Former Asda chief executive and value fashion chain Peacocks chairman Allan Leighton tells Retail Week about his new role as chairman of value fashion and homewares retailer Matalan, which sits alongside his chairmanships at footwear retailer Office and Danish jewellery company Pandora

Why did you want to work with Matalan?

I’ve known John [Mills, Matalan deputy chairman] for a long time - on and off for 15 years - and I’ve long known the Hargreaves family [Matalan’s founders] too.

I‘ve always been a fan of the business, I love innovators and theirs has been a great idea to be the first big volume value retailer out of town. I’ve always liked that model and I feel there is a lot of growth in it.

Why do you think it has growth potential?

It is a business of the moment [because of its value proposition]. It has the right products and it’s about getting the volume with a twist of fashionability.

Matalan also has a good loyalty base with their loyalty card and that has room for expansion. I know the team has also been speaking about other types of formats.

I’ll be focusing on the core business because if you get that right, you succeed. The core is strong but it could be much stronger.

What are your plans for the loyalty card?

Darren [Blackhurst, Matalan chief executive] would say he believes they could move much smarter with it. It’s primarily about getting loyal shoppers to spend more with you and you need to ensure the product is right for your customer base.

How has the product improved?

There have been a few ups and downs over the last couple of years but product has got more correct for the customer. John and the team are very good on product and they understand who is the core customer.

Who is your core customer?

The core customer is very similar to the Asda customer – ordinary working people that spend money wisely, that want a bit of fashion at a price they feel is real value to them.