Bridgepoint appoints former Marks & Spencer chief(2)

Sir Stuart Rose, Marks and Spencer’s former boss, will become chair of UK clothing chain Fat Face nearly six years after Bridgepoint acquired the company.

Fat Face, a UK retailer owned by London-based Bridgepoint, has appointed Sir Stuart Rose as chairman. 

The former chief executive and chairman of Marks & Spencer will take over from Alan Giles, who announced his intention to step down after seven years in the role, on 26th July. His nomination comes just a week after he took the chairmanship of UK online grocery store Ocado. 

The new role will formally reunite him with Anthony Thompson, the former Marks & Spencer retail director now chief executive at Fat Face. 

It also will allow Fat Face to tap Sir Stuart’s solid experience in retail. In addition to his new role at Ocado, he is a non-executive director at Woolworths Holdings, a South African listed retail group; a non-executive director at Land Securities, a UK commercial property company; and chairman of Blue, a London-based fashion retailer. These are the latest of a number of top-level positions he’s held at UK retail heavyweights over the last two decades, having previously been chief executive at Arcadia, Argos and Booker. 

Sir Stuart Rose

Sir Stuart is not new to Bridgepoint, having been a member of the firm’s advisory board since 2008. A source close to the matter said that he’d been following the retail side of Bridgepoint’s portfolio especially closely, and as such had already good knowledge of Fat Face.

The company underperformed in the wake of the financial crisis, largely as a result of an inadequate product range, the source said. Thompson, who’s been leading the company over the past two years, had addressed this issue by focusing on improving Fat Face’s offering and changing the management team, according to the source. 

The company said it had recorded an 11 percent increase in sales for the 26 weeks to December 2012, and a 65 percent uplift in web orders during the Christmas trading period. 

Bridgepoint originally acquired Fat Face in 2007, for £360 million (€417 million; $567 million), from Advent International. It was an investment from the firm’s Fund III. 

The firm’s latest vehicle, Bridgepoint Europe IV, reached its final close on €4.84 billion in 2008. It has close to €1 billion left to invest, a source in knowledge of the matter said.