57 year-old Duddy is one of the longest serving CEOs remaining on the UK high street, having been in the chair at Argos since shortly after its acquisition by Home Retail Group’s predecessor, Great Universal Stores, in 1998. Prior to that he was at Dixons and Currys, and was MD of PC World.
He went on to be made boss of the overall Home Retail Group in 2006, buying 27 DIY stores from Focus group in 297 and the UK arm of struggling furniture retailer Habitat in 2011.
He has been at the helm for the duration of the financial crisis and its aftermath, the impact of which on the high street in general - and HRG in particular - has been severe. Falling sales and lacklustre profits have resulted in Duddy’s bonus being repeatedly cut - most recently back in June after underlying profits fell to £91m for the year.
Commenting on his departure, Home Retail Group chairman John Coombes was effusive, saying ‘Terry has provided strong leadership during one of the toughest periods of economic uncertainty faced by the business.’ And it is true that annual sales at Argos have started to recover, rising for the first time in 5 years back in May - 50% of sales are now made via the stores’ popular online/offline hybrid ‘click and collect’ system. But Homebase continues to struggle, perhaps due to the weak property market.
No successor has been named, but chairman Coombes will lead the search for a new boss. It will be interesting to see who gets the gig - CEOs of large retail groups aren’t the kind of thing you can pick from a catalogue…