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Don McCarthy, Chairman, House of Fraser

The painful supplier terms introduced by chairman Don McCarthy last year may have caused unrest in the sector but they have certainly paid off for House of Fraser.

The HoF store which opened in the Westfield London shopping centre in White City in October is testament to McCarthy’s vision for the struggling department store business he took over in 2006.

A raft of premium brands, including an exclusive deal with Ralph Lauren, are changing the shape of the department store sector. The challenge for McCarthy is to keep the momentum going as competitors try to emulate HoF’s premium look.

McCarthy’s PR campaign to distance HoF from its links with the troubled Baugur (despite him also being a director at the investment firm) have kept the business focused. But his links with Baugur will earn him a powerful seat at the negotiating table over the future of its retail interests.

Whatever the outcome, McCarthy is unlikely to let any potential scavengers get their hands on a HoF stake in the new year.

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