The appointment of Darcy Willson-Rymer as chief executive of Clinton Cards could not be a more definitive sign of change at the retailer, which for the first time will be run by someone from outside the founding family.

The appointment of Darcy Willson-Rymer as chief executive of Clinton Cards could not be a more definitive sign of change at the retailer, which for the first time will be run by someone from outside the founding family.

Not only is Willson-Rymer not a Lewin, he’s not a traditional retailer. But his background at coffee specialist Starbucks, Unilever Ventures and Yum! Brands could make the business blend at Clintons more appetising.

He will bring strategic insight to complement the knowledge of managing director Clinton Lewin – and experience of improving in-store experience.

The latter could prove crucial as Clinton battles to make its stores relevant, not just against growing competitors such as Card Factory, but against the new breed of online specialists such as Moonpig.

The internet challenge is pressing and that’s where new thinking must be brought to bear. It may also be Willson-Rymer’s biggest personal hurdle because of the glaring difference from Starbucks. You can’t drink coffee on the internet, but you can send greetings online.

Debenhams makes no concessions

The right mix of concessions in a department store is a key consideration, so Debenhams’ decision to part company with Jane Norman wasn’t taken lightly.

Despite a poor performance in the last couple of years from the Jane Norman space, Debenhams’ management was open to maintaining the relationship.

But discussions with the new owners of the chain didn’t go well. The terms asked from the department store group were said to be risible. But Debenhams has plenty of options. As well as devoting the footage to its own brands such as H! by Henry Holland, existing concessionaires are keen to up their space, so there won’t be any vacant lots in Debenhams’ stores.