20:20 Vision Podcast — Episode 3

John Hoerner

I first met John Hoerner when he was CEO of the Burton Group which acquired Innovations in the mid 90's.

John was born at the outbreak of WW2 and came to the UK in the 1980’s

In 1987 he was headhunted to be Chairman of Debenhams, a then 67-store chain of department stores in the UK. Debenhams grew over the next five years to become one of the most profitable groups of department stores worldwide.

In 1992 he was made Chief Executive of its parent company, the Burton Group, which had over 2000 stores in the UK. He led the de-merger of Debenhams from the Burton Group in 1998, creating substantial value for the shareholders. The remaining chains of multiples were renamed the Arcadia Group, which he ran until 2000.

My conversation with John covered a wide range of subjects from the evolution of retailing to the sad demise of Debenhams and Arcadia (TopShop, Dorothy Perkins etc) some time after he had left. John advances his theories as to how a 2000 store empire declined and ultimately disappeared.

We remember some of the executives who grew up under John — like Stuart Rose, Andy Higginson and Terry Green and John expounds on his management philosophy.

20:20 Vision PODCASTS LINK


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Robin Klein

Entrepreneur, now active early stage tech investor. Portfolio includes/d: LoveFilm, Moo, Graze, Zoopla,CityMapper,Fizzback,Improbable,Transferwise+ others