Steve Carson has come a long way in less than seven years at Home Retail Group.
After 15 years at Sainsbury’s he joined Home Retail in 2006, fulfilling duties across the retailer’s two big brands, Argos and Homebase, before taking over one of the shops in the group’s, now relinquished, HomeStore & More chain.
But it was in 2011 that Carson really began his ascent into the upper tiers of retailing. He was appointed director of retail operations at Argos in December, in the midst of a rough time for the retailer which was just about to report its fourth consecutive year of falling sales. A tough assignment for any retailer followed: to help lead a transformation designed to revitalise its fortunes and oversee the development of the fledgling digital concept stores.
In the next two years Argos significantly ramped up its catalogue to include 3,500 more lines in 2012 than in 2009 and took on far more clothing than ever before. A strong year of sales, bolstered by some superb individual performances – most notably tablets - saw Argos back into growth territory in 2012/13.
Carson will take up his new role at Home Retail in much more auspicious times. In March the group reported strong like-for-like growth for the previous two months, with good signs that it will be fully back on track in its 2013/14 financial year.
With a substantial brief that includes managing Home Retail Group’s customer contacr centres, as well as overseeing a property portfolio that includes 1,000 stores, and the same role at Argos still under his belt, Carson will have his work cut out. But there is a comfort for him. With former Argos chief John Walden a month into his job as Home Retail chief executive, the new era for the company could feel just like old times.
Commenting on the move, Walden says: “Steve has been a strong leader of the Argos transformation among our critical Argos store colleagues, and driven good results. Having worked in both the Argos and Homebase businesses, he will now align services to actively support the customer proposition for each operating business. Property is an important element of both Argos and Homebase’s strategies and will enable us to use our asset base more effectively across both of our businesses”.