Succession or sale: Why has River Island hired Will Kernan?

River Island London

River Island’s appointment of Will Kernan as chief executive struck an unexpected note last week.

Kernan is not the retailer’s first external chief executive. Richard Bradbury, who ran the business from 2008 to 2010, spent 20 years at the business and was formerly its womenswear managing director before becoming chief executive.

River Island’s investment in stores and technology has helped to maintain its brand and customer appeal, but as a legacy retailer, it is still vulnerable to the same structural changes that have adversely affected less healthy rivals.

While Kernan has had success in the businesses he has run, his experience working with private equity may also have piqued the Lewis family’s interest.

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