Cassidy swings axe in shake-up at Liberty

Denis Cassidy, the former British Home Stores and Boddington chief, swung the axe yesterday at Liberty, the prestige department store and fabrics group. Nine months after taking over as chairman, he saw off chief executive Patrick Austen and three other board members, promised lower profits for the year to January and a radical restructuring of the group, and warned that the dividend would be passed.

Mr Austen, who took over as chief executive in April 1993, was employed on a three-year contract on a salary of pounds 192,000 last year. The terms of a severance payment have been finalised but Mr Cassidy was not prepared to disclose the amount of compensation, save that it would be less than Mr Austen's full contractual entitlement.

His replacement will be Ian Thomson, former head of Sears' British Shoe subsidiary and with 16 years experience of retailing in South Africa.

Liberty, which started life as a family-owned business in 1875, warned that profits before tax and exceptional items would not amount to more than pounds 2.1m for the year to January, compared with pounds 3.6m in the previous period. The size of a proposed "substantial" exceptional charge to cover the reorganisation of the group remained under wraps.

Mr Cassidy said the review, which has yet to be finalised, would aim at revitalising the Liberty brand internationally and at developing the retailing format at the group's flaship store on Regent Street.

The abrupt departure of Mr Austen suggests a deterioration in relations since he welcomed Mr Cassidy to the group nine months ago, saying: "Clearly he will be part-time as he has other responsibilities. He will have authority within the company, but he is not going to be running the company or any of its divisions."

In fact Mr Cassidy has taken a tight grip on the running of Liberty, with the resignation from the board yesterday of three directors, Tony Salem, John Pugh, and John Laflin, all of whom will, however, retain responsibility for former areas of control: retailing, finance and furnishings and fabrics.

There was no real surprise in the City, where Liberty's thinly traded shares closed only 3p lower at 303p.

The cut in the final dividend means the interim payment of 1.85p will be the total for the yearagainst last year's 7.2p payout. It had been held at that level since 1992, despite a steady decline in the group's profits.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines