The business on... Kate Swann, CEO, WH Smith


So, Kate Swann, any good?

Since La Swann took command at the ailing WH Smith she's turned the ugly duckling of the high street into, er, well, at least a Canada Goose.

What's she like?

Pretty impressive, to be fair. Comes across as hyper-energetic with a knowledge of her brief that is second to none. She was almost the invisible woman of retail in terms of public profile during her early years at the top, but recently that has changed markedly, and she has been putting herself about a bit.



So she wants a new job, then?

Careful now. Ms Swann has been linked to almost every high-profile retail job going, and to one or two very big non-retail jobs too (Royal Mail most recently). The decision to raise her profile in the media is interesting, but she's still standing firm at WH Smith's.



Does she deserve one?

Hard to knock her record. Took the hard decisions at a chain that was halfway down the road to perdition when she took the reins. She demerged the wholesale news business and dumped the DVDs and CDs that weren't selling and weren't really profitable. WH Smith's is now focused on best-selling books and stationery. Profits have been on an upward curve. Sales haven't.



Why's she in the news?

Yesterday's trading statement was a big disappointment. Volcanic ash made the results from Smith's airport business look, well, dusty. Sales on the high street were slow and the outlook is anything but certain.



So maybe it is time to move on?

Swann's been flying high at Smith's since 2004, which is a good stint given that chief executives generally seldom last beyond five years. She probably won't want a glowing legacy to get tarnished.



Anything else we should know?

She's married with two children, but has sought to keep her private life very private. And she won't come cheap. Smith's has locked her into a lucrative long-term incentive scheme that will be very expensive for any new employer to buy out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower