Liverpool’s The Very Group appoints new CEO

Robbie Feather

Liverpool-based online retail and financial services firm The Very Group, owned by the Barclay family, said it has promoted its retail managing director Robbie Feather to the position of group CEO, succeeding Lionel Desclée “who has chosen to step down and pursue new opportunities.”

Feather will join the company’s board and lead its executive team.

Feather, who joined The Very Group in 2021, previously led the company’s retail team, which includes all category sourcing, buying, and merchandising, as well as group trading and marketing.

The Very Group said Feather has recently overseen the development of the company’s successful new brand platform and its retail performance, which saw Very UK H1 FY24 revenue grow 2.7% year on year to over £1 billion.

On February 28, The Very Group announced it agreed a new long-term partnership with investment firm Carlyle and Abu Dhabi-based international investment house IMI to support its growth strategy.

The partnership included a £125 million funding package.

“Formerly CEO of Fenwick, the luxury department store business, Feather helped to turn around the company and modernise its customer proposition, including launching its online business,” said The Very Group.

“He previously held a number of roles at Sainsbury’s Argos, including Commercial Director on the Argos board, during which time he oversaw the digital transformation of the business and led the commercial team.

“Lionel Desclée has chosen to step down as group CEO to pursue new opportunities.

“Under Lionel’s leadership, the company delivered robust results, including increasing H1 FY24 pre-exceptional EBITDA by 10.1% year on year to £130.7m.

“Customer experience improvements helped The Very Group record its best ever net promoter score, which remains high, while colleague improvements boosted engagement.

“The company also reached milestones in its tech transformation, such as migrating to cloud infrastructure, introducing AI-powered on-site search and partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft to accelerate generative AI innovation.”

Feather said: “I’m hugely excited to be appointed group CEO of The Very Group. This is an outstanding business with a unique proposition, combining multicategory digital retail with flexible ways to pay.

“I look forward to working with our amazing Very team to delight our customers and continue to deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders.”

Desclée said: “It has been a privilege to lead this innovative and committed team in delighting our customers. I am proud of our achievements and believe that under Robbie’s leadership, the company will continue to succeed.”

The Very Group chairman Aidan Barclay said: “Robbie has proven to be an outstanding retail leader, both at The Very Group and throughout his career.

“He understands our business intimately and has a strong track record of transformation and growth.

“He is the perfect person to lead the next stage of The Very Group’s development. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Lionel for his strong, customer-focused leadership. We wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”