The number of chief executives losing their jobs in the retail sector reached a seven-year high in 2019, according to a new report.

Overall churn of retail bosses in 2019 saw a 25% increase to 55 across the sector, up from 45 changes the previous year according to Korn Ferry’s UK Retail CEO Tracker report.

The report also found that 37% of chief executives who lost their jobs last year had been in the role for less than three years and that the fashion, luxury and apparel categories were the worst affected across the industry.

The report said the high turnover rate among retail bosses was driven by “wavering consumer confidence, Brexit uncertainty, a general election and ongoing challenges of rent and business rates [which] combined to create an ‘annus horribilis’ for retail”.

Korn Ferry also noted concern over what it called “the attrition rate of female CEOs from listed companies and/or running retail businesses of scale and complexity” last year.

It said the only female chief executive of a listed retail business today is Karen Hubbard at Card Factory.

Managing director at Korn Ferry, Sarah Lim, said the past year saw a perfect storm of challenges for retail, resulting in profit warnings, a further spate of Company Voluntary Arrangements and a number of high-profile high street names going into administration.

“As we head into a new decade, one thing is for sure; retail will change unrecognisably over the next ten years – those who lead our industry will need to do so too.”