Stacey Cartwright is now the firm favourite to take the reins at Harvey Nichols as successor to Joseph Wan, Drapers understands.
The former chief financial officer of Burberry was revealed by Drapers as one of the frontrunners for the position in September, and it now appears negotiations between the two parties are almost concluded.
Sources in the luxury sector indicated that Cartwright’s appointment has already been communicated to Harvey Nichols’ top staff ahead of a wider announcement, which is expected imminently. Harvey Nichols declined to comment as Drapers went to press.
Harvey Nichols owner and chairman Dickson Poon and chief executive Wan have conducted a global search for Wan’s replacement, who will take over when Wan retires next year after more than 20 years at the helm of the Knightsbridge-based business.
Other names in the running for Harvey Nichols’ top job have included Marty Wikstrom, former chief executive of fashion and accessories at luxury brand group Richemont and a former managing director of Harrods.
Cartwright left Burberry in July after nine years, receiving a £4m payoff as she departed. She is credited with much of Burberry’s recent success.
Press speculation at the time suggested Cartwright left after the arrival of former BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith as Burberry chief operating officer thwarted her own ambitions for advancement at the company.
Harvey Nichols, which has eight stores in the UK and seven overseas, is also in the midst of recruiting staff for a long-mooted private label division, which will see the creation of own-label clothing and other products.
It is not known whether the retailer will recruit a replacement for fashion director Paula Reed, who joined Harvey Nichols in a newly created role last year from fashion magazine Grazia but departed abruptly in October.
The expected appointment of Cartwright has been interpreted by some observers as a strategic move by Poon, with some industry speculation suggesting the business could be put up for sale.
One source said Cartwright’s anticipated arrival was “almost like putting the flag up that it’s for sale”.
Several industry figures have suggested that Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green and US private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, which took a 25% stake in Topshop and Topman last year, had shown an interest. However, Harvey Nichols and Arcadia denied this was the case.
In Harvey Nichols’ most recent results for the year to March 30, 2013, pre-tax profits fell from just over £13m the year before to £10.3m this year. Turnover rose 0.3% from £92.46m to £92.7m.