George at Asda’s managing director Anthony Thompson is set to to join lifestyle retailer Fat Face as chief executive.

Thompson joined Asda in 2007 to run its clothing business, and will leave at the end of March. He was previously the retail director of Marks & Spencer.

Fat Face chairman Alan Giles said: “We are delighted that Anthony is joining to lead the Fat Face team. The market has been difficult for all retailers so we’re especially pleased that someone with his extensive retail knowledge and passion for building successful retail brands will be leading our business. We would also like to record our thanks to Louise Barnes who has made such a tremendous contribution to the development of the company and wish her every success for the future.” 

In an internal Asda memo, seen by Retail Week, Asda chief executive Andy Bond thanked Thompson for the “firm foundation he’s put in place during his three years at the helm of George”.

Bond added: “I want also to put on record my appreciation for Anthony’s contribution to my executive team.   I’ll miss his support and passion for the customer.

“I’m thoughtfully considering who will take up the reins at George and am hopeful that I’ll be in a position to announce his successor in a matter of weeks, not months.  I wish Anthony all the best in his future endeavours.”

Thompson, who joins Fat Face on April 19 said: “Fat Face is a very special brand with a strong heritage. I am excited to be joining the Fat Face team and can see huge potential for the brand.”

Barnes’ intentions are not known.

For the year to May 30, 2009, Fat Face sales rose by 2.8% to £129.9m with EBITDA of £25m (£26.6m). It also opened 19 new stores and increased the number of John Lewis Partnership sites from 17 to 27. The brand was also introduced to 20 Cotswold Outdoor stores.

Fat Face is owned by private equity house Bridgepoint.