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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Jon Robinson

Matalan hoping to be inspired by success of Lidl and Co-op food as it names new top bosses

Matalan will be hoping to learn from the success of Lidl and Co-op food after naming its two new top bosses.

The Liverpool-headquartered fashion chain has Karl-Heinz Holland and Jo Whitfield as chairman and chief executive respectively.

The move comes after Matalan was taken over by a group of its lenders in January, ending the control of founder John Hargreaves.

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The appointments mean that on March 31 Nigel Oddy will step down from his role as interim chief executive, which he has been in since September 2022.

Mr Holland spent 23 years at Lidl, six as CEO, as well as previously being CEO of DIA Group, a network of 5,700 neighbourhood stores across Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal.

Since May 2018, he has been chairman of Takko Fashion GmbH. From January 2021 until April 2022, he served as Takko’s executive chairman and CEO. Mr Holland is to continue to be the company's chairman.

Ms Whitfield was most recently chief executive of the Co-op’s food division, responsible for the company’s retail, wholesale, online and franchise businesses, as well as the Co-op’s property division.

Prior to her role at the Co-op, she held senior leadership positions at Asda, leading the general merchandise business and serving as VP for operations, e-commerce and international at George.

She was also head of finance at Matalan between 2002 and 2008.

Michael Phelps, partner at Tresidor Investment Management, one of the anchor investors in Matalan, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Karl-Heinz and Jo have joined Matalan to oversee the next stage of the company’s development.

"Anyone close to the retail world will know the experience and focus that both Karl-Heinz and Jo will bring to their roles.

"They have a proven track-record of making positive impacts in value retail and are the perfect fit for Matalan as it focuses on this next stage of its growth.

"They will provide strong leadership and know-how which will help accelerate the transformation of the company.

"I’d also like to thank Paul Copley and Nigel Oddy who acted as the company’s interim chair and chief executive respectively, throughout its recent strategic sales process, as well as Chris Mallon for his diligent efforts over the last few months.

"Nigel’s leadership was instrumental in steadying the ship during a challenging time for Matalan."

Mr Holland added: "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."

Ms Whitfield said: "I am delighted to be joining and leading the business through its next exciting phase of growth and modernisation. Matalan is a much-loved brand for its 11 million loyal customers and together with colleagues we will work to strengthen our offer and ensure we give them the great product and value that they and their families need.

"There are exciting times ahead for all of us that work in the business as we transform Matalan for the future."

Mr Oddy added: "As I conclude my six months at Matalan, I am proud to have led the excellent teams here in ensuring a secured position for this unique and family-focused value retailer.

"Matalan is now shored up to deliver on its growth ambitions, with reduced debt and a clear strategy and I am pleased it will be in capable hands for this next chapter."

Mr Oddy has previously been the CEO of New Look and chief executive of The Range.

He has also held roles at House of Fraser, Furnitureland, Blacks Leisure and M&S.

Matalan has also confirmed that Paul Copley will step down from his interim chair role and will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

Chris Mallon will also step down from his non-executive role on the board.


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