Sam Husain will step down as Foyles’ Chief Executive on 16th February, the famous London bookseller announced last week. He will be replaced by Paul Currie, current Global Vice-President, Retail Sales & Operations at Molton Brown. In order to “facilitate a smooth handover”, Husain will stay on at Foyles until 30th April when he will retire on his 68th birthday. He will remain a non-executive director at Foyles thereafter.
Husain, who did not have a background in retail, became Chief Executive of Foyles in May 2007. Under his tenure, Foyles consolidated its turnaround after a prolonged period of lossmaking and saw expansion into new locations at Waterloo Station, the Royal Festival Hall and Westfield Stratford City and a move of its flagship Charing Cross Road shop to new premises in June 2014. The independent bookseller has also expanded outside the capital, opening a store in Bristol in 2011 and with a planned opening at Grand Central Birmingham in September.
Speaking to Retail Gazette at the flagship Charing Cross branch, Husain reflected on his time at Foyles:
“Mainly to start with I was responsible for a turnaround strategy: looking at the structure and stability of the company so that it stands on its own two feet in a challenging industry; looking at the management team and making sure that they have compatible skills; negotiating new terms with publishers and suppliers to recognise the fact that bookshops tend to be a showroom for books.
The book industry has stabilised this year and it was we’ve outperformed the industry as such. We were well ahead with Christmas-time sales, not only here but our other shops. It’s nice to see people actually flocking for a bookshop for a change.”
Foyles news flagship store on Charing Cross Road saw a 14.7% increase in like-for-like sales for December and has widely been hailed a success following the move from its beloved but labyrinthine predecessor.
Christopher Foyle, Non-Executive Chairman of Foyles, commented:
“Sam has been invaluable to Foyles’ continuing renaissance. His leadership has made the past eight years exceptional, culminating in a superb Christmas at our new flagship store and across the business.”
Paul Currie is former Chief Operating Officer at another retail institution of London’s West End, Hamleys toy store, and has also acted as a consultant to respected retail brands such as Cath Kidston, White Company and most recently Crabtree and Evelyn.
Foyle said of the appointment, “I’m looking forward to welcoming Paul Currie to Foyles and benefiting from his extensive experience in the retail sector.
Husain was once styled in a profile by The Independent as ‘the bookseller who doesn’t read books. Talking to the Retail Gazete, however, he affably quashed these rumours:
“I would not be able to articulate what I’ve said today if I had not read any books. I tend to dip in and out of books. When I was younger I read much more from cover to cover but now I just don’t have time. But I keep squirreling away books . I’ve got a library in my holiday home in Rye – which is full of bookshops – and I think in my retirement I’m keeping to read those books. That’s my plan.”