WHSmith appoints Carl Cowling to replace CEO Stephen Clarke

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WHSmith Stansted Airport
WHSmith Stansted Airport

WHSmith announced on Tuesday May 21 that Stephen Clarke, CEO for the past six years, will step down, handing over to the company’s current managing director of the high-street business, Carl Cowling.


The announcement of Stephen Clarke’s departure and of the incoming CEO Carl Cowling, comes after the high-street stationery, books and newspaper chain announced another double-digit rise in sales for the third quarter.


Shares in the company nearly tripled in value during Clarke’s tenure at the top, who built up the business’s network of travel outlets in airports and train stations nationally and more recently internationally. Recent strategies included acquiring digital accessories retailer INMotion to move into the US airport market.


Henry Staunton, chairman at WHSmith, said: “Stephen has made an outstanding contribution to WHSmith. The board is particularly grateful to him for his dedication and leadership which has seen WHSmith go from strength to strength and deliver exceptional shareholder value over the last six years.


“He has built an excellent management team and has put in place a proven strategy which will continue to deliver for all our stakeholders. We wish Stephen well for the future.”


Carl Cowling is due to take up his new position on 1 November. Cowling joined the board back in February and is currently md of the high-street arm of the business. He joined WHSmith originally in 2014 as md of the travel arm, having spent more than 10 years at Dixons as ecommerce director, commercial director and md of Dixons Travel.


Cowling said: “I am committed to continuing to deliver excellent shareholder returns and look forward to leading WHSmith to its next stage of growth, supported by the excellent teams across our Travel, International and High Street businesses.”



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