Board clearout continues at WH Smith

WH Smith, the high street retailer that is seeking to revitalise its core chain, took its boardroom shake-up a step further yesterday. It announced that the head of the main WH Smith division was to leave with immediate effect.

Peter Bamford, who has served on the main board for only 18 months, becomes the ninth WH Smith director to leave the group since its profits warning two years ago. The total compensation bill for the departures will now exceed pounds 1m.

However, Bill Cockburn, who took over as the group's chief executive in January 1996, denied that it represented a "bloodbath". He said: "It is time for a change and Peter and I were agreed on that. He has had a particularly tempestuous year. It is the first year of our strategic review and the next three are about implementation and consolidation. It needs someone fresh to come in."

Analysts said Mr Bamford's departure was because he was too closely associated with the decline in performance of the main chain which culminated in the profits warning in May 1995.

The main WH Smith business has been hit by competition from supermarkets on key product areas such as newspapers and magazines, books, music and videos. However, Mr Cockburn said Mr Bamford's departure was "amicable".

Institutional investors supported the move. One shareholder said: "We think Bill Cockburn has a difficult job and it is going to be a long slog to get the main business right. But there needed to be a fresh overhaul of the management and we would be supportive of what has happened rather than discouraged by it. So far he [Mr Cockburn] is doing all the right things."

Mr Cockburn will become chairman of WH Smith Retail while the company seeks a replacement for Mr Bamford. He said he was keen to move closer to the main high street business, which has 400 stores, and that the search for a new managing director for the business was "well advanced".

Mr Bamford, 43, joined WH Smith in 1987 and has been running the main retail business for the past three years. He was appointed to the main board in late 1995. He was paid pounds 118,000 last year and employed on a two-year rolling contract. He will receive compensation though the company declined to reveal details yesterday.

Mr Bamford's exit is the latest in a series of boardroom departures from the retail group as it attempts to shrug off its reputation as a slumbering underachiever.

He follows the former chief executive, Sir Malcolm Field, who left last year and Peter Troughton, the former head of WH Smith Retail, who left with pounds 400,000 compensation. David Roberts, the former head of WH Smith Business Supplies, was made redundant following the sale of the Niceday business last year. He received pounds 505,000 in compensation.

Others who have left include Philip Smith, a member of the founding Smith family who was a non-executive director, and John Napier, the former finance director who retired at the age of 59 last year when Keith Hammil, the former finance director of the Forte group, was brought in.

Two other non-executive directors have stepped down while Simon Burke, the former head of Virgin Our-Price, left last year to return to the Virgin empire.

WH Smith also announced yesterday it was hiving off its retail concessions operation from the WH Smith retail division into a separate business. It will have its own managing director.

It has 100 outlets in railway stations and airports and generates sales of pounds 120m.

A spokesman said: "It has been a Cinderella business. But it is a jewel that should be buffed up."

WH Smith already has a successful business in the US operating stores in railways and airports. It has recently opened at outlet in Singapore and is looking at opening another in the new Hong Kong Airport.

In addition, the group is transferring the logistics and distribution arm of WH Smith Retail into a separate business to be run by Richard Handover, who runs the WH Smith News wholesale business.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album