The Works chairman Hoyle to step down

The Works chairman Hoyle to step down

The chairman of the high street retailer The Works, Dean Hoyle, will be stepping down from September, to be replaced by Carolyn Bradley.

Hoyle founded The Card Factory and has been involved with The Works for seven years, overseeing the opening of 200 new stores. He will be stepping down folloing the company's AGM in September after supporting the business through the coronavirus pandemic. 

C.e.o. Gavin Peck told The Bookseller: "As we look to the future, [Hoyle] felt the time was right now to hand over the reins. He is still one of our biggest shareholders, I think he is our second biggest shareholder, and remains a supportive shareholder". He said Hoyle is now enjoying life outside of work, with limited other business interests. Peck said that Bradley's appointment will be "a huge support" to him and the business, in particular her digital marketing and customer focus. 

Bradley will succeed Hoyle as chair of the board, with effect from 30th September 2021. She has extensive experience in executive and non-executive roles in retail and consumer businesses, having spent 25 years at Tesco, as well as currently holding positions as an independent non-executive director at B&M European Value Retail S.A., senior independent director of SSP Group plc and Marston’s PLC, and deputy chair of Cancer Research UK. 

Last month it was announced that trading director Andrea Bennett is to leave her role this summer after more than three decades with the company. This was a mutual decision based on the changing nature of the business, which has become a bigger online player, especially since the coronavirus pandemic. 

The chain also announced a trading update this morning for the 11 weeks to 18th July 2021, which showed sales have grown by 13% on a two-year like-for-like basis. Sales comparisons with last year are not quoted as more stores were closed for seven weeks of the comparitive period. The Works said it was "pleased" with the performance, which is ahead of its internal plan. Both online and store like-for-like results are "positive" with online sales levels said to be "approximately double" the comparisons for the 2020 financial year. These sales are being driven by growth in jigsaws and art and craft, which have been popular throughout the pandemic. 

The company said that the outcome for the forthcoming year "will be heavily influenced by the strength of sales in the important months of November and December but, overall, the positive start to trading in the new financial year positions the company well for the full year". Peck told The Bookseller that The Works' offer "is more relevant than ever" and customers keep coming back after discovering the store online during lockdown. However, he stressed that physical stores "will remain the lifeblood of our business". 

The chain also re-posted its preliminary results for 2021, which saw a 19% decline in total sales year on year for the 53 weeks to 2nd May 2021, despite online revenues rocketing 121%. Peck praised the chain for its "resilience" and for growing its digital channels by "three to five years" in the period. 

"I took on the role of c.e.o. 18 months ago and if someone had said you will be closed for seven months out of the next 18 months, I wouldn't have thought I'd be sat here with a job, let alone sat here running a business that is stronger than it was when I took on the role," Peck said.

He added that the chain was still "passionate" about books and making them affordable and convenient to buy, and that the chain wanted to work even closer with publishers in the future.