Veteran retailer Leighton joins Matalan as chairman

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The Independent Online

Allan Leighton, the former chief executive of Asda and ex-chairman of Royal Mail, has been appointed chairman of the cheap clothes retailer Matalan.

Mr Leighton, who led the board of Matalan's rival Peacocks before it collapsed into administration, will succeed John Mills in the role. Mr Mills was installed in the role after being a long-term adviser to Matalan's founder, John Hargreaves. He will now become deputy chairman.

Mr Mills said: "Allan … brings a wealth of retail experience, particularly in the value sector, which will support Matalan's ongoing development."

Mr Leighton is also chairman at the shoe chain Office and Pandora, the Danish jewellery company which had a troubled stock market flotation.

Last month, he also accepted the chairman's role at Charlie Bigham's, a ready meals business that sells into retailers including Ocado, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Mr Leighton said: "Matalan is a great company with a strong brand and management team. I look forward to working with the team to build on its fantastic reputation as a family retailer."

The fashion chain posted a 4.1 per cent jump in quarterly sales, at £269.2m.

Matalan's chief executive, Darren Blackhurst, added: "We continue to deliver outstanding value for our customers and have navigated our way through a challenging quarter, achieving robust results in a tough, competitive market."

Matalan plans to recruit some 5,000 staff to cover this year's Christmas shopping season.

The chain opened its first store in Preston in 1985, and now trades from 5 million square feet in more than 190 stores.