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Homebase loses marketing and retail operations directors

Homebase Sheffield

It has been reported by Retail Week that Homebase is parting company with two of its top executives only three months into the reign of new managing director Echo Lu.

Marketing director Jo Kenrick and retail operations director Graham Heald are leaving the DIY specialist, Retail Week has learned. Both sit on Homebase’s six-strong executive board.

The departures will provide Lu, an ex-Tesco executive, with the opportunity to install her own team at the top of the DIY specialist after she was parachuted in to turn around the retailer. Homebase is seeking to transform the business amid tough market conditions as young people turn away from DIY.

Homebase is in the midst of a three-year productivity plan that aims to streamline the business by the end of its 2018 financial year.The retailer’s total sales fell 0.7% to £1.48bn for the year ending February 28, while like-for-likes increased by 2.3%.

The productivity plan involves a severe reduction in Homebase’s store estate as it closes one in four of its stores. A source told Retail Week that Homebase is also reviewing its cost base, which could pave the way for a reduction in headcount across head office. Home Retail declined to comment on any cost cutting.

Heald is set to leave in August after three years at the Home Retail-owned retailer, while Kenrick, who joined Homebase in August 2011, will leave “towards the end of the year”, according to an internal memo seen by Retail Week.

Both were hired under the tenure of former managing director Paul Loft, who left after 12 years running the retailer, following the conclusion of a review of the business last October.

Verdict associate analyst Duygu Hardman believes the Homebase turnaround will be helped by appealing to a younger and more female audience through a stronger online focus and more accessible store formats.

Hardman said Lu can cut costs through renting space in stores to third parties in order to make “better use of unprofitable space”.

She added: “They could also utilise their Argos store network better because they are in town centre locations, which attract more young and female shoppers.”

The internal Homebase memo said that Kenrick was leaving to “pursue a non-executive career path and to become more involved in her interests outside the corporate world of work”.

A separate statement said Heald is leaving to “pursue new opportunities”.

Rivals have also rung the changes this year, with B&Q bringing in Michael Loeve as its new boss for September and Veronique Laury taking on the top job at B&Q owner Kingfisher.

Source : Matthew Chapman & Nicola Harrison - Retail Week

29 July 2015

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