House of Fraser CEO quits despite better Black Friday trade, imminent China debut
The CEO of department stores giant House of Fraser has quit the firm over differences with the company’s Chinese majority owner Sanpower, according to reports. Nigel Oddy will leave next spring.
The retailer confirmed the news of his impending departure in a statement, saying: “The board of House of Fraser confirms it has been informed of Nigel Oddy’s intention to leave the business in the New Year to pursue new opportunities. Nigel will remain with the business until such time as a new CEO is appointed and to ensure a smooth transition process.”
Oddy, CEO for nearly two years, is believed to have give notice last month, just before the crucial Christmas trading period. Newspaper reports said he was frustrated at low investment in the chain.
Several key executives have left since the company was acquired in 2014, including Oddy’s predecessor John King and the finance and customer directors. Several newspapers also said that supply chain chief Ray Kavanagh is to leave.
House of Fraser, which has 60 stores and employs 17,500, has been loss-making for five years people and in late September warned of “challenging trading conditions,” with sales down 2% in the previous eight-week trading period.
However, more recently it said that it “continues to trade in line with management expectations and is confident it is well positioned for Christmas, with trading over the Black Friday period to date already showing improvement on last year.”
Sanpower owns 89% of the business with the rest held by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct. In 2014, the Chinese conglomerate had promised to invest £75m in the company and expand into Russia and the Middle East. But reports said the company has been reliant on its own funding, including a 2015 bond issue.
However, international expansion is happening with the first Chinese store, in Nanjing, due to open next month.
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