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Editor’s letter: Not all high-street blues

MARY PORTAS (pictured) would no doubt disapprove of Financial Director, what with our inadvertent focus on off-high-street retail. That is not to say the magazine (November 2012) is chock-a-block with triumphant retail park FDs, looking down on stubborn, struggling chains trying to pull the locals.

For the likes of WH Smith and Halfords, both featured in our movers section, big decisions loom for their accounting experts.

Can Halfords’ numbercrunching new chief executive Matt Davies build on the momentum of Wiggo-mania and fend off soft consumer spending?

Will WH Smith chief financial officer Robert Moorhead be able to keep a rein on the finances while taking on the COO role? What will being COO mean, particularly with a new chief executive coming in? What’s the next step strategically for the retailer, now that it has trimmed much of the fat off?

‘Alpha finance director’ Andrew Higginson, now portfolio non-executive, will to need find a way to convert his retail business nous and boardroom experience to deal the issues facing the RFU, while trying to maintain Poundland’s strong market growth.

Retailers looking to copy the ownership model of John Lewis to improve their fortunes may want to consider the scheme announced by chancellor George Osborne during the Conservative party conference – although the knives are already out on this idea.

Winning over the consumer and gaining access to that discretionary spend is not just a high-street or retail-park concern; it’s exacerbated by poor weather, explains Jessica Slack, FD of Cornwall-based St Aubyn Estates.

Is there an overarching theme to my ramblings? Well … what can be seen here are a number of businesses that have gone through restructuring, but are now trying to figure out how to grow sales and market share without pushing up the cost base. They also have new people in place to do so.

Each of these companies – and their finance chiefs – are fascinating in their own right, and we will watch their progress with great interest.

Kevin Reed is editor of Financial Director

Image credit: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

 

 

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