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Dunelm appoints John Browett as CEO

Dunelm store

John Browett, who stepped down from his role as Monsoon CEO at the start of 2015, has been appointed as CEO designate of homewares retailer Dunelm.

He will work alongside acting CEO Will Adderley over the next six months before taking sole control on 1 January 2016. Adderley will revert back to his previous role of deputy chairman, while Love Film co-founder William Reeve will join as non-executive director, marking a clear move towards introducing digital expertise to the boardroom.

Dunelm has been on the search for a new permanent leader following the departure of Nick Wharton, at the end of last year. And with Geoff Cooper set to retire next month, ex-Whitbread boss Andy Harrison will take his place as group chairman.

Announcing the changes to the executive team today, Cooper acknowledged the combined multichannel experience of former and Dixons Retail CEO Browett and Reeve, who is currently CEO of online grocery business

"Today's announcement reflects the outcome of the board's work to identify the leadership necessary to support our next phase of growth," he explained.

"I am delighted to welcome John Browett as our CEO designate. John brings an exceptional combination of business leadership together with outstanding retail skills across a breadth of sectors, from grocery to electricals and fashion. John also brings proven experience of applying technology in multichannel operations, which will help us accelerate our digital plans."

On Reeve's appointment, he added: "We have long searched for someone who can operate at board level and who has both an entrepreneurial mind-set and deep digital experience. William fits these requirements perfectly."

Browett's arrival at Dunelm has surprised some industry analysts, especially as only three years ago he was poached from Dixons by Apple to run the tech giant's retail stores and, when that came to an end after just six months, he was tasked with overseeing a radical overhaul of fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize's UK store estate.

He quit Monsoon in February after two years in charge and he had been touted for roles such as Halfords CEO, following Matt Davies' defection to run Tesco's UK business. But Browett now finds himself with an intriguing new challenge in the homewares space.

Dunelm has been increasing its focus on multichannel strategies for some time now, and the business announced in April that it expects to launch a new web platform before the end of the current financial year. Its third-quarter home delivery sales leapt up by 40% year on year, highlighting it as the major growth area for the organisation.

Total revenue for the 13 weeks to 28 March grew by 10.7% to £216.2 million, with like-for-like sales up by 4.9%.

In a half-year report announced in February, Adderley commented: "As far as multichannel is concerned, my goal is for us to grow sales and profit through the home delivery channel.

"We have made good progress in recent years in attracting online shoppers, and I now wish to ensure that we make an acceptable return from delivering products directly to customers."

With an experienced and multichannel-focused team now on board, led by Browett, that strategy begins in earnest from next month.

Source : Ben Sillitoe - Essential Retail

26 June 2015

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