Third time lucky for Matalan leadership?

What is it about John Hargreaves? The Matalan founder and executive chairman has lost his second chief executive in two years. First it was Angus Monro. This time Paul Mason has walked, along with retail director Andy Clarke.

Hargreaves, now one of Britain's richest men, sometimes went without shoes as a boy so it is not surprising that he has stayed closely involved with the business that made his fortune.

He remains wedded to the simple retail formula that made Matalan such a success in the first place. Mason, on the other hand, has been characterised as a 'big company director'. At first glance, it seems like a classic case of a clash between entrepreneur and professional manager.

But the value innovations that originally set Matalan apart have been replicated by other store groups and Matalan is maturing. That is partly why Mason, with his experience at Asda, was hired. New chief executive John King will now take up the baton, but faces the same tricky balancing act. Good luck.

Hamleys directors play the MBO game

Hamleys may join the illustrious list of retailers to abandon public status and go private. Talks with an MBO team are still at an early stage, but the reasons for a deal are clear. New life has been breathed into the world-famous business on the back of chairman Simon Burke's improvements to the Regent Street store and the extension of the brand through the fledgling Bear Factory chain. Even so, the retailer was capitalised at little over£30 million at the start of the week and jitters about central London trading conditions will not improve investor sentiment. Having watched the private business success of the likes of Philip Green, Hamleys directors John Watkinson and Ian Parker want a piece of the action. More retailers are likely to follow their example.

Banking on a brief battle

War on Iraq is bound to affect consumer confidence in the UK, and retailers will be on the sharp end of any downturn. But employment remains high, people have money in their pockets, and inflation is low. Despite the gloomy atmosphere and signs of slowdown, the impact of conflict may well be limited - assuming the fighting is over quickly