Anthony Thompson, George at Asda’s outgoing managing director, is expected to lead a product overhaul at lifestyle retailer Fat Face when he joins as chief executive in April.
Thompson is understood to have been lured by a significant stake in Fat Face as an incentive to grow the chain ahead of a possible float or sale.
One source close to Fat Face said the product had become “dull” and had “stopped being innovative”.
The source added that Fat Face had not kept up with the competition in the crowded premium casualwear market.
Rival retailers such as White Stuff, Superdry, Jack Wills and Joules are all considered either “more quirky or innovative”, the source added.
Thompson is credited with turning around the fortunes of George since joining the supermarket in 2007. He will replace Louise Barnes, who will leave after seven years at Fat Face.
Fat Face chairman Alan Giles said: “There is a lot of potential for new stores in the UK and to develop the direct and online business. As with any business there are always a lot of challenges.”
Fat Face, which is owned by private equity house Bridgepoint, said sales rose 2.8% to £129.9m in the year to May 30. EBITDA was £25m.
Meanwhile, speculation about Thompson’s successor at George is focused on internal candidates. Sources said key contenders included brand director Fiona Lambert, merchandise director Andrew Moore and retail director Roger McLaughlin.
One source close to George said:
“All three are exceptional candidates and bring different qualities to the table.”
Lambert launched George with founder George Davies in the 1990s and is known for her product expertise. She also launched George sub-brands Moda and Boston Crew.
Moore was a former colleague of Thompson’s at Marks & Spencer, where he also worked with Davies to launch the Per Una collection.
McLaughlin joined George in 2008, having previously held roles at M&S and Stylo. He is known for his leadership skills and Thompson has previously said he had “a great pedigree in clothing and footwear”.
Asda chief executive Andy Bond said last week that he would reveal Thompson’s successor in the next few weeks.