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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Littlewoods ousts its chief
Shoppers in Littlewoods store
Falling profits were "part of the background" to Mr Gibson's departure
The boss of Littlewoods has fallen victim to the turmoil among the UK's middle-market retailers.

Barry Gibson has left the privately-owned store group after four years as chief executive.

Mr Gibson's departure from the 700,000-a-year post comes three months after Littlewoods reported a 63% slump in pre-tax profits.

And the move comes amid a difficult period for retail stalwarts such as Littlewoods, C&A and Marks & Spencer, which have found trade squeezed both by discount and upmarket stores.

'Fresh face'

Littlewoods director Jim Donovan said a fall in pre-tax profits from 54.4m to 18.9m in the year to the end of April had been "part of the background" to Mr Gibson's exit.

Alistair McGeorge, chief executive, Littlewoods
Alistair McGeorge: New man at the helm

But Littlewoods praised Mr Gibson for making improvements at Littlewoods despite "difficult market conditions".

Since April, group sales have risen 4%, with revenue at High Street stores surging 10%.

Mr Donovan said: "In many ways he has done a fantastic job - he is an agent of change.

"But the board decided they wanted a fresh face in the job to take the business forward."

Mr Gibson has been replaced by Alistair McGeorge, currently supply chain director, who has been with the firm for seven years.

Takeover talks

The reshuffle follows extended efforts to transform Littlewoods, including the sale last year of the firm's pools business.

Earlier this year the firm entered talks over a 500m buyout by catalogue retailer N Brown.

Littlewoods also on Tuesday announced that chairman James Ross will leave the company in April.

Mr Ross had told the board in January of his intentions.

See also:

01 Jun 01 | Business
Littlewoods deal is off
05 Feb 01 | Business
Littlewoods quashes sale rumours
12 Dec 00 | Business
Littlewoods stores post loss
27 Jan 01 | Business
C&A shuts up shop
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