Best known as executive chairman of House of Fraser between 2006 and 2014, McCarthy played a role at many high street chains over the years, including Stead & Simpson, Kurt Geiger , Shoe Studio Group, Principles and Warehouse.
Having grown up in southeast London, McCarthy joined now defunct footwear chain Stead & Simpson, which also ran shops under the Ravel and Stylo banners, straight from school at 15 years old. Quickly rising through the ranks, he became manager of a Stead & Simpson store in Streatham aged just 17.
In 1975, aged 20, McCarthy decided he wanted to work in central London, so joined premium footwear retailer Kurt Geiger as assistant manager of its flagship store in Bond Street. The business was then owned by the South African Spitz family, headed by David Spitz.