The biggest boardroom changes so far this year

It's been a tumultuous start to the year so far, especially in boardrooms. Retail Gazette has put together some of the biggest and most recent boardroom and management overhauls that have got the industry talking since the start of 2020.

The biggest boardroom CEO changes so far this year
We've put together the biggest and most recent appointments that took the retail industry by storm.

1. Ikea brand owner appoints new CEO as Torbjörn Lööf steps down

The company that controls Ikea’s intellectual property and supply chain appointed Jon Abrahamsson Ring as its new chief executive this week.

Ring, who currently leads Inter Ikea Holding’s franchising division, is set to replace Torbjörn Lööf after he steps down later this year.

2. Matchesfashion poaches Amazon exec Ajay Kavan as new CEO

Matchesfashion raided Amazon’s senior ranks to appoint Ajay Kavan as its new chief executive this week.

Effective from March 19, Kavan will replace former boss Ulric Jerome who left Matchesfashion in August last year.

Ajay Kavan has been a vice president at Amazon for nine years

3. Hamleys hires David Smith as its new CEO

David Smith once held the position of head of international operations at Debenhams, and is also the former managing director of The Body Shop’s Asia Pacific division.

4. Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe resigns amid head office job cuts

While Mike Coupe announced his resignation from the helm of Sainsbury’s in January, he said he would remain in the post until the end of May – after which he will be replaced by current retail and operations director, Simon Roberts, from June 1.

Coupe’s resignation also came less than 24 hours after Sainsbury’s announced hundreds of job cuts in head office roles.

Since his resignation, the head of Sainsbury’s Bank Roger Davis also resigned.

The biggest boardroom changes so far this year
Mike Coupe has worked for Sainsbury’s for more than 15 years, the last 6 of those as CEO.

5. H&M Group chairman Stefan Persson steps down after more than 20 years in the role

The Swedish retail giant said Stefan Persson, who announced his departure at the end of January, will be succeeded as chairman by his son and H&M Group chief executive Karl-Johan Persson.

Meanwhile, H&M chief operating officer Helena Helmersson has been promoted to chief executive of the H&M Group.

Stefan Persson is the son of Erling Persson, who founded H&M in 1947.

6. John Lewis Partnership welcomes new chair Sharon White amid lesdership overhaul

Sharon White joins John Lewis Partnership as chairman at a time when the retail business has seen a number of senior management departures.

John Lewis’ customer director Craig Inglis was the most recent executive to announce his resignation, shortly after managing director Paula Nickolds revealed in January that she would be leaving the department store chain after 25 years in the business.

Rob Collins – managing director of stablemate Waitrose – had announced his resignation back in October.

Meanwhile, John Lewis Partnership appointed Nina Bhatia as the executive director of strategy and commercial development this month, as part of the newly formed Future Partnership executive team.

She will join office on February 17 report directly to chair Sharon White.

John Lewis Partnership Waitrose Paula Nickolds
Paula Nickolds’ resignation as John Lewis managing director came as a surprise.

7. Selfridges managing director Simon Forster exits

The managing director of upmarket department store Selfridges left last week after a little more than a year in the role.

Simon Forster left abruptly, according to The Sunday Telegraph, which cited a loss in confidence in his leadership as a reason behind the departure.

Forster’s predecessor Anne Pitcher has been drafted in as interim managing director.

8. M&S appoints Eoin Tonge as new CFO

Marks & Spencer hired Eoin Tonge as its new chief financial officer, replacing Humphrey Singer who quit shortly after the retailer was demoted from the FTSE 100 last September.

David Surdeau, currently interim finance chief, will remain with the business to support Tonge during a transition period.

M&S also bolstered its top team earlier this month, with non-executive director Katie Bickerstaffe appointed chief strategy and transformation director as the retailer’s turnaround scheme steps up in pace.

Meanwhile former N Brown group chief financial officer Craig Lovelace was hired as the new food finance chief, replacing Nick Hewitt.

9. Mothercare CEO Mark Newton-Jones exits

Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones stepped down as part of the retailer’s transformation plans.

Glyn Hughes, who has been chief financial officer throughout the restructuring period, was drafted in as interim chief executive officer with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, corporate development director of Mothercare, Andrew Cook, who has served since April 2019, has been promoted to chief financial officer with immediate effect.

Mothercare chairman Clive Whiley will become non-executive chairman with effect from March 29.

Mark Newton-Jones will remain as an executive director of Mothercare until July.

10. N Brown Group hires a CFO and retail CEO

N Brown Group announced the appointment of Rachel Izzard as its new group chief financial officer, replacing Craig Lovelace who is leaving for M&S.

A start date for Izzard and departure date for Lovelace have not been confirmed yet, but the parent company of fashion retailers Simbly Be, Jacamo and JD Williams said this will be revealed in due course.

Izzard’s appointment came on the same day N Brown group hired Sarah Welsh to take on the newly-created role of retail chief executive.

Welsh will join office on March 30 and will be responsible for all aspects of product including buying, merchandising, design, fit, trading, sourcing and partnerships.

11. Ex-Bonmarche CEO Helen Connolly joins New Look as commercial chief

The former chief executive of Bonmarche, Helen Connolly, is now set to join New Look as its new chief commercial officer.

Connolly will replace chief product officer Roger Wightman, who is resigning from New Look after 30 years.

Connolly will join New Look on January 13.

Connolly was Bonmarché chief executive from August 2016 until her resignation in December, shortly after it feel into administration.

Ex-Bonmarche CEO Helen Connolly joins New Look as CCO
Helen Connolly was Bonmarche CEO for just over three years. (Image: LinkedIn)

12. Wilko promotes transformation director to CEO

Wilko promoted its group transformation director and managing director of online, Jerome Saint-Marc, to the role of chief executive.

This marks the first time someone has held the chief executive role at Wilko since Stuart Mitchell stepped down in 2012.

BONUS: New Tesco CEO’s start date delayed to October

Ken Murphy, who is currently chief commercial officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, had been due to start as chief executive of the UK’s biggest grocer this summer.

However, Tesco confirmed it would now be October 1, with current chief executive Dave Lewis agreeing to stay on until Murphy arrives.

Lewis first revealed his resignation last October, when Tesco published its half-year results.

Tesco Dave Lewis CEO resignation John Allan Ken Murphy
Dave Lewis will step down as Tesco CEO in October

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