Rent-to-own electricals and home retailer BrightHouse has appointed a new chairman as full-year sales and profits jump.
The retailer has hired Henry Staunton as chairman, effective from July 8. Staunton, who will replace Richard Pym, is also chairman of WH Smith and holds non-executive directorships at Standard Bank and Capital and Counties.
Brighthouse chief executive Leo McKee told Retail Week: “We’ve got a winner in Henry Staunton. He’s got a very distinctive set of skills. He’s got PLC board experience which is what we’re looking for. He’s got very substantial financial services credentials and relevant commercial expertise. Like Pym, he’s a heavyweight.”
McKee declined to comment whether the appointment of Staunton meant the business was gearing up for an IPO or sale. It has been owned by private equity firm Vision Capital for seven years.
“The exit strategy of a sale or IPO is entirely for Vision Capital,” he said. “Could Brighthouse float on the market? Of course it could. But there’s not an active process.”
A Vision Capital spokeswoman declined to comment on any possible sale, but added: “We’re extremely pleased with the performance of BrightHouse and continue to support its management and strategy.”
The appointment of Staunton comes as Brighthouse revealed EBITDA growth of 10.1% to £52.6m in the year to March 31. Revenue was up 12.2% to £333.3m and like-for-likes increased 6.9%.
The retailer opened seven shops in the year, taking its store count to 286. McKee said BrightHouse had revised down its store expansion targets from the 650 it forecast four years ago to between 400 and 450 because of the growing popularity of its online offer.
The BrightHouse website is not transactional but shoppers can now check their credit rating online and browse products as well as compare prices.
McKee said the next phase will be to allow shoppers to make their regular payments over the website but he said there are no plans for shoppers to be able to order products online yet, as shoppers are asked to come into store to talk to the manager about their personal finances.
He said: “We are a local operator. But who knows where that’ll be in five years’ time.”
McKee said Brighthosue was able to drive another year of growth by “understanding the customers” and evolving the product range. He said Brighthouse shoppers are tech savvy and aspire to own the latest gadgets. As a result smart TVs, smart phones, tablets and the Xbox are selling well.
He added that Brighthouse will continue to attract shoppers despite the economy showing signs of improvement. “Brighthouse is a resilient business,” he said.
He said a “substantial proportion” of Brighthouse’s customers are from lower income households, and that despite green shoots in the economy, those households are still suffering from depressed discretionary spend because of the recent benefits changes and low wage growth.