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New Look courts Alistair McGeorge for chairman role

New Look is understood to be in talks with former Matalan chief executive Alistair McGeorge about taking on the role of executive chairman at the beleaguered business.

New Look is believed to have met with a number of key retailers including McGeorge about the role, following the departure of chairman John Gildersleeve and ousting of chief executive Carl McPhail last month.

Yesterday, New Look’s founder and interim chairman Tom Singh who was drafted in to the business following McPhail’s departure, reinstated group design director Barbara Horspool as creative director. Weeks earlier, he overturned McPhail’s final decision to fire group buying director Roger Wightman.

It is understood that once Singh and private equity backers Apax and Permira decide upon a candidate for the executive chairman role, they will then consider whether to appoint a chief executive of the business.

Singh will continue to work on the retailer’s product strategy.

McGeorge’s experience turning around a privately-owned value chain, places him as a frontrunner for the job. He was integral to a £500m refinancing of Matalan in April last year but Matalan axed a £1.5bn sale process just months before in February. He left the business in September.

As McGeorge is a qualified accountant by trade rather than a product person, it would raise eyebrows in the industry if he were to be appointed as chairman without a chief executive to balance the skills on the board. New Look’s problems have been primarily product driven and over its history, New Look has tended to perform better when it had a chief executive with a strong buying and merchandising record.

New Look declined to comment.

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