Harris Federation pops to Dunelm for new (vice) chair

Furniture giant director Sir Will Adderley has joined the board of the 51-school trust

Furniture giant director Sir Will Adderley has joined the board of the 51-school trust

A director of furniture retailer Dunelm has become a trustee of the Harris Federation, an academy chain set up by a former Carpetright boss.

Sir Will Adderley, son of Dunelm founder Sir Bill Adderley, has been named as the new vice-chair of Harris’s board. The trust runs 51 schools in London and Essex.

The academy trust was set up in 2007 by Lord Harris of Peckham, a Conservative peer and donor who served as chair of Carpetright until 2014.


According to the firm’s website, Adderley is currently vice-chair of Dunelm. Last year he announced plans to sell a 7.4 per cent stake in the retailer, though the firm said at the time he was “fully committed” to his role.

Sources suggested this was linked to Lord Harris’s succession planning, with Adderley touted as a potential successor. But a Harris spokesperson said it was “categorically untrue” that its founder was planning to retire.

Lord Harris, his wife Lady Pauline Harris and son Peter Harris are currently the three controlling members of the academy trust. Lord Harris also serves as a trustee and the chain’s chair.

Harris ‘delighted’ with appointment

A Harris Federation spokesperson said: “We are delighted that Sir Will Adderley has joined our board as vice-chair, replacing Ros Wilton, our previous vice chair, who gave ten years of outstanding service.”

As well as being one of England’s largest academy trusts, Harris has the highest-paid chief executive of any academy chain in the country.

Sir Dan Moynihan earned £455,000 in 2020-21. Accounts state that three other unnamed staff at the trust earned over £210,000, including one person on £300,000-£310,000.

Schools Week revealed in 2017 that government records showed former academies minister Lord Nash met with representatives of Dunelm to “discuss potential academy sponsorship”.

However, Dunelm said at the time it was “unable to confirm” whether the meeting had even taken place.

The company said it was also “also unable to confirm whether we are or are not looking into sponsoring academies”, though the DfE said at the time there were “no plans for Dunelm to sponsor any academies”.

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