In a week of several notable moves, including DFS naming Tim Stacey as successor to Ian Filby, it was Holland & Barrett’s latest hire that really caught my eye.
Anthony Houghton has only held the position of Wilko’s retail director for a little under two years but it’s easy to see why he has jumped at the chance of joining the Holland & Barrett project.
The former Argos man arrives as group retail and property director charged with driving the retailer’s ambitious store expansion plans and continuing the evolution of its in-store proposition.
Houghton is a fine fit for the role – a retail man through and through who gets both the operational side of running a retail business and the customer-facing elements.
His experience gained with the likes of Currys, Dixons and Woolworths mean there are few in retail who know the high street better and his humble demeanour endears him to colleagues.
This is an exciting time to be joining Holland & Barrett. New owner L1 Retail is not concerned with making a quick buck and has made a 10-year commitment to building the brand into the world’s leading health and wellness platform.
This commitment is reflected in a raft of eye-catching recent hires including newly appointed managing director Steve Carson and Echo Lu, the former Homebase boss who holds the position of international managing director.
Houghton will report directly to Carson who he knows well from their time together at Home Retail Group where both held senior roles. The fact that Houghton’s former boss John Walden acts as a retail adviser to L1 Retail provides another established connection and will help Houghton feel instantly at home.
Holland & Barrett chief executive Peter Aldis has done a fantastic job of navigating the challenges facing the UK high street and delivering 36 consecutive quarters of growth. Its performance, coupled with L1 Retail’s long-term focus, means Holland & Barrett is one of the few retailers looking to grow its store estate in the UK, including the imminent launch of a new standalone vegan beauty store format.
With room for considerable growth in Europe and other international markets, a growing online presence, and a strong customer loyalty programme it’s easy to see why Holland & Barrett has been able to attract such high calibre talent.
It’s a business I’ll be keeping a close eye on in the months and years ahead.