Retail change

Harvey Nichols denies differences as boss quits

Harvey Nichols
Harvey Nichols Edinburgh

Harvey Nichols has lost its chief executive after Manju Malhotra resigned ‘to take on a new challenge.

The company denied there had been a disagreement over strategy with the luxury retailer’s Chinese owner.

Ms Malhotra will leave at the end of the year after just over three years in the role and will be replaced by the son of Sir Dickson Poon, the tycoon who has owned the business since 1991 in a private capacity and separate to his company Dickson Concepts.

Staff were told on Monday of the change at the top that will see 29-year-old Pearson Poon, currently an executive director, made vice chairman until permanent replacement is found.

Sources in London had claimed Ms Malhotra wanted significant changes to revive the company which has suffered losses for the past three years. A spokeswoman said the split was ‘entirely amicable’ and that Ms Malhotra was merely looking for a new challenge.

Any strategic changes are ultimately decided by Dickson Concepts, which owns a controlling stake.

Hong Kong-based Sir Dickson was awarded a knighthood for services to business and to charity in 2015 and has donated tens of millions to British universities. He was married to the Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh between 1988 and 1991 and grew his business through franchising and licensing deals before listing it on the stock market in 1986.

Harvey Nichols has been struggling to return to profit since the pandemic hit, with latest available accounts showing its losses totalled £30m in the year to May 2022, compared with £2.7m profit before Covid hit.

This forced Dickson Concepts to inject tens of millions into the retailer during the pandemic.

Ms Malhotra became chief executive in January 2020, weeks before the pandemic hit. She had previously acted as co-chief operating officer alongside Daniela Rinaldi.

She said: “I have had the most amazing 25 years at Harvey Nichols, starting from a member of the finance team to becoming chief executive.”

Sir Dickson said Ms Malhotra had been “instrumental in driving the business through unprecedented times and laid out strong foundations which we will continue to build on for the future”.

However, Ms Malhotra has recognised that the squeeze on incomes has affected all consumers. Speaking to the Telegraph recently, she said: “There’s a limit to how much people will pay for a glass of champagne.”

Despite this she suggested the company was moving towards profitability, and would consider opening more shops outside the UK.

In addition to its flagship store in Knightsbridge, London, Harvey Nichols has stores in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Riyadh, Dubai, Hong Kong and Kuwait.

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