After a 56-year career, Lord Harris of Peckham will resign as chairman of British home retailer Carpetright, with Wilf Walsh succeeding him in September. Walsh has experience through his work at music chain HMV and bookmaker Coral.
Underwhelming transition of power
"There is no particular reason why the transition of power will happen now. We said we were looking for a new chief executive and we didn't know how long it would take and we've found the right person", he said to the British media. His name is Wilf Walsh, the current Fortuna Entertainment chairman.
Carpetright suddenly had to look out for a new CEO in October 2013 after Darren Shapland unexpectedly left. Shapland had only been pried away from Sainsbury 18 months earlier and had a contract for at least 5 years. He departed on the back of a profit warning and a inquiry into price arrangements, even though the company has always denied both issues were linked.
That is when Lord Harris took control again, but even the retail veteran could not stop Carpetright from having to send out three profit warnings in six months' time. Stagnant sales in Great Britain and a Dutch housing market collapse proved to be two big blows for the chain.
Retailer since he was 15
Lord Harris stepped into the retailing world at the age of 15, when he took control of his father's two stores after his sudden demise in 1957. He founded Carpetright in 1988 and expanded to more than 600 stores. His family still has 20 % of the company's shares.
At 72, Lord Harris is resigning alongside his son, Martin Harris, who will also leave the group. His son has worked for the company since 1991 and was destined to become his successor, but apparently he felt "disillusioned" and "abandoned" when Darren Shapland suddenly left. It is common knowledge that Martin Harris played a very active role in Shapland's appointment.
COO Graham Harris, not related to Lord Harris, will also resign because his role is apparently superfluous now that Walsh will take over.