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85. Darren Topp, chief executive, BHS

Darren Topp, BHS

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Darren Topp took the helm of BHS replacing Richard Price (number 36) in March, just a week after Sir Philip Green sold the department store chain to a company called Retail Acquisitions, led by former racing car driver Dominic Chappell, for £1.

It’s not been an easy year for Topp as industry commentators were quick to question the future viability of the chain in its current form amid worries about a lack of credit cover for suppliers.

But he moved quickly and by September had unveiled a new branch concept in Watford, featuring the retailer’s food store concept – which was first trailed in three BHS stores last year – a Claire’s concession, the retailer’s new logo and improved visual merchandising, product display and layout in its fashion department.

He also secured a loan from London-based investment group Grovepoint against a small number of its stores to give it a working capital of around £85m to fund a three-year turnaround plan, which includes upgrading stores, introducing new branding across the online and offline portfolio with new windows, fixtures and fittings, as well as improving the distribution centre and launching a new website on a new platform. The industry is keeping a key eye on his next move in a bid to predict the future direction for the troubled department store.

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