New Boohoo CEO adds the 'big league' experience it needs says co-founder

One of Boohoo’s co-founders has explained the fashion e-tail giant’s reasoning for taking on a new CEO with no recent online retail experience saying that the company needed someone who could lead it as it becomes a much bigger group.


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John Lyttle, formerly COO of Primark, recently took up the post when Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane stepped back from their joint CEO roles, but he comes from a company that sells its goods only through physical shops.

However, Primark is also a much bigger operation than Boohoo and that seems to have been key. Not that Boohoo, with a market capitalisation of £2.8 billion, is small. But Lyttle’s time at the value fashion retail giant (and his previous experience at Matalan and Arcadia) should help drive Boohoo’s growth further.

“John is not from an e-commerce background,” Kane told The Telegraph. “He’s from traditional bricks and mortar and that skill and knowledge needs passing on. Ultimately I’m an entrepreneur who gave birth to an e-commerce business. He has started a business, taken a business public and has become the figurehead and CEO of a business. I’ve never worked in a large organisation.”

Boohoo, which earlier this month reported a 38% rise in pre-tax profits to almost £60 million and revenues 48% higher at £857 million, began earlier this century and originally supplied Asos, before setting up its own e-store in 2006.

“I could see the writing on the wall for the British high street,” said Kane. “I could see some of the struggles some of the smaller independents were beginning to have.”

With ambition to widen its international operations, Kane added that “we’ve brought in John to help with the next phase of growth. Coming from Primark, he has worked in a much larger organisation and it will give Mahmud and me the opportunity to be able to focus on new areas for the group and to work where our strengths lie.”

And she added that the arrival of Lyttle could free up “a little more of our time to entertain new acquisitions. We’re not actively out there looking for any new acquisitions," but they might consider it "if something came across our desks that we felt was appealing and was something we could incorporate, or it was a new market or in a new territory.”

She also explained why the company withdrew from selling its goods via Amazon. “We tried it. It wasn’t terribly successful,” she told the newspaper. “The sales there were very small. They’re the biggest apparel sellers online in the US but I don’t think they’ve necessarily got their fashion element right yet. They’re great for regular repeat buys but not for party dresses and all the stuff that we do very well.”

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