Carpetright group finance director Neil Page said the retailer is poised to welcome a “new era” after overhauling its management team.
Bookmaker Wilf Walsh was unveiled as Carpetright’s new chief executive this morning, as the retailer revealed that Carpetright’s founder Lord Harris will step down from his role of executive chairman in September. His son Martin, who joined Carpetright in 1991 and holds the position of group development director, will leave at the same time.
As part of the changes, chief operating officer Graham Harris – no relation to Lord Harris – has also left the retailer.
The overhaul follows the surprise departure of former chief executive Darren Shapland last October, which prompted Lord Harris to reclaim the Carpetright helm as executive chairman.
Page conceded the management flux in recent years had caused instability, but he added: “Now we’re looking forward to a period of stability, a bit of a new era really.”
The appointment of Walsh, who has spent 14 years in the betting industry and is also strategy betting advisor for British Horse Racing, surprised observers; he has not worked in retail since 2000 and has no experience in either carpets or home improvement retailing.
However, Page said the new chief fits the bill due to his experience in consumer facing businesses and his international and digital expertise.
“Phil was very impressed with him, he fitted the profile,” said Page. He added Harris was also impressed with his leadership and strategic skills. Page added: “He’s very people orientated, he likes to be out in the field.”
One source who knows him said: “He is politically very adept. I can’t imagine he knows anything about carpets, but he’s a quick learner. He is flexible and adaptable.”
Walsh joins at a challenging time for Carpetright. The retailer has issued a string of profit warnings in the last 12 months after a disastrous performance at its European business.
Page added: “Phil isn’t getting any younger and it’s important to get [the management team] sorted.”
Many members of the Carpetright head office team were said to be in tears at the news of the Harris family leaving. “Lots of us have a lot of loyalty to Phil,” said Page.
He said Lord Harris was “excited” to step back so he can spend more time with his schools and horses.
Page, however, declined to give odds on the chances of Walsh revitalising the troubled business.