Matalan looks shaky as Mason and Clarke quit

Serious questions about the stability of value retailer Matalan have been raised by the shock resignations of chief executive Paul Mason and retail director Andy Clarke on Tuesday.

Matalan is now on its third chief executive in two years, following the appointment of Matalan Retail trading director and Lee Cooper Group chief executive John King to succeed Mason.

King will continue in his trading director role, while marketing director Euan Sutherland will assume responsibility for retail in addition to marketing.

The changeover followed differences between Matalan executive chairman John Hargreaves and Mason and Clarke.

A Matalan spokesman denied rumours of a big bust-up. He said: 'It's become clear that Hargreaves and Mason have different management styles and ways of operating and that was starting to affect the business and morale.'

According to one analyst, who asked not to be named, a lack of return on extra investment in areas such as staff and marketing forced things to a head.

Remaining senior managers, most of whom are former Asda colleagues brought in by Mason, have provided assurances they will stay.

The departures prompted some observers to question whether Hargreaves can work with a strong chief executive. However, the spokesman said: 'I can't imagine Hargreaves ever working with a yes man. It's not a Hargreaves versus Mason thing it's just a question of styles unable to work together.'

Matalan insisted pre-tax profits, to be announced in a fortnight, will be in line with expectations.