The departure of Philip Clarke from Tesco marked the end of a turbulent half-year in the retail jobs market with several bosses departing.
The departure of Philip Clarke from Tesco marked the end of a turbulent half-year in the retail jobs market. A number of business leaders, many of whom have soldiered on throughout the bleakest recession in recent memory, have found that when the green shoots of economic recovery finally arrived so did their P45s.
Others find themselves clinging on to their positions for dear life, praying that the next quarter’s financials bring more positive news. Both Dalton Phillips and Marc Bolland find themselves in this latter camp with shareholders becoming increasingly agitated at a perceived lack of progress against KPIs. Indeed, some analysts have speculated that the arrival at Morrisons of a retail heavyweight in the shape of Andrew Higginson is a direct signal to Dalton Philips that he is in the last chance saloon.
Among the retail bosses to have moved on or retired since the turn of the year are Clarke at Tesco, Barry Bown at JD Sports, Euan Sutherland at the Co-op, Justin King at Sainsbury’s, Angela Ahrendts at Burberry, Bruno Guillon at Mulberry, Nicky Dulieu at Hobbs, Simon Calver at Mothercare, Joseph Wan at Harvey Nichols and Darren Blackhurst at Matalan.
It’s a long list containing influential and impressive figures. In some cases the moves reflected personal circumstances or the need for a new challenge. In others, however, it felt like businesses were seeking an injection of new blood with fresh ideas; the inference being that a different skillset is needed to exploit new growth opportunities from that needed to steer a business through the downturn.
A significant proportion of retailers that remain in chief executive posts have delivered strong results throughout the recession and continue to thrive as the economic outlook improves. But there will be plenty of others approaching autumn board meetings with some trepidation.
The jobs market may wind down for August but don’t expect it to stay docile for too long.
For a full list of last month’s job moves see the table on the right.
Tony Gregg is chief executive of the Anthony Gregg Partnership