Dunelm has named Whitbread boss Alison Brittain as its new chair as it posted an increase in full-year sales. 

Alison Brittain

Source: Whitbread

Alison Brittain called Dunelm ‘an entrepreneurial, purpose-led business with strong values’

Brittain will join the Dunelm board on September 7 and is expected to formally succeed Andy Harrison, who is stepping down from the role after nine years, by the end of the month.

Brittain has been chief executive of the FTSE 100 leisure group Whitbread, which owns businesses including Premier Inn hotels and the Beefeater restaurant chain, since 2015. 

She oversaw the sale of Costa Coffee in 2019, refocusing the group as a hotel company and expanding internationally. 

Brittain, who will retire from her role at Whitbread in early 2023, previously held senior roles at Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and Barclays.

She has also previously served as a non-executive at Marks & Spencer

Brittain said: “Dunelm is a company I have long admired as a customer and I love that it’s an entrepreneurial, purpose-led business with strong values and lots of ambition. 

“The last two years have reinforced the importance of the home in all of our lives and I am delighted to be joining a team with such a fabulous track record of focusing on delivering value for customers and a company with a fantastic opportunity for future growth.”

Harrison added: “I am thrilled to have an individual of Alison’s considerable talent and experience join our board. Dunelm has emerged from Covid as a bigger and stronger business, with an even bigger opportunity ahead. I am sure that Alison will help us to unlock this potential even faster.”

Details of Brittain’s appointment were revealed alongside a trading update covering Dunelm’s financial year to June 25. 

Total sales grew 16% year on year to £1.55bn, despite a 6% drop in sales during its fourth quarter, against what the retailer called “tough comparatives”. 

Online sales hit £537m during the year and now account for a fifth of group revenues. 

Dunelm expects its full-year pre-tax profit, which it unveils in September, to be “slightly ahead” of the analysts’ consensus of £207m.

  • Never miss a story – sign up to Retail Week’s breaking news alerts