Ponden Mill shifts focus after shaking up board

Ponden Mill founder and executive chairman Barry Brookfield has overhauled the board of the soft furnishings chain and is testing a lifestyle store design.

Former Woolworths managing director and Ponden Mill non-executive Leo McKee has stepped up his involvement. Former chief executive John Taylor has left to join Your More Store as trading director and will not be replaced. The main board now comprises only three directors.

'After six years with the business, during which the chain grew from 23 to 125 stores, John Taylor has left,' said Brookfield. 'I have taken the opportunity to become more hands-on in leading the business and am focusing more strongly on its founding principles as a linen specialist.

'The category buyers are focused on developing co-ordinating ranges that appeal to the everyday and aspirational needs of the customer.'

The new lifestyle format is being tested in Ayr, Eastleigh, Harrogate and Stamford. The simplified assortment is built around own-brand product and ditches ancillary merchandise such as tableware. Ponden Mill is also extending its partnership with Littlewoods, and now has 10 concessions in Littlewoods stores.

The buying and marketing function has also been divided into three categories, with Kathy Lyons appointed to head kitchen and bathroom, and Carey Faulds for bedroom. A final home appointment is in the pipeline.

In the year to March, Ponden Mill's turnover increased from£46.2 million to£50.2 million, Pre-tax profits plunged from£1 million to£80,000, hit by the effect of a shift to new headquarters in Keighley.