Thursday, January 11, 2018

News: Rotherham retailers looking for new CEOs

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Maplin and Fishing Republic, two national retailers that have their headquarters in Rotherham, are both searching for new chief executive officers (CEOs).

Manvers-based Maplin sells a range of products to tech-savvy hobbyists as well as general consumers and now operates from 217 stores.

The current CEO of Maplin, Oliver Meakin, is set to move to Argentine steak restaurant chain, Gaucho at the end of the month.

Taking the role in September 2015, Meakin moved from commercial director, where he held responsibility for eCommerce, buying, merchandising, supply chain and leading a business transformation programme, which helped contribute to encouraging annual sales growth. His previous experience includes Somerfield supermarkets and Miller & Carter steakhouses.

Maplin was sold for £85m to new owners, Rutland Partners in 2014. For the year ending 31 March 2017, turnover at the electronics chain increased to £235.8m from £234.6m in the previous year. Earnings before tax (EBITDA) was recorded at £8.9m, down from £12.7m and pre tax losses widened from £2.1m in 2015/16 to £3.9m for 2016/17.

During the period, the firm transferred operations and now has a "front office" of the commercial, marketing, ecommerce and digital function based together in London, with a "back office" of the HR, ļ¬nance, IT, warehouse and distribution and contact centre functions based in Rotherham. As a result, Maplin recruited 60 new staff to its support centres.

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Recent initiatives include a new website, a focus on support and installation services and a link up with GAME over concession space. Maplin said it saw strong trading over 2017 Black Friday with sales up 5% year-on-year including its biggest ever trading day in digital.

Media reports hinted at financial woes with stories over credit insurers cutting their exposure to the company.

Eastwood-based Fishing Republic, one of the largest fishing tackle retailers in the UK, brought in an interim CEO in November to continue to grow its online sales having seen "a significant deterioration in trading."

An update to the stock exchange said: "Chris Griffin, who joined the Company as acting CEO (non-Board) to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of its operations, has completed his review and, as a result, a number of organisational and operational changes are already underway. This includes a significant strengthening of the senior management team, with new talent joining the business in some key roles. In particular, the review has focused on Fishing Republic's e-commerce operations and platform in order to accelerate the Company's development in this critical area.

"Trading in the final months of the financial year ended 31 December 2017 has been in line with management expectations after successful Black Friday and Christmas online sales campaigns. The Board therefore expects revenues for the year to be c. £9m although, as previously stated, the Company will record an overall loss for the period."

Recruitment is underway for a permanent CEO and chairman, James Newman, has assumed the role of executive chairman temporarily and will continue to oversee the operational changes.

Maplin website
Fishing Republic website

Images: LSH

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