Office job for former head of troubled Jane Norman

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The Independent Online

The former managing director of the fashion retailer Jane Norman is to become the finance director of Office, the shoe chain that was acquired for about £150m at the end of last year.

Ian Findlay will join the branded footwear retailer over the coming weeks, marking a quick rebound for him since he exited Jane Norman before it crashed into administration in June.

West Coast Capital, the investment vehicle of the billionaire Sir Tom Hunter, sold Office to Silverfleet Capital, the private equity firm, in a deal worth £150m last December. The shoe chain has more than 75 standalone shops in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, as well as 46 concessions inside retailers including House of Fraser, Topshop, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

Office delivered underlying profits of £18.5m on sales of £146m in 2009, according to its latest accounts. While Office has thrived by selling branded shoes, Mr Findlay's former employer, Jane Norman, was rescued out of administration by Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the knitwear specialist, in June. When Jane Norman collapsed, its debts were at a similar level to its annual sales of £145m. Edinburgh Woollen Mill acquired 33 of Jane Norman's stores out of administration.

Debenhams subsequently terminated its concession agreement with Jane Norman after talks broke down. About 500 jobs were lost when Debenhams axed the 95 concessions in its stores.

Along with Jane Norman, retailers including Homeform, Habitat UK and TJ Hughes also fell into administration before the third quarter rent-day at the end of June.

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