Carpetright today appointed former Tesco executive Graham Harris as trading director, to take over some of the responsibilities of chairman Lord Harris, who is taking a step back from the business. Retail Week speaks to chief executive Darren Shapland.
What will the changes mean for the Carpetright business?
Darren Shapland: It’s part of the plan announced last year when I came in. We have planned for Lord Harris’ managerial responsibilities to reduce overtime.
Graham - no relation to Phil - has come in to take on responsibility for things Lord Harris has been doing and also to take on some of the things Martin has been doing to free him up to do other things to move the business forward.
Phil’s very difficult to replace as he’s been doing it for 55 years. But we’ve brought in a very experienced trader. We’ve been doing things the same way for a number of years.
What will Graham bring to the business?
Graham was doing a very big job at Tesco. He’s got strong experience in non-food areas across a range of categories with the exception of flooring.
We wanted a seasoned trading person to take over from Phil. He’s got a good background.
He’s a thoughtful and strategic individual. He’s got good skills with suppliers which is critical. He’s got a very good retail eye and will add a lot to us as a team. We’re very pleased to have him onboard.
Will Carpetright be at a disadvantage without regular input of Lord Harris?
He’s not leaving. Phil’s gone from working seven days a week when I came in to three to four, and over time that will reduce further. Phil will still be heavily involved, over time in an advisory capacity rather than the management side.
How strong is the Carpetright team now?
We’ve got a very good team. Martin [Harris, group development director] on the development side, with digital, stores and marketing. And Claire Balmforth running operations and HR and, of course Neil [Page, group finance director] and Andy Cordon [European boss]. We’re in good shape. We’ve got a new director of customer services, Hazel Hughes, and we’re recruiting a new head of digital.
Will there be any strategy changes with Graham now on board?
There won’t be any major strategy change, we’ve laid out our plans. We’ve got good trading momentum and we’ve got the right people to take it forward.