Hiring, firing and management restructuring are part and parcel of the fashion industry, and this year was no different. As 2016 draws to a close, we take a look back at the biggest people moves of the year.
Paula Nickolds appointed John Lewis managing director
In October John Lewis commercial director Paula Nickolds was appointed managing director, replacing Andy Street. Nickolds, who joined the partnership in 1994 as a graduate trainee, starts her new role in January. Street, who has been with the business 31 years – nine as managing director – was selected as the Conservative candidate to become the first mayor of the West Midlands on 30 September.
Mike Shearwood named Clarks CEO
Former chief executive of Karen Millen, Mike Shearwood, was appointed chief executive of Clarks in September ending a year-long search for Melissa Potter’s replacement. Shearwood was CEO of Karen Millen from 2009 until 2015. Beth Butterwick left Bonmarché for the top job at Karen Millen this summer.
Darren Topp joins LK Bennett as CEO
In September LK Bennett appointed former BHS chief executive Darren Topp in the same role, replacing interim CEO Robert Bensoussan, who will stay on as a non-executive director. The womenswear retailer also appointed former BHS financial adviser Michael Hitchcock as CFO, succeeding Alison Egan.
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Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey resigned after 32 years in September and was replaced with immediate effect by Mike Ashley, the company’s founder and majority shareholder. Ashley previously held the post of deputy executive chairman.
Debenhams appointed Sergio Bucher as chief executive to replace Michael Sharp in May. Bucher joined the department store chain in October from Amazon, where he served as vice-president of Amazon Fashion Europe since 2013. Susan Saideman replaced Bucher at Amazon. In February Amazon enlisted the talents of former Marks & Spencer womenswear boss Frances Russell to work on an own-label clothing brand.
Burberry appoints Céline boss Marco Gobbetti as chief executive
Burberry appointed Céline chairman and CEO Marco Gobbetti as its new chief executive in July, as Christopher Bailey prepares to move aside to the role of president and chief creative officer. Gobbetti will join the board in 2017 and will be responsible for all the commercial, operational and financial elements of the business, while Bailey will oversee all elements of the brand and design. Bailey will transition to his new role when Gobbetti joins Next year, and will remain on the board.
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Deputy CEO Gareth Jones to exit Shop Direct
Shop Direct’s deputy chief executive and chief operating officer Gareth Jones leaves the business at the end of this year to “explore other opportunities”. Jones joined the firm in 2009 as group retail director. Board responsibility for implementing Shop Direct’s strategy was added to his role in 2013. He was promoted to the newly created role of deputy chief executive in October 2014, and took on the COO role in January 2015. Shop Direct appointed Jon Rudoe to the newly created role of retail and technology director in November. Rudoe will join the company in April from Sainsbury’s, where he has been digital and technology director since May 2014.
Jane Shepherdson, Whistles
Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson left the business after eight years in the role in September. The business will now be led by brand director Helen Williamson, managing director Justin Hampshire and creative director Nick Passmore. In March, Phase Eight owner The Foschini Group acquired a substantial majority shareholding in Whistles for an undisclosed sum.
Andy Harding to leave House of Fraser
House of Fraser chief customer officer Andy Harding left the business after more than five years this summer. Harding resigned from his role, which he held since March 2015, and his next move is not yet known. Alison Lancaster replaced him on an interim basis until David Walmsley, former digital director at Marks & Spencer, joined as CCO.
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M&S management reshuffle
In May Marks & Spencer made a series of changes to its management structure and board responsibilities to enable “speedier decision making” and bring the business closer to its customers. Digital director David Walmsley and kidswear and home director Stephanie Chen were among the senior people leaving as a result of the reshuffle. The retailer’s international director Costas Antimissaris, store environment and product presentation director Florence De Boosere and Middle East regional director Mark Koprowski also left the business.
It later emerged that Laura Wade-Gery, multichannel director of UK retail and online operations, was not returning from maternity leave.
In September Scott Fyfe, director of menswear and kidswear at Marks & Spencer, was appointed chief executive of Country Road Group, the Australian subsidiary of South Africa-based Woolworth Holdings.
In September the firm also revealed it is consulting with employees on plans to cut around 525 head office roles, with redundancies due before the end of 2016.
Drapers has learned the retailer is now actively recruiting for a new clothing and home boss. Steve Rowe retained responsibility for clothing and home when he was promoted from executive director of general merchandise to chief executive in April.
David Walker-Smith resigns from Fenwick of Bond Street
David Walker-Smith has resigned from his role as managing director of Fenwick of Bond Street. Walker-Smith joined the company in February 2013 from Selfridges, where he was executive buying director, on a three-year assignment to update and modernise the business. Walker-Smith has not revealed his next move and he is not being replaced at the retailer.
Fiona Lambert to leave Asda
Asda’s vice president of own label development Fiona Lambert decided to leave the business in January. It followed an announcement that the supermarket chain was axing up to 300 jobs at its head office in Leeds in response to a “radical change” in the way people shop. Lambert has yeto resurface in another position.
Gwynn Milligan among senior departures from Jaeger
Jaeger’s trading director Gwynn Milligan left the business in December amid the retailer’s most recent shake-up of its senior management team. Product director Liza Canneford-Webb also left after three years and chief information officer Cathy McCabe also exited the business. The three women were not directly replaced. Omnichannel director Caroline Lee left Jaeger in April of this year, and was shortly followed out the door by chief financial officer Harminder Atwal. In October, Anita Lyons left her position as retail director at Jaeger after just six months.
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New Look ecommerce director Sally Heath to exit
New Look’s ecommerce director Sally Heath announced she is leaving the retailer after five years earlier this month. Heath is planning to spend time with her family and support her husband in his work at Tam Beauty, the make-up business he owns. She will leave New Look in the new year. In September Jack Smith has left his position as group digital director at New Look to set up his own consultancy. Smith joined the high street retailer in February 2014.
Nigel Oddy to leave House of Fraser
Nigel Oddy is to leave House of Fraser after less than two years as chief executive to “pursue new opportunities”. Oddy will remain with the business until a new CEO is appointed and to ensure a smooth transition process. Oddy joined HoF as executive director of homeware in 2007 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2013. He replaced John King at the helm in February 2015.
Ed Burstell leaves Liberty for Hudson’s Bay Company
Ed Burstell left Liberty of London to take up the newly-created role of head of partnerships at Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Company. He led partnerships for the retailer globally from 5 December. Burstell spent eight years as managing director at the iconic London department store. He was previously senior vice president of accessories, footwear, jewellery, cosmetics and fragrance at Bergdorf Goodman and general manager of Henri Bendel before that. A replacement has yet to be appointed at Liberty.
Blue Inc chief executive steps down
Blue Inc chief executive Steven Cohen stepped down from his role after 11 years in October. The young fashion brand promoted retail operations director Peter Girt, who has been with the firm for 10 years, to managing director. Cohen will remain a non-executive director of Blue Inc. He is due to start working for a New-York based retailer early next year. Two of Blue Inc’s biggest suppliers, Padma Textiles and MAF Clothing, are believed to have taken a majority share of the firm. One source said executives from the suppliers would likely become joint chief executives following the deal.
East CEO steps down as business is sold
East’s chief executive, Suzi Spink, left the business after Fabindia, the owner of East, sold an 80% share in the womenswear retailer to New York-based investor Rahul Kakar of Crore Capital. Pink joined East in 2007 as retail and HR director and became chief executive in 2012. Erica Vilkauls, chief operating officer at Thomas Pink, was appointed interim chief executive of East, two months later.