Manju Malhotra, chief executive of luxury food and wine maker Harvey Nichols, has quit abruptly following a clash with the retailer’s Chinese owner over her plans for the business. She has joined retailer 25 years ago and is understood to have disagreed over pace of change.
Malhotra is to step down after over three years in the role and will be replaced by the son of Sir Dickson Poon, the tycoon who owns Harvey Nichols through his company Dickson Concepts since 1991.
Staff at the company were told on Monday (14) that Malhotra will leave at the end of the year, with 29-year-old Pearson Poon, currently an executive director, made vice chairman until permanent replacement is found, The Telegraph reported.
It is understood that Malhotra decided to quit Harvey Nichols after a disagreement with Sir Dickson, who is also chairman, over the retailer’s strategy. She reportedly wanted to make significant changes after several years of losses at the group, which has eight stores in the UK and Ireland, including large outlets in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, as well as a specialist beauty shop in Liverpool and five overseas branches.
However, Dickson Concepts is understood to have opposed her plan, ultimately viewing it as a successful retailer that was operating well under the current strategy.
Malhotra started at the Knightsbridge store in London in 1998 as a newly qualified accountant and worked her way up through the ranks before becoming chief executive in January 2020, just before the Covid pandemic forced stores to shut. She had previously acted as co-chief operating officer alongside Daniela Rinaldi.
“I have had the most amazing 25 years at Harvey Nichols, starting from a member of the finance team to becoming chief executive,” reports quoted her as saying.
It comes months after Malhotra stated that Harvey Nichols had not been immune from recent cost of living pressures, with its wealthy shoppers equally sensitive to price rises. She said this meant it was having to carefully balance how much cost it could pass onto customers.
“There’s a limit to how much people will pay for a glass of champagne,” she said at the time.