TJ Hughes chief executive expected to quit

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Speculation is mounting that the chief executive of TJ Hughes is set to leave the discount department store chain just five months after its private equity backers pulled a £70m sale of the business.

Sue Tennant, who took the helm at TJ Hughes in 2007, declined to comment tonight on rumours she is poised to quit.

The development comes after Silverfleet Capital - the private equity firm which bought the 52-store retailer in 2003 as part of a management buy-out deal worth £56m - axed a process to sell TJ Hughes in June.

Silverfleet had hoped to sell the retailer for around £70m but potential suitors were put off by the lofty price tag.

It is unclear why Ms Tennant is considering leaving TJ Hughes, but she is credited with reviving the chain’s fortunes and growing profits. Silverfleet declined to comment tonight.

Founded in Liverpool in 1912, TJ Hughes grew profits by 29 per cent to £6.8m for the year to 30 January 2010, according to its latest accounts on Companies House. Turnover rose by 2 per cent to £266.7m over the period.

Ms Tennant had previously been at TJ Hughes for an 11-year stint before leaving to join Ethel Austin in 2001.

Meanwhile, Silverfleet is bidding for Office, the 124-store shoe chain that is owned by the Scottish tycoon Sir Tom Hunter.

Office is up for sale for around £170m and Silverfleet is through to the second round of bids due to take place next week. The private equity firms Blackstone and PAI Partners are also in the bidding process for Office.