Lady Grantchester, the 72-year-old daughter of the company's founder, Sir John Moores, is to retire as a non-executive. The matriarch of the Moores clan, Lady Grantchester was a key figure in the family's decision to reject a pounds 1bn takeover offer by former chief executive Barry Dale in late 1995.
A strong-willed woman, with a distinctive, Margaret Thatcher hairstyle, she has long been the family figurehead and has served on the Littlewoods board for 20 years.
Her departure leaves James Suenson-Taylor as the only member of the Moores family on the board. He is one of Lady Grantchester's sons and acts as a non-executive director with special responsibility for linking between the board and the family shareholders.
Commenting on her decision she said: "Although I have decided to retire from the board of the Littlewoods Organisation, I will obviously retain a strong interest in the company as a shareholder and be available for consultation."
Betty Grantchester was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and her father was reportedly delighted when she married Kenneth Suenson-Taylor, the second Baron Grantchester. She was appointed to the board in 1977 following the death of Nigel Moores in a car crash. Nigel, the nephew of Sir John, had been earmarked as a potential future chairman. Lady Grantchester's husband died last year.
A company spokeswoman said Lady Grantchester had been pleased with the progress of Littlewoods under chief executive James Ross. He has this week agreed to acquire the Freemans mail order business from Sears for pounds 367.5m. The company is also seeking buyers for its high street stores.
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