Belfast Telegraph

Boden chief to exit as brand warns of consumer uncertainty

Jill Easterbrook is leaving to focus on her portfolio career.

Boden’s boss is stepping down to pursue a portfolio career, the company said (PA)
Boden’s boss is stepping down to pursue a portfolio career, the company said (PA)

By Alys Key, PA City Reporter

Boden’s chief executive is to leave the company at the end of 2019 after three years in the role.

Jill Easterbrook, who previously headed Tesco’s clothing offering, told the board she would like to step down and build her portfolio of non-executive directorships at other companies.

She is a non-executive director at AutoTrader, where she chairs the remuneration committee.

She will have served three years in charge of the middle-class clothing and lifestyle favourite by the time she departs.

Founder Johnnie Boden said: “Jill has contributed a huge amount to Boden. She has helped us to grow up. She has been instrumental in building Boden for the future and driving our ambition as an international, digital first, multi-channel business.”

Ms Easterbrook will stay until the end of 2019 to assist with a smooth transition, while finance boss Paul O’Leary will become chief operating officer.

The announcement came as Boden released its results for 2018 and warned that the tough retail environment is likely to impact profits this year.

Sales were up 10% in the year to December 31 at £383 million.

Pre-tax profit rose to £30 million, driven by a good performance in the US where sales surged more than 850%.

But Ms Easterbrook said the business has “felt the impact of ongoing consumer uncertainty in the current financial year”.

“This macro environment and our continued investment is likely to have a negative impact on profitability this year,” she said.

“However, we are continuing to grow and believe that we have the foundations in place to build on our strong brand.”

Sales in the first half of 2019 rose 4%, but higher levels of discounting held back performance in the US.