The Liberty London atrium

LONDON — After a little more than a year of hunting, Liberty has a new chief executive officer in Adil Mehboob-Khan, a beauty industry veteran who has held top posts at Wella and Procter & Gamble, and who has also served as co-chief executive officer of Luxottica Group.

Mehboob-Khan is the first high-profile management hire at Liberty since the departure of managing director Ed Burstell in 2016 and, although Liberty declined further comment on his appointment and their upcoming strategy, it’s clear they’re keen to push their ever-growing beauty offer, which Burstell built up during his eight-year tenure at the store.

Marco Capello, chairman of Liberty London and managing partner of BlueGem Capital Partners, Liberty’s owner, said he had been searching for “an individual of Adil’s caliber” for some time, and the retailer was “excited to welcome a person with broad experience across beauty, brand and retail to drive us to the next level.”

As reported, Liberty has been quietly grooming itself for an initial public offering, although no dates have been set. It’s clear that Mehboob-Khan’s experience with publicly listed companies would serve him well in any potential flotation of Liberty.

Capello has said the goal of any future listing would not be to raise extra funds, but to ensure the retailer remains an independent British brand. He said he plans to remain as chairman whatever happens.

Liberty was active on other fronts as it searched for a new ceo. It relaunched its women’s wear department in October and last summer expanded its men’s department, adding 20 brands including Canada Goose, Études Studio, OAMC and the new London label Wood Wood.

It also introduced a denim department, T-shirt gallery, accessories room and a grooming service provided by Ruffians. The menu of treatments includes cut-throat razor shaves; beard tidies, skin consultations and haircuts.

The Liberty job is Mehboob-Khan’s first major appointment since he left Luxottica in March, 2016 and he said he sees much room to grow internationally.

“Few, if any companies, have Liberty London’s rich and storied heritage. With its landmark central London store, unique fabrics business and exclusive Liberty London collection, this national icon has significant global potential.”

Mehboob-Khan was born in London to a Pakistani father and an Italian-Hungarian mother. He grew up in Rome before graduating in engineering at London University. He began his career at Procter & Gamble in 1987, and in 2011 became president of Wella, which had been acquired by Procter & Gamble in 2004. In 2009, he became vice president in charge of all the European retail beauty businesses for P&G.

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