Unusually for the height of summer, the retail jobs market saw plenty of high profile movers and departures in August.
We saw the arrival of new chief executives at Notonthehighstreet.com, Bathstore, Ocado Retail and at Debenhams where Stefaan Vansteenkiste has been given the unenviable task of turning the embattled retailer around.
Mike Ashley has been characteristically ruthless in shaking up Jack Wills by ousting chief executive Suzanne Harlow just weeks after acquiring the struggling retailer.
Monsoon Accessorize, another high street brand facing challenging trading conditions, announced that chief executive Paul Allen is to leave the retailer and will not be replaced.
We’ve also seen the return of John Colley to Majestic Wine following its purchase by American investment group Fortress.
Colley’s return, in particular, caught my eye as it suggests that, following a period of uncertainty, Majestic’s future is very much as an omnichannel brand with a strong brick and mortar presence.
Under the previous leadership of Rowan Gormley, the plan was to scale down the store estate and sell off assets in order to focus on growing the wider online business via Majestic’s sister brand Naked Wines.
Fortress sees things rather differently. Like Colley, the investor believes in the continuing importance of the store estate to a business that has always enjoyed a strong, personal relationship with its customers. In the past financial year, 92% of Majestic’s sales came from repeat customers who score the business highly for the quality of its wine and customer service.
The fact Fortress has made Majestic its first UK retail venture shows the faith it has in the brand; and the store estate will immediately benefit from a full range review and refit under new buying and merchandising director, Robert Cooke, and the roll-out of its new service Wineify.
Colley, who will officially rejoin Majestic in the autumn, will be excited about returning to a business where he grew sales and introduced a number of new initiatives during a successful two-year stint as managing director of its retail arm from 2015 to 2017.
The momentum in the jobs market has carried over into September with the news this week of further top-level changes at Debenhams including the departure of marketing, beauty and digital boss Richard Cristofoli.
Given the ongoing pressures on the high street, I don’t expect any let-up in the pace of change as we begin the countdown to the golden quarter.