Bown bows out at Footasylum to join funder

Barry Bown

Fashion streetwear and sportswear challenger Footasylum has a new CEO after Executive Chairman and CEO, Barry Bown has stepped down to take up a consultancy role with Aurelius Group, Footasylum’s German owner.

Bown joined Footasylum in 2018, after a 30 year career at JD Sports, which was forced to sell the business to the German asset management firm Aurelius Group for less than half the price it paid, after UK’s competition watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority ruled against the deal.

Footasylum was originally started by David Makin, the D in JD, in 2005.

Now Bown is to take a position at Aurelius where he will “continue to use his vast industry knowledge and expertise to support the growth of Footasylum and other Aurelius portfolio companies.”

David Pujolar, incoming CEO of Footasylum

He will be replaced as CEO by David Pujolar, who joins from AW LAB, a multi-brand, multi-channel streetwear, sportswear and lifestyle retailer, where he has been General Manager since 2016. 

AW LAB has more than 270 shops in Italy, Spain and Portugal, and is part of the Bata Group, a world leader in the footwear industry. He has led AW LAB’s global expansion across retail, e-commerce and franchising, developed and implemented a new omnichannel web platform, added tools such as Artificial Intelligence and Power Business Intelligence, and also created AW LAB’s loyalty club membership which today has over three million members.

Prior to AW LAB, he held a number of leadership positions in buying and merchandising at Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, and Foot Locker.

The management change comes on top of strong results announced last week. 

The company claims revenues in Q4 increased by 7.7% compared to the prior year and that 2024 was also “an operationally transformational year” for Footasylum, headquartered in Rochdale.

Barry Bown, outgoing Executive Chairman and CEO of Footasylum, said: “Footasylum is an incredible business and I’ve been privileged to lead it for nearly six years. It has been rewarding and challenging in equal measure and, under Aurelius’s ownership, we now have exceptionally strong foundations and a clear strategy for future growth. Today, Footasylum is profitable, expanding rapidly, and has a prominent presence on high streets and in iconic retail destinations across the UK. Against that backdrop, the time is right for me to step aside from the day-to-day running of the business, almost 40 years after I first started out in this industry.

“I also have no doubt that the incredible leadership team I leave behind will support David in taking the business to new heights. I am looking forward to providing support to the business through my new consultancy role with Aurelius.”

Tobias Klaiber,  Managing Director at Aurelius, said: “The record financial results validate our strategic direction, demonstrating the success of our operational transformation and growth initiatives.”

David Pujolar, incoming CEO of Footasylum, said: “Footasylum is a business that I’ve admired for many years. It has a distinctive proposition, a loyal customer base, and an exciting portfolio of innovative and trendsetting brands.”