Retail veteran Allan Leighton has added another high street name to his long CV by taking over as chairman of budget fashion retailer Peacocks.
The former Asda chief executive, who has held non-executive positions at a string of British companies including BHS, BSkyB and Selfridges, is joining Peacocks as it looks to expand overseas.
Mr Leighton left Leeds-based Asda in November 2000 and said he was “going plural”.
His most high-profile role since then was as chairman of Royal Mail. His seven year stint, which ended in 2009, was marked by a series of spats with trades unions but he was credited with turning around the once loss-making state-owned mail service.
His new employer has 1,092 Peacocks and Bonmarche stores and concessions in the UK and abroad. It was taken private in 2006 in a £420m deal backed by United States hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, having previously floated on the stock market in 1999.
Yesterday Mr Leighton said: “Peacocks is a great success story that gives its customers fantastic fashion at unbeatable prices. There are many great opportunities to develop the business.”
Richard Kirk, chief executive, said: “Allan’s vast experience will be invaluable as we take Peacocks to the next stage; building on our continuing success in the UK and developing our successful international franchise.”
Mr Leighton has spent time working in Britain, America and Canada over the last decade. He is currently president of Loblaw, the Canadian retail group, whose chief operating office Dalton Philips took over as chief executive of Bradford-based Morrisons last year.
Peacocks opened its first concession in Morrisons’ Idle store in Bradford in July last year.
The move was seen as a low-key trial and it now has six concessions in Morrisons branches across the country.
Mr Leighton started his career as a trainee working at Mars Confectionery.
In a speech at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce in March, he drew a detailed analogy between success in athletics and business, telling business leaders they should identify the sprinters and marathon runners among their staff and assign them short and long-term tasks accordingly.
“Pace is very important in a business, but it’s not just about speed, it’s about endurance too.”
He added: “Every one of us has 250 million bits of muscle fibre but we only control 450 and that makes me think about business because we all talk about the external factors that have an impact on us of which there are hundreds and thousands.
“But most of them are completely beyond our control.
“The really good sprinters and marathon runners don’t worry about the things they can’t control in their system.”
Source : Yorkshire Post