Lustman to depart Warehouse on a high

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The Independent Online

The managing director of Warehouse is to step down from the women's fashion retailer on a high note after it delivered a sharp jump in sales over Christmas. Meg Lustman, who took the helm at the Aurora Fashions-owned chain in 2009, is expected to leave her operational role at Warehouse next month, although she could remain on the group's board for a while longer.

Her forthcoming exit comes after Warehouse, which has more than 450 stores and concessions in over 21 countries, delivered UK like-for-like sales up by 7 per cent over the five weeks to 29 December.

The figures are the latest to suggest that many retailers enjoyed robust trading over Christmas, with the high-street stalwarts Next and John Lewis improving their annual profit prospects after trading in stores met expectations and they both delivered booming online sales.

This week, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's will provide a clearer picture of consumer spending over Christmas.

Derek Lovelock, executive chairman of Aurora, said: "Under Meg's leadership, Warehouse has flourished and we can report strong trading over the Christmas period."

He told The Independent that it had no immediate plans to replace Ms Lustman, who has been at the group for more than 10 years, adding: "Warehouse has a strong management team so we don't anticipate making any appointments in the near future."

Aurora, which also owns the Coast and Oasis womenswear chains, is majority-owned by the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing. This follows the retail group emerging out of administration under its previous guise as Mosaic Fashions in March 2009.

Underlying profits fell at Aurora by 15.3 per cent to £12.7m over the year to the end of February 2012, largely dragged down by the underperformance of its womenswear brand Bastyan.