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Fenwick appoints first non-family member as CEO

Lauretta Roberts
27 November 2017

Department store group Fenwick has appointed the first non-Fenwick family member to the position of chief executive. Robbie Feather, currently commercial director at Argos, will join the business in January.

Feather's appointment comes after former Co-op chief Richard Pennycook joined the historic retailer as chairman earlier this year (again as the first non-family member to take the role). Pennycook's arrival was precipitated by the decision of Mark Fenwick to step down from the role of chairman, after which group trading director Hugo Fenwick and managing director Adam Fenwick both stepped down from their roles. The Fenwick family has headed up the business since 1882.

Feather is a Cambridge law graduate with a diverse background. He began his career with COBA Consulting before moving into retail with ASDA before going on to found the furniture retailer Feather & Black, where he remained for 10 years before moving to John Lewis as buying director for electricals, home and technology.

After this he moved to Sainsbury's as business unit director for general merchandise and then online director, taking up his latest role at Argos (part of the Sainsbury's group) last September. 

Pennycook told Retail Week that Feather's time at John Lewis would set him in good stead for his new role at Fenwick. “Obviously [John Lewis] isn’t a family business, but my sense is that the culture is somewhat similar to that, so I think he will get our culture very quickly," he told the publication. "He’s got some entrepreneurial flair and bravery, which you need, and we liked that about him."

Fenwick was founded in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1882 by John James Fenwick as the new trend for department stores was arriving in the UK from Paris. By 1891 the business had opened a flagship store on London's Bond Street and it went on to open further stores throughout the 20th Century in locations such as York, Brent Cross, Windsor (now closed), and Tunbridge Wells. In 2001 it acquired Bentalls, which has stores in Bracknell and Kingston-upon-Thames and in 2008 acquired Williams & Griffin in Colchester.

This autumn it opened its latest store at the Lexicon in Bracknell, having closed its store in nearby Windsor.

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