Sainsbury’s clothing boss Sara Bradley and director of general merchandise Adrian Mountford have made a shock exit from the grocer to join value fashion rivals George at Asda and Matalan.
Bradley has been poached by supermarket chain George at Asda to become its head of buying for kidswear and menswear, while Mountford - whom Bradley replaced as head of clothing in 2008 - will leave his job heading up Sainsbury’s general merchandise to become commercial director at Matalan. Both will start in their new jobs in the new year.
The high-profile departures will be a blow to Sainsbury’s which is understood not to have replacements lined up for either position yet.
Bradley’s move marks her return to George at Asda. She was previously buying director at the retailer before moving to Sainsbury’s two years ago. She has also worked at fashion retailers including Bhs and Dorothy Perkins.
While Bradley is not moving to head up George at Asda, which remains under the leadership of George at Asda managing director Andrew Moore, it is a larger chain by volume than Sainsbury’s Tu. George at Asda is understood to be the biggest retailer of kidswear by volume and it vies for first place by total volume with Marks & Spencer and Primark.
In an internal memo, Moore said: “Whilst at Sainsbury’s, Sara has really developed the Tu brand and has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry at major retailers including Bhs and Dorothy Perkins.
“I’m delighted to welcome Sara back to George after leaving in 2008 and I have high expectations of what she will help us deliver on her return.”
Kerry Pullin, current head of buying for kidswear and menswear at George at Asda will become head of procurement planning. Pullin will report to Nick Jones, who joins in January from Marks & Spencer, and will lead the development of its departmental supply base planning. She will work closely with Jack Curran, head of sourcing.
It is unclear who Mountford will replace at Matalan. His appointment follows a number of changes at the value fashion chain after the postponement of its sale earlier this year, with chief executive Alistair McGeorge moving to a non-exec role in October and buying director John Lyttle’s departure to Primark in August.
Paul Gilbert, Matalan acting chief executive said: “We are delighted that Adrian will be joining us at Matalan. I am confident his depth and breadth of retail experience will be highly complementary to the Matalan business as we continue to strengthen and grow our product offering across both clothing and homewares.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “They are unrelated moves and this happens from time to time, as we are in an industry where people move around. We have a great team in place and our investment in non-food continues at great pace: last week we opened our second 100,000 sq ft store in Lincoln, and we will this week open our third in Stanway.
“A search is underway to fill their positions.”