Littlewoods recruits Next boss for fashion overhaul

The Barclay brothers have added the final piece of the management jigsaw at Littlewoods, with the appointment of Next Directory boss Mark Newton-Jones to revitalise the chain's 120 fashion stores.

Newton-Jones, who has spent nearly two decades at Next, is expected to conduct a business review when he joins on November 4. Littlewoods' search for a boss faltered previously when Monsoon managing director Rose Foster changed her mind about accepting the post.

Newton-Jones lines up alongside former Homebase trading director Tim James, who took charge of Index in August, following the decision to run the fashion and catalogue chains separately. New managing directors for the agency and direct catalogues, Mark Daynes and Alan Evans, are also in place.

During his time at Next, 36-year-old Newton-Jones climbed the ranks from store to regional manager - with responsibility for 115 stores - before taking charge of the catalogue arm.

Littlewoods chairman David Simons said: 'I am sure his extensive retailing experience will enable him to make an invaluable contribution.'

Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt's decision to refer Littlewoods'£590 million acquisition of the GUS home shopping division, renamed Shop Direct, to the Competition Commission leaves the remoulded retailer with expensive unfinished business.

The referral has stalled any merger for up to three months, with the watchdog's report due at latest on December 23.