Fenwick gets new chair as digital savvy Simon Calver steps in
Fenwick has a new non-executive chairman. Simon Calver has been appointed to help steer the family-owned UK department store chain through a series of sweeping changes, specifically its e-tail operations.
Calver's background is in major tech funds and he has been chairman of moo.com. He was briefly chief executive of Mothercare in 2014 and has also headed rental firm LoveFilm.
He was announced internally at Fenwick this week as the successor to interim chairman Steve Barber, who has held the position for the last 12 months. Barber had initially stepped in to replace chairman Richard Pennycook who resigned after a board shake-up.
Calver joins John Edgar, a former Harrods and Selfridges executive, who was appointed chief executive last year, replacing Robbie Feather.
Fenwick, which operates nine UK stores, including its flagship on London’s Bond Street, has been attempting to grow its online business during the last 12 months as its stores were closed due to the coronavirus, hitting sales particularly hard. Calver's digital expertise is said to have been a major factor in the decision to recruit him.
In a statement, a Fenwick spokeswoman said: “Simon brings a wealth of experience leading retail, corporate and technology companies, and will be supporting Fenwick as we serve our customers and local communities through the pandemic recovery period and beyond".
She added: "The board and the family would like to express their gratitude to Steve Barber, who as interim chair provided vital support throughout the significant challenges of the past year. He will leave in June with our best wishes for the future."
Before England retail's 12 April restart, Edgar predicted “a good opening, but a slow recovery”, adding that he was confident the company “is on the right track and should do well in the changed retail world of the future”.
However, the retailer saw losses widening in the year to January 2020 (to £47.3 million) and had admitted it would have had a tough time in the year to January 2021, given its under-developed webstore operations. Calver’s arrival is expected to address this issue.
Last year, Fenwick announced it planning to convert 10% of its Bond Street floorspace into offices for rent in a bid to cut costs and create new revenue. Around 3,500 sq ft of floorspace will go, a news report said.
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