Former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed non-executive chair of The Very Group.

Conservative politician Zahawi, who will step down as MP for Stratford-on-Avon at the next general election – to be held this year – founded YouGov and served in various ministerial positions under prime ministers Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak from 2018 to 2023.

Zahawi will replace current chair Aidan Barclay, who assumed the role as a representative of the Barclay family on an interim basis in February 2024 following the stepping down of Dirk Van den Berghe at the end of his contract term.

The Very Group, which operates digital retailers Very and Littlewoods, said Zahawi will work closely with the current directors and management team to achieve continued sales and profit growth, as well as exploring expansion of the business in new areas. 

In addition, he will work with the shareholders on the strategic options for the business and the optimal capital structure to achieve its growth ambitions. This may involve fresh equity investment in the short to medium term.

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During his tenure at digital polling and market research specialist YouGov, which capitalised on advances in data analytics and the internet to develop its online-based survey methodology, the firm expanded globally, establishing operations into the Middle East and the US, and joined the London Stock Exchange.

Zahawi was born in Baghdad in Iraq, from where he and his family fled Saddam Hussein’s regime to the UK when he was 11. He was educated at King’s College School in West London and holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from University College London.

“I am delighted to welcome Nadhim to the board of The Very Group,” said Aidan Barclay. “With a proven track record in digital growth and innovation, and highly respected in the UK and global markets, he is ideally suited to lead our Board as the company enters its next stage of strategic development and growth.”

Zahawi added: “I am honoured to be asked to join the board and become chair of The Very Group. As one of the UK’s largest digital retailers and flexible payments providers, the company has an important role to play in helping families get more out of life. 

“With a heritage of over 100 years, Very has an unrivalled knowledge and understanding of its customer, demonstrating resilience even in the face of challenging conditions.

“I would like to thank both Aidan and Dirk for their stewardship of the business during their tenures as chair. I am excited about the strategic opportunities for the group and look forward to working alongside the management team as they further develop and grow the business for the future.”

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