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Faith loses retail operations boss

Faith retail operations director Paul O’Neill, the only remaining member of the original management buyout team, has resigned after 16 years at the company.

O’Neill will retain his stake in Faith but has left to pursue his own property venture. Executive chairman Steve Cotter will oversee property, while brand director Steven Swaby will take over O’Neill’s international and franchise remit.

Separately, Faith is expected to ask private equity backers Bridgepoint for funding to finance the roll-out of its new concept later this month.
The more sophisticated concept, designed by Daziel & Pow, launched in new stores in Exeter and Derby last year, while stores including Reading and Wimbledon have been refurbished with the new look. The Reading and Wimbledon stores are running 35% ahead like for like and despite the shaky footwear market, like-for-like sales at the 230-outlet chain were up 8% last week.

Faith’s management team is scouting for six new store locations, including in Bristol and Aberdeen, and wants to press ahead with refitting its 25 top stores. However, an upturn in trade will take time to generate the cash. Cotter said: “If we wanted to do it [refits] quickly we’d need to raise the money.”

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