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Harding+ CEO James Prescott stepping down, new CEO hired

James Prescott (left) to be replaced as Harding+ CEO by Chris Matthews.
James Prescott, CEO of cruise retail specialist Harding+, is standing down after 10 years as part of the leadership team. His role will be filled by retail and private equity expert Chris Matthews.

Prescott’s decision comes having led the business through the challenging times of covid into the new era of ownership with Davidson Kempner, and reaching the first year anniversary of the retailers’ transformation into Harding+.

He commented, '2023 has been a year of big change for me personally and, combined with the 10 year landmark anniversary at Harding+, it felt the right time to hand over the reins.' 


Matthews joins as CEO on October 16, and brings long term experience in the retail sector to the role, from both the UK and wider international markets, holding CEO positions most recently at the UK’s omni-channel bingo operator, Buzz Bingo, and outdoor specialist Go Outdoors. His earlier career also included senior roles at Currys PLC and Marks and Spencer.   

He will lead the executive, leadership, operational landside and shipboard teams. 'I am delighted to be joining Harding+ at such a pivotal time when the cruise industry has an incredibly positive future ahead,' said Matthews.

17 cruise line partners

Harding+ works as partners with 17 cruise line operators across the globe, and with more than 90 cruise ships in operation or under contract and employs over 900 team members on board ships, and 250 landside.

The 300-plus shops Harding+ operates cover 17,000sq mtr and deliver over 4.4m transactions per year.