Boden chief executive Jill Easterbrook will step down at the end of the year as the retailer warns that current trading has been hit by “ongoing consumer uncertainty”.

Easterbrook, who joined the fashion retailer at the beginning of 2017, is leaving to build a non-executive portfolio.

Boden will not appoint a replacement for Easterbrook, whose remit will be shared by executive chair Julian Granville, chief financial officer Paul O’Leary, who will become chief operating officer, and the existing management team.


Jill Easterbrook has helped the Boden brand ‘to grow up’

Founder Johnnie Boden said: “Jill has contributed a huge amount to Boden. She has helped us to grow up. She has been instrumental in building Boden for the future and driving our ambition as an international, digital-first, multi-channel business. Over the last three years, we have invested in new channels, new systems and our people. I am very sad that Jill is leaving us but wish her every success in the future.”

Easterbrook’s departure comes as Boden unveiled an 11% uplift in pre-tax profit to £30m in the year to December 31, 2018, spurred by a 10% rise in group sales to £383m.

Womenswear sales rose 15% during the period, while its global customer base rose to more than 2 million shoppers after it invested in faster shipping to the USA and a website upgrade.

However, the retailer has warned that trading for the first half of its financial year has been challenged, particularly in the US, exacerbated by “ongoing consumer uncertainty and higher promotional activity”.

Boden, which recorded a 4% rise in group sales in its first half, also flagged that ongoing investment in its expansion would “likely have a negative impact of 2019 profitability”.

Easterbrook said: “We delivered a strong result in 2018, growing well and delivering more profit than we planned, mainly driven by a very strong US market. We continued to invest in our long-term growth strategy, investing in people and technology.

“2019 is proving challenging for the retail sector. We have felt the impact of ongoing consumer uncertainty. This macro environment and our continued investment are likely to have a negative impact on profitability this year. However, we are continuing to grow and believe that we have the foundations in place to build on our strong brand.”