build businesses, teams and products that are practical and viable. This is currently focused on providing valuable commercial data and ESG services to the holiday park sector. He has expertise from a variety of roles that brings understanding of the needs of business owners and management.
Nigel’s first career was in the risk markets, first as lead underwriter negotiating & building portfolios in the international reinsurance markets (based in UK, France, Australia); and then pioneering natural catastrophe options and bond markets and dual trigger derivatives in the capital markets (in New York with Marsh & McLennan). This included evolving index-based products and the use of data-driven analytics.
For the last 20 years he’s successfully built and sold his own businesses, initially building leadership positions in niche markets such as wholesale funding behind equity-release market leaders, and then social housing, as well as pioneering the effective use of house-price and related-risk hedging strategies. In 2012 he sold his initial regulated financial business to a FTSE 250 company. He is an FCA-approved person.
Nigel’s been quietly active in the leisure markets for 15 years, initially as a founder director of the £20m+ startup that created and operated the UK’s largest real-snow indoor ski centre. He was a shareholder and active non-exec there until he exited after around 5 years. His first involvement in the holiday sector was to arrange funding for the first new generation of sites for Forest Holidays, then owned by Forestry Commission & the Camping & Caravanning Club. He funded another site for them and then split the business between its lodge and its camping businesses, then brought in LDC private equity to provide substantial growth and rollout capital to expand the business to profitability. Liking the mix of assets, brands, customers, and opportunity, Nigel expanded his activity within leisure, working with holiday park, camping and glamping and other leisure businesses, forming a joint venture with specialist advisor Humberts Leisure, and being co-lead sponsor of the then market leading Hoseasons industry conference for a number of years.
Nigel, together with John Anderson clearly identified the need for meaningful data within the holiday park sector, soft-tested the idea with the market at the Hoseasons Conference and then set up Plum Data to provide the service and capture the opportunity.
In 2020 Nigel instigated Plum’s ESG initiative, creating the concept then building & leading the team. He is passionate about the need for it, and its commercial as well as planetary and societal importance.
Nigel is based in Devon and London and relaxes with family, racing sailing dinghies and kayaking, walking in peaceful wild places, and pre-covid-19 used to enjoy eating in buzzy ones.
John Howell – CTO
John Howell is a successful Ecommerce technical innovator, who has spent his career at the cutting edge of the IT and Travel industry. His considerable skillset is as a result of his end-to-end technical and commercial knowhow.
John’s career started by chance, whilst writing a dissertation on Bioinformatics as part of his degree in Biochemistry. Once he entered the world of IT, John spent his early career as a Java Software developer, then specialising in architecting complex SaaS solutions.
John’s foray into management quickly followed. His bold organisational changes, using new technologies and solutions, inspired the workforce and ultimately improved the retention of staff. John has created innovative products from design to fruition, which continue to add meaningful revenue years later.
John’s role as CEO of Multicom Products, a position held for 8 years in difficult trading circumstances, brought all skills together and cemented his position as a specialist in the industry. His leadership was instrumental in improving profitability, cashflow, and resultant market value on sale.
Following a move to Cornwall in 2016, his recent role as Travel Solutions Director at Headforwards, an award- winning development outsourcing hub, has allowed him to draw on this experience and continue to create new technologies and improvements to the online world.
John is a fully qualified ITIL v3 Expert, has a Certificate of Company Directorship and Governance from the IoD, and is practised in several IT languages.
His role within the current team at Plum, acting as CTO and Architect, is instrumental in delivering this exciting new platform to the marketplace.
John Anderson - Founder Director
John has worked in the industry since 1980 when he joined one of the leading specialist property advisers.
A spell as the general manager of a large park in Yorkshire followed before founding Anderson Associates, which provided property and development advice to park owners from the largest to some of the smallest. During this time he was chairman of the Yorkshire Inland branch of the BH&HPA. In 1997 he sold Anderson Associates to Humberts Leisure later becoming chairman and was involved in the sale of Humberts Leisure to GVA. He left GVA as a director in 2014. John divides his time between London and his home in the Yorkshire Dales.
Although he resisted the temptation to follow a singing career when he left university he still performs on the stage regularly, in everything from panto to cabaret.
Gemma Cardon - Operations Director
Gemma has been involved with Plum since inception, helping to create the background operational systems to enable the business to thrive. With over twenty years’ experience, Gemma has a wealth of knowledge of business operations.
After graduating, Gemma started her career in a support role in fund management, working on a busy trading desk for an Asian focused fund manager. This gave her a great insight to the workings of the fast-paced financial sector, supporting the CFO and trading desk with all compliance, financial, HR, company secretary , legal and investor relations functions.
Gemma moved into Corporate Finance and started working for Nigel Edwards in 2007 as his Personal Assistant and Project Manager, supporting him while he has been growing and creating businesses in the leisure sector, and becoming knowledgeable about the holiday park industry. She managed the exit process when selling Nigel’s original regulated business to a FTSE 250 company; and then securing regulatory approval for the successor business
Gemma lives in Kent with her family.
Plum has created a specialist software team at Headforwards in Cornwall.
Headforwards is a Cornish outsource software development company, co-founded in 2011 by directors Toby Parkins and Craig Girvan. They are centred around Agile philosophies and practices and focused on building long-term partnership. They work collaboratively to create and deliver customer software through the use of cutting-edge technology. Providing clients with dedicated teams means that they benefit not only from their experience in attracting and retaining top talent, but also from the knowledge retention and learning through collaborative working.
Headforwards are constantly striving for improvement and using the latest technologies. They have a very diverse team which leads to interesting and often surprising results. They encourage thought leadership and self-development as much as possible. This approach has enabled them to attract clients including major household names as well as start ups and growing businesses.
The Plum team at Headforwards work as a distinct group but are supported by the wide range of specialist skills and management functions provided by the broader Headforwards organisation.
Professor Graham Miller - Sustainability Advisor and Member of the Research Committee
Graham is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at University of Surrey, after 5 years as Head of the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, where he holds a Chair in Sustainability in Business.
He is currently co-editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, the lead judge for the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow awards and Chairman of Considerate Hoteliers.
He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for the Future of Travel & Tourism and an adjunct professor at Wakayama University, Japan.
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