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Alexon recruits retail director

Alexon Group, owner of womenswear businesses such as Bay Trading and Kaliko, has hired Sharon Horth as retail operations director to help strengthen its management team after posting deteriorating sales in the past four months.

Horth will join the group in January from stationery retailer Paperchase, where she is retail operations and HR director. She replaces David Payne, who left the business in September.

Rachael Woodhouse, Alexon’s retail operations controller, has been promoted to associate director with immediate effect.

Like-for-like sales at the company slid 11% for the 17 weeks to November 22, after sales deteriorated in October and November. The company warned that sales were “slightly below expectations.”

Alexon said trade had worsened since its interim results, when it reported that like-for-like sales were down 6% for the eight weeks to September 20.

But the group said its strategy to clear stock, particularly at its Ann Harvey and Bay Trading chains, plus increased promotional activity within department stores where Alexon operates concessions, meant that gross margin had also fallen back 1% over the period.

Alexon chief executive Jane McNally told Drapers: “Come the new year it will be a clean sheet at Bay Trading and Ann Harvey. Sales are more challenging, particularly in the department store sector, as we’ve seen in recent figures from the likes of John Lewis.

“The past nine weeks have been particularly challenging for retailers across the board, but the good news is that we’ll end up with profit and cash on the balance sheets this year, which is not disastrous and better than a lot of retailers.”

Alexon said the outcome for the full year was dependent on the Christmas trading period.

Alexon owns the Kaliko, Alex & Co, Eastex, Dash and Minuet Petite womenswear brands, as well as retailers Ann Harvey and Bay Trading.

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