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New Look head of buying defects to rival Primark

New Look head of buying Claire Southgate has left the fast-fashion chain to join rival Primark as New Look interim chief executive Tom Singh and incoming chairman Alistair McGeorge prepare to review the buying teams.

Southgate is understood to have taken a senior position at Primark, but the retailer could not confirm the details as Drapers went to press.
At New Look, Southgate worked under veteran group head of buying Roger Wightman, who was reinstated to the role in March by Singh when he was parachuted back into the business in the same month.

The two value chains have a history of trading staff. In 2008, Paul Marchant left his chief operating officer role to join Primark in the same role. He is now Primark’s chief executive.

In February, New Look’s then chief executive Carl McPhail appointed former Primark buying and merchandising director Julian Kilmartin to replace Wightman, only for Singh - who founded New Look in 1969 - to overturn the decision, McPhail’s last before he was ousted in March.

Singh and McGeorge, who was formerly chief executive of value retailer Matalan, have kicked off a review of New Look following its failed IPO and poor trading in the latter half of last year.

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