WH Smith PLC
21 May 2019
WH Smith announces that after 15 years with the Company and including six highly successful years as Group Chief Executive, Stephen Clarke has decided to step down from his role on 31 October 2019.
The Company is also pleased to announce that, as part of its long-term succession planning, Carl Cowling will be appointed as Group Chief Executive as successor to Stephen Clarke with effect from 1 November 2019.
Carl Cowling was appointed as a member of the Board on 26 February 2019 and is currently Managing Director of the WH Smith High Street business, having joined the Company in 2014 as Managing Director, WH Smith Travel. Prior to joining WH Smith, Carl spent his entire career in the retail industry, including over a decade at Dixons where he held the roles of Ecommerce Director, Commercial Director and Managing Director of the airport retailing business, Dixons Travel. Prior to joining WH Smith Travel in 2014, Carl was Managing Director of Global partnerships at Carphone Warehouse.
Henry Staunton, Chairman, commented:
"Stephen has made an outstanding contribution to WH Smith. The Board is particularly grateful to him for his dedication and leadership which has seen WH Smith go from strength to strength and deliver exceptional shareholder value over the last six years. He has built an excellent management team and has put in place a proven strategy which will continue to deliver for all our stakeholders. We wish Stephen well for the future.
"I am delighted that Carl will be Stephen's successor. Carl has been instrumental in the development and execution of our successful strategy that has led to the Company's outstanding performance. Carl has the qualities and experience to lead the Company and continue to deliver superior shareholder returns over the years to come. Carl will work alongside Robert Moorhead, CFO\COO since 2008, who has supported Stephen over the last six years and Robert will continue to bring his significant experience and retail expertise to the Board."
Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive, said:
"It really has been a great privilege to lead WH Smith for the last six years and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved during my time as Chief Executive. WH Smith has a first-class team who are focused on running the business in the best interests of our customers, shareholders and employees. I am also delighted that the Board has appointed Carl as my successor. I know that WH Smith will continue to thrive under his leadership for years to come. I am fully committed to working with Carl in order to ensure a smooth transition. After I leave WH Smith, I have no immediate plans other than to take a break.
"Lastly, I would like to thank all of our people right across the business and around the world. It is their focus, hard work and commitment that has enabled WH Smith to deliver consistent profit growth in a very tough market place. They all have my sincere gratitude."
Carl Cowling, Managing Director, WH Smith High Street, said:
"To lead this great company and succeed Stephen at WH Smith is a wonderful opportunity and I am excited by the future prospects of the Group. I am committed to continuing to deliver excellent shareholder returns and look forward to leading WH Smith to its next stage of growth, supported by the excellent teams across our Travel, International and High Street businesses."
WH Smith PLC
Mark Boyle Investor Relations 020 3981 1285
Fiona Micallef-Eynaud/Cerith Evans 020 7404 5959
Notes to Editors:
About WH Smith
WH Smith is a leading global retailer in news, books and convenience for the world's travelling customer. With more than 1,600 stores in locations across the globe, WH Smith offers customers a wide range of books, newspapers & magazines, travel accessories and food and drink. The Company has a growing airport business with over 1,000 stores across 128 airports worldwide. The Company employs around 14,000 people. The Company will comply with its obligation under section 430 (2b) of the Companies Act 2006 and further details will be available on www.whsmithplc.co.uk.
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