The businesswoman who revived WH Smith during a decade running the high street stationer is to be reunited with the greeting cards sector as chair of Moonpig Group.
Sky News understands that Kate Swann, who recently stepped down as chief executive of the transport catering group SSP, is to add the Moonpig role to an expanding non-executive portfolio.
The appointment of one of Britain’s most highly regarded bosses as chair of Moonpig comes soon after Ms Swann joined the veterinary chain Independent Vetcare as its chairman.
Her dual positions effectively mean that Ms Swann is ruling herself out of a full-time CEO job after months of speculation in which she was linked to a multitude of roles such as running the DIY retailer Kingfisher or taking the helm at the John Lewis Partnership.
The former WH Smith chief, who left the chain in 2013, is widely considered to be one of the leading operators in the British retail sector.
She has periodically been rumoured to be a contender to run Marks & Spencer, Tesco and virtually every other major retailer in the UK.
Her appointment at Moonpig, which is owned by the buyout firm Exponent Private Equity, comes a year after it bought Greetz, a Dutch online cards and gifting retailer.
The sector is growing rapidly online as consumers seize on the opportunity to create bespoke cards and gifts, contrasting with the financial restructurings that high street chains such as Paperchase have been forced into.
Moonpig said it had recently hit £100m in annual UK sales, a milestone for the business.
Responding to an enquiry from Sky News on Tuesday, Ms Swann said:
“I am delighted to be joining Nickyl [Raithatha, Moonpig CEO] and the Moonpig team and look forward to working with them to build on the many opportunities the business has.”
Mr Raithatha said the company’s new chairman would bring “a wealth of experience in leading successful businesses and [is] a fantastic addition to our new leadership team”.
Ms Swann’s tenure at SSP, the owner of Ritazza and other catering brands found at transport hubs, saw her take the company public and treble its stock market valuation.
However, it was punctuated by a number of rows about her remuneration.
Quizzed about her pay when she announced she was leaving the company, Ms Swann remarked drily:
“I created a couple of billion [pounds] for shareholders and I don’t think I’ve received quite a couple of billion.”