Matalan founder Hargreaves returns to board as executive chair

John Hargreaves, founder of out-of-town discount retail chain Matalan, has returned to the board as executive chairman.

He takes over from the outgoing Steve Johnson, 15 years since he stepped down from the board.

Mr Hargreaves, the son of a Liverpool docker, founded Matalan in 1985, from a market stall.

Former Poundworld and Dreams chair, Mr Johnson, joined the Matalan board two years ago, replacing John Mills.

Mr Hargreaves said: “I would like to personally go on record and thank Steve for all his invaluable leadership and contributions over the last two years.

“Steve joined the business in a non-executive chair capacity and I am grateful that he agreed to step into an executive role to help guide the company through the pandemic. Nobody could have predicted the pandemic or the more recent macro-pressures affecting the retail industry.

“Matalan’s navigation of these challenges, our market share gains and the top-line performance announced in our latest trading updates are testament to Steve’s leadership and our colleagues’ ongoing dedication.”

He added: “My belief in, passion for and commitment to our business are stronger than ever and I look forward to maximising our growth potential, along with the senior leadership team, delivering true omnichannel value for our customers.”

Mr Johnson said: “It has been a pleasure to lead and work with all the colleagues over these last two extraordinary years.

“Matalan’s great value proposition is well-positioned to prosper over the coming years. I wish everyone in the business every success in the future.”

Last month Knowsley-based Matalan filed accounts for the year to the end of February which showed it had surpassed the £1bn sales mark, and slashed losses, although it shed 721 staff during the year, ending the period with a 10,837-strong headcount.

Revenues increased from £744.1m in 2021 to £1.027bn – despite six weeks of enforced store closures at the beginning of the year – and pre-tax losses were significantly reduced from £131.5m last year to £7.7m. Exceptional items also fell, from £12.9m the previous year to £2.9m.

Once again, no dividend payment was recommended.