// Matalan founder John Hargreaves has returned to the retailer as chair
// Hargreaves replaces Steve Johnson, who has been at the helm for two years
Matalan founder John Hargreaves has returned to the value retailer after a 15 year absence as executive chair Steve Johnson exits.
Hargreaves, who founded Matalan in 1985, last led the business in 2007 before he handed over to Johnson’s predecessor John Mills.
Monaco-based Hargreaves lost a court battle with HMRC earlier this year over his attempt to avoid a tax bill of up to £135 million. A court ruled he owed capital gains tax in relation to his sale of shares in Matalan in 2000.
Hargreaves thanked Johnson for his “invaluable leadership and contributions” over the past two years.
Johnson originally joined Matalan as non-executive chair but took an executive role to guide the retailer through the pandemic.
Hargreaves said: “Nobody could have predicted the pandemic or the more recent macro-pressures affecting the retail industry. Matalan’s navigation of these challenges, our market share gains and the top-line performance announced in our latest trading updates are testament to Steve’s leadership and our colleagues’ ongoing dedication.
“My belief in, passion for and commitment to our business are stronger than ever and I look forward to maximising our growth potential, along with the senior leadership team, delivering true omnichannel value for our customers.”
Johnson added: “It has been a pleasure to lead and work with all the colleagues at Matalan over these last two extraordinary years. Matalan’s great value proposition is well-positioned to prosper over the coming years. I wish everyone in the business every success in the future.”
Matalan last month agreed a refinancing of its near-term maturities relating to the Covid-19 large business load scheme and its revolving credit facility. This was replaced by a new £60m loan facility for up to 18 months.
The good run continued in Matalan’s first quarter to 28 May, when sales rose almost 30% to £286.5 million as shoppers sought out value amid the cost-of-living crisis.
The fashion and home retailer attributed the uplift to the value, quality and choice it offers customers as shoppers sought out better-value deals amid the cost of living crisis.