The Very Group, the digital retail company operating Very and Littlewoods, has appointed Nadhim Zahawi as its non-executive chair.

Zahawi, the co-founder of polling website YouGov and a former Conservative senior government minister, will succeed Aidan Barclay, who served as interim chair since February 2024.

Zahawi’s appointment follows his recent announcement to step down as a Member of Parliament (MP) at the UK’s next general election.

He will now focus on driving sales and profit growth for The Very Group, working closely with its management team and shareholders on strategic options, including potential fresh equity investment.

With a complex financing structure involving more than £2bn ($2.51bn) in bonds, credit facilities, and securitised loans, The Very Group has faced financial challenges.

However, recent funding from Carlyle and the United Arab Emirates’ IMI aims to support its growth strategy.

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Zahawi’s role will be pivotal in navigating these financial intricacies and exploring new growth opportunities.

Zahawi brings a wealth of experience to The Very Group. As a former MP for Stratford-on-Avon, he has held several high-profile ministerial roles, including chancellor of the exchequer and state education secretary.

Before his political career, Zahawi led YouGov to international success, expanding its operations to the Middle East and the US and listing it on the London Stock Exchange.

The Very Group, founded by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, operates as a significant player in the UK’s online retail market, offering ‘buy now, pay later’ financing options.

Despite benefitting from the surge in online shopping during the pandemic, the group reported a substantial drop in pretax profits due to challenging market conditions and rising interest rates.

Zahawi’s previous advisory role to the Barclay family and his efforts in securing investment from RedBird IMI for the company’s media assets demonstrate his capability in handling complex corporate scenarios.

His appointment is expected to spur a search for new equity and a thorough review of The Very Group’s capital structure.

Aidan Barclay praised Zahawi’s “proven track record in digital growth and innovation,” emphasising his respect in both the UK and global markets regarding his business acumen.

As The Very Group looks to strengthen its market position and financial health, Zahawi’s leadership will be crucial in steering the company through its next phase of development and expansion.