DSGi starts review as Clare announces his retirement

DSG International, the electrical retailing group, is understood to be reviewing its corporate strategy following last week’s surprise announcement that group chief executive John Clare is retiring later this year.

The retailer, once a cornerstone of the high street, is facing fierce competition from supermarkets and online retailers and has struggled to crack new markets.

One retail analyst says Clare has had more successes than failures but has been hurt by attempts to expand the group abroad, particularly in Italy.

The company’s uncertainty over the purchase of Russian retailer Eldorado could also have led to Clare’s decision to leave. “A decision has to be taken over Russia and that would be a five to seven year commitment.

I suspect he doesn’t want to be saddled with that,” adds the analyst.

Clare has been one of the retail industry’s longest serving chief executives, having headed DSGi for 13 years.

Richards Perks, director of research at Mintel, says he would have expected Clare to have been grooming a successor, although an outsider could be in the running for the position.

One insider says Clare informed the board of his intention to resign 18 months ago, after coming under increasing pressure from the City over the company’s sluggish results.

Although total group sales for the year ending 28 April rose by 14%, the retailer incurred restructuring and impairment charges of up to £200m from winding down operations in Italy and closing its PC City chain of stores in France.

Another insider says: “The firm has a reputation of being quite hard and cost focused and not very friendly.†An insider would be an obvious choice as he would be accustomed to that culture.”

DSGi group finance director Kevin O’Bryne and the group’s managing director of the UK and International electricals division, Per Bjorgas, have both been named as possible candidates.†WH Smith chief Kate Swann has also been linked to the job.

A company spokesman said an announcement was expected within a few weeks.

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