Jack Wills CEO Suzanne Harlow exits

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Jack Wills CEO Suzanne Harlow exits 2 weeks after Sports Direct takeover
Suzanne Harlow's departure from Jack Wills comes 2 weeks after the Sports Direct takeover.
// Jack Wills CEO Suzanne Harlow has left office
// She was appointed to the role just under a year ago
// Source tells Retail Gazette that she did not choose to leave

Suzanne Harlow has left her position as chief executive of Jack Wills two weeks after Sports Direct acquired the fashion retailer in a pre-pack administration deal.

A source from within Jack Wills told Retail Gazette that Harlow exited yesterday, and that she did not resign nor quit.

The source would not confirm if the decision came from Sports Direct and if it was mutual, but said these sorts of leadership changes are common when a new owner takes over a business.

Harlow had only been Jack Wills’ chief executive since September last year, after working for the fashion retailer as a consultant for four months.

She was promoted to chief executive after Jack Wills’ founder Peter Williams was seemingly ousted by previous owners BlueGem in August last year, amid reports of a row with the private equity firm over cashflow problems.

Before Jack Wills, Harlow worked for Debenhams for 19 years – working her way up to group trading director.

The Retail Gazette has contacted Sports Direct for comment.

Earlier this month, Jack Wills was sold for £12.75 million to Mike Ashley-owned Sports Direct via a pre-pack administration deal, ending a bidding war with Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

As part of the pre-pack deal, allJack Wills stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as the distribution centre and all 1700 employees, transfered to Sports Direct.

Jack Wills also moved to a new division established at Sports Direct which will focus solely on buying and building fashion and sports brands, and report to Michael Murray – Ashley’s future son-in-law – in his role as head of elevation.

However, earlier this week it was revealed that Sports Direct will shut down eight of the roughly 100 Jack Wills stores.

Last week, it emerged that Sports Direct was negotiating with Jack Wills’ landlords to accept rent-free tenancy agreements across some of its worst-performing stores.

Mike Ashley’s retail group is understood to be seeking to slash Jack Wills rents to zero, and is offering landlords five per cent of turnover at the majority of Jack Wills stores.

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