The last few weeks have been as tumultuous as any on the high street. However, the restructuring of Homebase and the administration of House of Fraser were ultimately down to poor leadership and bad owners!

Homebase’s demise has been well documented. Bunnings managed to remove the entire board of Homebase practically in week 1 of their ownership and put in their own ‘experienced’ team! This was followed by changing the store format, popular product lines and then removing the concession partners and a reason to visit Homebase.

Move forward to today and these previous decisions are now costing people their jobs as the company looks to a CVA to help their turnaround plans.

At House of Fraser, Sanpower failed to invest. A few years before this, whilst not the leader of the pack, at least HoF was home to a decent multichannel experience. Their previous owners committed to proving the support the business required. It turned out to be completely not true unfortunately. Its previous CEO exited along with a raft of experienced executives leaving the business piloted by an inexperienced retailer.

In each case there was a fundamental dereliction of duty – a failure to keep abreast of and anticipate shopper need and desires and to invest in the business future in the right way.

Success uncertain

So, what of Homebase and House of Frasers new owners and leaders?

Homebase’s MD Damian McGloughlin brings plenty of experience from the DIY market leader B&Q. Hilco has sometimes proved a controversial player in retail but at HMV it has invested in and turned around a once failing business.

House of Fraser’s new owner Mike Ashley didn’t become a billionaire by mistake. House of Fraser gives him a chance to realise his ambition of owning a department store business.

The future success of both business is of course uncertain. But in the circumstances, each now has a good a chance as they are ever likely to have to carve out to move forward with leaders that are likely not to just be present but actively involved.