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Next boss to be replaced by ex-Bunzl chief Roney

By Ravender Sembhy

John Barton is to step down from his role as chairman of retail giant Next. The 72-year-old will retire from the non-executive position on August 1 and will be replaced by Michael Roney, the former chief executive of Bunzl.

Mr Barton has been a member of Next's board since 2002 and became chairman in 2006.

Next said in a statement: "John has made an outstanding contribution to the company over the last 15 years and his leadership, experience and wise counsel have been tremendously valuable over that time. John leaves with the profound thanks of his colleagues."

Mr Roney, who headed up FTSE 100 outsourcer Bunzl from 2005 until his retirement in April 2016, will become deputy chairman from Tuesday before taking over from Mr Barton.

The 62-year-old is currently chairman of Grafton Group and a non-executive director of Brown-Forman Corporation.

Last month Next's Brexit-backing chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson warned that uncertainty caused by the UK's decision to quit the EU would add to an "even tougher" year ahead as the chain sounded the alarm over sales and profits after a difficult Christmas.

The group said it was facing "exceptional levels of uncertainty" amid a consumer spending squeeze, soaring costs from the weak pound and "little visibility of the approach the UK Government will be taking to Brexit".

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