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WH Smith CEO to step down

WH Smith’s group chief executive, Stephen Clarke has announced he is stepping down from his role on 31 October 2019, after 15 years with the company.

The newsagent also announced that Carl Cowling will be appointed as group chief executive as successor to Clarke, as part of its long-term succession planning with effect from 1 November 2019.

Cowling was appointed as a member of the board on 26 February 2019 and is currently managing director of WH Smith’s high street business, having joined the company in 2014 as managing director of WH Smith travel.

Prior to joining WH Smith, Cowling spent his career in the retail industry, including over a decade at Dixons where he held the roles of e-commerce director, commercial director and managing director of the airport retailing business, Dixons Travel. Prior to joining WH Smith Travel in 2014, Cowling was managing director of global partnerships at Carphone Warehouse.

Chairman Henry Staunton, said: “Stephen has made an outstanding contribution to WH Smith. The Board is particularly grateful to him for his dedication and leadership which has seen WH Smith go from strength to strength and deliver exceptional shareholder value over the last six years.

“He has built an excellent management team and has put in place a proven strategy which will continue to deliver for all our stakeholders. We wish Stephen well for the future.I am delighted that Carl will be Stephen’s successor. Carl has been instrumental in the development and execution of our successful strategy that has led to the company’s outstanding performance.”

Clarke added: “It really has been a great privilege to lead WH Smith for the last six years and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved during my time as chief executive. WH Smith has a first-class team who are focused on running the business in the best interests of our customers, shareholders and employees.

“I am also delighted that the board has appointed Carl as my successor. I know that WH Smith will continue to thrive under his leadership for years to come. I am fully committed to working with Carl in order to ensure a smooth transition. After I leave WH Smith, I have no immediate plans other than to take a break.

“Lastly, I would like to thank all of our people right across the business and around the world. It is their focus, hard work and commitment that has enabled WH Smith to deliver consistent profit growth in a very tough market place. They all have my sincere gratitude.”

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