John Walden has today been announced as the new Managing Director (MD) of catalogue and online retailer Argos, ending a recruitment search of more than nine months.
Walden has spent almost two decades working at senior management level for large US based retailers, including eight years with electricals specialists Best Buy where he held the position of Executive Vice President and was a member of the executive committee.
He has strong pedigree in multichannel operations, having been CEO of pioneering online supermarket Peapod in the mid-1990’s, while in his latest role he was Executive Vice President at the Sears retail group where, amongst other duties, he led the internet, catalogue and home services division.
Home Retail Group, owners of Argos, had been looking for someone to take up the MD role at the retailer since Sara Weller confirmed her intention to leave the company in April 2011.
Terry Duddy, CEO of Home Retail Group, said: “I am delighted John is joining the team; he brings with him a wealth of multi-channel retail and technology related business experience at senior levels within a range of both large retail organisations and smaller entrepreneurial enterprises.
“We look forward to John bringing a valuable, fresh perspective to the future development of Argos.”
Since the well-respected Weller departed from the business in June last year, Argos, like many other well-established UK retailers, has found trading increasingly difficult and Duddy has had to reject suggestions in recent months that the business would look to reduce its store portfolio.
The scale of the job Walden has ahead of him was made clear earlier this month when a “significant cut” in dividends was mooted by the Argos management team following a like-for-like sales decline of 8.8 per cent and a 50 base point fall in margins during the final quarter of the 2011 calendar year.
Despite the continued drop in sales, Duddy suggested at the time that group benchmark profit before tax for its full-year period would remain in the mid-point of the £78 million to £125 million analyst range.