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Leighton to drive Peacocks’ international ambitions

Allan Leighton, the former Asda chief executive who was confirmed as chairman of Peacocks this week, will focus on overseas expansion and consolidation in the UK at the value chain.

Leighton, whose appointment was predicted by Drapers last month, said the 700-store business was at an “important time in its evolution”.

He said: “Peacocks is a very strong business with a strong management team. The owners - [hedge funds] Och-Ziff and Perry Capital - have been investing in the company. The idea is twofold - to grow in the UK and accelerate the overseas business.”

He added that shareholders and management continued to back Peacocks - which attempted a £600m sale last year - and said it was “too early” to speculate on whether there would be a sale or flotation. His high-profile appointment will continue to add fuel to the suggestion.

He said: “There are many options, including consolidation and acquisitions as well.”

Leighton added that he was “buying into the management team” as well as the business and would work closely with chief executive Richard Kirk, who holds about 30% of Peacocks and took the business private in 2006 backed by Och-Ziff and Perry Capital.

He said: “He [Kirk] is very much staying and turning the business into something special.”

He declined to comment on the potential sale of mature womenswear chain Bonmarché, part of the Peacock Group, which entered into exclusive talks with private equity group Duke Street in April.

Leighton said Peacocks was in a resilient part of the value fashion market. He said: “The best companies will develop and consolidate. Clearly, that is going to be the future. Scale is the future.”

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