George at Asda’s managing director Anthony Thompson will join lifestyle retailer Fat Face as chief executive on April 19.
Thompson will succeed Louise Barnes who will leave the business after seven years.
“Fat Face is a very special brand with a strong heritage. I am excited to be joining the Fat Face team and can see huge potential for the brand.”
Anthony Thompson, outgoing managing director, George at Asda
Fat Face chairman Alan Giles said: “We are delighted that Anthony is joining to lead the Fat Face team. The market has been difficult for all retailers so we’re especially pleased that someone with his extensive retail knowledge and passion for building successful retail brands will be leading our business. We would also like to record our thanks to Louise Barnes who has made such a tremendous contribution to the development of the company and wish her every success for the future.”
Thompson said: “Fat Face is a very special brand with a strong heritage. I am excited to be joining the Fat Face team and can see huge potential for the brand.”
In an email sent to staff at Asda and seen by Drapers, Asda chief executive Andy Bond said of Thompson’s departure: “As George’s leader, he championed the customer, led long-term investments in distribution and IT, established a new HQ and simplified the offer in stores. He’s been a real advocate for a sustainable approach from warehouse to wardrobe. It’s therefore not a surprise that George re-took the number one position for volume from M&S at the end of last year following 24 months of consecutive growth.”
Bond added that he is “thoughtfully considering” who will replace Thompson and wants to announce his successor “in a matter of weeks”.
Bond said: “It may be a cliché, but there’s no doubt that the real measure of any leader’s success, is the legacy that’s left behind. Clearly Anthony has hand-picked an incredibly strong team at George that can aggressively capitalise on the foundation he’s built.”
In the year to May 30 2009, sales at Fat Face - which was acquired by private equity house Bridgepoint in 2007 - jumped 2.8% to £129.9m on an EBITDA of £25m. The retailer opened 19 new stores and increased its number of John Lewis concessions from 17 to 27.
Giles added: “Fat Face remains a highly cash generative business. We have delivered solid results in one of the most difficult trading climates of recent years, successfully adding new stores and developing new routes to market. We also undertook a full review of our consumer offer and at the same time maintained tight control of our cost base. Trading in the seven months to the end of December 2009 remains in line with last year’s levels”.