When you’re under the pump as a business leader your instinct is often to surround yourself with people you trust. Alastair McGeorge’s decision to draft in Mark Axon as New Look’s new retail director for the UK & Ireland falls firmly into that bracket.
Axon is rapidly becoming McGeorge’s go-to wingman. The two worked together during McGeorge’ first stint as executive chairman of New Look when Axon filled the role of retail operations director before being promoted to sales director.
When McGeorge departed for Australia to become managing director of the Big W retail chain one of his first actions was to hire Axon to be his general manager for operations.
Following a brief spell in consultancy on his return to the UK, former M&S and Asda executive Axon is now back at McGeorge’s side, tasked with steering New Look through one of the most challenging periods in it’s near 50-year history.
UK like-for-like sales crashed by 10.7% in the 39 weeks to December 23, contributing to a loss after tax of £123.5m.
McGeorge plans to revive the fashion retailer’s fortunes in the UK by appealing to a broader customer base. In the short term that may mean losing younger consumers before it starts pulling in a slightly older demographic; after all, it takes longer to regain former customers than it does to lose current ones.
You can see why, therefore, that McGeorge has turned to a trusted lieutenant to help turn things around. Axon will be familiar with McGeorge’s way of working and will know from day one what is required of him. I’d also expect him to strengthen his own team by recruiting people he trusts to deliver against his boss’s expectations.
With the departure of current UK managing director Danny Barrasso, McGeorge has cut the last significant tie to the old New Look regime. International managing director Sven Gaede will also leave the business at the end of the month, while other senior executives have been moved into new positions or given additional responsibilities.
With his core team now in place, McGeorge can direct all his energy into rebuilding New Look’s position within the UK market.