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New boss readies Phase Eight push

Phase Eight is plotting further global expansion, including the UK, after bolstering its management team.

Drapersonline.com revealed this week that the womenswear retailer had appointed its first chief executive and managing director in more than five years by promoting two members of staff. Commercial director Ben Barnett has been made chief executive, and chief operating officer Lee Harlow is now managing director.

The last time Phase Eight had people in either position was November 2008, when chief executive Simon Ryder left the business. During the intervening years chairman Michael Rahamim has led the business, including overseeing a management buyout in 2010.

The new structure is designed to allow the team to focus on international expansion as well as continue to develop the domestic footprint.

At present Phase Eight has 62 stores and concessions across Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Singapore.

Barnett told Drapers there would now be room for growth. “The success we have achieved in these markets has given us the confidence to further develop here [in the UK] and enter into discussions regarding new markets in Europe, as well as in relation to markets further afield,” he said.

The business, which has more than 300 stores and concessions in the UK, is also eyeing “significant growth” domestically.

“We expect to open a further eight to 10 UK stores and concessions in the current year and are exploring opportunities to add further high footfall locations to our West End flagship, which has traded strongly since opening in spring 2013,” Barnett said.

Phase Eight has been adding to the team over the past 12 to 18 months to support the business’s growth. Cameron Jack, formerly senior director of acquisitions at financial services firm Close Brothers, joined the business in January as finance director. Barnett said he expected a further international hire at board level in the coming months.

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