Opinion: Fenwick leadership changes are a huge roll of the dice


Department store group Fenwick is taking a risk as it parts company with both chair Richard Pennycook and chief executive Robbie Feather.

The shock management changeover comes as the coronavirus pandemic brings unprecedented challenges to general merchandise retailers, with department stores, in particular, seeking to connect with shoppers in more contemporary ways.

Fenwick is one of the last remaining jewels in that sector’s crown, following the emergency surgery needed at rivals such as House of Fraser and Debenhams, which could yet crash into administration for a second time. In Fenwick’s North East heartland, there is a visceral love for the retailer, its famous Newcastle Christmas windows and food hall.

However, such traditional strengths have not been enough to protect Fenwick from the retail storm raging around it. Last year, it lost £44.2m at a pre-tax level, while operating profit before exceptionals tumbled 84%.

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