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Exclusive: River Island appoints new CEO

River Island has appointed the former chief executive of The White Company, Will Kernan, as its new CEO, Drapers can reveal.

Current River Island CEO Ben Lewis is stepping aside after nine years in the role and will remain on the board of River Island as non-executive director.

Kernan will join the business on 30 September. He led The White Company for five years until 2017, when he joined online sportswear specialist Wiggle as chief executive.

Will Kernan

Will Kernan

Will Kernan

He previously worked at New Look for 13 years, joining as group finance director in 1999, making his way up to the position of chief operating officer in 2010, which he held for two years.

Lewis said: “I have had the enormous pleasure of leading River Island for nearly a decade. During this time, the company has evolved, expanding into new product categories and building a strong and successful digital presence, and River Island remains a highly desirable and iconic brand. With a passionate and experienced management team, and guided by Will’s leadership, I am confident the business will remain in very capable hands. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all River Island colleagues and suppliers for their hard work and support, which makes the business what it is today.”

Kernan said: “River Island is a British fashion stalwart, which continues to thrive in the fast-paced, multi-channel, retail environment. I have long admired the company and look forward to working with the talented and dedicated team to drive future progress.”

Chairman of River Island Clive Lewis added: “Ben steps aside following a distinguished tenure and the Board is extremely grateful for his leadership. Succession has been carefully planned and, following a rigorous selection process, we are confident Will has the right skills, experience and vision to lead the company in this exciting new chapter.”

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