Ex-Argos boss Walden and Clive Humby on board for new retail venture

Two prominent retail figures have been appointed to the advisory board of L1 Retail, a newly-formed arm of international investment business LetterOne (L1) that aims to "find and develop 21st century retail stars".

Ex-Home Retail Group CEO, John Walden, and Dunnhumby co-founder, Clive Humby, will help the group as it looks to invest up to $3 billion in small retailers with potential to grow, initially in the UK and Europe. The investment arm will also look to invest in emerging markets.

The L1 Retail investment team will be based in London, led by managing partner Stephan DuCharme, who is the former CEO and current non-executive chairman of X5 Retail Group, Russia's largest food retailer.

Unique business models offering efficient growth platforms and best in class management teams will be targeted by L1 Retail's investment team, with the organisation viewing companies offering store and online assets – combined with state of the art analytics and logistics – as the businesses set to drive growth in the next ten to 20 years. 

Walden and Humby

John Walden joined Argos as managing director in February 2012 and his leadership is viewed as being central to the digital transformation of Argos, which was ultimately a key reason cited by Sainsbury's ahead of its £1.4 billion acquisition of Home Retail Group in 2016. Walden was appointed CEO of Home Retail Group, comprising at the time Argos, Homebase and Habitat, in March 2014.

He said: "I look forward to being part of something new and entrepreneurial – and to help build a new retail portfolio from the bottom up.

"The retail market is undergoing constant change. This is creating new opportunities for investors with real retail vision but also the ability to drive disciplined long-term execution of strategy."

Alongside Edwina Dunn, Clive Humby helped transform supermarkets' understanding of shopping habits through data analysis which led, among other achievements, to the creation of Tesco's Clubcard loyalty card scheme.

Commenting on the launch of L1 Retail, he noted: "Understanding customer behaviour and adapting to new trends is the key to success.

"Data is the new oil. It's immensely valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. I look forward to working with L1 Retail to identify consumer emerging trends and themes as they invest in new platforms for growth."