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Jane Norman trading boss in shock exit

Sandy Goldsborough, the trading director at Jane Norman, has left the womenswear retailer after just six months in the role.

Goldsborough, who joined Jane Norman in September from womenswear brand Ghost, where she was chief executive, had initially been hired as an eventual successor to chief executive Saj Shah, who had planned to retire in the next few years. 

It is unclear what prompted Goldsborough’s departure but market sources told Drapers that Jane Norman’s spring 09 range had lost some of its unique handwriting and shifted towards an older, more sophisticated customer, which dented sales. 

Jane Norman’s management team, led by Shah, have had to contend with the recent collapse of investment group Baugur and Icelandic bank Kaupthing, both of which held 40% stakes in the business.

Sources said Shah’s attention on trading had been diverted by issues around Jane Norman’s banking facilities since Baugur and Kaupthing began unravelling last October. Shah is well known in the industry for his hands-on approach to all aspects of the business, including overseeing its ranges. He has an unparalleled handle on the Jane Norman customer and is credited with the chain’s success.

Shah has also had to contend with the withdrawal of credit insurance on Jane Norman to its suppliers after the Icelandic banking crisis hit.

The financial and ownership structure at Jane Norman is unclear since Baugur’s collapse.

Jane Norman launched a 50%-off mid-season Sale this week. It normally delays discounting, going into Sale later than its rivals. Marks & Spencer, Monsoon and Debenhams all launched Sales this week.

One source with links to Baugur said: “Trade has been very difficult generally and tough for Jane Norman too. Jane Norman is great at sticking to what it knows but the range is a bit off the boil this season. It’s been difficult for all of us. We’ve been running around sorting out Baugur issues.”

A source close to Goldsborough said: “Sandy loved it at Jane Norman but felt she would be better suited in a more design-led business.”

Jane Norman confirmed Goldsborough’s departure but declined to comment further.

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