Department store group Fenwick has appointed Argos commercial director Robbie Feather as its new chief executive.
Feather, who will join the business in January, will be its first CEO from outside the Fenwick family.
He joined Sainsbury’s in 2011 as business unit director of general merchandise. He was previously buying director for electricals and home at John Lewis.
Sainsbury’s commercial director James Brown will take on Feather’s responsibilities, on top of his existing role.
Argos CEO John Rogers said: “It has always been my intention to bring together the commercial leadership under one commercial director. As we have now got the experience under our belt of trading together for a year, have a better understanding of the commercial operations of both businesses, and as we approach the autumn 2018 buying season, now is the right time to do this.
”James has been part of the entire journey through the acquisition of Argos and has gained a strong understanding of the Argos business over the past year, this coupled with his background in leading the Sainsbury’s general merchandise and clothing business means James is ideally positioned to lead our combined commercial function going forward.
”I would like to thank Robbie for not only steering the Argos commercial team through this critical period and ensuring we continued to out perform the market in what has been a difficult trading environment, but also for his huge contribution to the Sainsbury’s business over the last six years.”
Feather’s move comes as Fenwick kicks off a strategic review to ensure it “prospers” in the face of future challenges, after reporting a fall in full-year turnover and profits.
The retailer’s turnover slipped by 1.4% year on year to £297.8m in the 52 weeks ended 27 January 2017. Pre-tax profit including property revaluation and pension liability adjustments fell 31.2% to £30.4m. Its gross profit margin was down 0.7%.
It said investments in its operational capabilities – including IT systems and digital infrastructure – together with discounting in stores were the main reasons for its fall in profitability.
Richard Pennycook, non-executive chairman of Fenwick, said Feather “brings with him an intuitive understanding of retail, the drive and creativity of an entrepreneur and a proven track record in leadership”.