The Business On... Nick Wharton, chief executive, Dunelm
Friday 08 July 2011
He must be a man underpressure just now
So you would think – retailers everywhere are struggling, and as a business that specialises in soft furnishings, the sort of merchandise people tend to buy when moving home, Dunelm ought to be struggling in the face of the stagnant housing market too.
How bad is it?
Yesterday's trading update suggests it's not. Sales are rising very nicely thank you, partly because of new store openings, but also with organic growth. Margin pressures have been kept under control too.
So how has Mr Wharton managed that?
The out-of-town store approach seems to have kept costs down, enabling Dunelm to offer good value, and it's stepped up its online sales too. Plus they've been careful about expanding too quickly.
Mr Wharton is going to be in demand if he keeps it up
Probably – and the 44-year-old has always admitted to being ambitious. But he's only been chief executive for a few months, so he can't claim all the credit for Dunelm's recent run of success.
How did he get the job?
He's been a non-executive director since 2009, so he knew the business well – when Will Adderley decided he wanted to step down as chief executive last year, Mr Wharton was the obvious man to turn to. Mr Adderley, by the way, is the son of Bill and Jean Adderley, who founded the company as a market stall in Leicester in 1979. Mr Wharton is the first non-family member to run the company.
What else has he done?
Before Dunelm, he was group finance director at Halfords – another business that started life in Leicester, by the way – where he learnt just how difficult it can be to work in retail when household incomes are under pressure.
And how does he cope with all the stress?
A die-hard West Bromwich Albion fan, he's used to enduring some anxious times.
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