Hawker quits Freemans after Dutch fiasco

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MICHAEL HAWKER has carried the can for Sears' disastrous foray into Dutch mail order and resigned as managing director of Freemans and a director of Sears, writes Alison Eadie.

This week Sears revealed it had lost more than pounds 14m on ter Meulen Post and was closing the business, having only acquired it in March last year.

Mr Hawker's pay-off is still being negotiated. He has a three- year rolling service contract.

He joined Freemans in 1980, becoming managing director after Sears' acquisition of the company in 1988.

The new managing director of Freemans is Richard Boland, managing director of the Adams children's wear chain since 1991. Before joining Sears in 1989 he held senior positions at Great Universal Stores and C&A. His job will be to revitalise the Freemans business.

The UK business showed a modest improvement in trading profits in the financial year to the end of January, although profits in the home shopping division fell 22 per cent to pounds 23.2m due to a loss of pounds 6.9m at ter Meulen Post.

A Sears spokeswoman said that Freemans needed to expand beyond the traditional agency business into new areas such as catalogues. Some 95 per cent of Freemans' business is still agency mail order.

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