Solomon, who previously owned The Original Factory Shop, has become chairman and chief executive of The Works, after completing the deal a fortnight ago.
“I had been looking for a new company for the past two years or so,” said Solomon, who bought The Original Factory Shop in 2002 for£7 million and sold it for£39 million less than two years later. “Endless approached me with The Works and I liked it. The plan is to fix the business.”
The Works hit the buffers in January after suffering weak trading in the second half of last year, in the face of competition from the grocers and a resurgent Waterstone’s and WHSmith.
Solomon said The Works has “a unique proposition on the high street”. Restoring its fortunes will include taking much of the sourcing of non-book giftware to China and modernising the interiors of the 226-store chain, which he said were looking “a bit tired”.
A new-look store is being tested at Solihull, close to The Works’ Birmingham headquarters. Solomon will monitor its progress and, if successful, the formula will be rolled out across the chain.
David Luper has joined Solomon at The Works as buying director, having worked with him on previous ventures.
The deal marks the end of chairman Alan Smith and chief executive Anthony Skitt’s short-lived stewardship of the retailer.
Skitt – the former boss of failed DVD retailer Choices UK – and Smith were installed at The Works when Endless sealed the deal with administrator Kroll at the beginning of May. The agreement was rumoured to be worth between£17 million and£25 million.
The Works was valued at£50 million three years ago, when it was sold to Hermes Private Equity.