New Look founder Tom Singh has reappointed Roger Wightman to the role of group buying director at the fast-fashion chain just weeks after he was ousted by former chief executive Carl McPhail. The decision means that Julian Kilmartin will leave the business.
In an astonishing turnaround, Singh, who was appointed interim executive chairman of New Look on Monday, is understood to have reversed the last major decision made by McPhail, who last month appointed Kilmartin, the former Primark buying and merchandising director, to take over clothing at the business after sales collapsed.
New Look had blamed a poor Christmas performance, when like-for-like sales fell by 9%, on errors made in its collections but other sources said that the real reason for its problems was that the management team had taken its eye off the ball when it attempted to float the business last year.
Wightman was a Singh protege and had worked at New Look for 21 years. Sources told Drapers that Singh had been angered by the removal of his “right-hand product guru” and had moved quickly to reinstate him to stabilise the buying team. It is the first major decision Singh has made since the huge management upheaval that began on Monday. He has also ousted longstanding New Look head of human resources Linda Owen.
Singh is looking for a new chief executive following McPhail’s departure.
Last year McPhail oversaw a relocation of New Look’s buying, merchandise and design team to London from Weymouth. The move resulted in around a third of the product team leaving the business, which also contributed to issues with the ranges.
Group design director Barbara Horspool also quit New Look last month to join Oasis.