WH Smith confirms Taylor's departure as chairman

WH Smith, the high street retailer, yesterday confirmed that Martin Taylor is to step down as chairman, but refused to elaborate on the reasons why.

His planned departure will mean the senior management at the UK's biggest newsagent and bookseller will be completely changed. Richard Handover, the chief executive, also recently said he wanted to leave the company.

Mr Taylor is thought to have spoken to members of WH Smith's board recently about his wish to be relieved of his duties, but made it clear that he would stay on until the company has found a new chief executive.

WH Smith has hired the headhunters Egon Zhender to search for a replacement for Mr Handover and is thought to be searching internally and externally for suitable candidates.

The company refused to comment on why Mr Taylor, who joined its board in November 1999, also wants to leave WH Smith. There has been no suggestion that he has fallen out with other members of the board or that his colleagues have become unhappy with his performance.

There have been rumours that Mr Taylor, who is 50, has not been well for some time. Mr Taylor, who was not working at WH Smith yesterday, has made it clear he wants to generally cut down on his workload. Earlier this year he gave up a directorship at the US medical company Antigenics. He remains a part-time adviser to the investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he spends two days a week - the same amount of time he allocates to his role at WH Smith.

Mr Taylor has had one of the most high-profile and eclectic City careers of his generation. A former Financial Times journalist who coined the term "Footsie", he started his business career at the textiles group Courtaulds. He was also chief executive of Barclays bank before joining WH Smith.

The company said it did not have a timescale for Mr Taylor's departure or that of Mr Handover, but industry sources expect the company to find a new chief executive within the next five months. Sources have speculated that Paul Mason, the former chief executive of the cut-price retailer Matalan and previously an executive of the supermarket Asda, is a potential candidate.

Simon Burke, the chairman of the toy store Hamleys, which is being fought over by the Icelandic retailer Baugur and the Daisy & Tom toy store owner Tim Waterstone, is also in the frame.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century