Crew Clothing has hired a new management team as founder Alastair Parker-Swift steps aside to focus on the brand strategy and expansion of the business.

The 54-chain fashion lifestyle retailer has brought in former Woolworths commercial director Octavia Morley – who has also held roles at Laura Ashley and Asda – as managing director, and Clive Beharrell will become chairman.

Parker-Swift, who has been managing director of Crew Clothing, will take on the role of brand director. He said: “As the founder of Crew Clothing, and after 17 years of leading the business, I am thrilled to be handing over the reins to someone as capable, talented and experienced as Octavia. Add to that Clive’s formidable experience in this sector and I feel extremely positive about the next stage of growth.”

Morley, who has most recently worked as chief executive of weight-loss specialist Lighter Life, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to work with an exceptional brand and to ensure we build on our strong heritage with accelerated growth for the future.”

Beharrell will replace Peter Higgins, who will stay in the business on a consultancy basis. Beharrell has set up several retail and direct marketing brands – which were subsequently sold to Debenhams in the late 1990s – including Innovations and Hawkshead. He also ran the Racing Green brand while it was under the Debenhams/Burton Group ownership.

Since then he has been chairman of several private equity-backed businesses in different sectors. These included Fat Face, where he was chairman for five years until 2005. 

Crew Clothing, which sold a 25 per cent stake to private equity group ISIS Equity Partners in 2006, has grown 30 per cent year on year since the investment. In the year to October 26, 2008, the retailer had a turnover of almost £22m.

The retailer has four stores in Dubai and has appointed International Distributors to continue its international expansion. Parker-Swift set up the retailer in 1993 from his parent’s surf shop in Devon.