LONDON -- Laura Ashley Holdings PLC said Tuesday that Jim Maxmin, its chief executive, is leaving the company next month "following disagreement over the investment levels necessary for the business."
Maxmin is not being replaced immediately, a company spo-kesman said.
Hugh Blakeway Webb, who joined Laura Ashley as non-executive chairman last May from accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand, will become executive chairman of the board on June 1.
"It is not the intention to name a new chief executive, but the situation will be reviewed in due course," the spokesman said. "This has all happened very suddenly."
No date has been set for Maxmin's departure. Blakeway Webb said Maxmin led the group through a difficult period but "the way forward is now clearer, and I am confident in the prospects for the medium term."
Further details on reasons for Maxmin's exit were not available, and he could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The news sent Laura Ashley's shares down almost 6 percent on the London Stock Exchange to close at $1.18 (80 pence), down from $1.25 (85 pence).
Additional explanation is expected Thursday, when Laura Ashley will announce its results for the year ended Jan. 29. The company said these will be in line with analysts' expectations, which are for pre-tax profits of $3.7 million to $4.4 million (2.5 million pounds to 3 million pounds). This compares with pre-tax profits of 1.8 million pounds on sales of 247.8 million pounds the previous year.
Maxmin, 51, joined Laura Ashley in September 1991 following a year-long search for a new chief executive that started when the company plunged into the red. He turned around the women's wear and home furnishings retailer by cutting 300 jobs worldwide, signing a 10-year deal with Federal Express to handle Laura Ashley's worldwide distribution and warehousing systems, shifting the group toward more outside sourcing and hiring Eric Bremner from Max Mara to revamp its women's wear line.
But the turnaround was held back by problems in the U.S., where the firm had poor systems and complicated distribution patterns. Analysts said these problems are being solved following the appointment of Stephen Cotter as head of the group's U.S. retail unit in January 1993. Cotter also heads U.K. retail operations.Cotter and Stephen Grant, who heads the group's product development and design operations, will become executive directors on June 1, Laura Ashley further said Tuesday. They will join Andrew Higginson, the finance director; Denise Lincoln, the human resources director, and Alphons Schouten, the chief executive of the Continental European retail operations.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye