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The more things change, the more Next aims to stay the same

Well, you wait decades for a change at the top of the Next hierarchy, then you get three in the space of a few months.

The news that product director Christos Angelides is leaving the Palace of Enderby after 28 years for Abercrombie & Fitch in New Albany, Ohio, certainly livened up the already busy Drapers newsroom on Tuesday (see news editor Catherine Neilan’s instant analysis). Angelides’ announcement follows the recent news that property director Andrew Varley and finance director David Keens will step down after 27 and 28 years respectively.

Next has recruited Dominic O’Rourke, head of retail warehousing at Land Securities, as Varley’s successor. And while Keens spends more time practising his beloved fly-fishing, the spreadsheets will be under the control of brand finance director Amanda James, who has been promoted. This internal succession is typical of the no-fuss approach Next displays under the leadership of Lord Wolfson, who has racked up 23 years service.

So who will succeed Angelides? I expect Next will promote from within for a seamless, business-as-usual transition. Head of womenswear Liz Catterall and her men’s equivalent Richard Wiles presumably are candidates. The role may be split, but it’s unthinkable, isn’t it, that Next would look outside its existing team for a solution?

It is appropriate that Angelides’ move should be revealed as Drapers carries a special global careers section.

Following Marigay McKee swapping Harrods for Saks Fifth Avenue in January, the hiring of Angelides seems a smart move. As president of the $4.5bn (£2.7bn) A&F, he will have responsibility for the adults’ business and its kids’ equivalent Abercrombie (which will soon open its London flagship to annoy the neighbours on Savile Row).

The word on the headhunters’ grapevine is that New York recruiting firm Herbert Miles could not find anyone brave enough (or daft enough) to take on the problems at ailing A&F, so landing Angelides is a real coup. His career started at Next in 1986, just before it went into a tailspin in 1989 after founder George Davies was sacked, so he has known tough as well as relatively smooth times.

Despite Lord Wolfson’s famous aversion to anyone from Next (including himself) talking to the press, Angelides has been a good friend to Drapers over the years and a good friend to me. I have no doubt he will do what needs to be done at A&F. Good luck, fella.

Still on the subject of product, I was mightily impressed by the creative talent on show at Graduate Fashion Week. Our cover star Grace Weller of Bath Spa University was the worthy winner of the top prize, but our feature reveals just what a rich harvest of designers the colleges produced this year.

With other young people in mind, I must highlight the Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT). I am proud to be a trustee of this excellent charity, which has just secured former Warehouse boss Meg Lustman as its honorary chairman to succeed David Carter-Johnson after his five-year stint.

The FTCT provides grants to support the education and wellbeing of children whose parents work in any aspect of the UK fashion and textile industry. If you know of anyone who might benefit from its work, want to know more or can help raise funds, please call director Anna Pangbourne on 0300 123 9002, or go to www.ftct.org.uk.

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