Lord Harris puts off Carpetright retirement plan

Kasmira Jefford
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CARPETRIGHT founder Lord Harris announced yesterday that he planned to stay on as non-executive chairman, just weeks after announcing his retirement, as the retailer reported widening losses.

Lord Harris will hand over the day-to-day running of the business to a new chief executive, Wilf Walsh, next month.

He had intended to step down from the board in September.

But in a surprise change of heart, Harris said that he intended to stay in his role as non-executive chairman until his replacement was found and that he may also stay on as a non-executive director after a new chairman was appointed.

The retail stalwart is understood to have initially been unwilling to sit on the board as a non-executive, having played an active role since he founded Carpetright 26 years ago.

His decision to remain on the firm’s board is thought to reflect his family’s 20 per cent interest in the business.

Harris began his career on the high street aged 15 and founded Carpetright in 1988, creating the UK’s largest flooring retailer with 620 stores.

However, Carpetright has struggled to recover since the recession and has issued three profit warnings in the past nine months as it grapples with a tough consumer market in the Netherlands and at home.

The firm yesterday revealed a 53 per cent slump in underlying pre-tax profits to £4.6m in the year to 26 April. UK like-for-like sales declined by 0.2 per cent, despite improvements in the housing market, and European underlying sales slumped by 8.6 per cent.

The retailer also announced two further board exits. Baroness Noakes, who is leading the search for a new chairman, will step down once an appointment has been made while Alan Dickinson will retire in September.

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