About Simon Laffin


Simon Laffin is an experienced chairman and non-executive director. He has served on both public and private boards, as well as having worked in private equity and been a FTSE-100 CFO. He is currently a non-executive director at Dentsu Group Inc (a Japanese-based global media company) and Watkin Jones plc (a listed UK property company). Previously, he has chaired Assura plc, Flybe Group plc and Hozelock Group, and served as a non-executive on Quintain Estates & Development plc, Aegis Group plc, Mitchells & Butlers plc, and Northern Rock plc (as part of the rescue team). His early career stretched from being a milkman, working in a post-room, to being a store manager and CFO at Safeway plc.

Simon is passionate about making boards work better, for directors to learn from their own and others’ mistakes, for greater diversity at all layers of management, but especially in the boardroom, and for regulators to participate in helping boards make better decisions (instead of taking pot shots from the sidelines).


Kipper Williams is a very talented cartoonist, who has inadvertently been chronicling, and poking fun, at Simon’s career in a series of cartoons for the Guardian newspaper over the years;

Simon served on the board of Safeway plc for ten years, as Finance and Property Director. During this period, Safeway dropped its loyalty card

and altered its profit forecasts a number of times

Morrisons launched a bid for Safeway, and then a number of other bidders waded in too

After Safeway was taken over by Morrisons, Simon went to work in private equity

He worked on a number of bids in the retail sector (amongst others) across the world, including a potential bid for Safeway’s erstwhile competitor, Sainsbury

Eventually he left the retail sector for good

His first non-executive role was with Northern Rock. He also set up a fund with Oxfam to support the Shinyanga Region of Tanzania (contact him if you would like to support this fund)

A later non-exec role was with Mitchells & Butlers, where he defended the board in a dispute with certain large private shareholders

He fought Joe Lewis, but Joe had the votes. Other shareholders were left out in the cold

Cartoons reproduced by kind permission of Kipper Williams.

Learn more about these exciting events in Simon’s book.