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New Look's Wightman and Horspool in shock exit

Barbara Horspool, group design director at New Look and the driving force behind the value chain’s fashion credentials, has quit to join women’s young fashion chain Oasis. Meanwhile New Look’s group buying director for clothing Roger Wightman will also leave the fast-fashion chain after Julian Kilmartin was appointed to the role.

Horspool, who has previously held the role of Marks & Spencer head of womenswear design, agreed to join Oasis as design director several weeks ago and before a shake-up of New Look’s buying, merchandising and design function, which was prompted by the appointment of product guru Kilmartin last week.

The appointment of Kilmartin, former Primark buying and merchandising director, is understood to have led to the ousting of Wightman, New Look veteran of 21 years. Wightman was one of New Look founder Tom Singh’s protegés.

Only Carolyn MacKenzie, New Look’s group head of merchandising, remains from the original buying, merchandising and design team lined up in May 2008 as part of a management reshuffle which saw Carl McPhail promoted to chief executive.

Horspool, who joined New Look in March 2007 as trend director to handle the creative direction of womenswear and kidswear and charged with upping the business’ trend credentials, will join Oasis in the summer.

Horspool will pick up the design direction for Oasis after a period of change. Last year, creative director Nadia Jones, repositioned the chain towards a more feminine and grown up fashion offer for women in their late twenties.

Jones will continue to work as a consultant for Oasis to ensure a smooth handover. She has already pursued other non-Oasis-related projects over recent months.

A spokeswoman for New Look confirmed that Horspool had resigned from the value chain and said that she was keen to build more experience in the mid-market. She declined to comment on Wightman’s departure.

For more, see Drapers February 25 issue.

Readers' comments (4)

  • From your article KIlmartin seemsa strange choice as a "product guru" for a predominantly womenswear based, trend driven business. From what you write he was only at Primark for just over a year and was previously at M&S menswear and Moss Bros. Surely what New Look needs is a "product guru" with relevant experience?

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  • I agree with the above comment, what a shame to loose someone with over 20 years experience in the company, it has been extremely difficult trading period for all retailers over the past year and with a massive re-haul to London the hand-over was never going to be easy....

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  • I also agree - trading has been difficult for everyone and it is unreasonable to try and blame an individual for poor figures.
    Roger was dedicated and committed to New look and has a passion for product.
    Wrong decision in my opinion.

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  • I agree with all comments above. From my experience Kilmartin is no product guru. All his expereience is in Menswear with 80% of New Look market in womenswear! It is a very tough retail market with no room for error. They need a great Womenswear product guru to rebuild the team in London self belief and motivation.

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