Jigsaw holding company Kewsaw has appointed former Thomas Pink managing director Des Swan as group chief executive.

Swan has replaced John Robinson, founder of Jigsaw, who will remain as executive chairman and will continue to take an “active interest” in the business with his wife Belle.

Swan’s most significant prior stint in retail was at shirting retailer Thomas Pink, where he was finance director and then managing director throughout the 1990’s.

He subsequently pursued a varied career in politics, breeding race horses and consultancy. He began working with Kewsaw, which is also the holding company of fashion chain Kew, as a consultant in May.

Swan’s new role will also put him at the helm of The Shop at Bluebird and womenswear brand Cabbages & Roses, in which Kewsaw has a majority stake.

He said: “As chief executive, my energies will be focused on developing the long-term organic growth of the business moving forward.

“In my short my time here I have been very impressed not only by the business and its potential, but also by the dedication and loyalty of the management and staff to achieving that potential.

“The business had a tough time in 2009 but decisive action had already been taken by existing management to remedy that and there has been a significant improvement in the performance in the current financial year. We are now well placed to exploit the crucial Christmas trading period.”

In July, Jigsaw’s then parent Robinson Webster Holdings revealed that pre-tax losses nearly doubled in the 53 weeks to October 3 2009 as a result of currency fluctuations, deeper discounting and disposal of excess stock during the recession.

Losses stood at £7.3m, compared with £3.7m the previous year, according to figures filed at Companies House. Group turnover was flat at £77m.

Kewsaw’s spokesman was unable to explain the relationship between Robinson Webster Holdings and Kewsaw at the time of publication, but according to Companies House both companies have directors in common - including Swan and Belle Robinson. Kewsaw was established in May 2009.

Jigsaw has 47 branches and 20 concessions in the UK, and seven stores in the US. Kew has 21 UK standalone and 23 concessions. The group employs 900 staff in the UK.