Hornby responds to critics with record result

Andy Hornby refused to take credit for Alliance Boots' impressive annual results yesterday, but the £1bn of profits, one of the best performances this year by a UK retailer, marks the start of the rehabilitation of a man that is blamed by many for 2008's banking crisis, and the subsequent recession

"Let me stress," said Boots' chief executive said, "today is not about me, it is about the performance of the company." But secretly, Mr Hornby will be delighted.

The results come less than a year after his appointment met strong criticism. Lord Oakeshott, a former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said that Boots should have "learned the lessons of HBOS's collapse under Mr Hornby," and not hired him.

After a rapid rise at Asda and then at HBOS, the Harvard MBA's reputation was battered after he presided over the collapse of the bank that became a bête noire of the financial crisis. Mr Hornby's weak appearance in front of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, where he apologised for his role in the débâcle, would have finished most careers.

But his reputation as a businessman is slowly being repaired at Alliance Boots. This evening he will deliver the British Retail Consortium's annual lecture and, even though some in the audience will be seething at his actions as HBOS chief executive, most will acknowledge that Mr Hornby is making the most of his second chance.

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