It was another year of high-profile people moves in the world of retail. Turbulent times meant many retailers were seeking new leaders to help them weather the challenges ahead.
Richard Price joins Marks & Spencer
In November, Marks & Spencer announced it had poached Richard Price, head of Tesco’s F+F clothing brand, as its new managing director of clothing and home. Price is due to take up the role next year, although an exact start date has yet to be confirmed.
He previously worked at M&S from 2005 to 2012, first as head of merchandise and later as trading director, departing because he felt the business “was drifting in the wrong direction”. Price will replace Jill McDonald, who left the retailer in July this year following a disappointing performance in denim.
Gillian Ridley Whittle returns to Topshop
After returning from a four-year stint in Australia, Gillian Ridley White was appointed as Topshop’s new fashion director in October. She worked as director of womenswear, lingerie, footwear and accessories at Target Australia from 2014 to 2016 and then as general manager of beauty, lingerie and kidswear at department store chain Myers.
Headhunters praised her international experience and expertise in beauty and lingerie, potential areas of focus for Topshop. However, they warned that the UK fashion market has changed drastically in the years she spent Down Under.
The new Topshop fashion director started her senior career at Debenhams as head of buying from 2000 to 2004. She then spent a decade at Marks & Spencer, joining as head of womenswear before later covering senior roles across lingerie and beauty.
Stefaan Vansteenkiste joins Debenhams
Former Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher stepped down as Debenhams chief executive in April after the department store collapsed into administration. He was replaced by turnaround expert Vansteenkiste in August.
Described by the retailer as a “seasoned CEO and retail operator”, Vansteenkiste has worked at professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal since 2003 and has previously served as the interim CEO of Dutch chain Intertoys.
Andrew Coppel accedes at Arcadia
There were more people moves at the Arcadia Group throughout 2019. It appointed Andrew Coppel as its new chairman in November, in a move that was branded an “excellent decision” by the wider industry.
Coppel was praised for his depth of experience and property nous. He joined from accountancy firm OH Associates, where he has held the role of managing director since 2015.
Julian Dunkerton regains control at Superdry
Shareholders narrowly voted to reinstate Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton to the retailer’s board following an acrimonious public battle in April.
His return sparked mass resignations: chairman Peter Bamford, chief executive Euan Sutherland, chief financial officer Ed Barker and chairman of the renumeration committee Penny Hughes all exited the business with immediate effect.
Tom Singh departs from New Look
New Look founder and non-executive director Tom Singh departed from the business he founded in 1969 this year. He retired from New Look in June.
Former House of Fraser chief executive Nigel Oddy joined the retailer as chief operating officer in April. Oddy will step up to the role of chief executive on 1 January 2020.
Paul Price exits Topshop
Topshop and Topman chief executive Paul Price resigned in December after just over two years in the post. He will leave the business at the end of the year to relocate back to the US.