Wilkinson is looking for a COO rather than a CEO

Wilkinson has confirmed it is on the hunt for a new chief operating officer rather than chief executive.

The variety discount chain had expected to recruit a new CEO following the departure of Stuart Mitchell last year, but changed its mind, said a spokesman.

“Clearly, when Stuart decided to move on last year, it was assumed we would be looking to recruit a new like-for-like CEO,” he said. “However, in connection with the head office programme ‘Structuring for Success’, it has become clear we are seeking a chief operating officer.

“The COO will also be recruited as a second executive director to make up a six-strong board.”

The Wilkinson board currently consists of: non-executive director and joint chair Karin Swann family non-executive director and joint chair Lisa Wilkinson director Stephen Sinclair and chief financial officer Ian Ellis. The board is also looking to recruit an additional non-executive director.

Wilkinson announced its Structuring for Success strategy last year, claiming it would ensure the business recruited for management roles strategically.

“With Structuring for Success, the board’s priority is to fully align structure behind strategy: to place the right leadership in the right teams at the centre of a new highly responsive structure capable of maintaining Wilko’s unique place in the ever-changing retail environment,” said the spokesman.

Wilkinson reported a 21% increase in pre-tax profits to £27.5m on sales down 2.3% to £1.53bn in the year to 6 February. However, the profits were lower than expected and less than half the £60.8m reported in 2011.

Swann and Wilkinson said Wilkinson stores must continue to “be the heart of the community” to create further growth.