Nigel Oddy is to leave House of Fraser after less than two years as chief executive to “pursue new opportunities”.
A spokeswoman for HoF confirmed that: “Nigel will remain with the business until such time as a new CEO is appointed and to ensure a smooth transition process.”
China’s Sanpower Group took a majority stake in HoF in 2014, and Drapers understands that there have been tensions under the new ownership. Sanpower chairman Yuan Yafei flew in to the UK to meet with Oddy last week, ahead of the “all important” Christmas trading period and the launch of its first Chinese store in Nanjing at the end of this month.
Don McCarthy stood down as executive chairman of HoF on the day the deal with Sanpower completed. Frank Slevin, who took up the role on the same day as Oddy, has since written to suppliers to reassure them in the face of the chief executive’s pending departure.
“As we have entered the all-important Christmas trading period I wanted to assure you that the entire team at HoF will continue to focus on providing our customers with the leading service and products they expect from us and our valued brand and concession partners,” he wrote in a letter seen by Drapers.
“The executive committee will continue to work closely with you to drive the business forward. Building upon a set of key hires this year, I look forward to next year where, with the full support of Sanpower Group, the business will continue its transformational journey.”
Oddy started his career on the Marks & Spencer young management scheme in 1978 and worked in various roles there for 23 years, including establishing the retailer’s first direct sourcing office in the Far East.
In 2006, he was approached by John King, then the chief executive of HoF, who had been Oddy’s first ever supplier at M&S. Oddy joined HoF as executive director of homeware in 2007 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2013. He replaced King at the helm in February 2015.
HoF’s executive director for supply chain and strategic implementation, Ray Kavanagh, is also at risk of redundancy. He took up the role in October, and has spent 19 years at the business in roles including director of finance and executive director for commercial.
In September of this year, the firm revealed that underlying profits fell 49% to £5m for the six months to the end of July, while underlying sales rose 0.9% to £573.5m.
The spokeswoman added: “House of Fraser continues to trade in line with management expectations and is confident it is well positioned for Christmas, with trading over the Black Friday period to date already showing improvement on last year.”