Matalan founder John Hargreaves has returned to the business as executive chair after 15 years

John Hargreaves

Hargreaves will replace outgoing chair Steve Johnson

Hargreaves will replace outgoing chair Steve Johnson, who is stepping down with immediate effect.

Johnson led the fashion chain through the last two years of the pandemic. Hargreaves, who founded Matalan in 1985, last led the business as chair in 2007.

The retailer relocated to Monaco in 2000, claiming non-residence in order to avoid a tax bill of up to £135m after he disposed of his shares.

Hargreaves lost his battle with HMRC in February this year.

He said in a statement:  “I would like to personally go on record and thank Steve for all his invaluable leadership and contributions over the last two years. Steve joined the business in a non-executive chair capacity and I am grateful that he agreed to step into an executive role to help guide the company through the pandemic.

“Nobody could have predicted the pandemic or the more recent macro-pressures affecting the retail industry. Matalan’s navigation of these challenges, our market share gains and the top-line performance announced in our latest trading updates are testament to Steve’s leadership and our colleagues’ ongoing dedication.

“My belief in, passion for and commitment to our business are stronger than ever and I look forward to maximising our growth potential, along with the senior leadership team, delivering true omnichannel value for our customers. On behalf of the board, I would like to wish Steve all the very best with his future endeavours.”

Johnson added:  “It has been a pleasure to lead and work with all the colleagues at Matalan over these last two extraordinary years. Matalan’s great value proposition is well-positioned to prosper over the coming years. I wish everyone in the business every success in the future.”

Matalan laid out a refinancing plan last month, including a new £60m loan facility for up to 18 months.

The retailer recorded profits and sales growth in its most recent results as it recovers from the impacts of the pandemic.

Matalan reported EBITDA up 145% year on year to £198m in the 52-week period to February 26, while sales also jumped 38% to £1.02bn over the same period.

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