Monsoon chief quits for second time

Susie Mesure,Retail Correspondent
Friday 17 November 2006 01:00

Monsoon, the clothing retailer controlled by Peter Simon, risks being left with an executive vacuum after Rose Foster resigned as chief executive, just two months after its finance director quit.

Ms Foster, who has run Monsoon for Mr Simon for the past five years, is leaving to run a UK-based private equity-backed retailer. She has not disclosed which company she is joining, but said it was "not a direct competitor" to Monsoon.

"It is exciting. I'm still finalising things. It's a new opportunity and they don't come along that often," she added.

It is the second time Ms Foster has handed in her notice at Monsoon. The last time, three years ago, was to join Littlewoods as chief executive shortly after the then-department store group was purchased by the Barclay brothers. Instead she stayed, moving up from her role as managing director to become Monsoon's first ever chief executive.

Ms Foster, who reaped £380,000 by selling all her shares in Monsoon on Wednesday, said her new job would involve an ambitious expansion plan. "I'm good at growing things," she said. At Monsoon, annual sales have increased from £100m to more than £500m during her tenure.

She said she expected to see through her six-month notice period, giving Mr Simon time to find a replacement. Mark McMenemy, the finance director, is also working through his notice, which peters out in March. He left after two-and-a-half years with the company because he wanted to do something different.

Mr Simon, the chairman, has twice tried to acquire Monsoon. His latest attempt, last year, collapsed after he failed to agree on a price with the group's minority shareholders. He has an infamous disregard for the City.

The company's recent statements have talked down its prospects, flagging a 6 per cent fall in underlying sales and warning that the "outlook in the run-up to the key Christmas period is uncertain".

Shares in Monsoon, which have slipped from record highs of more than 420p at the start of the year, yesterday fell 1.5p to 396p.

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