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New TJ Hughes boss aims to boost sales with expanded buying team

TJ Hughes will expand its buying team after drafting in Roseby's boss Sue Tennant to replace chief executive Robin Dickie, following stagnant sales at the discount department store business.

Dickie left the retailer last week, after boardroom concern that the 50-store company was failing to increase sales in the face of increasing competition from supermarkets.

Tennant, who previously worked for TJ Hughes as group buying director until 2001, said that improving the chain's product would be the focus when she joins on July 18.

She will also take responsibility for buying following the departure of merchandising director Cath Norgate.

Tennant said she was looking for four or five key personnel to revitalise the buying divisions across the retailer's product categories. "I will put together a formidable team, to strengthen and complement the existing strong staff base," she said.

A good-better-best pricing architecture will also be introduced, but the chain's keen entry price points will be maintained. The "best" product will be priced at just 10% to 15% above core prices so that it is still affordable for TJ Hughes' shoppers.

Tennant said that the business's low-priced proposition should help it to flourish in a challenging economic environment.

"When people are tightening their belts in difficult times, we should be capitalising on that," she said.

TJ Hughes offers discounts of up to 70% on brands. Its departments include womenswear, menswear and accessories.

Tennant was previously chief executive at soft furnishings retailer Rosebys, where she was credited with growing it to a 300-store business before it was sold to Indian chemical and textiles manufacturer GHCL last year. Prior to that she was at value retailer Ethel Austin for four years, where she was trading director.

TJ Hughes, based in Liverpool, was bought by private equity backers PPM Capital in November 2003 in a management buyout worth £ 56 million.

TJ HUGHES TIMELINE

1912: TJ Hughes is established

1992: Floats on Stock Exchange

2002: Acquired by JJB Sports

2003: MBO backed by PPM Capital and Bank of Scotland

2004: Robin Dickie becomes chief executive

2007: Sue Tennant joins as chief executive.

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