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Drapers Top 100 2008 - Don McCarthy, Chairman, House of Fraser

Don McCarthy’s somewhat painful supplier terms introduced last year may have caused unrest in the sector but they have certainly paid off in retail terms.

The outstanding new House of Fraser store which opened in Westfield London in October is testament to McCarthy’s vision for the struggling department store business he took over in 2006. A raft of new premium brands including an exclusive deal with Ralph Lauren are also changing the shape of the department store sector. The challenge now is for McCarthy to keep the momentum going as competitors step up to emulate the premium look.

Meanwhile McCarthy’s admirable PR campaign to distance House of Fraser from its links with the troubled Baugur (despite him also being a director at the investment firm) have kept the House of Fraser business focussed and on message. However his links with Baugur will most certainly earn him a powerful seat at the negotiating table over the future of its retail interests. Whatever the outcome, McCarthy is unlikely to let any potential scavengers get their hands on a HoF stake in the New Year.

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