Fenwick, the struggling British department store chain, has implemented major changes to its leadership team in a bid to reverse its fortunes. Chairman Richard Pennycook, formerly of the Cooperative Group, and Managing Director Robbie Feather have been ousted by the founding family. Additionally, Andy Doyle, the non-executive chair of the remuneration committee, will also be leaving the board. Surprisingly, the family has not chosen to appoint any family members to fill these vacant positions. Instead, Steve Barber, an existing non-executive director, will take over as interim chairman, while John Edgar, the former CFO of Selfridges and Harrods, has been appointed as the new managing director.
This decision to shake up the leadership team comes at a challenging time for Fenwick. With physical stores closed and its online operation currently not functioning, the retailer has been struggling for some time. The founding family sees this as an opportunity to gain more control and streamline the board. However, they have expressed gratitude towards the outgoing members and have announced a one-month transition period.
Fenwick’s difficulties have been well-documented, particularly its lagging behind competitors in terms of modernization. The company only launched its online retail store last year, and unfortunately, this operation is now temporarily closed as it was serviced from the physical stores rather than a dedicated warehouse. It has also been reported that the company conducted stocktaking using pen and paper instead of using digital methods.
In its most recent financial report, Fenwick revealed a loss of £44.2 million and a 13.6% drop in sales. In an effort to improve efficiency, the company centralized its operations and reduced its workforce by more than 400 employees. Despite these challenges, Fenwick still holds valuable assets, with its property portfolio valued at £467 million, primarily due to the high valuation of its flagship store on New Bond Street in London.
The appointment of John Edgar as managing director brings crucial experience in the luxury sector, gained from his time at Selfridges and Harrods. This expertise could prove invaluable as Fenwick navigates through these difficult times. The company is optimistic that Edgar and the new leadership team will be able to drive the necessary transformation and steer the company towards success.