THE boss of retail chain WH Smith has emerged as the leading contender to succeed Royal Mail boss Adam Crozier.
Kate Swann, who joined WH Smith in 2003, is understood to be the preferred candidate on a shortlist of three put forward by headhunting firm Egon Zehnder, according to newspaper reports.
The chief executive has revived the fortunes of the retail chain after reducing its reliance on the highly competitive entertainment market, including CDs and DVDs, and focusing more on its core books, stationery and confectionery markets.
Ms Swann has been linked to several chief executive jobs, including as a replacement for Sir Stuart Rose at Marks & Spencer.
Her appointment at Royal Mail could be controversial if the Government is forced to pay her a “golden hello” in order to cover long-term incentive bonuses at WH Smith, where her earnings last year topped £1.4m.
Mr Crozier joins ITV later this month after seven years at Royal Mail, where he took the postal giant from losing more than £1m a day to making £1m a day.
He was dubbed Britain’s highest paid public servant with a package estimated at £3m-plus in 2008.