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24 Carl McPhail (12)

Chief executive, New Look

Not one who enjoys being in the media spotlight, Carl McPhail spent a large part of 2010 fighting fires.

The year had promised to be one of opportunity for the no-nonsense New Look chief executive, a new entry in the list last year, but unravelled quickly with McPhail unable to hide his frustration following the postponement of the retailer’s IPO in February.

A series of sudden exits followed, including chief operating officer Lex Gemas and head of menswear Steve Lawton, and to add insult to injury UK like-for-likes fell 4.5% in the six months to September 25. The poorer performance was blamed in part on the relocation of the buying and design teams to London from Weymouth.

McPhail, who works tirelessly to maintain the retailer’s ethical reputation, was also left devastated when a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary uncovered that a New Look factory in the UK had subcontracted to factories which failed to comply with the minimum wage. He swiftly launched an independent inquiry and said the retailer would pay workers any money owed.

However, despite McPhail’s unfortunate relegation down the league table, New Look’s influence on high street sales is undeniable and in April it was understood to have leapfrogged Next in the clothing value market share rankings, placing it just one spot behind market leader Marks & Spencer.

The ardent Manchester United fan is unlikely to let a turbulent year derail his plans for the business.

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