The revolving door at retailers’ head offices can sometimes move especially fast, as Hobbycraft boss John Colley recently discovered.

However, Colley is by no means alone when it comes to short tenures. Retail Week takes a look at some of the shortest, and the reasons behind the brevity.

John Colley, chief executive of Hobbycraft

Tenure: Two months

John colley

John Colley

The former B&Q and Screwfix executive stepped down from his role as chief executive of Hobbycraft earlier this month after only eight weeks in the job. He justified the move by saying “the fit wasn’t right for me”.

It was not through lack of effort though. Colley even chronicled his attempts to learn how to knit in a bid to fully immerse himself in the role.

Prior to his stint at Hobbycraft, Colley was managing director of Majestic Wines’ retail division, where he rebuilt its senior leadership team, increased its focus on customer service and shopper loyalty, and rolled out click-and-collect and next-day delivery.

Kevin O’Byrne, chief executive of Poundland

Tenure: Six months

Kevin obyrne

Kevin O’ Byrne

Kevin O’ Byrne had only been at Poundland for a month when Steinhoff bought the retailer for £610m last August. The South African conglomerate wanted the former B&Q chief executive to continue at the helm, and even offered him a £2.7m share package to persuade him to stay on.

However, his head was turned by Sainsbury’s, which swooped for him in November, offering him the chief financial officer position left vacant by the promotion of John Rogers.

Sainsbury’s offered £300,000 worth of shares – subject to performance – in order to persuade him to jump ship from Poundland after only six months in the role.

Kate Bostock, executive director of product and trading at Asos

Tenure: Six months

Kate bostock

Kate Bostock

Much was made of M&S stalwart Kate Bostock joining Asos in January 2013 to bring efficiencies to its sourcing operation as it rapidly scaled the business.

However, her time at the etailer was short-lived as she stepped down after only six months. Former Asos boss Nick Robertson said at the time that he and Bostock had “agreed that Asos is not the right platform for her talent”.

Bostock added: “Asos is a formidable business and I have great respect for the team I have been working with; they are right at the cutting edge of young online fashion.”

John Browett, head of retail at Apple

Tenure: Six months


John Browett

Apple’s hiring of John Browett after his work transforming Dixons was met with surprise by many. It was the first major appointment by Tim Cook following the death of Steve Jobs, and Browett was rewarded with a £36m golden hello.

However, things soon went awry as Browett’s pursuit of improving retail profit margins clashed with the culture of the Silicon Valley tech giant. Browett reportedly alienated store staff with his strategy, and parted ways with Apple in October 2012 after only six months. Apple issued an internal statement admitting “we messed up”.

At Retail Week Live in 2013, Browett explained “the issue was I just didn’t fit with the business” and said the experience taught him to have greater humility and to be a “much kinder person”.

Simon King, chief operating officer at Asda

Tenure: Six months

Simon king

Simon King

It was hoped the appointment of former Tesco man Simon King as Asda chief operating officer would be a catalyst for a return to form for the grocer.

However, only six months after taking on the role in January 2011, King was on his way with no official reason for his departure.

Sources said it “didn’t work out”. King was not out of work for long and soon resurfaced as managing director of Wickes.

Bali Padda, chief executive at Lego

Tenure: Eight months

Bali padda

Bali padda

Headlines were made when Lego revealed at the end of 2016 that it was appointing its first non-Danish boss and hiring Bali Padda.

The British chief executive only lasted eight months in the top job. Lego claimed his departure was not due to performance but said that because of his age (61), Padda was never expected to be in the position long-term.

Lego reverted to form by hiring another Dane as a replacement, Niels Christiansen, last month. A spokesman said Padda “wasn’t in a position in his life to be in the role for a long time. It might have been five years but it wouldn’t have been 10 years. We found the right person faster than expected”.

And the ones that never were…

David Adams, Monsoon

In 2007, House of Fraser chief financial officer David Adams was reportedly due to join Monsoon as chief executive, but the appointment fell apart immediately. He told Retail Week that the reports saying he had signed a contract to join the fashion retailer were premature.

Adams declined to detail the reasons for the non-appointment, but said the decision had been made amicably. He ended up at Jessops, where he went on to clock up five years.

He is now chairman of Bargain Booze owner Conviviality.

Barry Williams, Morrisons

Barry Williams

Barry Williams

Barry Williams

Morrisons announced it had hired Barry Williams in August 2016 as its ambient trading director. He was due to start the role in February of this year, before Poundland muscled in to sign him up instead.

Williams joined the discount retailer as trading director in November, after deciding the location of Poundland’s headquarters was better situated for his family home in the Midlands.

Paula Dumont López, New Look

New Look made a U-turn on its decision to draft in a new chief creative officer after the departure of Anders Kristiansen last month.

Kristiansen had appointed former Inditex director and Esprit womenswear head Paula Dumont Lopez as chief creative officer.

She was due to arrive as a replacement for the long-serving Roger Wightman, who will now continue in his current role after the U-turn. 

It is believed the decision could mean that New Look is backtracking on Kristiansen’s strategy and returning to the value-led ideals of founder Tom Singh.

Have we forgotten anyone? Let us know in the comments