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Management change brings challenges and opportunities

The departure of Moss Bros chairman Keith Hamill presents a real opportunity for shake up at the menswear business.

The menswear group allegedly kicked off a strategic review, led by non-executive director Don McCarthy, in September. However, according to market sources little has been decided about the direction the business should take. Hamill does not step down until April 2008, and the business could well be in a state of limbo until a new chairman joins, as it is unlikely any major changes would be implemented without his or her approval.

What Moss Bros needs now is an experienced retailer to lead its board and make some strong decisions about what’s next for the chain. There have been rumours of acquisitions to gain scale and knock out the competition, and this would seem the obvious route.

Don McCarthy is clearly a great candidate to become the new chairman but whether he would have the time between his other responsibilities - he is already chairman of House of Fraser, director of Baugur, and is leading a Baugur consortium’s potential acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue - is another question.

Meanwhile, congratulations to former Lambert Howarth chief executive Garry Hogarth who scored his dream job this week as chief executive of Agent Provocateur. Hogarth’s passion is for building brands and there is huge untapped potential at the lingerie business, which was bought by 3i this week.

Agent Provocateur was founded by husband and wife team Joe Corré and Serena Rees. Corré and Rees are getting divorced, and as a result of the 3i deal Rees will leave the business.
It will be interesting to see how the brand fares without her and with two men at the helm instead. Rees is widely thought to have been a taming influence, and sources say it was her input that ensured the risqué designs were always tasteful.

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