WHSmith UK managing director Beverley Hodson has emerged as the most likely successor to Richard Handover as head of the group following the resignation of Robin Dickie, UK retail operations managing director.
Dickie will leave to join Barclays Bank on November 1 after five years in the business and will become chief operating officer of Barclays' personal financial services. He was previously at Boots.
Hodson, whose£780,000 salary last year topped that of chief executive Richard Handover, will assume Dickie's responsibilities. There are no plans to replace him. A spokeswoman for WHSmith said: 'Barclays made an offer that was too good to refuse.'
One analyst, who asked not to be named, said: 'The arrival of Tim Hely Hutchinson as chairman of WHSmith News has been a balance to the Beverley power-base. But it will be very difficult for someone else to come in now and challenge the position she's in.'
In August, WHSmith announced that UK retail sales had slowed in the second half compared to a rise of 6 per cent in the first half.
Another city analyst said that, if figures were slipping, investors would see the group in a more favourable light with Hodson taking a more hands-on role.
WHSmith launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign this week, which will cover posters, TV and radio and will also include a major poster site campaign in railway stations over the school half-term holiday.
The campaign will target women aged 25 to 44 years old with children.