Harvey Nichols CEO Manju Malhotra hands in notice after clash with owners

Manju Malhotra has resigned as chief executive of luxury department store Harvey Nichols following a dispute with the owners of the business.

The sudden resignation comes three-and-a-half years after Malhotra was made chief exec in January 2020. According to multiple reports, staff were informed on Monday that Malhotra will leave at the end of the year. Pearson Poon, the 29-year-old son of Harvey Nichols owner Sir Dickson Poon and current executive director, has been made vice chairman until a permanent replacement is found.

Malhotra reportedly clashed with Sir Dickson and his holding company Dickson Concepts over the company's strategy. According to the Telegraph, Malhotra wanted to change the approach of the company which has been loss-making for the past three years, but the holding company is said to view it as a successful retailer in a difficult climate.

In a recent interview with the paper, Malhotra warned that while its clientele are of a luxury persuasion, its customers are still sensitive to price rises. She said: "there's a limit to how much people will pay for a glass of champagne".

Harvey Nichols, which operates 14 stores including its iconic flagship in Knightsbridge, was hit heavily by the Covid-19 pandemic and has struggled to return to profit. The company’s losses totalled £30 million in the year to May 2022.

Malhotra, who previously acted as co-chief operating officer, was appointed as sole chief executive in January 2020 – two months before the government enacted strict lockdown laws which were hugely detrimental to bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Commenting on her departure, Malhotra said: “I have had the most amazing 25 years at Harvey Nichols, starting from a member of the finance team to becoming chief executive.”

During her interview with the Telegraph, the former boss said that the company was considering international expansion. It is unclear whether this future plan was one of the factors in the strategic impasse that led to Malhotra’s departure.

Retail Systems has reached out to Harvey Nichols for comment.

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