Mar 29, 2017
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Topshop chief quits to head White Company

Mar 29, 2017

Topshop is to lose its long-serving managing director with Mary Homer preparing to leave to run fast-expanding lifestyle chain The White Company.

Topshop now needs a new MD who can lead it in the digital age - topshop

Arcadia chief Sir Philip Green now has to replace the boss of his star brand at the same time as he is seeking replacements for some other key executives who have left recently.

Homer started at the chain as a merchandiser 30 years ago. She rose through the ranks to take the top job 11 years ago at the flagship brand after star MD Jane Shepherdson quit. She has since overseen Topshop’s transformation from a largely-UK name to a global one, heading its move into the US and China markets.

Homer will replace Will Kernan, who left The White Company last month to head online sports specialist Wiggle. But she will not leave immediately with Homer’s start date in her new job not yet decided on.

Arcadia chief Sir Philip Green said her departure is amicable with The White Company offer being one she could simply not refuse.

That assessment is a good one. While The White Company is much smaller than either Arcadia or Topshop, it is highly profitable and at the stage where the person at the top can have a huge impact. With a more entrepreneurial culture than Arcadia, it can grow fast as it rolls out its fashion-to-lifestyle offer around the world.

But while the firm can congratulate itself on bagging one of Arcadia’s big names to lead it in this rollout, the lack of a chief executive has certainly not been holding it back. The chain recently announced plans to open its first physical store in the US and has also been continuing its domestic market expansion.

So who will replace Homer at Topshop? That is unclear so far but we know that nobody within the organisation can expect the role. Sir Philip told the Telegraph Wednesday that "we've got to go and see if we can recruit a world champion. It's not going to be an internal appointment.” He is also believed to be looking for someone with major online experience.

He will be starting his executive search at the same time as he is filling other senior roles at his fashion empire. Recent departures include Burton MD Wesley Taylor, who was said to have walked out, as well as Topshop and Topman retail director Craig McGregor who moved to the same role at optician chain Specsavers, plus Miss Selfridge’s creative director Yasmin Yusuf and long-serving retail director Gerry Harte.

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