In a week featuring a number of Retail Executive and senior level moves, the departure of Oasis and Warehouse chief executive, Liz Evans, to run Fat Face is arguably the standout.
Evans, who will succeed current Chief Executive Anthony Thomson in January, is one of fashion retail’s leading lights and a hugely capable and driven leader.
The recent performance of Oasis and Warehouse is the testament to her ability – like-for-like sales increased by 5% in the latest financial year while online sales leapt 20%, no mean feat in what is a fiercely competitive fashion market.
Evans understands the mainstream fashion market like few others. She built her reputation at M&S where she held a variety of roles across its UK and international business. Evans became Managing Director of Coast in 2005 and was named MD of Oasis in 2010 before assuming the Chief Executive role for both brands in 2013.
She is loyal to her colleagues and to the businesses she works for and actively champions women in retail as an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.
With her leadership qualities and fashion experience, Evans will be a major asset to Fat Face as it looks to capitalise on recent upgrades to its infrastructure. The retailer has moved to a new e-commerce platform and last year opened a brand new 80,000 sq ft distribution centre to support its multichannel proposition, all under the expert eye of infrastructure director and former M&S supply chain chief Simon Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe and Evans have the potential to form an impressive double act but will need to address Fat Face’s profitability which has been impacted by recent investment and an unfavourable exchange rate. The 48% spike in EBITDA reported by Oasis and Warehouse last month will give Fat Face chairman Lord Rose confidence that Evans is capable of delivering much-needed margin improvement despite the headwinds in the fashion market.
Evans will be succeeded as group Chief Executive of Oasis and Warehouse by its well-regarded chief operating officer Hash Ladha.
Ladha knows a thing or two about online fashion having spent three years as Marketing and Operations Director at ASOS. More recently he has been a key figure in driving multichannel improvements at Oasis and Warehouse, including the recent replatforming of both retailers’ websites.
With eight years’ service at what was formerly Aurora Fashions now under his belt, Ladha has earned the opportunity to have the first crack at a Chief Executive role.