Matalan founder resigns as chairman

Matalan founder John Hargreaves has stepped down as chairman less than a year after taking the business private. He will be succeeded by his long-term adviser John Mills.

Matalan founder John Hargreaves (left) has stepped down as chairman less than a year after taking the business private. He will be succeeded by his long-term adviser John Mills.

Hargreaves’ resignation, reported to be for personal reasons, marks the end of an era at the budget-clothes chain the entrepreneur started in 1985.

Matalan saw its value soar from £200m to £2.4bn after it floated in 1998 but increased competition from budget chains such as Primark has seen it underperfom in recent years.

Hargreaves then bought out minority shareholders in 2006 in a takeover backed by Icelandic bank, Kaupthing.

He recruited former Littlewoods chief Alistair McGeorge to join the company as chief executive last year – it’s fourth in five years.

In 1996, retailing veteran Angus Monro was appointed chief executive but he is understood to have left after asking if Hargreaves was planning to retire within three years. He was replaced by the then Asda chief executive and president Paul Mason.

In 2003 Mason left following a reported disagreement with Hargreaves. To stem fears of a mass executive exodus and consequent competitor takeover of the company, Hargreaves is said to have pledged to pay executives out of his own pocket if the company got bought.

John King, previously head of the Lee Cooper brand, took over as chief executive. He left in 2006, making him the fourth chief executive in five years to due to implied tensions with Hargreaves.

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