Boohoo snares Primark COO John Lyttle for CEO role

Primark chief operation officer (COO) John Lyttle will become CEO of online fashion retailer Boohoo, with effect from 15 March 2019.

The e-tailer announced the appointment this morning (17 September), as part of its plans to change its board structure to support what it hopes will be a next phase of growth.

Existing co-CEOs Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane will be deployed as group executive chairman and group co-founder & executive director respectively. Kamani’s focus and responsibilities will evolve more towards the long-term strategic direction for the Boohoo group, as opposed to the day-to-day running of the business.

Boohoo said that Kane will remain on the board and lead the vision for the group's creativity and multi-brand strategy, involving the core Boohoo operation, the burgeoning Boohooman business, and sister brands PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal. She will also oversee the development of the product proposition.

Peter Williams, who as non-executive chairman has overseen the company's transition from private company to the progressive AIM-listed organisation it is today, will be stepping down from his role at the time of Lyttle’s arrival.

The Boohoo board has commenced the search for another independent non-executive director.

Lyttle has spent eight years at Primark, while his earlier career involved senior roles at Matalan and the Arcadia Group. Boohoo said his pay will be heavily related to creating premium growth in shareholder value over the next five years, and the package includes an annual salary of £615,000, an annual bonus of up to 150% of annual salary, and pension of 5% of annual salary.

Boohoo also said that a Growth Share Plan will be implemented related to the compound annual growth rate in market capitalisation over the five-year period starting on the date Lyttle joins as CEO.

Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane, joint CEOs of Boohoo, said: "We have got to know John over a number of years and are convinced he has the necessary skills to complement what we already have and take the group on to its next stage of growth.

“Both of us remain totally committed to the business and will ensure a measured and careful handover.”

They added: “This is a hugely exciting time for the group as the fast fashion market continues to shift online and more and more customers across the globe are joining as customers of our brands. The group has experienced exceptional growth over the past few years, with turnover increasing 24 fold from £24.5 million in 2011 to £579.8 million for the year ended 28 February 2018 and we believe John is ideally placed to guide the group through the next stage of its growth.”

Boohoo revealed its next priority is to ensure it has “world class infrastructure and technology in place”, with Lyttle said to be well-placed to help lead this plan. Essential Retail recently reported comments from Boohoo’s head of IT operations Steve Roberts, who said that despite the young age of the business, the company still has challenges around outdated technology.

“For us, the word ‘legacy’ is subjective,” he explained. “Stuff that’s a year old can still be legacy due to the pace of the industry."