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White Stuff set for shake up under new boss

White Stuff is looking to shake up the business under new chief executive Jeremy Seigal, with a greater focus on multichannel platforms.

Seigal, who started at the lifestyle retailer this week, was previously chief executive of health and beauty group AS Watson, where he oversaw Superdrug, The Perfume Shop and Savers.

White Stuff chairman Debbie Hewitt said it would be “evolution, not revolution” under the new regime, and acknowledged that the business - which last August reported an 81% drop in pre-tax profits for the financial year - needed to adapt to “dramatically changing buying behaviours”.

Hewitt said: “We have to change our business and our business model. There has been so much change in the market, it’s time for us to look at what our customers want in a more fundamental way than we have done in the past.”

Seigal’s experience of leading “challenger brands” such as Superdrug and The Perfume Shop, where customer research had played a crucial role, meant he was right for the role, Hewitt added.

He is now expected to build on foundations laid by his predecessor Sally Bailey, who had been at the helm for nine years. He will particularly focus on multichannel retailing.

Hewitt declined to lay out what changes might be implemented until research, which will look at broader industry trends as well as White Stuff’s existing customers, has been conducted. She would not be drawn on possible store closures or changes to the retailer’s team.

In reference to last year’s decline, in which profits fell to £2.8m in the year to April 28, 2012, from £14.9m in the previous 12 months, Hewitt said there were several internal factors, including a poor website and problems with the retailer’s distribution centre that had exacerbated what was an already tough trading environment.

“In the past six months, Sally has led the changes that needed to take place. The platform is now ready for someone like Jeremy to come in, do that core piece of research and move the business forward,” she said.

“The traditional way of running a business isn’t the way any more - life has changed and we need to reflect that.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • About time they joined modern retailing!

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