Property firm Hammerson hires Sainsbury’s head as chairman

Kasmira Jefford
Follow Kasmira
DAVID Tyler, the chairman of Sainsbury’s, is to take on another FTSE 100 role, after it was announced yesterday he will replace John Nelson as chairman of property giant Hammerson.

Tyler, who has also been a non-executive director at luxury group Burberry for more than a decade, will join the board with immediate effect on a salary of £55,000 before succeeding Nelson as chairman after the annual meeting in May.

Nelson will step down from Hammerson after nine years with the firm to become chairman of insurer Lloyds of London.

Nelson said Tyler was “exactly the right candidate” after Hammerson last year offloaded its office assets as part of a wide plan to focus its efforts on convenient retail markets and premium designer outlets in France and the UK.

The real-estate investment trust stepped up its retail acquisitions at the end of last year, paying £136m for the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, and buying a 25 per cent stake in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon for £65m, which it is battling over with Westfield.

Chief executive David Atkins said Tyler “has considerable experience of both retail and finance, which will prove invaluable as we continue our evolution to the best operator of retail property in Europe.”


DAVID TYLER added a new string to his bow yesterday – that of property – after he was announced as the new chairman of Hammerson. But he will still be playing a similar tune and advising them on the sector he knows best, retail, after Hammerson decided last year to shed its offices and become a pure retail property player.

Adding to that his background as finance director at several well-known firms, Tyler makes a good match for the FTSE firm.

The 59-year-old began his career in financial and commercial management at Unilever, which he joined after graduating in economics from Cambridge in the 1970s.

He spent 11 years at Unilever, including stints at Birds Eye and in the group’s strategy unit before joining County NatWest, the investment banking arm of NatWest, as financial controller in 1986.

Tyler left County three years later to join art auctioneer Christie’s as finance director, where he spent seven years, including two in New York as president of Christie’s American arm.

But he is perhaps best known for his role as group finance director of retail conglomerate GUS, which he joined in 1997. Tyler spent almost a decade building up the business alongside industry veteran John Peace – acquiring retailers such as Argos and Homebase – before overseeing the demerger into two separate companies, Home Retail Group and Experian in 2006. Since then, Tyler has held a number of non-executive roles. He was chairman of 3i from 2007 to 2009, chairman of Logica from 2007 until last year, and he joined Sainsbury’s as chairman in 2009. He has also been a non-executive director of Burberry, previously owned by GUS, since 2002.