UK boss at Carphone Warehouse lands chief exec role

A big day for Andrew Harrison - he currently heads up the firm in the UK - as he has just been promoted to chief executive of the whole company. Doff your caps.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
The board of Carphone Warehouse is obviously keen to get some of that magic dust that Harrison has been sprinkling on the UK, and give Europe a dusting, too. At the same time as announcing that Harrison will be taking the reins, the firm announced that group revenues grew 11.5% for the year, to £3.69bn, thanks to a continuing trend towards pay-as-you-go handset purchases instead of monthly contract deals.

Outgoing chief executive, Roger Taylor (Queen drummer, anyone?), will become deputy chairman alongside the company's founder and current chairman, Sir Charles Dunstone. He says: 'This appointment recognises the outstanding contribution Andrew has made to the business throughout his 17 years with Carphone Warehouse, during which time he has played an important part of many of our growth strategies.'

Carphone Warehouse had already been taking steps to propel itself into the European market with more aplomb. Last month, in a deal that cost £471m, the Carphone Warehouse unshackled itself from a deal with Best Buy five years ago that had split the power base of the company. The Best Buy buyout was a failure: the company paid £1.1bn to enter the joint venture back in 2008, and struggled to turn a profit for the duration.

The buy-us-out deal was a cinch for Carphone Warehouse because of the price, too. Analysts had been expecting such a buyout (the cost of regaining full control) to cost around £550m in total. In the deal that ended up going off, it was £391m in cash and £80m worth of shares that Best Buy will now own. At the time, Taylor said the buyback would 'give us full ownership of our growth opportunities across Europe and other markets around the world'.

Shareholders were obviously chuffed with the new appointment: the price of shares rose 2% late on Wednesday, suggesting Harrison is seen as a good man for the job of penetrating the European market. Notably, Carphone Warehouse is not going to expand into France – it already tried once and had to pull out at a cost of more than £90m. It blames a hostile regulatory environment over there. Not to mention the French themselves...

Whether or not Harrison can replicated the firm's UK success across the Channel will no doubt be watched closely by the City. And now that the sale of the Best Buy stake has been completed (also announced on Wednesday), investors can breathe a sigh of relief.

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