Matalan names new chair and CEO as new owners fashion new path

A pair of former Lidl and Co-op supermarket executives are taking the helm of Matalan as its new owners seek to rebuild the discount homewares retailer’s performance.

Sky News has learnt that Karl-Heinz Holland and Jo Whitfield will be publicly unveiled this week as the new chair and CEO of Matalan, the Liverpool-based chain.

The appointment of a heavyweight duo to lead the business underlines the confidence of the funds which recently took control of Matalan in its turnaround potential.

Mr Holland spent 23 years at Lidl, including six as its chief executive, before becoming chairman of Takko Fashion, a successful European discount fashion retailer.

Responding to an enquiry from Sky News, Mr Holland said in a statement: "I have been a long-standing admirer of Matalan and believe it's a business brimming with potential.

"I am very much looking forward to working with the new owners, Jo, and its dedicated workforce, to help it achieve its potential."

He replaces Paul Copley, Matalan's interim chairman, who himself replaced the chain's founder, John Hargreaves, just a few months ago.

Mr Copley will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

Ms Whitfield's appointment as Matalan chief executive, revealed by Sky News last month, represents a corporate and personal homecoming for her.

Hailing from St Helens, which is just 11 miles from Matalan's Skelmersdale head office, she was a finance executive there in the early 2000s.

Her arrival will see her replace Nigel Oddy, the chain's interim CEO.

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The dual appointments follow a recapitalisation which resulted in Mr Hargreaves relinquishing control of the chain earlier this year.

A group of institutional investors including Invesco, Man GLG and Tresidor Investment Management agreed to sanction a £257m debt-for-equity swap and inject up to £100m of new capital into the business.

Matalan employs more than 11,000 people and trades from 230 UK stores.

It also operates an e-commerce platform and has more than 50 overseas franchise stores.

The company says it has 11 million customers.