Chairman of Smythson Steps Down

Words by
Lee Cassanell
Photography by

6th April 2022

The luxury stationary retailer looks to build on recent profit.

The owner of Smythson has hinted at family succession planning after its 92-year-old chairman stepped down. As reported in The TimesJacques Bahbout has owned the upmarket leather goods brand since 2009 and is chairman of Tivoli, one of Italy’s largest handbag makers.

Jacky Bahbout, who joined the board last year, has assumed an executive role as chief brand officer, which the company said was a “positive evolution of the family involvement and continued investment in the group”. 

The luxury business was started in 1887 by Frank Smythson, who opened a Bond Street boutique in London promising “stationery and fancy articles of a high-class character”. It is best known for its gilt-edged paper diaries and notebooks.

The accounts for Holdsmyth, the brand’s parent company, show that sales fell to £22 million from £34 million in the year to March 28, 2021. Meanwhile, the business returned to the black, with a pre-tax profit of £452,000.

Smythson said that it was continuing to work on exiting non-profitable stores, including shutting its site in the World Trade Center in New York, and reducing rent. 

The company said that owing to the “tough and unique economic circumstances created by the pandemic” it was writing down the value of its investment in the brand by £15 million, which meant it would take longer to recover its investment.