Former Blackwell's c.e.o. Anthony Thompson is returning to the company as chairman after the retailer confirmed Trevor Goul-Wheeker will retire in June.
Goul-Wheeker, appointed chairman in June 2010, is standing down 10 years after he first joined the company’s board. He entered the book trade in 1994 as m.d. for Hammicks Bookshops, before becoming executive director for books at W H Smith and eventually joining Blackwell’s. The company said his chairmanship had seen its trading performance significantly improved and begun a period of sustained growth.
Thompson, who led Blackwell’s from 1997 to 2000, has since worked as senior vice president for Gap Europe, retail director at M&S, m.d. of George Clothing ASDA and c.e.o for Fat Face.
Goul-Wheeker said his successor needed to be “highly accomplished” with extensive experience of a challenging retail environment and a love for the book industry as the firm looks to deliver profitability and prepare for conversion to an employee partnership.
He said: “That was a challenging brief when looking for potential candidates, but as soon as I heard of Anthony stepping down from Fat Face, we met and I knew at once that he has all these qualities in abundance. Leaving Blackwell’s has been one of the hardest decisions of my career, but handing over to someone of Anthony’s calibre and personality has made it so much easier”.
“It was a privilege to work at Blackwell’s 20 years ago and I consider myself very lucky indeed to be able to return as chairman,” said Thompson. “Blackwell’s is a trusted and globally recognised brand with a unique heritage. It is a pleasure to renew relationships with Toby, other board members and indeed, our c.e.o David Prescott, who was managing a Blackwell’s bookshop, when I left. I appreciate that much has changed in the interim, but some things are constant, most importantly the quality, dedication and expertise of Blackwell’s people. These are qualities that our customers value and trust, and will underwrite the future success of Blackwell’s”.
Prescott added: "Obviously I will be sad to see Trevor go after everything we’ve worked on together since he joined Blackwell’s, however I couldn’t be happier that Anthony is re-joining Blackwell’s as his replacement. From a succession planning viewpoint and as someone who knows and understands our unique heritage and what we’re trying to achieve, there couldn’t be anyone better placed to join us at this time than Anthony. It’s great news for Blackwell’s.”